London Hotels Articles

May 9, 2010

What to know about traveling in the UK

If you are traveling to the U.K. from abroad there are a few basic tips to make your trip easier.

If you are traveling by public transport in London, the most cost-effective tip is to buy an Oyster card for your time there. You will pay a small deposit when you initially purchase it, but you can reclaim the money when you leave if you hand in your Oyster card at any Oyster outlet.

Using an Oyster card provides you with much cheaper tube and bus fares on the London Transport system, and you can choose to either put a specific amount of money onto it (pre-pay), or purchase a weekend, weekly or monthly travelcard for it.

The London Underground does not run all night, so if you are going out to a West End show it is important to check when your last tube train leaves, as taxis can be expensive. Timetables for buses and the London Underground can be found online.

Taxis exist in two forms: Black Cabs, and mini-cabs. Black cabs are famous for their drivers having to pass a rigourous test called The Knowledge before they can be licensed, and many a chatty London Cabbie can be found on any London holiday! Mini-cabs are usually found at depots next to train and tube stations, and will be listed in the phone book. Many run specific airport services that can work out as a handy option if you have flights leaving very early in the morning. Make sure to find out the quoted price before you travel and NEVER accept a ride from a mini cab tout on the street. These touts hang outside clubs and bars and are not guaranteed to be genuine.

If you are driving, there are many internet sites now that will compare prices of car hire companies for you. Cars drive on the left in England, do not forget it!

If you drive in London, there is now a congestion charge in place for central London. It can be paid online, over the phone, or at numerous petrol stations, newsagents, supermarkets etc. A full list can be found online. Once you cross into the congestion charge zone you will have 24 hours to pay before a fine is issued. Your license plate is captured on CCTV when you cross the zone.

There are now many deals existing for train and coach travel throughout the U.K. It is almost always cheaper to book your train tickets beforehand, and traveling in off-peak hours will provide cheaper fares. A good site to check out is www.trainline.co.uk for numerous discount train fares. National Express and Megabus also offer very cheap coach fares.

If you are planning to travel from the U.K. to Scotland, cheap airfares can be found on discount airline sites such as Easyjet, Ryanair and BMIbaby. They will sometimes be cheaper (and certainly faster) than journeying by train, but it is not as environmentally friendly!

Cheap Eurostar fares out of the U.K. can be found by actually talking sales assistants at the Eurostar desk in Waterloo station. Sometimes the automatic fare generated on the website is not the cheapest.

Good luck and happy traveling…

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