The Britain Experts

Visiting from Abroad?

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To help you plan your visit we have produced a list of Frequently Asked Questions. If you cannot find the answer here to the question you are asking then please email us, and if appropriate we will also add your question and our answer to this page.

Q: When is the best time of year to visit the UK and Eire?

It doesn’t really matter. The weather is likely to be at its best between June and September, and most visitor attractions are open regularly form April to October, but that shouldn’t stop you visiting in winter – there are still lots of places to visit and lots of things to do. Visiting over Christmas opens up a host of opportunities to see Christmas decorations, and some of Britain’s most famous events – The Blackpool Illuminations for example, take place in the autumn.

Expect Britain to be busiest between the last week in July and the first week in August (when all the schools have their holidays). May, June and September are great months if you are looking for good weather and lots to do, but without the crowds.

Q: Should I buy any sight-seeing passes?

This will depend upon your interests. If we are planning your itinerary for you we will work out the best value way to see the places we recommend. This may include National Trust, Historic Houses Association, CADW, Historic Scotland or English Heritage Memberships – these are annual memberships so you will still receive information when you get home.

Q: How much can I see in one visit?

There is a lot to see and do in Britain and Ireland – that’s partly why we are here. We don’t recommend you try to see the whole country in one go, and where you go, and how long you stay for, really does depend upon your interests and your chosen means of transport. If you ask us to plan your itinerary then you can be sure we will help you make the most of the time you have available.

Q: Do I need my passport? Do I need a Visa?

For Britain, click here for country-by-country answers.

For Eire, click here.

Q: What currency do I require?

If you are visiting Great Britain, you will require Sterling (£) which are spent in units of ‘pounds’ and ‘pence’. If you visit Eire (Southern Ireland) you will require Euros (€) which are spent in units of ‘Euros’ and ‘Cents’. Our Foreign Exchange provider (see our shop page) can arrange this for you. When you are travelling between countries (especially on a Ferry) you may have choice of paying in £ or €.

Q: Can I use my credit cards?

You can use MasterCard and Visa in most retailers and at all ATM machines, although there may be a charge for doing this. Some establishments will accept American Express and Diners Club Cards. You may find some smaller businesses (including accommodation providers) only accept cash payments.

Q: Will my cell/mobile work in the UK?

Most visitors to the UK will have no problem using their phone – as long as it is suitable for use in the UK (quadband for example). US visitors may have problems, however, and it is possible to purchase cheap pay as you go phones for the time you are in the UK. Check with your current phone provider to see if there are any special packages (this also applies to British travellers going to Ireland).

Vodafone and EE are probably the best networks for general UK coverage, and we sell suitable phones and SIM cards in our online shop.

Q: Will I have Internet Access

Probably! You can access the internet in a number of public Wi-Fi hotspots, most hotel chains offer Wi-Fi, and most transport providers (trains, ferries, even the London Underground!) provide Wi-Fi access. Sometimes there is a charge for this, and sometimes it is free. A number of shops, restaurants and other businesses also provide internet access.

Q: Will my electrical equipment work in the UK?

In the UK and Ireland the electricity supply is 240V. This is higher than the rest of the World and you will require an adapter. The UK and Ireland also use 3-pin plugs (except for electric shavers) so you may require an adapter which can change both voltage and 2-pin sockets to 3-pin sockets. We sell these in our shop.

Q: What about Driving – what do I require?

You can drive a car, motorhome or minibus (with up to 8 passengers) on a normal license, although there may be minimum age restrictions. You should have an International Drivers Licence, but in reality as long as you have a driving licence you will be fine – but always check with the hire company just in case!

You can book a Hire Car on the relevant pages of this website – but if you fancy something different you should get in touch with us to see how we can help.

Q: Is it difficult to drive in Britain?

It takes some getting used to if you usually drive on the right, but many thousands of visitors manage this every year in their own (left-hand drive) cars and in right hand drive hire cars). An automatic may make it a bit easier because you don’t have to think about changing gear with ‘the other hand’.

Roads in Britain and Ireland are well maintained, signage is clear and outside of peak travel times (7am-9am, 4pm-7pm) they are generally fairly quiet. Cities can be busy, but there are Park & Ride schemes in most cities if you really want to avoid this experience!

Roundabouts are a less common feature outside the UK – you simply give way to traffic form the right, and watch which lane you need to be in! In Britain measures are imperial, so speed is recorded in Miles per Hour (mph), and distance in Miles. In Eire there are some minor differences in signage and speed and distance is measured in metric numbers (so kilometres per hour (kph) and kilometres).

Country lanes may seem very narrow, but most are wide enough for two cars. Remember to practice first before driving too far, and don’t drive far after a long flight!

Q: How effective is Satellite Navigation for Travelling in the UK and Eire?

Generally, SatNav in the UK is excellent and can find places based upon their postcodes. In Eire, outside Dublin, there are no postcodes so it may be a little more problematic, but does still work with address details. Maps are always useful in the countryside as the postcode location may not match up with the actual visitor entrance, and there may be local arrangements in place you need to be aware of. Also – remember to concentrate on your driving whilst using SatNav to avoid any unfortunate incidents

Q:What if I don’t want to drive?

There are a lot of other options – trains and buses being the most common, although river taxis, underground rail systems and taxis are also very good forms of transport in cities. Remember that you can hail a taxi at the side of the road, but you have to book a private hire car in advance (they look a bit like Taxis in some cities).

Q: What should I expect to spend each day?

Accommodation will be your biggest expense, followed by fuel and then, probably food unless you are visiting a major attraction in which case admission fees may be quite high. After accommodation, £100.00 each day is probably a good guide, but we can help design holidays which cost much less than this – and we can also design holidays which costs much more!

Q: Should I tip?

Only if you want to! There are a few places where a ‘service charge’ may be added to your bill. If you are tipping because you are pleased with the service a person has provided, then it is best to tip in cash to ensure they receive the money.

Q: What should I do in an emergency?

In an emergency you should dial 999 or 112 and ask for ‘Police’, ‘Fire’, ‘Ambulance’ or ‘Coastguard’ depending upon the nature of the emergency.

Q: What will happen if I am ill or injured?

In Britain, emergency treatment is free, so if you end up at an A&E Department (accident & Emergency) you will not have to pay. However, any further treatment will incur a cost if your home country does not have a reciprocal agreement with the UK. If you have just minor ailments (allergies or hay fever) then a pharmacy (or chemist) may be able to help you.

Eire is part of the EU, and travellers will require a European Heath Insurance Card. In all other situations you need to be aware of the reciprocal arrangements for healthcare.