U.S. citizens need only a valid passport with a 6 months remaining validity, not a visa to enter the United Kingdom. If you do not have a passport or need to renew yours, applications are available at larger branches of the US Post Office or from passport agencies located in major cities. If you have any questions about obtaining a passport, call your local Post Office or the passport information number listed under “State Department” in the US Government section at the front of your phone book. For safety allow at least 10-12 weeks for your passport to be issued or renewed.
For minor illnesses, trained staff in pharmacies – in every village and town with a green-cross sign outside that flashes when open – give valuable advice, sell medications, can tell you when more specialized help is needed.
If you have a pre-existing condition then you should bring your medications in their original, clearly labeled, containers. It is also a good idea to have a letter from your physician describing your medical conditions and medications, including generic names.
For general emergencies and ambulance service in the UK, call 999.
No other vaccinations are required to travel to the UK but the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all travelers be covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, regardless of their destination.
During our trip, the UK will be 5 hours ahead of New York.
The currency in Britain is the pound sterling (£). Paper money (‘notes’) comes in £5, £10, £20 and £50 denominations. Some shops don’t accept £50 notes because fakes circulate.
Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are the cheapest and most convenient way to get money. ATMs connected to international networks are situated in all cities and towns and usually offer the best exchange rate.
Most major international cards are recognized, and you will find that most hotels, restaurants and major stores accept them. But always check first to avoid disappointment.
You always get a better exchange rate in-country, but it is a good idea to arrive in the UK with enough GBP to (at least) buy a coffee for example. Don’t travel with too much money though as it just isn’t necessary. There is an ATM in the airport, just ask your driver to point it out to you, otherwise there are many within the immediate vicinity of the hotels in London.
Tipping will be taken care of for you throughout the trip where we are together. So, the only time you will need to think about tipping is when having a drink or meal on your own.
Tipping is not essential as restaurants, hotels, bars, etc. include a service charge on their bills. A little extra is always welcomed, though, and it’s an excellent way to compliment the service (if you feel it needs complimenting). The tip can be anything from rounding up to the nearest euro to 10% of the bill.
To make an international call you will need to dial 00 then the country code (1 for the US) then the number you require.
The dialing code for the UK is +44.
Please check with your cell phone provider what your data deal is before leaving, it is not unusual to find yourself with a rather large data cost when using your blackberry, iPhone or similar device in Europe. Roaming is expensive but there are deals available with your provider that should lessen the impact.
The weather in London, UK, can be decidedly chilly in November and the city enjoys only three hours of sunshine each day. But if you wish to experience a typical English winter, you’ll discover that London is not as crowded in November as it is in summer.
What to Pack
As we will be doing a lot of walking during the day, your daily dress should have comfort in mind and be in keeping with variable temperatures. Footwear is of the utmost importance and good rubber-soled flat shoes for the daytime are highly recommended.
Just before the trip, you will receive a list of suggested dress codes for each evening by email.