Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the United Kingdom. It was awesome but there are some issues that I would have loved to know about before I went. Here they are for your perusal:
Just because you have an electrical adapter, it does not mean that it will work with your appliances. I whipped out my American to UK adapter, only to fry my electric rollers and hair dryer. I was too frightened to use the adapter after that, so we bought two more adapters in England, one for my cellphone and one for my Apple laptop. I also bought some electric rollers in country. I threw my original curlers out once we got back because they were fried enough to not work anymore.
Your hotel may not have any air conditioning, depending on where you go. It was 90 degrees and humid in North Cornwall, which made for some uncomfortable nights. The management loaned us two fans but it was still rather warm for two Americans who are used to turning on the air conditioning at the drop of a hat or at a temperature rising above 70 degrees. Plan the time of year that you travel accordingly.
Hotels usually have hair dryers so you can leave yours at home, but they do not usually have Bibles so take yours if you want to do a Bible study while in country. Where are the Gideons when you need them?
The back roads in England are very narrow. Big cars do not do so well with very narrow roads, but the English are very considerate drivers. One of you will have to stop and wait if you are on a narrow lane and someone else is coming. Take turns. Trucks automatically win. If the pavement says “slow,” it really means “good luck with this one!” The word is usually painted on a road that is really only one lane but is pretending to be two.
The walls of the road (yes, they actually have 10 or 12 foot high walls on country roads) are vine-covered but they are hiding the fact that there is brick or stones underneath those vines. Don’t hit them.
If you get lost or are unsure of directions, the English are very happy to help, so ask them for assistance. Keep in mind that you may not understand what they are saying the first time around. Smile and be polite and ask them to repeat what they said.
Your car may not have a GPS, so you may wish to use your phone’s system to get where you are going because it will use your dialect.
The English love roundabouts. They use them a lot. The Twilight Zone of roundabouts was on our journey; it had five exits, each of which had its own five exit roundabout. We turned around and went somewhere else, in order to avoid it. If you see a sign that says “give way,” it means “yield.”
Some machines, like coin-operated washing machines, will only take new pound coins. The old pounds have a slightly different shape, so know which one you will need before converting all of your money to pounds in order to wash your clothes. Sometimes machines within a launderette (as they are called) will vary as to which coins they will accept, so ask the proprietor or read the signs above the machines.
Pounds are pretty easy to figure out, but the other coins might not be. I just gave up and treated a pound like a dollar (which it wasn’t) in order to have some sense of what I was paying for things. If you buy things in the airport, you can get a discount if you say you are flying outside the European Union. You may have to show your boarding pass to prove where you are going.
I hope you find my suggestions helpful. What tricks of traveling abroad have you used?