If you’re considering a trip to the United Kingdom then congratulations – you are definitely in for a treat.
Don’t forget that it’s not just England – You’ve also got Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland—so you’ll want to do a bit of planning to make sure that you don’t miss any dream destinations.
In today’s article, we’re going to give you some tips that will help you to prepare and to make the most of this magical time. Without further ado, let’s talk about 7 tips for travelling to the United Kingdom
1. Check your local transportation options in advance
One mistake that tourists make all the time is simply jumping on a bus, fishing out some change, and then finding out to their chagrin that coins and cash are no good there.
This is why you’ll want to check your options in advance.
For instance, in England they have what’s called an ‘Oyster card’, which allows you to load money for your travel at convenient kiosks to use for the tubes (trains) and those double-decker buses.
In Northern Ireland, they have something similar called a ‘TFI Leap Card, which allows you to travel the whole of Ireland.
While you might get lucky and be allowed to ride if you get on the bus with cash only, you could also end up with a ticket, so be sure to prepare in advance so that you’re not stuck fuming at the curb!
2. Arrive with local currency already in your pocket
Speaking of cash, another good tip is to avoid airport exchange booths (which have BRUTAL exchange rates) and simply buy a little currency in advance.
All you need is an account with a major bank, such as Bank of America or Wells Fargo (check with your local bank by phone if you’re not sure) and if you have an account
You can buy some currency in advance.
This helps you to avoid the expensive airport currency exchange options and also to avoid any nasty surprises, such as your bank refusing a transaction because it’s coming from overseas!
Speaking of which, while you are at your bank, let them know that you’re taking a trip as added insurance against this.
3. Get a local sim card
Get a local sim card as soon as you land or if you have some time before your trip, then order a prepaid UK sim card or use an UK SMS verification service.
Roaming can really eat your lunch and if you forget this and turn on your phone with a sim from your home country, it either won’t work at all or you’ll end up with the mother of all roaming charges. A UK sim card gives you free roaming in 30 EU countries, so you’ll be able to use your data when you need it.
Also, add 999 and 112 to your contacts list and label them ‘Emergency 1’ and ‘Emergency 2’.
These are the national emergency response numbers and while we hope that you never need them, you should have them ready on your phone in case of an emergency. If you use a free carrier lookup it’ll be even better.
4. Make a rule for yourself: Comfort food ONLY on Sundays
So, you’ve just arrived in the UK and you’re feeling a bit peckish, and someone seems to have placed a convenient McDonalds right there in the airport.
Stop right there! You’re visiting a new country and you need to sample the local foods.
Real English Fish and chips, for instance, is a whopping piece of fish and fries, often wrapped up in a newspaper that’s often soaked with grease – and it’s delicious.
Despite what you’ve heard about Haggis in Scotland, it’s also absolutely amazing.
An Ulster Fry breakfast in Ireland will blow your mind (and pack a few pounds on you, with mushrooms, beans, white pudding, bacon, sausage, and MORE) and Welsh Glamorgan Sausages are a vegetarian sausage with Caerphilly cheddar, breadcrumbs, and leeks.
If you don’t set a rule right away for yourself, such as ‘familiar foods are only allowed on Sunday’ or after a certain time on odd days, at the very least
Then you are going to miss out (and the locals will make fun of you when you’re not looking!).
5. Hide some emergency funds — just in case
While it’s unlikely to happen, you need to prepare for emergencies of the cash variety. We recommend getting a second bag, preferably something that you can strap to your ankle
Or simply wear underneath your clothing, and include in this bag a photocopy of your passport, one of your credit or debit cards, and a little extra cash.
Wherever you go on the planet, there’s always a danger of someone ‘bumping’ into you and walking away with your wallet, or flat-out running by and grabbing your purse.
Even without this slim possibility, if you’re sampling the local alcohols or enjoying the view on a ferry, you might stumble while checking how much cash you have left
Once your wallet takes air, there’s an extremely high probability that it will vanish like a master magician.
By preparing in advance, you can avoid this, and if you have more than two cards you can even make a 3rd stash to hide somewhere that you are staying. As the saying goes, always hope for the best and prepare for the worst!
6. Find out what’s free to see
You’d be amazed how many freebies are out there that are actually worth seeing and it’s good to know about them in advance. While even the architecture around you is going to be a warm-fuzzy feeling, lots of museums and other hotspots will let you come in to visit and it won’t cost you a thing.
For example, in London you can see the London Mithraeum, a Roman temple dedicated to the god Mithras, or you could hit Buckingham Palace and witness the pomp and fanfare (brass bands included!) of the ‘Changing of the Guard’.
Check the freebies well in advance of your trip and see for yourself – you’ll find scores of free museums, ancient sites, and other things that you just can’t see anywhere else in the world!
7. Travel Journals are magical
Once you get the travel bug, you’re going to see a lot of things, and even just visiting the UK you’ve got Northern Ireland, England, Wales, and Scotland.
It’s going to overload your circuits a bit and while you might believe you won’t forget a single moment, you will.
Seasoned travelers will tell you to keep a travel journal. You don’t have to write massive entries in it, either.
A simple sentence like ‘I saw a man with a neon-orange striped towel eating curry on the beach’ creates a simple reminder that can transport you back in an instant – even 20 or more years after your visit.
As an added bonus, if you ever want to write about your adventures, you’ll really want to have those little bookmarks in history to draw on.
Social media accounts can get locked, hacked, or deleted, but a simple notebook or blank book can go on your bookshelf at home and barring the worst
You’ll always have a doorway back to that amazing time when you visited the United Kingdom!
Interesting Related Article: “Things You Need to Know Before Travelling to Europe“