Passports and Visas
All passengers require a machine-readable passport valid for six months beyond the conclusion of their trip, with appropriate visas. You should carry your passport with you at all times to ensure against its loss or theft in hotels. U.S. citizens do not need a visa for the U.K. All other passport holders must check with the Irish Consulate to determine if any visas are needed. This information is a guide only and it is essential that you check all current passport and visa rules with your travel agent before departure.
The currency in all four countries is the British Pound. You can change US dollars at banks and currency exchange agencies for the best rates, hotels and some shops can also change them for you, but the rate will likely be much higher. ATMs are also an efficient way to get money in the local currency.
The U.K. has 230-240 V at 50 Hz, with a type G socket. America's electrical currents are 120 V at 60 Hz, with a type A or B socket, so you'll need a converter and an adapter.
Wireless and wired Internet access is widely available throughout the U.K. Many of the hotels we use offer this service free or at a small charge. There are also Internet cafés that allow you access, usually for a small charge.
Phoning home from another country can be expensive. All hotels will add a service charge to the cost of any phone calls you make from your room. This charge can be very high. It is always cheaper for you to use public telephones (payphones) if your cell phone is not set for international calls. Your Travel Director can explain how to dial internationally if you are unsure.
Every type of shopping, from little specialty boutiques to major shopping centers can be found across the U.K. Whatever you're looking for, be it a souvenir of your adventures or a gift for someone special back home, you are sure to find it in the U.K. Some suggestions: buttery shortbread, Scottish tartans, Celtic jewelry, whiskey or Scotch, wool sweaters, and perhaps a replica of a red, double-decker bus!
We suggest the following tipping rates: Taxis 10-15% of the fare on the meter, Restaurants and bars 10-15% of the total bill. If a service charge has already been added there is no need to tip as much or at all.
It's easy and convenient to get around London on the underground, the city's rapid transit system, as well as taxis for short trips. Edinburgh and Cardiff have excellent bus systems, as does Belfast. Between cities in England, Scotland and Wales, BritRail will get you efficiently to a variety of destinations. In Ireland, try Irish Rail for convenient travel outside of Belfast.
Generally, casual jeans or slacks, shirts, sweaters, a jacket and comfortable walking shoes are all you'll need. If you plan on an evening at a nicer venue, dressier clothes may be called for. Don't forget to pack good outdoor shoes, a raincoat and an umbrella.