24 Jul Don’t Forget Your Raincoat: Helpful United Kingdom Travel Tips
Don’t Forget Your Raincoat: Helpful United Kingdom Travel Tips
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your upcoming trip to the United Kingdom will be smooth merely because you understand the country’s language, customs and the whole left-hand driving thing. The UK might not be the biggest country in the world, but it’s a diverse nation with the potential to overwhelm the unprepared. Use the following traveler-approved tips to prepare for your “holiday,” as they call it across the pond. And yes, bringing your raincoat is definitely one of them.
1. Weatherize Yourself
Perhaps “bring your raincoat” is a slight oversimplification. In general, England’s weather is highly changeable, with significant seasonal variation. Remember that the country’s climate is oceanic, not continental, so it doesn’t experience wild seasonal temperature swings: Compared to the Chicago area, for example, winters are warmer and summers are cooler. Rain can strike without warning, however. Conversely, many parts of England, especially in the far south, are semi-arid and can go for weeks without rain during the summer.
2. Bring Adapters
When they first spy a British power outlet, most Americans react with something approaching bemusement. How can those two silly, smooth prongs provide all the juice necessary to power life’s modern conveniences? No one knows, but visitors to the UK must adapt, literally. The good news: You can buy a converter that fits directly into British wall outlets and accepts American-style plugs. If you’re going to be traveling elsewhere in Europe, you’ll need a different set of adapters, so look for a combination pack with multiple plug types.
3. Carry Cash
Now that traveler’s checks have mostly gone the way of the eight-track recorder, you’ll most likely need to wait until you get to the UK to obtain locally-legal tender. Unlike in the United States, where many folks don’t carry cash and routinely charge 35-cent packs of gum to their credit cards, Britain clings dearly to old traditions. Many stores and restaurants, especially if they’re independently-owned, have charge minimums of anywhere from 5 to 10 pounds.
4. Go Out
How better to experience the United Kingdom’s local flavor than to grab a drink at a local pub? Not all British eating and drinking establishments are created equal, however. Unlike in the United States and some other countries, there’s a sharp, codified delineation between the country’s three major types of establishments. Pubs are the most famous of these, but they often close by 11 PM.
Bars, on the other hand, resemble the American institution. They stay open until 1 or 2 AM, offering menus light on food choices and heavy on cocktails. Finally, British nightclubs and discos have much in common with their continental European counterparts: They stay open until the wee hours of the morning and are often packed with delirious weekend warriors.
As long as you’re polite and mindful of yourself and your belongings, your trip to the United Kingdom should go off without a hitch. After all, if you can read this, you’ve already taken care of the language gap, which can plague travelers to no end.
Devina Light writes for tourist blogs and web sites. She is a guest writer for www.gatwickairporthotels.com where you can find out more about Gatwick Airport accommodation.