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Advice on trip back to England

Advice on trip back to England

Old May 20th 2011, 12:55 am
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Default Advice on trip back to England

Howdy, living in the US not been back to England for 5 years. Looking for some advice....

1. I'm going for a month and thinking of only getting a car for part of the time and getting a 15 day rail pass. Anybody got any experience with the pass and rail travel in general?

2. For a month I'm going to need decent amount of money, what's most economic way of doing it? Get cash/travellers cheques use my American Express for most things?

3. What's best way to get Pounds? A bank here in the US? At airport? Other?

Thanks in advance everyone
Paul
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Old May 20th 2011, 1:00 am
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Default Re: Advice on trip back to England

Originally Posted by peckythump View Post
Howdy, living in the US not been back to England for 5 years. Looking for some advice....

1. I'm going for a month and thinking of only getting a car for part of the time and getting a 15 day rail pass. Anybody got any experience with the pass and rail travel in general?

2. For a month I'm going to need decent amount of money, what's most economic way of doing it? Get cash/travellers cheques use my American Express for most things?

3. What's best way to get Pounds? A bank here in the US? At airport? Other?

Thanks in advance everyone
Paul
Welcome to BE Paul.

Sorry I have no idea about rail passes but if you're renting a car it's worth getting an American Express card...for approx $25 per rental it just about covers everything insurance wise. There's been several threads on this subject.

I transfer money to my UK bank account but Marks and Spencer have about the best exchange rates if you have USD with you. Exchange rates at the airports are a rip off.
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Old May 20th 2011, 9:38 am
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Default Re: Advice on trip back to England

I'm in the UK at the moment and just got back from a fabulous trip to Yorkshire. I bought a rail card for 26 pounds (valid for a year) and it gives you a third off the ticket price. It is a good idea to book tickets in advance and as single fares, as they are a lot cheaper that way. ie it was approx 60 pounds from Harpenden, via London to York. Since privatisation, rail travel has improved enormously, usually on time with clean and safe carriages and heavily used. Unfortunately today is the last day for silver service dining cars on the East Coast Line. From now on it is prepackaged heated up, cooked elsewhere food and no white table cloths. That was a huge part of the enjoyment of traveling up to York, watching the beautiful countryside whizz by enjoying a freshly cooked and delicious meal in the dining car.

Ditto the suggestion of transferring funds into a UK account. I dont think anyone uses travellers cheques anymore, come to think of it I dont believe anyone uses cash anymore!
Enjoy your trip.
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Old May 20th 2011, 3:33 pm
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Default Re: Advice on trip back to England

Originally Posted by peckythump View Post
Howdy, living in the US not been back to England for 5 years. Looking for some advice....

1. I'm going for a month and thinking of only getting a car for part of the time and getting a 15 day rail pass. Anybody got any experience with the pass and rail travel in general?

2. For a month I'm going to need decent amount of money, what's most economic way of doing it? Get cash/travellers cheques use my American Express for most things?

3. What's best way to get Pounds? A bank here in the US? At airport? Other?

Thanks in advance everyone
Paul
Just to add to other postets suggestions: If you don't have a UK bank account (and don't plan on opening one) and are with one of the big rip off banks (think Bank of America types), then consider opening an account with a credit union. Whenever I go over to the UK I use my credit union debit card for most transactions. There's no ATM fees, and no additional foreign transaction fee on top of the minimal one that Visa charges.

Chase British Airways Visa card has just eliminated foreign transaction fees, but they charge a $75 annual fee, so probably not worth getting just for one trip!
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Old May 20th 2011, 3:50 pm
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Default Re: Advice on trip back to England

Thanks everyone.

Orangepants.. Thanks for the train advice, I'm actually leaning towards getting a 15 day british rail pass itself. http://www.britrail.com/passes.

I priced up getting a Family pass and then buying individual tickets but with all the trips I'm planning the 15 day pass seems to be the best choice.

My main concern though is whether they are going to be busy if I don't reserve seats. I don't like the idea of standing for say 3 hours to London or 5 hours to Scotland! Especially with a 3 and 6 year old!

I'm going June 9th for a month so believe kids will still be at school, so maybe it's not full tourist season yet.

Thanks
Paul
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Old May 20th 2011, 6:15 pm
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Default Re: Advice on trip back to England

Whether the train is busy is mostly going to depend on time of day and where you get on the train. Avoid commuter time if possible, and if you're starting at a major hub like London, get there early so you can be one of the first to get on the train when they open it. That's for regular trains, the long trek ones might be different.
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Old May 21st 2011, 11:25 pm
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Default Re: Advice on trip back to England

Originally Posted by deng890 View Post
Just to add to other postets suggestions: If you don't have a UK bank account (and don't plan on opening one) and are with one of the big rip off banks (think Bank of America types), then consider opening an account with a credit union. Whenever I go over to the UK I use my credit union debit card for most transactions. There's no ATM fees, and no additional foreign transaction fee on top of the minimal one that Visa charges.

Chase British Airways Visa card has just eliminated foreign transaction fees, but they charge a $75 annual fee, so probably not worth getting just for one trip!
If you're with BoA, you can use your ATM card at Barclay's without incurring a fee.

Capital One credit cards also have no foreign transaction fees, and it's useful to have one just for those trips back home.
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Old May 23rd 2011, 1:43 pm
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Default Re: Advice on trip back to England

Originally Posted by Jscl View Post
Whether the train is busy is mostly going to depend on time of day and where you get on the train. Avoid commuter time if possible, and if you're starting at a major hub like London, get there early so you can be one of the first to get on the train when they open it. That's for regular trains, the long trek ones might be different.
I agree - I got a train out of London at 10am Monday - and every seat had a reservation on it and you weren't allowed to get on if you didn't have a reservation. The commuter trains around London are packed to capacity at peak times.
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Old May 23rd 2011, 4:33 pm
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Default Re: Advice on trip back to England

Originally Posted by Orangepants View Post
I agree - I got a train out of London at 10am Monday - and every seat had a reservation on it and you weren't allowed to get on if you didn't have a reservation. The commuter trains around London are packed to capacity at peak times.
What about First Class.... I am only asking because the Britrail pass has a 1st class option for around 30% more $'s.
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Old May 23rd 2011, 5:46 pm
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Default Re: Advice on trip back to England

First class is well worth the extra $s and yes it was busy too but not full. I usually buy a regular ticket and upgrade on the train which works out cheaper then buying FC initially. So yes I guess there would be availability in FC without a reservation.
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Old May 23rd 2011, 5:53 pm
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Default Re: Advice on trip back to England

Originally Posted by Orangepants View Post
First class is well worth the extra $s and yes it was busy too but not full. I usually buy a regular ticket and upgrade on the train which works out cheaper then buying FC initially. So yes I guess there would be availability in FC without a reservation.
I never considered upgrading on the train, how much do you think it would be say from Manchester to London ? I am planning on getting a 15 day pass in August. Just deliberating whether to Get FC or standard.
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Old May 23rd 2011, 6:08 pm
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Default Re: Advice on trip back to England

I have a feeling that if you have a pass then you wouldn't be able to upgrade, as they would have no base line cost to look at, to work out what the difference/supplement would be. I'd get the FC pass to start.
Rail travel is a great way to see the country. Enjoy.
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Old May 24th 2011, 1:50 am
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Default Re: Advice on trip back to England

Originally Posted by peckythump View Post
Thanks everyone.

Orangepants.. Thanks for the train advice, I'm actually leaning towards getting a 15 day british rail pass itself. http://www.britrail.com/passes.

I priced up getting a Family pass and then buying individual tickets but with all the trips I'm planning the 15 day pass seems to be the best choice.

My main concern though is whether they are going to be busy if I don't reserve seats. I don't like the idea of standing for say 3 hours to London or 5 hours to Scotland! Especially with a 3 and 6 year old!

I'm going June 9th for a month so believe kids will still be at school, so maybe it's not full tourist season yet.

Thanks
Paul
You may want to consider getting the Family rail pass from Virgin if traveling with kids. I have just booked tickets for myself and 2 kids from Birmingham to London first class for a total of 44gbp and that includes complimentary drinks and snacks. Travelling coach would have cost a mere 7gbp for all of us. The earlier you book the greater the savings.
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Old May 24th 2011, 2:02 am
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Default Re: Advice on trip back to England

Originally Posted by G.n.Tgirl View Post
You may want to consider getting the Family rail pass from Virgin if traveling with kids. I have just booked tickets for myself and 2 kids from Birmingham to London first class for a total of 44gbp and that includes complimentary drinks and snacks. Travelling coach would have cost a mere 7gbp for all of us. The earlier you book the greater the savings.
Wow ! that's a great deal, well done, can you post a link to that please
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Old May 24th 2011, 5:09 pm
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Default Re: Advice on trip back to England

Originally Posted by coastieexpat View Post
Wow ! that's a great deal, well done, can you post a link to that please
http://www.virgintrains.co.uk/ticket...family-travel/

The day I'm traveling has now risen to 74 pounds, and my travel date was a Saturday after 11am. So it's worth putting a few options in if your dates/times are flexible
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