England Travel Tips – GypsyPlate | Tech US News


Visiting a foreign country is always a unique and rewarding experience. But you often have to know ahead of time.

During our latest five-week adventure in England, we decided to bring you our top travel tips for England.

Although it is one of the most culturally similar countries to the United States, as with all countries there are a few things you should know before venturing across the pond.

England travel tips

If you hold a passport from the US, an EU member state or certain Commonwealth countries, you do not need a visa before visiting the UK.

three passports

Otherwise, you must apply for a visa beforehand. There are several types of visas, depending on the purpose of your trip. See the UK Government website to find out how to apply.

Please note, you may need to attend a biometrics appointment to have your photograph and fingerprints taken.

At the time of writing, the current waiting time for a UK visa is around 7 weeks. We managed to get the Alpana visa in 5 days with their priority visa service. These different premium visa services are worth checking out.

pounds sterling

The currency in England is the British pound. If you change currency, check with your local bank before you go. They generally offer the best exchange rates. Avoid currency exchange booths at airports, as they have the worst rates.

Almost every place we visited accepted credit or debit cards, and many don’t take cash. Be sure to inform your bank or credit card company of your travel plans, otherwise transactions may not be processed.

Our debit card gave very good rates, with minimal fees. We recommend taking mostly your own currency, with perhaps £200 in cash, and exchanging at reasonable exchange places if necessary.

holding umbrella

The best weather is usually in the summer. However, this is also when the crowds are the most. Also note that many accommodation options do not have air conditioning.

On the other hand, in winter it gets dark very early, with the sun setting at four in the afternoon.

We travel in September and October. Some days were sunny and perfect for shorts, while later in the trip long pants and a light jacket were fine for most days.

It rains relatively often, but it is generally very light. We do not recommend taking up suitcase space with heavy rain gear, a small umbrella or light poncho is perfectly sufficient.

In 5 weeks, we only had one day where it rained so much that we canceled plans.

Noah riding a train

Although it may seem tempting to hire a taxi, if you’re flying into Heathrow or Gatwick and going to London, trains are the best option. They are much cheaper and faster as driving in London is a slow task. It could take more than an hour to get to the city center by car.

The Heathrow Express takes about 15 minutes and takes you to Paddington Station. The Gatwick Express takes around 30 minutes to arrive at Victoria Station.

Once you get off the train, you can take a taxi to your accommodation.

Noah riding a bus

England has a robust public transport system. There are generally trains between major destinations, as well as buses both within and between cities.

Please note that some locations only accept contactless payments. In London, you must have a contactless credit or debit card or buy an ‘Oyster Card’. They are available at most stations and can be pre-loaded. Each broker must have a separate form of payment.

Most major cities and tourist destinations also have hop-on and hop-off buses with a set route. Although these are not an inexpensive way to get around, they have recorded reviews that have great history and information.

Taxis and services like Uber are also options.

the car we rented

If you choose to rent a car, as we did, there are several important things to consider.

First, if you are not used to driving manually, make sure you book a car with an automatic transmission.

Remember that cars circulate in the left side of the road More disturbing, according to our experience, was that the driver sits in the right This completely changes your frame of reference and it’s very easy to find yourself on the left.

narrow road in England

The lanes are also very narrow and rarely have a shoulder. This, combined with driving from the right seat, led to them running up a curb and blowing a tire.

You may also often find that the speed limits on small, winding roads are faster than you are comfortable with. We often stopped to let a line of following cars pass.

another picture of the car

That said, the roads are very well maintained and in good condition.

cars parked on the side of the street

As many of England’s cities and towns were built before the automobile, parking can be a challenge.

Most cities have paid public car parks, with kiosks where you pay and receive a receipt to display on your dashboard. The prices were quite reasonable.

As for street parking, it’s best to check local regulations. Everywhere we went, there seemed to be different parking laws.

There are three main options for where to stay: hotels, bed and breakfasts and private accommodation.

Hotels: We stayed in three different hotels while in England. There’s pretty much what you’d expect, a wide variety.

a hotel we stayed at

Similar to America, Britain has a star rating system, with five stars being the most luxurious.

Bed and Breakfast: These are a unique option, as you are staying in a room in someone’s home. Breakfast will be served and you can mingle with the owner and other guests.

Please note that some bed and breakfasts have shared bathrooms.

Private accommodation: This was our favorite option. You are renting someone’s property on a nightly basis.

some houses we've been to

The unique cottages we rented in Cornwall, Wales, the Lake District and the Cotswolds gave us the chance to pretend to live like locals.

One of the best features is that they usually have a full kitchen. This can save a lot on eating out. Plus, sometimes after a long day of sightseeing, it’s nice not to have to go out again.

homemade food

We’ve cooked quite a few meals on our travels, including Toad in the Hole, which we’ve posted as a recipe on GypsyPlate. Even Noah participated in our flatbread night…

Noah making a pizza

In addition to the usual AirBnb, we also found some great places from Sykes Cottages.

There is great food in England, especially in the big cities, where there is a wide variety to choose from.

spread of English food

In smaller towns, you’ll usually find a mix of pubs and some ethnic restaurants, especially Indian and Asian.

One important thing to note is that in smaller towns often the only lunch options are pubs. So our recommendation is to enjoy good pub food for lunch (the fish and chips are a must) and try the international cuisine for dinner.

We recommend making reservations for dinner.

The general tipping rates in England are:

  • Waiters 10-15% *
  • Bartenders £1-2 per round (no pubs)
  • taxi drivers 10%
  • Tour guides £1-2
  • Hotel cleaning service £2 per day

* Note: Some restaurants add an optional service charge to the bill, in which case no additional tip is expected.

Always check in advance to see if anything is open. Especially in smaller towns, retail stores and pharmacies usually close at 5:30 p.m.

Also take note of holidays. Many shops and even some attractions may be closed. A list of UK public holidays can be found here.

Most large supermarkets also close at 4pm on Sundays, so keep that in mind.

a shopping cart full of groceries

Some of the common supermarket chains in England are Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrison’s and Aldi.

We found the grocery selection to be excellent. The produce in particular was very fresh and proudly marketed as UK grown. It was also a bit cheaper than the American products.

England has many great attractions, owning its rich history. From castles to museums, ancient relics like Stonehenge and modern wonders like the London Eye, there’s plenty to do and see.

collage of attractions from across England

In most cases, they are open every day, with the exception of holidays. Tickets can usually be bought on the spot, but if you’re visiting during peak season, it might be a good idea to buy them in advance online.

Important note: The interior of Buckingham Palace is only open to the public from late July to early October.

Entry to many of the museums, such as the British Museum and the National Gallery, is free, although a donation is suggested.

four more English attractions

If you’re planning to visit many of England’s historic attractions, check out the English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass. At the time of writing, it costs £39 for an adult for a nine-day pass and £46 for a 16-day pass, and gives access to over 100 sites.

an electrical converter

Although it may be obvious if you are a seasoned traveler, different countries have different types of electrical outlets.

England uses 230 V AC power, with a Type G plug in You can easily find adapters online as well as many tourist shops once you get there.

England is generally a very safe country with low crime rates. However, the usual precautions should be taken. Basically, be aware of your surroundings.

That said, accidents do happen. It is always a good idea to take out a travel insurance policy when traveling to a foreign country.

We hope this guide will help make your trip to England as smooth as possible. If you’re still in the planning stages, we have other posts that might be helpful: Things to do in England and Wales, Things to do in London and What to eat in England.

Until next time and some other destination…

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