Travel Planning
Define your travel style

 

Travel Planning Hints
Climate, Clothing & Currency
Time to Spare in the "Garden of England"

 

 

 

 


U.K. WAY TO GO?

luggage

Some tips on travel planning.

by

Sylvia Dawson, VP marketing at "The English Experience Travels Ltd"

Planning your visit . So you've decided to take a trip to the UK?

Before you spend your money, it's worth spending a little time considering what kind of a trip you want to take. There are a seemingly bewildering number of options but it's basically quite simple. First, try asking yourself the following questions:

What kind of traveler am I? What am I most comfortable with? Do I like a big group, a small group or maybe no group at all ! Do I prefer to go it alone (with just a little help!) How much ground do I want to cover? Do I want to try and see everything in one visit? Or explore one special region of the country to enjoy at my leisure?

What are your choices?

1. Big name bus tours will take you on a set itinerary. You'll spend a high percentage of your day traveling from one place to another ON the bus. Up early every morning and on the road. You'll cover a lot of ground – you may not remember a lot about it! Good value if you're keen on doing lots of miles but not much room for flexibility or individuality.

2. Going it alone: Planning takes a lot of time, but can be fun if you are detail oriented. Are you ok with driving on the left? following the traffic flow on the roundabouts? Can you drive and sightsee at the same time? Do you know what places are open on what days? How long does it take to get from A to B? and still enjoy the sights en route – there's so much to see. You have to leave some time to stop & look! You may like to take advantage of our Itinerary Planning Services as shown on our website (click on Our Services on the Main Menu).

3. TREADING THE MIDDLE PATH

Do you recognize this person? You have visited Britain before and/or have read about different areas that you have in mind to go back to or want to explore in more depth. You aren't very keen on traveling with large groups or having an itinerary that allows you no flexibility. You may want to link up with a tour group at some point, but leave yourself free to do independent traveling at the beginning or end of your stay. You are interested in getting to the heart of the places you have chosen to visit and you want to meet the people who live there. You only have so much time and want to make the most of it. Neither do you have a lot of time or resources available to plan and organize your own trip in every detail. So what do you do?

First, it may help to identify and define your areas of interest, either geographic or in terms of specifics, like a walking or canal boat holiday, or one which offers opportunities to explore history, architecture, specialist gardens, art galleries etc. Do you want a city holiday, or a countryside tour, or a combination of both? Read on.....

What about those small tour operators? Your fears allayed....

At The English Experience Travels Ltd we use our special knowledge of the UK to plan tours for the kind of people profiled above. I would like to suggest if you have been afraid to contact a small company (maybe because you haven't heard of them before) that you give it a try. You have plenty to gain. Smaller companies will treat you as an individual, will spend more time with you, and are more flexible in their approach than the "big names" who operate with large numbers on big buses and who cannot deviate from their planned itineraries. You can check a company's reputation best by talking with previous clients and any reputable operator should be happy to give you a list of people to call. Be careful and remember the old saying "if it's too good to be true, it probably is". How efficient are they? How knowledgeable? Do they return your calls promptly? Is the documentation they send out accurate, and are refund, cancellation and payment details clearly explained? Chances are, if you're happy with a company before you travel with them, you will not be disappointed when you actually get there.

Maybe you need a customized tour? If you want absolutely individual attention, do not consider going with a group - small or large. Rather, plan to engage the services of a driver/guide who will take you wherever you want to go, stop whenever you want and give you as much or as little information about the places you visit as you require. This is a specialized service, it costs more, but will save you time and a great deal of effort and you will get the tour you want. For a quotation please go to our Custom tour request form.

On the bus, off the bus... it's your choice

Look very carefully at any itinerary to see how much time you'll be spending each day traveling. If you want to get acquainted with the countryside and the people, you won't do it from inside a bus! Check how much walking you want to do and how many of the places mentioned are scheduled visits or will you be just "catching a glimpse of" a cathedral spire or a medieval hill town? My advice would be call some of the smaller tour operators, talk with them, find out if you feel comfortable with their approach. Once you receive the brochures, you can make comparisons on itineraries, accommodations and prices. Price is always interesting because you have to watch out for all those little extras and compare like with like. Some companies' prices look just wonderful until you realize you are going to have to pay for all your entrances, and that all the really good and interesting places they talk about are in fact "optional extras" rather than those included on the itinerary.

Pleasures and pluses of small group escorted tours:

If you enjoy traveling with like-minded enthusiasts, smaller tour companies usually offer well planned itineraries, excellent service, a fair amount of personal attention and a chance to do those "off the beaten track" kind of things that attracted you to them... If you don't get the above, then you obviously didn't call "The English Experience"!!

There's a chance to make new friends among your fellow travelers, to share their knowledge and swap stories. The vagaries of the British opening times at places of interest will have been dealt with, and the routes carefully planned, so there is no time-wasting. This gives the maximum amount of time to spend on the things you want to do and you get to look over all the hedgerows because you don't have to do the driving! The schedule is still flexible enough to allow for the odd detour should your group espy a particularly inviting festival or local "happening" which would be too good to miss. It's fun and adds a sense of adventure to each day. You won't have to wait hours in line; the locals won't shrink in horror at the sight of a bus load of "tourists" bearing down on their favorite local pub and you will be welcome everywhere because small is not only beautiful, but ecologically sound. This is particularly true in areas of the UK designated as being of outstanding natural beauty such as the Lake District, the Cotswolds, the Somerset Levels, Exmoor, Devon & Cornwall.

So, in choosing to be part of a small group escorted tour you can congratulate yourself that you are contributing to sustainable tourism – not destroying, but enabling others to continue to enjoy what you have already enjoyed.

There's a tour out there for you somewhere. I hope the above has given you food for thought. Your comments/inquiries are always welcome. You can contact me by email at syldaw@voicenet.com or visit our website www.english-experience.com for more ideas.

Happy Travels! Call The English Experience for:

Small group custom tours Driver/guide services Custom planning

Special Groups

Call us on 1 215 699 6863

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Climate, Clothing & Currency

Climate:
In England the weather can change, as you know, several times a day!
"unpredictable" probably best describes the English climate. In Spring it can be rainy in March and April with cool temperatures in the low 50s. Temperatures can range from the mid 50s to the mid 80s in June/July/August and September. It can be raining any time of year, but not usually for very long.

Clothing:
We would suggest that for any tour, you prepare to dress in layers. Cotton sweaters, medium weight trousers/slacks, and a coat, maybe a raincoat with a removable lining, so that you are comfortable in any weather. Good walking shoes are essential. Bring some lighter-weight shirts/slacks/skirts for warmer days in summer

Currency:
Britain has still not adopted the Euro (€), so purchases will be made in British pounds (£).

ATMs
The best rate of exchange is available to you by bringing a bank card with you and the PIN number to access it. (check with your bank before you leave that your card will work in UK ATMs – nearly all do, but it's worth checking!)
This way you will be charged the most favorable inter-bank rate applicable on any given day. Also you need only take out as much as you need, rather than having to go to a bank with your passport ID and exchange travelers checks.

Credit Cards
Many places in the UK do not accept American Express cards, but are fine with Visa or Mastercard.

Also it may be advisable to let your bank or credit card company know that you are out of the country for the dates of the tour. Sometimes they put a "stop" on a payment originating from a foreign country in order to protect your account. This is good, but can also cause you problems if you are trying to use your card while out of the country.

We hope the above is helpful to your planning – any other questions call us at 215 699 6863

We will do our best to help – in everything but the weather!

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TIME TO SPARE IN THE "GARDEN OF ENGLAND"

Just a few miles to the south east of London's bustling metropolis lies an area known as the "Garden of England" or "theWeald" – deriving from the Anglo-Saxon word wald (forest). This is "1066 Country" where William of Normandy arrived in 1066 to beat Harold and his Saxon army, and proclaim himself the "Conqueror". Sussex and Kent are full of William's Norman castles and churches.

After the Conquest the area was a favorite with the rich and powerful at Court who built magnificent palaces, country mansions and fortified manor houses where they could escape the plots and rigors of political life or worse, the displeasure of their monarch! It saw bloody rebellions, insurrection, the battles of the English Civil War in the 1600s, and in the 1940s suffered badly during WWII as the Battle of Britain raged in the air above its towns and villages.

These few hundred square miles contain the greatest concentration of magnificent homes and gardens in the whole of England.

How to make the most of your time to see as much as possible without rushing exhausted from place to place?

One option would be a custom tour organized by The English Experience. Here in Sussex and Kent you can visit places such as Chartwell (Churchill), Bateman's (Kipling), Knole (Sackville), Hever (Anne Boleyn), Sissinghurst (Sackville-West), Charleston (Bloomsbury Group Museum – Virginia Woolf/The Hours) Rye (Henry James) and others. The houses, their gardens and their owners past and present, are the focus of an exciting, informative and full itinerary with a professional, local driver/guide that leaves you free to enjoy the ride while someone else takes care of driving on the "wrong" side of the road.

Alternatively, let The English Experience plan you an itinerary and do your own driving in a rental car. They can advise on special opening times of private gardens and how to get the best from your visit.

Remember! this is supposed to be a vacation...

The English Experience philosophy is simple and practical – Why inflict (or have inflicted on you) a punishing schedule that allows you no time to enjoy or reflect on what you have seen before you are whisked away to the next, and the next... Why travel 3000 miles or more from home only to discover that you are limited to 1 hour to see Sir Winston Churchill's lovely home, garden and art studio at Chartwell, or Kipling's home at Bateman's? Wouldn't you like to have the time to climb the tower at Sissinghurst to get the real perspective of those world-famous gardens? Do you not somehow feel a little cheated, a little less than satisfied and somewhat pressured when you have to meet those time deadlines that large bus tours impose on you?

With an English Experience customized tour you can wander at your own pace through the rooms of memorabilia and stroll in the gardens where Sir Winston would sit for hours painting the view across the sweeping Kent countryside. Then travel just a few miles to Hever Castle and explore at leisure the pretty moated castle where Henry VIII courted unlucky Anne Boleyn. To enter the Rose Garden at Hever is a breathtaking experience – and yes, you DO have time to stop and smell the flowers!

The English Experience is an unbeatable mixture of history and culture. The regional itineraries are prepared with care and attention to detail to offer you the maximum pleasure to be gained from your visit. Remember, it's not always about the number of miles you travel, but the extent to which you can come away with real memories – not just blurred vision from a fast-paced "see-it-all and rush on" type of tour. The secret is in the realization that in England life moves at a different pace. Don't be fooled though, there's plenty going on – you just have to stand still long enough to see it!

English Experience Tours are customized to suit you and your schedule. Travel when and where you want. Consult with us and we will provide you with a tour to fulfill your travel dreams in the UK. Contact us by email or use the interactive forms to start planning your next tour to the UK.

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© 2011 | The English Experience Travels Ltd
215-699-6863 | tours@english-experience.com