Things I have learned:
Apologies for an extended absence - I've been staying in a 13th Century cottage in Devon and such houses rarely come with internet access.
We've been travelling in the UK for nearly four weeks and here's a quick summary of things I wish I knew when I arrived:
- Get a local sim and insert it into your smart phone. This will allow you access to google maps without incurring roaming charges, invaluable when in a new country. I had avoided this, thinking my phone was locked. Turned out it wasn't. You can tell by inserting a micro sim into your phone and seeing what it does! Cost of aforesaid sim: 5 pounds. Until I figured this out I spend $86.00 in calls and data
- Be careful with tripadvisor holiday lets (www.holidaylettings.co.uk). We've had a very mixed experience with this site. However, I do recommend listings that are attached to reputable outfits - such as Helpful Holidays. The reason: the cancellation fees are massive (the total cost of the booking if less than 4 weeks notice) and communication with owners is very mixed. If you use a third party agency, responses to emails and phone calls is much faster.
- Research your destination in advance. This gives you a good idea on what you want to see - important in a place like London, where there is just so much to do.
- If you are going to a rural destination, invest in an Ordnance Survey map. There are heaps of little attractions in the country - ruined castles, roman roads, stone circles - that are marked on these maps. Most are free.
- Get out of the car. The UK was developed for people on feet (there are hundreds of little public access footpaths and bridleways).
- Buy National Trust membership. We purchased New Zealand Historical Places membership before we left which gives a family of four access to National Trust properties - 100s of castles, stately homes, gardens and other places across the UK. Cost: $69.00
- Plan for bad weather. England is green because it is wet! And when its sunny, get outdoors.