A Big Journey Company Tour director and/or our local tour guide(s) will be accompanying you on your journey to ensure that you have the most amazing time whilst visiting the United Kingdom.
In the meantime; we have put together some useful information that will hopefully answer those pre-travel questions and you may have.
UNITED KINGDOM – INCLUDING ENGLAND, SCOTLAND, WALES AND NORTHERN IRELAND
Sitting off the coast of mainland Europe in the the Atlantic Ocean, the tiny islands that form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland have had their hand in some of the biggest events in world history! From such a small land has come a wealth of large and influential characters, a long and rich history, a knack for science and innovation that have changed daily lives, a vast empire on which the sun didn’t set, a musical legacy of songs that the whole world can sing to and a language that is today spoken on every corner of the globe.
From the iconic capital cities of London, Edinburgh, the booming modern cities of Manchester and Belfast, the historic cities of Bath and York, to the quaint market towns of Stratford and Salisbury, you will see many varied points of the UK. Between these lies some of the best countryside in the world – rolling fields, soaring peaks, winding coastlines and babbling brooks. Whilst it will never be top of the international foodie lists, with its long and mixed history, the influence of the commonwealth and neighbouring Europe have provided the UK with one of the most varied cuisines in the world - this is a country where the most eaten dishes include traditional British fish and chips, a curry created by Indian immigrants and spaghetti Bolognese, snaffled from Italy. And when you’ve had your fill of this, there’s still time to embrace all the culture the UK has to offer. From art, to music, design to dance, literature and even the football, which dictates many a Saturday afternoon across the land, the UK is a world leader in many fields! You are sure to enjoy your time discovering all there is on offer!
All visitors to the United Kingdom must be in possession of a passport that is valid for a minimum of six months at the time of entry and has been issued within the last ten years. Please be sure to fill out the "Emergency Next of Kin" section in your passport
Citizens of the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and European citizens may enter the United Kingdom for up to 6 months for tourist purposes without a visa. All other nationalities must check the visa entry requirements before your departure. You need sufficient funds and a return airline ticket.
• Consular Information
There are a number of major international embassies located in London, including those for the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The US also has consulates in Belfast and Edinburgh. However, embassies for other countries, including are located in other European cities, offering coverage to the UK. Please check with your relevant government for the relevant contact details.
N.B. Please note, visa and entry requirements, regulations and restrictions can vary on a regular basis. Please ensure you check in good time prior to travel the current requirements applicable to you.
HEALTH, INSURANCE AND SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS
• Travel Insurance
It is company policy that all passengers must have valid travel insurance prior to travelling, to include but not limited to health insurance and cancellation insurance. It is vital that ALL members of the travelling party are fully insured for the dates of travel. All pre-existing medical conditions must be declared to the insurer and the correct cover must be taken in regard to the specific type of holiday you are taking.
The details of your insurance must be advised to The Big Journey Company at least 6 weeks before your departure date. Please make sure to write down important information from your insurance policy, such as the company’s 24hr emergency telephone number (including dial code from abroad) and your policy number and take these with you on tour.
• General Health
Please talk to your doctor or travel health clinic in person at least eight weeks before you travel, where a health professional can provide you with the necessary health information for your personal needs.
Wearing sunscreen, drinking plenty of water, washing your hands properly before eating and avoiding insect bites should keep you healthy on tour.
We recommend you carry a simple travellers’ first-aid kit containing any basic items that you feel may be required, including remedies for minor stomach complaints.
If you do need to see a doctor during the tour, please speak to your Big Journey Company tour escort.
• Passengers with Disabilities or Reduced Mobility
Our UK tours are an Activity Level 2 and will require moderate physical activity and include various forms of transport. Please check our Activity Levels description page to see if this level is suitable to you or contact us if you require further information on the activities involved in the tour.
If you or any member of your party has any medical problem or disability which may affect your holiday, please provide us with full details before we confirm your booking, or as soon as possible at the time they occur, so that we can try to advise on the suitability of your chosen arrangements. Please note, we may require you to produce a doctor’s certificate certifying that you are fit to participate in the tour.
• Medical Conditions and Personal Medication
Please advise us prior to travel if you have any medical conditions requiring special attention during your trip. If you have a specific medical condition, it is wise to carry the relevant doctor’s prescription with you.
- Pack a sufficient supply of any medications you are taking, copies of the prescriptions and the telephone/fax numbers of your doctor.
- Please note, some countries require that prescription drugs be carried in their original container, with the label clearly visible. In the event of you losing your medication, a qualified pharmacist should be able to source a replacement.
There are currently no vaccination requirements for international travellers, but please consult your doctor before travelling for the latest immunisation information as well as advice according to your unique medical needs.
• Travelling with CPAP or other Medical Machines
Please inform The Big Journey Company that you are travelling with such a device as early as possible, and well before you travel. This is especially important in places where there may be issues with power supply, such as on safari or smaller cruise ships. Also,
- Check that you have the correct electrical and voltage adapters for the country and accommodation you are visiting;
- Check with your airline that they allow your device to be carried as additional hand luggage and ensure that your device is easily accessible and properly labelled as medical machinery;
- Always carry a letter from your medical practitioner prescribing its use for you;
- Ensure you have details of your machine separately in case of the need to secure repairs/replacements whilst you are travelling;
- Check with your medical practitioner about the use of tap or bottled water in the event that distilled water cannot be sourced in the country you are travelling to.
Please note, if you require distilled or ionised water, you must inform The Big Journey Company of this at least two weeks ahead of travel, so we are able to make preparations with our ground agents. There will be an additional charge for this.
• Special Dietary Requirements
Please let us know in good time prior to travel if you have any special dietary requirements (e.g., vegetarian, vegan, diabetic, gluten-free, etc.). We will make every effort to accommodate your request with the resources available to us.
• What to Pack and Wear
We would recommend comfortable clothes and comfortable walking shoes for this tour. Feel free to include a few smart-casual outfits for dinner if you wish, however there is no pressure to follow a dress code.
The weather should largely be pleasant throughout the journey, however it is always good to be prepared for every eventuality, so make sure you pack a light jacket in case of rain and a fleece/hoodie for cooler mornings and evenings.
For those visiting Scotland, as the weather is generally cooler and wetter than the rest of the UK, it would be advisable to pack some extra layers,
Insect repellent and sun cream are also essential items. Don't forget your camera, with charger/spare batteries and memory cards.
• Luggage Allowances
International airlines are often strict about the size and weight of checked in baggage and carry-on luggage. Prior to your departure, please contact your airline or visit their website for specific luggage requirements, as size and weight limitations may vary according to the airline and destination.
Luggage handling is not included in our UK tours. It may be available at the hotel for a local charge.
Laundry services are available in some hotels on the tour.
The main language of the United Kingdom is English. Nevertheless, there are a number of regional languages – Gaelic in Scotland, Welsh in Wales and Irish in Northern Ireland. Due to the country’s empire, a number of other languages from the Indian subcontinent and Africa are widely spoken.
The time zone in the UK is GMT, 1hr behind continental Europe.
The United Kingdom is a great destination to visit any time of year, however, you just never know what the infamous, unpredictable weather forecast will bring! Weather in Spring and Summer is usually quite mild, with long and light days. Be prepared for the sunshine but also, of course, for the rain! Please ensure to check the weather forecast for the U.K before you depart as this will give you a better idea of what clothing to pack and what weather to expect whilst you are there. Autumn is also a nice time to visit, with good days creeping into October and as the countryside turns a glorious colour, but as always, there’s a chance of blustery showers. Winters tend to be cold and wet, with the eastern side of the country colder than the west.
In Scotland, the weather is generally cooler and wetter than the rest of the
United Kingdom. Spring/Summertime in Scotland can produce mild temperatures throughout the daytime but can get cooler in the evenings. Be prepared for the sunshine, cloudy days and of course, rain.
In the United Kingdom, the standard voltage is 220-240V. You will require a UK plug adapter (three square pins), and/or converter depending on which electrical appliances you bring with you. Please note, this UK uses different plugs and voltage to the rest of continental Europe.
MOBILES & INTERNET COMMUNICATION
The UK has a well-developed communications infrastructure. A number of cellphone/mobile phone providers offer national coverage and there are well-established landline phone networks. In populated urban areas, there should be good mobile signal but as we head into rural areas, especially in Scotland and Northern Ireland, signal may fluctuate. Internet and Wi-Fi are easily accessible in most urban areas and most hotels and restaurants provide free WIFI. Please check data roaming charges for the UK with your service provider before leaving home as these can quickly become very expensive. Please note to check roaming charges with your operator when travelling from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland, as this may differ.
The currency of the United Kingdom is the Pound Sterling £ (GBP). Credit cards are widely accepted at almost all shops, bars and restaurants nowadays, even for small transactions. When travelling in Scotland and Northern Ireland, you may receive notes issued by the Bank of Scotland or Ulster Bank (N Ireland). Though these are legal tender in the UK, you may struggle to spend them out of the area as they are not common tender in the other regions of the UK.
Many transactions are now carried out ‘contactless’ and there are some situations where cash is no longer accepted, for example on London buses. Nevertheless, it is advisable to carry money in cash with you as well. ATMs are widely available in cities, but not so in smaller villages.
Important Note for US Travellers – The UK was one of the first to adopt chip-and-pin and contactless credit cards, and they are used for everything nowadays. Cards with magnetic strips on the back (commonly used in North America) may not work with certain automated machines where contactless payment or chip and pin is the only option. It may be advisable to contact your card issuer to see if you can get a new chip and pin card.
Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted credit cards however many places do not accept cards such as Diners Club or American Express. If you intend to use any of your debit or credit cards whilst away, please make sure that you contact your bank before you leave to inform them that you will be travelling in order not to cause any problems using your cards or whilst on the trip.
You might want to carry some extra cash in your wallet to use in these situations just in case. You may be asked to provide ID if you cannot pay by chip and PIN.
Prices in the UK can vary considerably. The north is cheaper than the south for all items, from day to day essentials, transport to eating out. Prices in London are high, especially in tourist hotspots, so expect to budget more for these days. Prices are on average however with other main European countries.
• Bank Opening
Banks in the UK are usually open 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday, with most open Saturday mornings as well. However, banks are becoming rare in the UK with most moving online.
After feedback from previous guests, we offer a group tipping package for this tour. Look out for more information in your pre-tour emails.
British food is one of the most varied in the world. Traditional dishes of an English Breakfast, fish and chips, Shepherd's Pie and a warming hotpot sit alongside Chicken Tikka Masala or Balti curries, pasta dishes that have been tweaked to UK tastes and jerk chicken from the Carribbean. The traditional British and regional dishes are nevertheless having a revival, spurred on by the many farmers markets you will find across the country, selling fresh local produce. And whilst in the UK, be sure to try one of the tipples - from the many craft breweries and distilleries, a booming industry, to the whiskies of Scotland.
Some meals are included as part of your tour – please check your individual departure for the relevant meal inclusions
The tap water in UK is generally of excellent quality. Unless otherwise advised, you can drink the local tap water. Bottled water can be bought at supermarkets, kiosks and many shops.
The UK offers lots for visitors to buy. From its clothing shops, its handicrafts, pottery, food and drink, artwork and trinkets, you will be sure to bring something home with you.
• Opening Hours
In the cities and towns, most retail shops are open from 9am – 5pm Monday–Saturday, though may vary locally. Some larger shops and supermarkets are open later into the evening. Most shops are open on Sundays, but with reduced hours of 10am-4pm.
• VAT/Tax Refund:
Numerous shops in UK offer a VAT refund when leaving the country. Please ask the salesperson whether tax-free shopping applies to the shop in question.
SAFETY & SECURITY
Crime levels in the UK are generally low. However, there’s a risk of petty theft, particularly in airports, in popular tourist attractions and on public transport. Please take sensible precautions to protect your belongings, particularly your passport, money and credit cards.
However, as is widely known, the UK has sadly been the target of a number of terrorist attacks in recent years. When in large crowds or major tourist destinations, you should remain vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities.
Smoking is banned in indoor public places. There are usually designated outdoor areas where people can smoke. Smoking is prohibited on all means of public transport.
Protestantism is the official religion of the UK, with the queen the head of the Church of England. However, the UK also has large Catholic, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Jewish communities, amongst others, a testament to the long colonial empire.
The UK offers photo opportunities one after another. You will return with many photos that can never be repeated. Remember to pack your camera, along with the charger, spare batteries and a spare memory card!
ARRIVAL IN THE UK
Please note, standard hotel check-in is around 3pm, so should you arrive earlier than this, your room may not be available upon arrival. For those arriving early morning, we will do everything we can to work with the hotel to get you an earlier check-in subject to availability.
For tours including arrival airport transfers, after collecting your luggage, proceed through to the arrivals hall where there will be a representative holding a sign with your name welcome you and transfer you to your hotel. Please advise your flight details no later than six weeks prior to travel.
TOUR HOTEL INFORMATION
Please check your tour paperwork for hotel information attaining to your tour departure.
OTHER COUNTRIES ON TOUR ITINERARY
For those continuing their stay in the Republic of Ireland or other European countries, please check the relevant Travel Tip pages for information on these countries.
FLYING & TRAVEL HINTS
• Photocopy the personal information pages of your passport; leave one copy at home with a friend or family member, and take a copy with you, but pack it separately from the passport itself.
• It is advisable to carry all your travel documentation as well as valuables and essential items in your hand luggage, such as camera, toiletries, reading material etc.
• Duty-Free shopping is always tempting, but please check the current Duty-Free limits applicable in the country of your destination.
• Longer flights can be made a little more enjoyable by wearing loose clothing and good, comfortable shoes. Walking in the aisles regularly, eating sensibly and drinking plenty of fluids (not alcohol) is also advised.
• Where possible, try to get some sleep during the flight and upon arrival at your destination, most people adjust better to the local time if they wait until the evening before sleeping – this should relieve some of the effects of jet lag.
If you have any other questions that we have not covered here; then please send us an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note, the above information is provided as a guideline only. Although every effort has been made to provide complete and accurate information, The Big Journey Company makes no warranties, express or implied, or representations as to the accuracy of content on this website. The Big Journey Company assumes no liability or responsibility for any error or omissions in the information contained in the website.
Updated November 2019