Everyone loves to travel, even it if it is a local trip. There is nothing like packing up a suitcase and going somewhere new. I have been very fortunate and have been afforded the opportunity to travel to some wonderful places over the course of the last few decades. The great thing about traveling a lot is that, with each experience, you learn to be a bit more prepared for the next one.
One of the things that I like to do when relatives and friends come to visit me is give them a lot of information about the area they are coming to. My spouse would say that it is information overload. I like to call it being very detailed. When a person has a lot of details, it is easier for them to budget and plan their trip. I know that all of you detail oriented folks out there are saying AMEN SISTA! GOTCHA BACK ON THAT ONE!
As you make your plans, I am sure information is a bit helpful. People in Europe are different from Americans. They get a lot of time off. For example, our child gets a month off of school every 10 weeks and that is not including the 10 day break she gets every 5 weeks. And when they have time off, they travel.
I have enclosed some examples of things that people from the U.K. do on trips. To find trips like these, call a local travel agent in your area and have them arranged. A lot of the trips available will fill up quickly in the summer. If you are fearful about traveling around Europe by yourself, don’t worry. Most trips have a guide and you will be with other people on planned community trips. A lot of the day trips will repeat themselves throughout the year. If your child is over 12 years old, they will be charged as an adult. There are Disney Trips and Paris trips by bus, if you don’t want to fly everywhere you go in Europe. It is a long trip. You can take the EURO rail from London and get to Paris in less than 2 hours for a few more dollars, so it is worth it, in our humble opinion, to decrease the travel time. I am not sure that you would be able to convince us to go on another Disney Bus trip! It was a really long trip.
When you are making your plans to come to the U.K,
there are a few things that you want to consider.
When you travel to the United Kingdom, you can not do so without a passport. It can take up to 6 to 8 weeks or longer during the busy season, so plan accordingly. The current cost of a passport is $165.00 for an adult and $120.00 for a child. That price is subject to change, since it is a new year.
Click on Passport in order to read what might be applicable to your needs.
You will want to plan early. The longer that you wait to get your ticket the more expensive it will be. Right now, on American Airlines, they have some tickets coming to London for as little of $129.00 one way. The return trip is running around $400 and up. You must book your tickets together. So you could get a ticket for as little as $570.00. There was also an email that went out recently with tickets as low as $324.00 on American Airlines website, if you booked no later than January 2, 2012. I am a gold member with American Airlines, so it is the only airline that I track and fly with (for the most part). But, there are other airlines you can use. I normally will book my trip through American Airlines but fly on British Airways. It is a much better experience with more leg room.
Another thing to consider when you are planning to buy your tickets is that the Olympics are here this year. The Olympic Games will be in London from July 27, 2012 through August 12, 2012. Travel will be more expensive during that time unless you can find a special now. Also, it will be a bit more crowded in London due to spectators, so you will probably want to ask yourself whether you want to brave the crowds. My family and I are going to stay away from the area. We have booked a holiday in Austria, so that we are away for a week of the Games!
Your money does not go far and things are often EXTREMELY expensive. For example, if you want a coffee at Starbucks, a regular coffee, it is about 4.50 pounds, and that is about $7.42. Your dollar will stretch a little further with the Euro, but not much. That same coffee would be about $7.00. A typical meal in a restaurant for a main course and non alcoholic beverage will be about $32. A lot of meals come in courses here and you can choose between a 1 course meal, two courses (meal and appetizer) or three courses to include a dessert. The prices for meals like that can start as low at 6 pounds for one course ($10.00), 2 courses 9.95 pounds ($16.33) and 3 courses $12.95 ($21.38). This is on the low end of things. So don’t plan for everything to be that way. But you can eat cheap here if you try. But the cheapest way is to eat at home, so you could consider renting a villa or making sure that at least one or two of your meals is included in your hotel or B&B price.
Most meals don’t include a drink and they do not do free refills, so keep that in mind. Most kids meals are 5.95 pounds ($9.80) no matter where you go and include an appetizer, main course, dessert and drink. If you are a fast food person, McDonalds are few and far between, Wendy’s is only in London, Fridays is in London, KFC is everywhere (but I hear it is horrible), and there is Burger King, Popeye’s, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Subway here and there. Subway tastes different here and I am not sure that it has our standards of cleanliness so I would steer clear if you can.
When you go to London for the day, with breakfast, lunch, dinner, site seeing, transportation, and trinkets, you can spend an average of about $150.00. If you are just one person, you can spend less. If you are buying sounvenirs, you could spend a bit more. So you need to budget about 50.00 pounds per day for expenses, which is about $82.50 per person, on the days that you are out sightseeing. Of course, there are less expensive things you can do but on average, you need that much per day, not including your hotel and transportation. There are lots of free things that you can do, for example, we have one of the oldest working churches in England in our village that you can explore for free. There are parks and museums that you can explore as well for just a couple of dollars. So not everything will be expensive but you need to be aware of the cost as you budget and save.
When you are planning your trip, you need to consider coming on a week day. You will be JETLAGGED the first day that you are here. It will not be bad going back to the states because you gain 5 to 8 hours. In order to maximize your trip, you will want to stay over two weekends. Unless you are out west, you will leave between 8:00 to 11 pm in the evening and travel over night. You will arrive in the morning British time and will probably spend at least the first day recovering& adjusting to the time difference. The flight will be a minimum of 7 hours if you choose to fly direct. If you choose to have a connection, your flight could be upwards of fifteen or more hours.
Once you arrive here, we live about 2 hours from the Airport in a county called Suffolk County. It is one of the several counties in the south eastern region of England called East Anglia. I give you that information so you know that if you are leaving London for the country side, you could be traveling upwards of 2 hours to get to your destination.
Expenses as soon as you arrive in England
- Car service will need to pick up from the airport and take you back unless you are staying in London. You can get a shuttle or a taxi but, If you are going out to the country side, you will need a car service.
- Cost round trip $394.35 (around 120 pounds each way.)
- This service will have to be arranged at least 30 to 45 days in advance during the summer months.
- You can also use this service if you take the Eurorail into Europe. Just remember that each time it is a cost of 120 pounds. So budget for that.
Things to Do Once Here
First of all, everyone has a dream list of everywhere they would go/see when they arrive. If you come here for ten days, you will get to see London at least once, maybe a few local things and possibly one other place in Europe. So think about that as you are making your plans. There is no way that you will be about to see Germany, France, Italy, Belgium and Holland on a 10 day trip. You might be able to choose one or two of them. Also if you have children, think about what you will want to do with them as well. It is really beautiful over here but children are not as interested in the arts and history as you are so you have to plan a good mix. You can buy a book or email me. We are familiar with a lot of kid friendly locations and things to do.
I wanted to give you some basic information that might make your travels to the United Kingdom a bit more enjoyable. I hope this was helpful, let me know if you are planning to travel anywhere, I’d love to know!