England certainly isn’t the most difficult place in the world to travel, and offering some general travel advice might seem a little bit silly to the long-term traveller. However, even as someone who had been on the road for three years before first arriving in England, I was surprised by a couple things. A guide for what to expect is so helpful, and that’s exactly what this is.
This guide of information for travel to England is brief, but will help you through the basics of travel in England.
Obviously, when it comes to travel to England the center of things is London. The vast majority of visitors come to England via air links, the most popular being in the London area. Of course, the most popular of these airports is London Heathrow which is not only the largest airport in England, but one of the busiest on the planet. To the south of London, Gatwick Airport is also incredibly popular, especially with the low-cost airlines. Most Londoners use Gatwick as a jumping off point for weekend excursions on the cheap airlines. Thus, the fact that Gatwick Parking system is very well set up makes it a popular spot to drop your car and head out in the world for a weekend.
There are two ways of reaching England via bus. There are links via Scotland, which are the most popular. Carriers like Megabus are the cheapest way. You can also take the bus on the ferries that head over to France, Belgium, Ireland, and the Netherlands.
The only links via train to England are from Scotland and France. The Eurostar travels from London to Paris and is the quickest way to get between these two major cities. The cost of the train to Paris, however, is really high. If you’ve got the time, you’re better off catching the bus to Dover, and then hitting up the ferry to Calais, and then finally taking the train to Paris. Or vice-versa if you’re arriving in England.
The ferry system to England is quite good. In fact, there is even a ferry service that runs from South Africa to England! Of course, most of you will be searching for a quicker alternative. From Ireland, you can catch a boat from Dublin to Liverpool. You can also catch a ferry from Belfast to Liverpool. To the east, there are ferries that run to France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Some of these ferries accept pedestrians, others you’ll need to be on a bus to make it work.
Money and Budgeting
The English use the British Pound Sterling. Check out XE.com for the latest rates. There aren’t a lot of money changers and you’ll generally have to go to a bank if you want to do so.
There are ATMs everywhere. Some of them are linked to your home bank so check before using. Remember that although most of the machines in England don’t charge you a fee directly, your bank at home might charge you as much as $5.
Budgeting in England all depends on where you’re going, when, and where you’ll be sleeping. I’d say the lowest budget you might expect to have as a backpacker is about $65 a day. If you’re mid-range, you’re probably going to have to budget as high as $100 a day. England isn’t cheap, although you’ll find that getting off the beaten-path a bit reduces your costs significantly.
Electronics and Communication in England
The English use those bulky three-pronged plug-ins with the flat elements. If you don’t have an adapter, most of the hostels will either rent or sell you one.
If you have an unlocked phone it’s easy in England. In fact, the cost of pre-paid cell service is really good. Go to a dealer like 3, and you’ll often find that you can get unlimited data, texting, and national calls for as cheap as 20 pounds a month.
If you’re planning on using your cell phone from back home, be prepared for extortionate costs. Especially calls from North America can cost an arm and a leg. And, remember, you don’t just pay for outgoing calls, but incoming calls, and roaming. It’s best to just get a local number while here.
Wifi and Internet
Wifi is abundant in England and not too hard to find. Each and every hostel should have decent internet and wifi. However, some of the hostels were charging for wifi when I was last there, so don’t be surprised if that’s still the case. Nearly all the cafes advertise free wifi if you need it, too. The internet speeds in England are really quite good, you should have no problem accessing the net anywhere you go.
The hostels in England are quite good, although can be pretty expensive. If you’re looking for a dorm bed, you should expect anything from $20-25USD. If you’re in London on the weekend, that could be as high as $50. The prices also fluctuate greatly depending on the time of year and day of the week. If you’re looking for a private room, expect to nearly pay hotel prices.
If you’re a couple, or on a mid-range budget, the guesthouses in England are often your best bet. Not only do you usually get a nice bit of accommodation in a stress-free environment, but the price is right as well. Quite often, the guesthouses are much cheaper than the hotels, and the comfort level is actually far superior. It’s impossible to give a estimate on the costs here though, as prices can vary from affordable at $50 per night all the way to extreme luxury at $600-800 a night.
Of course, in England you’ll find your share of hotels and hotel chains. Most of them are good, but I always feel like they are slightly over-priced. If you can avoid the big chain of hotels in England, I think you’ll find yourself better off in the guesthouses and hostels.
Camping is a thing in England in the summer months, although most do it in a caravan. However, there are some camping areas so it is completely possible. The issue with camping, though, is that most of the attractions in England will be quite a ways from the site. Most people camp in England along the beach or lake. So, if you’re looking for that type of living, it’s fine. However, if you’re hoping to see some sight, you’re better off at a hostel.
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