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Old 04-28-2010, 07:25 AM
 
Location: London, KY
718 posts, read 1,453,621 times
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This has to be the biggest dream vacation for me-traveling to the UK. I've always been fascinated with British culture and have longed to spend a couple of weeks traveling the countryside.

If I had to choose an itinerary, it would be something like this: Spend 2-3 days in London, mostly checking out the "traditional" spots such as the British Museum, Natural History Museum, Tate & perhaps touring HMS Belfast as I love military history. Then I would spend the remaining time either in the southwest and Wales (Cornwall,Devon & then to Cardiff and Swannsea) or do a trip to the north and take in York,Northumberland and up towards Edinburgh.

Of course the problem is money. I'm still a year away from finishing my nursing school and even then I will be paying the mortgage,braces for kids,car payments etc. At this rate, I won't make it over until I'm too old to really enjoy things! So, for those of you who have been overseas, does it just boil down to saving money for years on end? Does anyone have any tips regarding how to save money while over in the UK. For instance, is traveling by train cheaper than renting a car? Are accomodations considerably more expensive than the ones here in the US?

I know these are all general and broad questions, but I would like to get some feedback and get some discussion going on....
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Old 04-28-2010, 07:59 AM
 
Location: Colorado
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Very briefly: Start saving money, yes definitely. But saving money in the UK also depends on what time of year you go. Obviously it's going to be cheaper if you fly out of season and not over any major holidays (eg; Xmas). You can get budget travel on buses and trains and as petrol is SO much more expensive than the US you will definitely save by doing that. Accommodation varies. B&Bs are traditionally the cheaper option but not always and in London you'd have to stay well out of town to save money there. There are motel chains in the UK such as Travelodge which are generally quite acceptable.

And if I were you I'd definitely stick with visiting York, Northumberland etc
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Old 04-28-2010, 08:13 AM
 
Location: Oxford, England
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I'd personally miss out on Cardiff and Swansea as there is little of interest there. If Wales is of interest then Pembrokeshire and Snowdonia are much nicer.

I would not miss out on Oxford and Bath. Both stunning cities with a wealth of Architecture, museums and must sees and take some time to explore the Cotswolds ( just west of Oxford), about as postcard pretty as England can get with beautiful honey coloured stone villages, historical mansions galore including Blhenheim Palace, home of the Churchill family), Churchill is buried just outside Woodstock with Clementine in Bladon. Slightly North of Oxford is Stratford upon Avon, worth trying to see if you can get some RSC tickets, refurbishments are under way but the courtyard there is still open .

Warwick nearby is also a lovely little town with an impressive Medieval castle.

Up North worthy of note is The Yorkshire Dales ( York further east and Harrogate are both lovely places to vist) , Northumberland with fantastic medieval castles and windswept coast and the Lake District on the West side of Northern England. Cornwall and Devon are lovely but avoid peak times as it gets horeendous with traffic and people.

Money wise Britain is a little more expensive but in recent years I find the gap has greatly narrowed between the two apart from housing and gas of course. otherwise for a tourist prices seem quite similar to me though of course pretty much all museums are free in the UK apart from private ones.

Avoid Birmingham, Leicester at all costs , and though Manchester and Liverpool have greatly improved in recent years they are still not that fascinating for a visitor on the whole, especially one with a limited amount of time.

Brighton on the South Coast is pleasant but a little over rated IMO, and the southern coast generally east of Weymouth tend to be overbuilt with a lot of really awful seaside resorts and acres of amusement arcades.
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Old 04-28-2010, 08:26 AM
 
Location: London, KY
718 posts, read 1,453,621 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mooseketeer View Post
I'd personally miss out on Cardiff and Swansea as there is little of interest there. If Wales is of interest then Pembrokeshire and Snowdonia are much nicer.

I would not miss out on Oxford and Bath. Both stunning cities with a wealth of Architecture, museums and must sees and take some time to explore the Cotswolds ( just west of Oxford), about as postcard pretty as England can get with beautiful honey coloured stone villages, historical mansions galore including Blhenheim Palace, home of the Churchill family), Churchill is buried just outside Woodstock with Clementine in Bladon. Slightly North of Oxford is Stratford upon Avon, worth trying to see if you can get some RSC tickets, refurbishments are under way but the courtyard there is still open .

Warwick nearby is also a lovely little town with an impressive Medieval castle.

Up North worthy of note is The Yorkshire Dales ( York further east and Harrogate are both lovely places to vist) , Northumberland with fantastic medieval castles and windswept coast and the Lake District on the West side of Northern England. Cornwall and Devon are lovely but avoid peak times as it gets horeendous with traffic and people.

Money wise Britain is a little more expensive but in recent years I find the gap has greatly narrowed between the two apart from housing and gas of course. otherwise for a tourist prices seem quite similar to me though of course pretty much all museums are free in the UK apart from private ones.

Avoid Birmingham, Leicester at all costs , and though Manchester and Liverpool have greatly improved in recent years they are still not that fascinating for a visitor on the whole, especially one with a limited amount of time.

Brighton on the South Coast is pleasant but a little over rated IMO, and the southern coast generally east of Weymouth tend to be overbuilt with a lot of really awful seaside resorts and acres of amusement arcades.
Thanks for the helpful information. Do you recommend traveling by rail? I'm very impressed by the rail system in UK, it seems that most of the areas I want to visit are served by rail.
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Old 04-28-2010, 08:52 AM
 
Location: Living near our Nation's Capitol since 2010
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I agree with other posters...Warwick Castle is amazing, skip Manchester and Liverpool.

In London, I suggest you try to see the Albert and Victoria museum. Its very nice. Naturally, you simply must allocate time for the British Museum, the Tate..and Harrods!

I also hope you can get up to the Lakes district..its is remarkable.

The trains would be a great way to travel....clean, direct and fun.

Have a wonderful trip..you can't go wrong going here!!! (but bring cash..lots of it! it is expensive!)
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Old 04-28-2010, 09:09 AM
 
Location: SW France
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I agree with everything that Mooseketeer said.

Sadly cars and trains are both expensive in the UK.

One of the cheapest forms of transport are the coaches- I think that National Express is the main operator.
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Old 04-28-2010, 02:04 PM
 
Location: on an island
13,382 posts, read 40,909,074 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlightAttendant View Post
In London, I suggest you try to see the Albert and Victoria museum. Its very nice. Naturally, you simply must allocate time for the British Museum, the Tate..and Harrods!
Agree about the museums.
Don't miss Sir John Soanes museum; it is the former home of the man, and full of the plunder--oops I mean discoveries--found during his world travels.
And London is expensive, but so many of the museums are free of charge.
Another fun experience that is free of charge is visiting Speaker's Corner at Hyde Park on Sundays. Portobello Road on Saturdays and many other flea markets are colorful free experiences.

We save for trips in a variety of ways. We just don't have all the material stuff we might like to have. We have a wonderful bed but no headboard.
My husband built our fence himself. I make my own yogurt. Stuff like that.
Consider CouchSurfing. We have hosted here in our home, and have been hosted in France. Out host in France showed us sights we never would have found otherwise.
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Old 04-28-2010, 02:37 PM
 
Location: Living near our Nation's Capitol since 2010
2,177 posts, read 2,914,734 times
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You are so right, BlueWillowPlate! Its rather shocking to see the plunder in the English museums....wow, they certainly helped themselves all over the world when they ruled the vast majority of it.

Staying in London, you might consider staying at Yotel (Yotel.com) at Heathrow. Heathrow is an easy ride into the city. The hotel is styled after the Japanese capsule hotels and priced much much lower than most London hotels. The standard room/cube is 49 pounds per night and the deluxe is 69. I havent stayed in one yet but I hear they are quite comfortable (not luxury, for sure, but clean and quiet). Just a thought.
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Old 04-28-2010, 03:16 PM
 
Location: Oxford, England
13,036 posts, read 22,012,684 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbryant View Post
Thanks for the helpful information. Do you recommend traveling by rail? I'm very impressed by the rail system in UK, it seems that most of the areas I want to visit are served by rail.


I think rail is better for travel to cities ( most cities in the UK nowadays are very anti-car and make it very hard and expensive to park). So if you are reasonably fit and healthy, yes I would recommend that. Have a look at all the different options in terms of passes etc.. ask about any discounts available. The longer in advance you book it and usually the best deal you can get. If you are on a small budget you could often do worse ( but compare prices with trains) than take National Express ( coaches).

However if you do want to get into the countryside ( and I would strongly recommend the Cotswolds where I live for example) then a car would be very useful so you could do London, take a train/coach to Oxford do the city, then hire a car and then maybe on to Bath via the Cotswolds.

Tipping is a maximum of 10% usually for restaurants ( no need to leave money in hotels as in the US either) apart from London where 15% is more common but unlike American tipping is not something "forced" upon you so you could argue that the costs of eating out and staying in hotels are narrowed down by at least 10% already.

When you eat out have a look at "www.lastminute.com" and "www.5pm.co.uk" and "www.toptable.co.uk" as many , many restaurants offer superb discounts and all you need is to register with the sites. We save ourselves a lot of money that way and have treated ourselves to some quite fancy restaurant at great discounts through those. Also try Premier Travel Inns which often have cheap deals on rooms if you book long enough in advance.

Too late for you this year ( but maybe not) but if you love travelling and have not got the biggest budget ( like us) , I would also recommend home swaps ( especially popular between America and the UK but all over the world really). You swap your homes and often your car and then all you have left to spend is your flights and spending money. We love it and have done over 50 home exchanges in the last 20 years. Allows us freedom, having a proper house rather than a hotel room , and allows you to get to know the country a little more like a visitor than a tourist.

Best sites :
HomeLink - home exchange house swap - subdomain: www
Intervac-International Home Exchange Holiday Service

If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask, I know many parts of the Uk pretty well though my "speciality" is Oxford, Cotswolds, Bath , Stratford Upon Avon etc...
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Old 04-28-2010, 03:27 PM
 
14,253 posts, read 15,324,963 times
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If you like military history then you should also visit the Imperial War museum in London.

Look into buying a rail pass from Rail Europe. An England pass will cost you $285 for 8 days which is pretty reasonable and gives good flexibility.

I agree with those who advise avoiding cities. There are plenty of smaller towns which are well worth visiting. Oxford, Canterbury, York, Cambridge and Bath come to mind. These towns are usually served by rail.
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