United Kingdom Vacation Tips
BritainClick thumbnail to view full-size
Getting there or rather here! Some general points
I live in Yorkshire, England, where I was born and raised.
Following the credit crunch and global economic crisis of 2008 many Brits began taking holidays in the U.K. rather than abroad; taking a so-called stay-cation.
Let’s face it there are some beautiful and interesting destinations on these small lands that make up the United Kingdom.
So whether you live in the U.K. or are planning a visit from abroad here are some tips.
British weather can be problematic but there is more to a vacation than the weather.
Check out the long range weather forecast and closer to your vacation time check again.
It can be a good idea to pack a range of clothing for a vacation in Britain as even in summer you may experience the whole range of weather in just one day!
Everything you may need will of course be on sale but buying extras can play havoc with your luggage allowance and your budget.
Research your travel options online to find those that represent good value for money and fit your needs.
Northern rail at time of writing has been experiencing some service problems with various trains cancelled. Make sure you are up to date with any such ongoing issues.
In general the U.K. has a reasonable rail service with links all over the country although since privatization different parts of the train service are owned by different companies. This can make it a little more tricky planning a visit to a destination that is perhaps the length of the country away.
Contact the main help-line for Britain's train services and you should get good advice.
The U.K. is not a vast country compared to some but for convenience and value it is best to choose an airport that will be central for you
There are many airports available across Britain so choose one that is within the region you will be holidaying. For example, if you are taking a vacation in London choose Heathrow or Gatwick. For the Lake District, choose Manchester airport and for Yorkshire go for Leeds Bradford or Humberside airport. The same applies for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Southern Ireland is not a part of the United Kingdom.
If required pick up a hire car at the airport
Hiring a car is relatively simple but remember to check out any differences between the British road system and that in your country. Here we drive on the left and have some essentially peculiar British things such as roundabouts, which have their own rules of the road.
Visiting Britain’s smaller islands.
For non U.K. and U.K. residents who are planning a holiday on islands around the UK, such as the Isle of Man, Isle of Skye, Isle of Wight or even the Channel Islands a cheap flight will probably be the best option. The journey by land and boat can be long and tiring.
Local buses offer speedy direct links to major cities or you can opt to travel with a coach company which may offer accommodation and escorted tours also.
Taxis are reasonably priced but make sure you only use those with licensed plates. Keep your eye on the clock or ask for a price before the journey.
U.K. residents or travellers from abroad must always be mindful of their safety. In an area unfamiliar to you it is all too easy to end up in a "no go" area of town. Ask advice locally, consider your destination and try not to travel alone.
On the whole the U.K. is as safe a place as anywhere but use your common sense.
Currently there have been reports of an increase in knife crime especially in some London Boroughs.
Stay in well-lit well populated areas.
Terrorist attacks are sadly a fact of life in many parts of the world. Britain has experienced some attacks and in some cases foreign visitors to the country have been killed.
Ahead of your journey get the U.K’s latest travel advice via the Foreign Office directly or online.
British weatherClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Isle of Wight
Beaches and more around the UK
There are good beaches dotted around the U.K’s coastline. Some get overcrowded in good weather and during school holidays and may be overdeveloped. It all depends what you want.
Britain has busy traditional long established sea-side resorts such as Scarborough in the North and Brighton in the South of England but also smaller undeveloped beaches more off the beaten track.
The south of England
The warmest weather tends to be in the South of the country. Cornwall, Devon and Somerset have a lot to offer. These counties are in the South West of England and have beaches, history, scenery, lovely countryside, surfing at some beaches, Glastonbury festival, stately homes, the Arthurian legend and much more.
You can opt for small resorts if you prefer to get away from it all.
All of these areas have much more to offer but this will give you a taster of what is on offer and what would maybe make for a great base.
London can offer you just about everything, but no beach of course.
The north of England
The weather in Blackpool can be cold and windy even when it is sunny but Blackpool has a huge Pleasure Beach with a whole host of attractions and much more that is commercial on offer.
Blackpool lies on the North West coast of England and is big, bold and brash with its Pleasure Beach for thrill-seekers and a golden mile along the beach which is lit with dazzling light displays each autumn.
In the North East there is Scarborough, Bridlington, Whitby and lots of other smaller and larger seaside resorts.
Visit historic York for museums and art galleries, Leeds for shopping and Harrogate for a mixture of both.
Wales has coastline on three-sides and all in all this covers around 750 miles. As such it is diverse and at times rugged. There are traditional resorts such as Llandudno but there are also off the beaten track beaches. Cycling is a popular way for tourists to get around in Wales but bear in mind it can be very hilly.
Scotland has beautiful scenery, fascinating cities, Lochs, mountains, tradition and some good beaches into the bargain. Although Scotland is in the far North it does get some good weather. When we visited one October it was better weather in Scotland than in Yorkshire, England. However you will need to be cautious and pack a mixture of clothing. Most of Scotland's beaches are not commercialized and therefore tend to be wild and unspoiled.
Edinburgh has castles, palaces, fine buildings, history, shopping and more.
Has come a long way since the days of the troubles. Its cities are now well visited by tourists and there is plenty to see in and around Northern Ireland.
Southern Ireland is not part of the U.K. Its currency is the Euro.
It is very green and quieter on the whole than its Northern neighbour. Visit the south for peace and tranquility with a dash of tradition thrown in.
Beautiful Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire
Bed and Breakfast
Bed and Breakfast, or B and B will often be in a small guest house, although hotels usually offer this option also. The charge in a B and B will usually be per person for each night with breakfast included. Facilities on offer vary in each establishment. Most now include free WiFi.
The breakfasts usually consists of a full traditional English breakfast which may include fried eggs, bacon, beans, toast and cereal, at the very least. Tea and coffee will be included. Some also offer alternative breakfasts
These sorts of establishments are not ideal for families.
The rooms will usually have a kettle and tea pots with a supply of enough items to make a few drinks each day.
Caravans and camping equipment can be hired
Often such holidaymakers are camped on organized campsites that have shops and entertainment. People do still tour with a caravan in tow.
Hotels can be expensive but it depends on the star rating. The more stars, the better the hotel and the more expensive the price, usually.
If you visit in low season you may get a good deal on your accommodation.
Watch out for when it is U.K. school holidays as tourist resorts will be busy and bustling and more expensive.
Try to avoid holidaying from the end of July until early September, Easter time and across Christmas. There are other school holidays but these are the longest..
Around the U.K.Click thumbnail to view full-size
Saving some money
- Avoid shops such as those on campsites. Instead use the local supermarkets
- Buy bus and train travel cards and passes. Most companies offer discounted tickets such as weekly ones
- Book your holiday in low season. School holidays are the most expensive holiday times
- Avoid restaurants and bars that are in the centre of towns or tourist areas. Pick ones a little away from the busiest areas and get a better deal
- Eat seasonal fare
- If you need to see a doctor you should be able to be seen by a General Practitioner as an emergency patient. The same goes for a dentist. Ring N.H.S. direct for help if needed
- If you are visiting from abroad make sure you have travel insurance
- Currently if you are visiting from a European Union country health-care is reciprocal but that may change post Brexit
- Remember that the U.K., like other countries, does have crime so make sure that you protect yourself by travelling safely
- The emergency number for fire, police and ambulance is 999. Remember this is just for real emergencies
- How To Plan The Perfect Staycation
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- Staycation Ideas For Your Vacation
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- Staycation Ideas: Five Days of Fun!
Staycations are a economical alternative to a vacation abroad. Sometimes there are attractions in your own backyard that are worth a visit.
Have you taken a vacation in the United Kingdom?
- Travel | The Independent
- Little Britain: 10 of the UK's best tiny attractions | Travel | The Guardian
From a museum in a phonebox to a theatre with just 55 seats, we pick 10 pint-size treats from Dixe Wills’s new book on the nation’s tiny treasures
- United Kingdom holidays | The Guardian
United Kingdom holiday features and tips, accommodation and restaurant reviews, plus ideas for budget, family and sport breaks
U.K top ten places
All images (c) Eileen Kersey aka Ethel Smith
© 2009 Ethel Smith