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  1. #41
    Join Date
    Oct. 29, 2007
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    TN
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    For the clothes thing, figure out cute layering. So instead of the type of sweater you'd wear by itself as your only top, bring the kind that you'd wear over a t-shirt or something. And even if it's warm when you're leaving home, wear your chunkiest layer on the plane so a) you don't have to fit it in your bag and b) planes are cold!!

    For customs DON'T DECLARE ANYTHING, coming or going. Don't read too much into those descriptions (gifts totalling over $xxx etc), the way it was explained to me by veteran travelers was if you have something worth declaring you'll know it.
    "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." ~John Wooden

    Phoenix Animal Rescue


    1 members found this post helpful.

  2. #42
    Join Date
    Apr. 5, 2011
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    982

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    Quote Originally Posted by Equibrit View Post
    You don't need to take anything more than what you'd need here, and lugging stuff on trains etc really sucks. You can buy what you need when you need it. Take a flight that leaves the US early evening. Eat a good dinner with a stiff drink and sleep all the way. You'll arrive ready to go in the UK morning. Cameras and such can be a problem through customs. Enjoy Oxford and take advantage of what it has to offer, like libraries, and a host of interesting things centred around the University. Oxford is not too far from Blenheim, Stoneleigh(BHS), Warwick Castle, and Stratford on Avon. All are worth a look. There is a bus service from LHR to Oxford that is a lot easier than schlepping in to London and out again.
    http://www.tourinaday.com/oxford/hea...to-oxford.html
    Thank you! Great advice. And I will definitely check into the bus service; that sound so much easier.



  3. #43
    Join Date
    Nov. 13, 2005
    Location
    between the mountains and the sea, North Carolina
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    2,936

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    Equibrit - thanks for info on bus service from LHR! I'd forgotten about that....check into prices though, A+B'smom. Transport directly from LHR to somewhere else can be ridiculously expensive.

    Feel free to message me if you have more specific questions. I've had 2 cousins go through Oxford and lived there when I was younger so I know it quite well at this point :-D.
    "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
    "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey



  4. #44
    Join Date
    Feb. 11, 2005
    Location
    Wild Wild West
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    Figure out the best way to pay for things. Credit cards charge a fee for foreign purchases and it varies by credit card (somewhere around 3 or 4%) and of course they convert your purchases in foreign countries to US Dollars to bill you. They have a rule about which exchange rate they use and on what day they do the conversion. I have not used my debit card overseas so I'm not sure if the rules are different. If you exchange US Dollars for pounds at the airport in the US you'll really be ripped off on the exchange rate. You are probably better off using your ATM card to withdraw money after you arrive in England. But again, check to see what fees you will pay for foreign withdrawals and if you can use your ATM card anywhere or only at certain machines. Also, be careful about using ATM machines on the street. Use a machine at a legit-looking bank or a bank whose name you know. Depending on how much you're going to spend, you can save quite a bit by knowing how to get the best exchange rate and pay the least in fees. You usually get a better exchange rate by exchanging more money at once.

    Do leave your passport someplace safe while you're there and make sure someone at home has a copy. My husband had his passport stolen while on a business trip in Israel. Not fun. Also limit what cards you carry around with you so if your wallet is lost or stolen you minimize the hassle.

    If you are going to make any large purchases make sure you know how much you can bring home without paying duty. I always declare what I have but I don't go over the limit either. Customs seems to have gotten better about not hassling you when you come back to the US unless they suspect you are telling a lie or smuggling drugs! On your way to England they will give you a form to fill out on the plane for the British authorities. It asks where you will be staying, for how long, what the purpose of your trip is (business or vacation), etc. You hand this to the British customs peeps along with your passport when you get there. On the way home you'll fill out a form for the US authorities and give that to them with your passport. They might ask you a few questions or they might just wave you through.

    Definitely pack as light as you can. I haven't gotten to the point where I can just pack a carry on suitcase (there's really nothing wrong with having to check your suitcase, especially if you're not making a connection) but I am working hard on packing lighter. Bring layers, versatile clothes, in basic colors that mix and match. I find that in Europe they don't wear jeans as much as we do in the US but I've never been treated poorly or turned away from anywhere because of how I dressed (unless you're going to a very upscale restaurant).

    You can look up travel info on your laptop or tablet or whatever electronic device you're bringing - tour information, restaurant reviews, discounts, transportation info, but don't be afraid to ask locals.

    Above all, have a great time. It sounds like a wonderful trip. England is a great place to visit for your first time away because the language isn't a barrier and it's got comparable standards of living to the US, so you don't have to worry about vaccinations, healthcare, unsafe food, customs you aren't familiar with, etc.



  5. #45
    Join Date
    Nov. 1, 2007
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    Tampa Fl.
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    4,047

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    threehorsenight makes a good point about ATMs and using plastic to pay for things.

    You can go to your bank and fill out a form and they will exchange currency for you much, much cheaper. You are going to want proper currency when you land for a water, coffee or to pay to use the loo (depends on the country but yes, sometimes you have to pay to pee).

    I also locate 'sister' banks to my bank, for example, I use Bank of America, their sister banks are Barkleys Bank in England, BNP in France, BNL in Italy etc.

    You can open a BoA debt account with money to use only for your trip to withdraw from ATMs and not pay fees. That way you can leave your major credit cards at home. You can always transfer funds electronically if you need more. Carrying only ONE form payment has its ups and downs, but I feel safer.


    BTW: for some reason I thought you were going away for 3 weeks. So pick and choose what I wrote in my first post.

    And dont worry about jet lag, you are going to be too excited when you land. you will sleep like the dead when you return!



  6. #46
    Join Date
    Apr. 5, 2011
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    982

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    Quote Originally Posted by MunchingonHay View Post
    threehorsenight makes a good point about ATMs and using plastic to pay for things.

    You can go to your bank and fill out a form and they will exchange currency for you much, much cheaper. You are going to want proper currency when you land for a water, coffee or to pay to use the loo (depends on the country but yes, sometimes you have to pay to pee).

    I also locate 'sister' banks to my bank, for example, I use Bank of America, their sister banks are Barkleys Bank in England, BNP in France, BNL in Italy etc.

    You can open a BoA debt account with money to use only for your trip to withdraw from ATMs and not pay fees. That way you can leave your major credit cards at home. You can always transfer funds electronically if you need more. Carrying only ONE form payment has its ups and downs, but I feel safer.


    BTW: for some reason I thought you were going away for 3 weeks. So pick and choose what I wrote in my first post.

    And dont worry about jet lag, you are going to be too excited when you land. you will sleep like the dead when you return!
    Oh yes, I'd definitely exchange before I left just in case -- and plastic has been my constant companion for a while now. The flight I would prefer leaves at 6:45pm and lands at 10:45am (something close to that, anyway) so I'm hoping to just take a sleeping pill and never notice I could crash into the Atlantic at any given moment . . . Damn, I long for the days of ocean liners.



  7. #47
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    Apr. 5, 2011
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    982

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    ThreeHorse -- thanks for the advice! I will have to sort out the credit card thing (I often buy things from GB with my credit card, but haven't actually used it overseas yet).



  8. #48
    Join Date
    Sep. 23, 2002
    Location
    Eastern MA
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    2,413

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    I'm not sure if it's still the case, but when we went in 2010, we had to change our 6 digit ATM passcodes to 4 digits, because 6 digits wouldn't work over there - luckily Bank of America warned us about it



  9. #49
    Join Date
    Feb. 6, 2003
    Location
    Deep South
    Posts
    14,935

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    American Express gives the most favourable exchange rates, travellers cheques too. Plus, you can pop in to their office if you have a problem.
    https://www.americanexpress.com/uk/
    ... _. ._ .._. .._


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