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Visit the U.K., Not Just London

Whether you’re visiting Britain for a fortnight’s vacation or a longer exploratory visit, it’s all too easy to be lulled into spending all of your time in London.

Making a call for reservations in the UK
Call ahead to pre-book reservations if you want to save money on train and bus fares.

Get Out of London

Use the public transport and highway network. Remember that travel costs outside London are considerably lower than in the capital. Bed and breakfast accommodations in London will cost least $150 per night, but similar lodgings in the Lake District cost as little as $30 per night. Prices in Scotland and across England and Wales are similarly low. Landlords and ladies of B and Bs are notoriously knowledgeable and certainly add life to the usual guidebook experience.

Most internal flights take less than an hour—although fares are relatively high, and domestic flights are only practical if you’re traveling more than 100 miles.

A variety of discount rail fares apply to tickets bought seven, 14, or 21 days in advance on all intercity routes. With a little forward planning, you can save as much as 80 percent. If you’re under 26 or a full-time student studying in the U.K., you can buy a Young Person’s Railcard for about $25, which will give you a 33 percent discount on most rail fares for the whole year. Similar cards are available for senior citizens and families traveling with children.

National Express, the U.K.’s equivalent of Greyhound buses, run frequent services across the country. Tickets are best bought in advance. Coach (bus) fares are comparable to the cheapest pre-booked train fares. The advantage is that you also have access to many routes no longer serviced by the railway network. Again, discount cards are available for under-26s and over-50s.

Auto rental is a relatively inexpensive alternative if you’re hiring for more than a day or two. On average, you can expect to pay around $45 per day, including insurance and taxes—although with a little shopping around you can usually find a week’s rental for less than $150. A strong motorway network runs up and down the country, but it’s very slow by U.S. standards. Travel from London to Manchester takes an excess of three hours—considerably longer than traveling by rail. However, a drive to the Cotswolds and middle England takes little more than an hour by car, while you could easily spend a day traveling by train.

For More Info

One word of warning: gasoline is extremely expensive in the U.K., about $6 per gallon. Just one more reason why public transport makes perfect sense.

Advance Rail Bookings: www.thetrainline.com

Rail Discount Cards: www.railcard.co.uk.

Internal Flights:
www.ebookers.com
www.ryanair.com,
www.britishairways.co.uk
,
www.easyjet.com
.

Coaches: www.gobycoach.com.

Car Hires:
www.avis.co.uk
, and www.easycar.com.