United Kingdom — The Basics
It doesn’t matter whether you have London travel plans in England, want to hit the Scottish streets of Glasgow, check out the sights and sounds of Cardiff in Wales, or have a beer in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The UK is a vast, diverse place, and you’ll find a lot to like about it no matter which corner you visit.
Sights and Attractions
The UK is so vast and diverse that one list can’t do it justice. There is a wealth of amazing things to see and experience in every corner of the UK, but here are some general attractions.
Every Outside of London, travelers will find an abundance of natural wonders. Swim in the clear green waters of Kynance Cove. In Snowdonia National Park, on top of all the hiking and trails, you can’t miss out on the Cascading Swallow Falls. The Seven Sisters Cliffs are an awe-inspiring sight. They truly make you appreciate how small you really are on this grand planet.
Every city in the UK has its own distinctive little culture. Local food, architecture, and even the accents can vary from city to city. Even people who live in the UK never get to experience all that it has to offer, so it’s best to narrow your itinerary rather than stretch yourself too thin trying to see everything!
United Kingdom Travel Tips
UK Currency Considerations
The UK uses the Pound Sterling. It’s good to know the terminology related to the pound currency. Each pound is made up of 100 pence. You may also hear a pound referred to as quid. That tourist owes me 20 quid for walking off with my umbrella! There are a few theories on the origin of this term. Some think that the term is in reference to Quid Pro Quo — this for that.
Some think that it’s derived from a Gaelic word heard during wartime. Some say it’s short for liquid assets. And still, others think it is a reference to a certain chewing tobacco. You may have heard the term shilling in a period piece, but you won’t see shillings in the UK nowadays; the UK no longer uses shillings.
To get bounds, you will have to exchange your currency . Don’t wait until you’re in the UK to exchange dollars or euros for pounds. Any UK currency exchange service that you’ll find in the country will give you a bad rate. Airport kiosks are a ripoff, and tourist hotspots can be just as bad. Instead, try using an online currency exchange service. You are much more likely to get a favorable rate online and in your home country. You will have greater incentive to figure out your budget, as you’ll want to know how many pounds to exchange for ahead of time.
The price of hotels, hostels, and homestays really depends on the location and time of year. Fluctuations in the value of the pound currency can prove beneficial to adventurers on their London travel expedition. If your currency is strong while the UK currency is weak, then naturally you will have more purchasing power. That means more beer, more Scotch eggs, and more exciting tours!
Flights and Transportation
There are international airports all over the United Kingdom. Whether London travel is on the docket or you plan to go elsewhere, there’s an airport nearby. The United Kingdom has an extensive rail network. Larger cities have a metro system. Even with fluctuations in the value of the pound currency, public transport in the UK is rather cheap.
Numerous ferry services can be found along the UK coast, as there are many islands around Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Always plan ahead, as different ferries can have vastly different route schedules.
English is spoken by almost all of the UK. While not all are native English speakers, nearly all have native proficiency. A large number of Welsh people still speak the Welsh language, and it is even projected to grow by some sources! Scots and Scottish Gaelic are native to Scotland, but not all Scottish people speak these languages. Scots is a divergent language from Middle English, while Scottish Gaelic is a remnant of the days before roman conquest, Latinization, and eventual Anglicization of the island.
Naturally, an English speaker will have no problem getting around the UK. The only issue that may arise is the pronunciation of certain place names. If you travel to London UK, this shouldn’t be a problem, but you may have trouble elsewhere. With Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic, Scots, Welsh, Manx, and Cornish place names on the table, you’ll want to do your research and lookup how these places are pronounced. You don’t want the locals to chuckle at you!
UK Etiquette and Considerations
Each nationality in the UK has their own identity, and they like to be referred to by the right terms. People in England are English. The people of Wales tend to prefer being referred to as Welsh. The people of Scotland are usually happy to be referred to as Scottish.
The folks of Cornwall prefer to be referred to as Cornish. Though all of these nationalities are generally composed of native English speakers, they all take their identities seriously. If you’re near a border area or are simply unsure, this can be tricky. In that case, it’s best to use the term British to refer to anyone from the island of Great Britain.
Note that the Northern Irish, while a part of the UK, are not technically British. Same with the Manx — the people of the Isle of Man. As every other group in the UK has been oppressed by the English, don’t just go haphazardly calling people English. It may be ok on your London travel journey, but it could get you beat up in Glasgow.
With the recent developments between the UK and the European Union, cracking jokes about the subject or telling British people how they should feel about it is generally unwelcome. Read the room, and wait for someone else to bring it up.
People in the UK generally like lines, or as they say, queues. When you travel to London UK, don’t even think about skipping a line! The locals will be horrified, disgusted, and taken aback.
Absolutely never say anything negative about the Queen. The people of the UK love the Queen. Furthermore, she enhances the UK’s soft power while also generating a net profit for the country with all the tourist revenue she brings in. The Queen is a very celebrated part of UK culture, and hardly anyone has anything negative to say about her. It’s what their national anthem is all about — God Save the Queen.
Some public bathrooms may charge a fee. It is usually less than a pound, but still. Always keep some cash on hand; you never know when nature may call!
Last but not least — don’t forget that umbrella! The UK is a rainy place. You’ll see it. The locals will always want to talk about it. It’s a beautiful country, but you don’t want to get drenched when you travel to London UK.
North, South, East, or West — the UK has something special in every corner! As there’s so much to see, travelers are better off planning it out rather than just winging it! So draft that itinerary, figure out your accommodations, and book that flight! Green fields, mighty castles, and cobblestone streets await you on your trip to the United Kingdom!
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