First Time Traveller?


Welcome First Time Traveller to London! You will find this Guideline very useful for stress-free but happy staying in London. Be a smart Traveller, be a Londoner for a few days. Worth Reading.

First Time Traveller

London Street Map available at many places on your way

01. On leaving the aircraft, follow signs for arrivals and pass through passport control, baggage reclaim and Customs.

02. Even though Britain is an English-speaking country, things can be different from home. At first time you may find their English a bit not-understandable as they speak usually so fast. Don’t feel hesitate to ask them again. English is spoken everywhere and non-speakers can have a difficult time.

03. There are two queues at passport control – one for European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), British and Swiss nationals, and a second for all other nationalities.
At the passport desk a Border Force officer will ask to see your passport or travel document and any supporting documentation necessary for your visit. With tougher checks now in place at the border, you may have to wait a little longer to get into the United Kingdom, especially at peak times.

04. E-passport gates – arrivals made easy- Automated e-passport gates offer an alternative to conventional passport checks. Simply scan your e-passport at the barrier. The system runs a face-recognition check against the chip in your passport, then if you’re eligible to enter the UK the gate opens automatically – all in a matter of seconds. You need to be over 18 and have an e-passport (look for the ‘chip’ logo on the front) issued by a country in the European Economic Area* or Switzerland.

05. Baggage reclaim- After passport control, follow the arrivals signs to the baggage reclaim area. Look for your flight on the information screens and wait for confirmation that your baggage is ready. When it is, the carousel number will be displayed. Free baggage trolleys are provided for your use and plenty will be available in the reclaim hall.

Top 10 Things to Keep in Mind for London Visit, StAthansHotel/Youtube

06. If your journey started in a European Union country (your hold baggage will have a green-edged tag) and you have nothing to declare, use the blue exit. If you have goods to declare, you should go to the red Customs point.

07. Arriving from outside the EU- If your journey began in a country outside the European Union (your hold luggage will have a white tag), use the red point if you have goods to declare or the green exit if you don’t.

08. Never bring prohibited goods into the UK. If in doubt ask at the Customs enquiry point. If you are unsure about your duty/tax-free entitlement, go to the Customs enquiry point.

09. All airports have official airport meeting points marked with signs. You will find somebody who come here to greet you.

10. It’s okay if somebody come to Airport to greet you. If not, take service from authorised airport’s UK car rental for travelling to your destination places in London. The best way to do taxi/Cab booking online in advance before leaving home. It will be a cheap. They will come to Airport according to your flight schedule.

11. Buy Ticket/Oyster Card from Hotel Reservation Desk (BHRC) or Underground Ticket Office or Ticket Machine if you want to use public transport. Before that you can check TFL website to understand how to go to your place.Here is a link- TFL- Plan a Journey

12. Journey time to/from central London is 45mnts to 1.30hrs depending on your London Airports. Buses, trains, and the underground run from the major airports to the centre of London.

13. All UK airports around London and the South-East of England have excellent public transport connections in to central London. Bus, underground and train services connect the three major airports of Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.

14. Here climate is changeable and it’s always a good idea to be prepared for rain. You need to check weather always before leaving Home/Hotel/Hostels etc.

15. Make a hotel booking if you don’t do yet with Hotel reservation desk (BHRC) at Airport. BHRC also offers tickets for West End shows, SIM cards, mobile phone hire and London sightseeing tours. You can also purchase a Visitor Oyster Card. But remember you will get cheaper accommodation option with better facility if you book in advance

16. Talk to your airline straight away. Airlines are responsible for your missing bags all the way from check-in to collection at baggage reclaim.

17. If you don’t have British Pounds/Notes, you can take service from Bureaux de change in arrivals. Before you leave home, get some change in British currency so you won’t have to hunt up a bank/exchange bureaus as soon as you arrive. Exchange bureaus generally offer better exchange rates than banks.

18. Shops in UK towns and cities generally open six or seven days a week. Monday to Saturday from 09:00 to 17:30 is normal, and many shops trade on Sundays, typically from 10:00 to 16:00. Many, but not all, close on public holidays. Banking hours are usually from 09.30 to 15.30, Monday to Friday, but some branches open until 17:30 and on Saturday mornings. Most banks have cash dispensers (ATMs).

19. Britain uses Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Daylight saving time (British Summer Time or BST) operates from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October, and is one hour ahead of GMT. You can use an internet world clock to know Time at back home- such as, to compare the time in cities around the world.

20. Distance is measured in miles (1.6km), made up of 1,760 yards (1.9m). From northern tip to southern, the British mainland measures just over 683 miles (1,100km). By car, the distance would be 835 miles and take about 16 hours, according to the AA.

21. Measurements and sizes- Since the 1970s Britain has been gradually moving from imperial to metric measurements, but in practice both systems are used. Packaged food is often marked with both metric and imperial weights. Petrol and bottled water are sold by the litre whilst milk and beer come in pints. Clothing and shoe sizes differ from those used in the USA and Continental Europe. There are plenty of charts and converters available online.

22. In London, ride the buses or walk to see the city. Use the underground for quick transportation, avoid it at rush hour if possible.

23. Stand on the right side on tube escalators; walk on the left.

24. Purchase or Top up an Oyster Card to use in Greater London-it’s a combination bus, underground, and Docklands Light Railway pass. You can buy them at any underground ticket office/Ticket Machines. It saves money and time.

25. You will have to pay to park almost everywhere in central London, either at on-street meters or in designated car parks. Charges and rules are set by local councils.

26. Keep a London A-Z street plan book. You will also see map indicator stand at important place. Online/Local bookstores/Local Library/Tourist Information Centre/ W. H. Smith or any stationery stores are a rich source for any map.

27. In the UK, cars drive on the left side of the road. Remember to look to the RIGHT before stepping off a curb.

28. Vehicles use the left side of the road in Britain, and manual gear-change is standard – if you’re used to driving on the right, using an automatic shift gives you one less thing to worry about.

29. If you hold a valid North American driver’s license, an international one is not necessary in the UK.

30. B&B’s serve traditional English breakfasts of fried eggs, sausages, bread, tomatoes, and mushrooms. Many also have a light buffet style breakfast-cereals, yoghurts and such.

10 Tips When Traveling to the UK, Whereztharum/Youtube

31. Pub grub is quick, reasonable, and accessible, though not necessarily good. Local bakeries and deli’s offer take-away options. In the UK, french-fries (called chips) come with vinegar.

32. Tipping- As a rule, tip 10% to 12% in cafes and restaurants (unless a service charge is included in your bill), and for taxi drivers or hairdressers, whilst £1 or £2 is fine for hotel porters or room service staff. Please read our complete Tips Guide-Tipping Guide.

33. Use the local Tourist Information Centres (TIC) for information on attractions in the area, directions, and special events (concerts, ghost walks, historical re-enactments). Some can book a B&B locally or ahead for you.

34. Pounds, not Euro dollars, are the legal tender in Britain. Some stores and pubs don’t accept £50 notes because of their rarity and the risk of forgery. You may hear the slang word “quid” used to mean pounds.

35. Value Added Tax (VAT) is 20%. Added to sales and services, it is included in prices posted or quoted.

36. Check with your bank to learn if your bankcard will work in British cash withdrawal machines.

37. Most British banks charge large fees to cash traveler’s checks; it’s best not to use them.Traveller’s checks on Barclay Bank are the easiest to cash as there is a Barclay Bank in most towns; cashing travel checks anywhere except on the bank they are drawn on is prohibitively expensive.

38. A North American cell phones won’t work in Britain unless they are a tri-band (GSM) phone. You may still need to purchase SIM cards. If you bring your mobile phone, check beforehand with your service provider that it can be used in the UK. And remember you will pay to receive calls as well as to make them, so it is worth checking the tariffs. There are no free local calls. Cheaper rates apply between 6.00 pm and 6.00 am.

39. The UK’s international dialling code is 44. To call abroad from the UK, dial 00 followed by the country code (eg 1 for the USA), then the phone number without the first zero.

40. Payphones are widely available and many accept payment by card as well as coins.

Travel and Packing Tips and Tricks- Glitterz08/Youtube

41. The emergency police/ambulance number in the UK is 999. For emergency calls only, dial 999 (or 112) for the police, fire service, ambulance, coastguard, or mountain rescue – these calls are free.

42. If Fraud If you have been a victim of accommodation fraud or else you can report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or by using their online reporting tool.

43. Go to the popular tourist spots early. You will avoid long line-ups and wait times. Purchase tickets ahead online if possible.

44. Electric voltage is 240v 50Hz AC as opposed to North American 120, so you will need a special plug for the wall. Plugs have three square pins.

45. A Bank Holiday is a three-day weekend. Businesses may be closed. Many special events take place on these busy weekends. Book your accommodation early.

46. Many attractions are closed off-season.

47. July- August – September are the busiest months for tourism in the UK.

48. London has business operated cyber connections. Local libraries and some YMCAs have free-of-charge internet service. Many accommodations have Wi-Fi.

49. No special health precautions are necessary, but do purchase health insurance before you leave home.

50. Have your optometrist write out your eyeglass prescription before you travel. Without it you will be required to pay for an eye exam if you need to replace your glasses.

51. Wear sturdy walking shoes. There are cobbled streets, uneven pavements, and worn stone steps to navigate. Always keep an umbrella with you.

52. Laundry facilities are scarce. Take easy-to-wash, quick dry clothing.

53. Always carry lots of change—you will need it for car parks. Lots of the car parks have peel-off tickets that you need to stick on your car window.

54. Carry a role of paper towels for picnics, clean ups , drying and wiping car windows, etc.

55. Carry a container of water for washing hands, car windows, picnic utensils etc.

56. Carry bottled water for drinking—none is available. Coffee, tea and soft drinks are expensive.

57. Cars seldom stop for pedestrians; cross any street at your own risk.

58. Sometimes there are buttons you can push for the light to turn red so you can cross a major street or highway, but don’t count on the cars stopping.

59. A “lorry” is a truck, a “boot” is a car trunk, and the “underground” or “tube” is a subway. There’s more than language lingo that first time travellers to Britain need to know. Ask for the “WC” or “toilet”. “Bathroom”, “washroom”, and “restroom” are North American terms.

And the following Pages have more information for you

– Best Accommodation Tips
– British Currency
– Security Safety in London
– Tipping Guide-Tips Guide
– Phone Beggars Buskers

Source: Compilation of various Websites like Heathrow, Intolondon, Gatwick etc

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