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A trip to the UK, or any part of Europe, is often a once-in-a-lifetime event. You don’t know if you’ll get another opportunity to do it or want to spend that kind of money again. Naturally, that means you want to make the most of your time there.
For some people, this means attempting to pack as much as possible into their trip. But what if there was a better way? You don’t want to miss out on what the country offers, but you also need time to take it all in. If you want to be satisfied with your trip, there are some things you can do to make it count.
Making a Trip to the UK
Explore More, Travel Less
Some people approach a trip to the UK as if they have to visit as many places as possible. They plan an itinerary that involves racing from place to place, thinking it’s feasible. After all, the UK is small, right? But only 11 US states are big enough to fit the UK inside them with room to spare. It’s roughly the size of Wyoming, Michigan or Oregon. And size isn’t the only thing to consider. A journey by car might look like a short distance, but in reality, it could be a much longer trip thanks to winding roads and traffic.
If you plan a UK itinerary that involves zipping around the country, you could spend more time traveling than actually getting to see anything. If you want to explore instead of being in a car or on a train most of the time, you should be more selective about where you visit. Choose one base for your stay or a maximum of two or three, depending on how long you’re staying. You could plan a day trip or two from your main base while still getting to know one city, town, or region.
Pick the Best Transport Method
What’s the best way to get around while visiting the UK? This depends on your itinerary and where you’re staying. If you’re only going to London, you’ll unlikely need a car. Public transport is excellent in England’s capital, and it’s good in several other cities too. If you’re considering visiting different parts of the country, trains can be a good option, although they can get expensive and unreliable.
Hiring a car is another option for longer trips, while internal flights can sometimes be helpful in getting from one end of the country to the other. It’s also a good idea to hire a car if you’re staying in a more rural area, where public transport might not be a great option.
Lighten Your Load
Sometimes, traveling can involve much waiting around, and you can be left doing so with your bags. Maybe you’re waiting until you can check in to your hotel, or you have a while before a train or flight leaves. Instead of waiting, some people might decide to go and do something. But dragging your luggage with you isn’t convenient and might mean you can’t go into some buildings without it being awkward.
Fortunately, you can find plenty of luggage storage in London and other locations. Leaving your luggage in a safe place gives you the freedom to explore as you like and make the most of the time you have. You can do everything from visiting a museum to stopping at a cafe.
Get Local Restaurant Recommendations
You might have heard that British food isn’t any good, and some people do find themselves disappointed by their culinary experiences when they visit. However, one of the keys to finding the best food is knowing where to go. Both excellent British food and multicultural cuisines can be found if you know where to look.
This often means avoiding chains and looking for independent restaurants instead. You can get local recommendations from plenty of people and places, ranging from hotel concierges to people online. Look at reviews and find the places that locals and visitors rate well.
Look for Free Things to Do
Getting to the UK can be expensive if you’re coming from the USA. So, if you can save money, it could help you stick to a budget. The good news is that you can often find free things to do around the country. Museums and galleries often have free entry, especially in larger cities. You can find parks aplenty, which offer a range of facilities, from boating lakes to walking trails. Of course, a lot of outdoor activities are entirely free to enjoy. National parks are perfect for anyone looking for somewhere to hike or experience the outdoors in other ways.
Pack for All Weather
One thing to keep in mind is that the weather in the UK can be unpredictable. Even in the summer, you could experience a range of weather in one day. But you don’t want that to stop you from experiencing everything the country offers. Being prepared for different temperatures and conditions will mean you won’t be stuck inside just because it’s raining a bit. Take a couple of other pairs of shoes, a waterproof layer, and appropriate clothes for the time of year you visit.
Get Out of England
Remember that the UK is made up of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. You can visit some of them, and might not have time to, but it’s worth considering whether you want to explore beyond London and England. Each of them has its own distinct identity. Edinburgh is a fantastic city, and the Welsh Pembrokeshire coast is a beautiful area. Belfast is worth a visit, and you can explore the Republic of Ireland, too, although it’s not part of the UK. Consider some of these locations as a second place to stay or even your primary base for your trip.
There’s much to see in the UK, and you won’t fit it all into a week or two. But you can make the most of your trip so it’s as enjoyable and memorable.
Jason Butler is the owner of My Money Chronicles, a website where he discusses personal finance, side hustles, travel, and more. Jason is from Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Savannah State University with his BA in Marketing. Jason has been featured in Forbes, Discover, and Investopedia.