We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

First Trip

Oklahoma City...
4 posts
Save Topic
First Trip

In the planning stages of first overseas trip. Not too excited about a totally structured trip, and don't know exactly where to start. I would like to see England next May. Is a tour the only way for a Newby to go, or can I get enough help to successfully plan my own trip. We are both 63.

Mentioned in this post
England
England
United Kingdom
Kentucky
Level Contributor
2,859 posts
154 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: First Trip

The first time, it's probably best to go with others who've been before. But you can have a great time on your own, too.

This forum is a wonderful source of information. Ask and receive advice from London locals and travelers who've been there, done that....

Mentioned in this post
London
London
England, UK
California
Level Contributor
4,431 posts
24 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: First Trip

I don't necessarily agree that a tour is the best way to go for a first timer. There is a lot of information on this forum, TA and guide books (obviously). Public transport is readily available, with many options and I think the major sites are very accessible. The trouble with a structured tour is that if you're a free spirit (like me) you don't want to have everything limited to a specific timeframe. Often wandering around on your own is the best part of a trip to a new city. As long as you are well researched, and able bodied, I don't see why you should have trouble exploring on your own.

Have you done much domestic travel up to this point?

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
1,862 posts
15 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: First Trip

Welcome to the forum! And congratulations on planning your first overseas trip!

I also don't think a structured tour is the best way to see England. London is an especially easy city to see on one's own: by taking advantage of the hop-on, hop-off bus tours (good orientation to the city) and perhaps combining independent visits to sites that interest you with some short-ish walking tours, I think it's pretty easy to see London on one's own. For examples of options for walking tours, see the London Walks website at www.walks.com. The tours are great, and get fairly uniform positive reviews.

For spots outside London, it is very easy to get to a number of places via train. I think many Americans are quite impressed by the breadth of rail service. You could base yourself in London, and take day trips outside the city, (if you put "day trip" in the search box on this forum, you'll get tons of threads with advice and opinions). Or you could do some nights outside London, of course. Another option that works for some people is day tours that combine several locations into one day trip, with transportation. For example, one can do a Windsor Castle-Stonehenge-Bath trip in one day (albeit a rushed day). There are a ton of options.

Bottom line, I personally would not go with a tour for your whole trip.

Enjoy the planning: IMHO, it's all part of the fun of traveling!

Mentioned in this post
England
England
United Kingdom
London
London
England, UK
London Walks
London Walks
1,704 Reviews
London, UK
Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle
10,335 Reviews
Windsor, UK
Boston...
Level Contributor
2,667 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: First Trip

Many tours tend to rush you along with activities planned each day. If you feel you might like to take things at your own pace, you may want to visit on your own.

As Alison said, you can go on your own but purchase day tours or organized tours of sites & museums.

Planning can seem a bit overwhelming at first but the wonderful people here will answer your every question.

Why don't you start reading some Trip Reports ( at the top of the Forum) to get a feel for what others do travelling on their own.

Warning: trip planning can be addictive!!

Edited: 12 November 2010, 01:15
Mentioned in this post
The Forum
The Forum
124 Reviews
London, UK
Oklahoma City...
4 posts
Save Reply
5. Re: First Trip

Thank you to those who have replied. I guess I have a lot to learn about this site. I will be traveling with my ex and she loves to read and she would like to visit some of the areas in England that she has read about. Is it best to rent a car or is that a big problem overseas - I am really a rookie. I have come across a forum posting about bed and breakfast that looks like fun. Does anybody have any idea on how much a person spends per day on hotel and food and transportation?

Mentioned in this post
England
England
United Kingdom
West Virginia
Level Contributor
599 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: First Trip

Personally, I think driving over there is not for the faint of heart. Remember in the UK they drive on the opposite side of the road. The roadways are marked differently and rather than having stop signs and lights, they have roundabouts.

In London you don't want to drive anyway. It's one of the most congested cities in the world. Plus you pay a congestion charge to drive. The public transport is fabulous; you can take a bus or the tubes virtually anywhere you want to go.

What you pay for food and hotel is pretty much up to you. London is an expensive city but it's affordable if you do your research. We (three of us) are staying in a small hotel next May for around $200 US dollars per night (at today's exchange rate). I've budgeted 150 US per day for food and I think that will be very sufficient.

PS - My husband is a native of Northern Ireland, and we've been to London before.

Edited: 12 November 2010, 01:40
Mentioned in this post
London
London
England, UK
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
United Kingdom
Dallas, Texas
Level Contributor
3,701 posts
1 review
Save Reply
7. Re: First Trip

How many days in England are you planning?

Trying to do too much in a short amount of time is (based on my limited experience) a real mistake. London itself should be 6 to 7 days of your trip, add a few day trips outside of London and you pretty much have used the better part of 10 days. Trying to drive around England to see various sights might be bit challenging for your first trip. Don't pack too many things into your trip or you will miss some of the best parts (like a leisurely sack lunch in one of London's beautiful parks).

Budget wise, accommodation starts at about £90 per night for a small room (and I mean small) in a comfortable B&B. That is for one room, you say you are traveling with your ex, so will you be sharing a room or will you need two rooms? If you are more independent, then for a bit more money you can rent a one bedroom apartment. You won't get the breakfast offered in a B&B, but you will have more room and the opportunity to save some money by cooking some of your own meals. Average meal costs; breakfast £4-£7, a nice lunch can be had for £10 and dinner cost just depends on your budget.

Mentioned in this post
England
England
United Kingdom
London
London
England, UK
Budget Guest House
Budget Guest House
166 Reviews
London, UK
Illinois
Level Contributor
17,899 posts
16 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: First Trip

You definitely don't need to have a tour, and if you (or your ex) have specific places that you want to go, it would be better to plan around those things than what a tour guide thinks you want to see.

There is a good book called Frommer's Best Day Trips from London (and as I just happened to be passing by the London guide books the other day I just happened to notice that there's a new edition out). It gives directions on how to get to many day trip locations from London and what to see while there.

If it makes you feel better, my first trip to England was alone just after I graduated from college, and I arrived with a return plane ticket, $1000, and a reservation in a hotel for my first night, so if I can survive that, anyone can survive a first trip on their own.

As far as driving, I think it is easier to go by train (as long as you can pack lightly or are doing day trips). I have driven there, but it is counterintuitive driving on the other side of the road (and car), and I had a friend from England with me to provide advice. It's easier out in the country. I would never try to drive in London.

I usually spend around £100/night on a hotel which is not the cheapest available but far from the most expensive. That is for a twin room (2 twin beds) including full English breakfast. Food also varies. I guess I usually spend about £10-15 per person for lunch and/or dinner, but sometimes more (I'm not a foodie, so I don't eat in expensive restaurants). I find that things usually cost about the same in £ there as they do in $ here. Transportation varies depending on where you go, of course. Train tickets are usually much cheaper if you buy them in advance, although some routes are the same on the day of travel.

Mentioned in this post
London
London
England, UK
England
England
United Kingdom
The English Restaurant
The English Restaurant
334 Reviews
London, UK
Steamboat Springs...
Level Contributor
943 posts
78 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: First Trip

I usually take a guided tour the first time in an area and then do my own thing later. Grand European Tours www.getours.com is my personal favorite as they have what they call super leisure trips where they stay in one place for two or more days with lots of free time. Another idea is a river cruise on the Continent which makes it easy to unpack only once.

You can certainly DIY and you have enough time to get a good plan together.

My recommendation is to check out some tours to get an idea of an itinerary, see what you might get on your own and then decide if the effort in planning and making reservations etc is worth your time and effort or save any money.

Cheers

Mentioned in this post
European Hotel
European Hotel
721 Reviews
London, UK
London, United...
Level Contributor
12,844 posts
Save Reply
10. Re: First Trip

okt, can you do it? Yes, you can! (whatever the question is)

Best to start with an overview - what do you hope to achieve from this trip? (there's no right answer)

Then you need to do the broad strokes - centered in London? Two base?

Then the planning - the things you really want to see/do, the things you'd like to see/do and the things you'd like to see/do if you can fit them in...

Read at least a couple of guidebooks.

I'd advise against thinking about specific events and companies at the moment; think more of what you want to do then colour in the details later.

There are many people here who live in and love London. There are many who are regular visitors. Between us we can probably help with just about any enquiry you might have.

Mentioned in this post
London
London
England, UK