Watching women walk in heels and flats fascinates me-the concrete kills my feet unless I’m wearing good walking sneakers. This is how I came to determine the best way to walk in the city:

Walking in the city requires a different center of gravity. Your pelvis needs to be more forward, while your shoulders need to lean back. Shoulders slumped forward make walking more painful on the legs, because your knees take more impact. Also, in order to walk as much as a Londoner, it’s imperative you take smaller, quicker steps. Long strides simply aren’t as efficient.

Purses should be lightweight; if you’re going to tote around more, get a backpack so the weight is centered. I’ve tried to switch which shoulder my purse is slung across, but that isn’t enough. It’s too much a habit to use one side, which has led to a crick in my right shoulder. Lots of people have backpacks, it’s too practical to be unfashionable.

Women can walk the streets alone and relatively unmolested. I’ve seen plenty of smartly dress women walking purposefully to their destination. I wouldn’t walk the streets alone after midnight, but during the day paranoia isn’t necessary. It’s built my sense of confidence to travel by myself. I honestly feel less safe on buses and on the Tube during the day than on the streets.

Taking the Tube was an adventure; it’s a skill to navigate the different lines. However they are dirty, and sitting on a Tube is passive travel. Navigating the streets is active. Learning how to cross roads, maneuver through sidewalk traffic and figure out which streets to take stimulates instead of dulls the brain. Getting out and walking makes me feel less of a tourist and more the explorer; less the passive viewer and more a seeker of knowledge. I don’t expect to know the city by the time I leave, but what I do know of London’s streets will come from walking.