While you’re thinking about the clothes that you’ll need to pack for your trip to England and specifically London – if you’re from a hot country you’ll probably need layers, but don’t be fooled, the Tube gets extremely hot – you’re going to need some information before you get ready to board your plane.
Some of these questions that you might have on your mind could be very important, for example what you will need with regards to travel documents. Meanwhile others will be more trivial things that are on your mind and you think you need for a bit of reference.
We’re glad to be able to help you out with some of your questions, to make your trip and the preparation before it as enjoyable as possible.
Visas and travel documents
If you’re from an English-speaking country, you’re not going to need a visa, this also applies for tourists and visitors from America and further away.
What you will need is a valid and up-to-date passport, this will act as your visa and will allow you to stay in the country for up to six months. So, if you miss your plane on the way home you’ll be safe in the knowledge that you have lots of time to enjoy the merits of England. Of course it’ll probably be at some personal cost, but you definitely won’t be breaking any laws!
The Huffington Post has pointed out that your passport expiration date needs to be after the date that you plan to return to your home country if you’re a citizen of the United States.
Rules and regulations have a way of changing or updating, so make sure that you do your research before you head off on your trip to avoid any stress at the airport. An example of this is that you’ll need your passport to be valid for use at least six months after you leave for your trip, and you’ll need at least one blank page for your entry stamp at customs. If you are missing one of these restrictions, then you’re going to have to get a new passport.
Money and credit cards
The United Kingdom as a whole has their currency in Great British Pounds, or the Pound Sterling, this also includes Northern Ireland. The south of Ireland is in the euro, following suit with the rest of Europe.
In larger places, like in London, you’ll be able to use euros occasionally, but you’ll get your change in pounds and the exchange rate won’t be good.
Luckily in the capital there are many Bureau de Change desks and Post Offices where you can change extra currency if you need it. Similarly, you’ll be able to withdraw money from just about any ATM in pounds, but you’ll be charged a foreign transaction fee of around three per cent by your bank for the privilege.
Some credit cards also charge this three per cent, so you’ll need to be careful that it doesn’t sneak up on you. To avoid this problem, you’re best to exchange a decent amount of money before you leave, or pick yourself up a credit card that doesn’t charge fees on foreign transactions.
You won’t have any problem getting your credit card accepted anywhere, as the UK has a variety of card readers and many places now have contactless payments.
They’ll also bring the card machine to your table if you’re in a cafe or a restaurant, so your card is never out of sight.
Travelling around London
If you have the budget for it, you should definitely take a tour around London in one of its famous black cabs, which are always driven by an authentic London cabbie.
Most Londoners themselves tend not to use this service, as it’s very expensive for the day-to-day commuter, but they’re a great experience and you’ll be able to soak up history and culture in a much more personal way.
The easiest way to get around the city however is by getting yourself an Oyster Card because it’s cheaper and much more simple to use.
Just about everyone who lives in London has one of these because you can top them up with as much money as you like as you travel around. They’ll also get you onto the Tube, Overground, some National Rail services and all of the buses throughout the city, which means that you’ll have one less thing to worry about carrying with you when you’re walking around exploring.
Oyster Cards themselves are also cheap, costing just £5 to buy and you can stockpile money on them at any Tube station through London.
To use them, simply swipe them on the card readers that you’ll see on the Tube station turnstiles and next to the bus driver’s window.
Also, don’t forget to walk! London is a beautiful place to discover on foot, particularly if the weather is good and the sun is shining, so don’t forget to use those legs and stumble upon somewhere that the Tube can’t take you to.