I’ve been to the UK now five times since 2012 – most of those times it’s been to visit London. I’m not the only one either who likes to head there…did you know that an estimated 41.7 million tourists visited the UK in 2018 and that’s because of the sheer wealth of attractions offered by this rugged green island. From the stunning Scottish Highlands to the lovely Lake District, and from the thrills of London to the tranquility of the Cornish Coast, the UK is an amazing country to explore.
Which reminds me…I need to explore that rugged green island more!
However, to get the most out of your adventure, it’s important to be aware of the most common traveller pitfalls. Here is a list of the five most common mistakes (to me) that you can avoid on any UK trip.
1. Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten track
Many visitors to the UK head straight to London and stay there (I’m so guilty of this). Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that (we’re talking about one of the world’s most exciting cultural hubs, after all). But it’s well worth heading to a few lesser-known destinations as well. What about the super quirky village of Portmeirion in Wales? Or the haunting Fairy Pools of Scotland’s Isle of Skye? Or the artsy English seaside resort of Brighton (one of my daughter’s favorite places to visit)? Every corner of the UK is filled with incredible sights, so don’t feel that you have to restrict all your fun to the capital. And while you’re planning your tour, make sure to snap up decent hotel deals too (I love using my ebates app for this – I log in, go to a travel site like Expedia or Hotwire and I earn money while saving money on hotel deals!).
2. Know your tipping etiquette
Tipping is a part of UK culture but has slightly different conventions to, say, the Canada and the USA. Typically, you should tip restaurant waiting staff, taxi drivers and hotel porters, but it’s not compulsory. However, you don’t have to tip bartenders (although it’s fine if you do). Tips should be around 10 to 15%, but aim to base your gratuity on how happy you are with the service.
3. Plan for the weather
The UK is wonderful. But the weather? Not always. The truth is, you really can experience four seasons in one day in Britain, so prepare for that. Heading off on a picnic on a sunny morning? Don’t assume that the sky will stay that blue — there could be torrential rain by the afternoon. Make sure to wear layered clothing at all times, always carry an umbrella or a hooded jacket and, if you are going hiking, do it in watertight shoes.
4. Don’t get ripped off by rail prices
City-to-city train journeys in the UK can often be very pricey but thankfully, there are ways and means to get the most bang for your buck. For instance, if you plan ahead and book rail journeys 12 weeks in advance, you can snap up bargain rates (this is because new timetables are set every 12 weeks). Also, a lot of savvy Brits practice ticket splitting, where instead of buying a single ticket for one big trip, they buy various ones for each part of the journey. This can often result in big savings, so it’s well worth a try.
5. Don’t play it safe when eating out
Is fish & chips really as good as British people say? Why are traditional fry-up breakfasts so HUGE? And what’s all the fuss about Sunday roasts, anyway? Sometimes, traditional British food can make visitors nervous — so much so that they play it safe and head to pizza chains or fast food outlets instead. But you’d be missing out on some hearty delights if you do that. So aim to try at least one classic UK treat on your trip, whether that’s a traditional Devonshire cream tea or a Cornish pasty. After all, travel is all about experiencing new things.
Now that you know a few of the common traveller pitfalls of visiting the UK, you can avoid them and enjoy the best trip possible. So have a wonderful time in beautiful Britain (and make sure to carry an umbrella).