England is a country in the British Isles, bordering Wales to the West and Scotland to the North West. Whilst it may be small in size, with a total population of 55.5 million, England packs a lot in! From its bustling capital city of London, home to Big Ben, Parliament and Royal palaces, to its rolling countryside and quintessentially English villages, to beach side towns and the world renowned birthplace of Shakespeare. England has 10 national parks, 34 Areas Of Outstanding National Beauty and miles of unspoilt coastline with mesmerising white limestone cliffs and castle ruins. With a colourful history intertwined, every town, village and hamlet has a story to tell and friendly locals to tell it. However you choose to enjoy this magical country, it wont fail to disappoint.
Climate in England
England has a temperate climate, with temperatures ranging from 0°C (32°F) during the winter months to 32°C (90°F) in the summer months. There is frequent rain all year round and in winter, snow is common, especially in the North of England. The coldest months are January and February, whilst the warmest months tend to be July and August. Due to its proximity to the Atlantic ocean, rainfall is higher in the west of England, particularly in the Lake District and cities such as Manchester.
Currency in England
The currency in England is the British pound (£). At the time of writing the conversion rate from pounds to euros and dollars is as follows:
£1 = €1.15 / $1.30 USD
England has a great banking system and plenty of ATMs in the cities and towns. ATMs accept Visa and Mastercard. The main banks you will see are:
Most of the ATMs listed above will charge, but there are some that offer free withdrawals to customers who bank with partner institution. Do your homework beforehand and try and avoid these unnecessary fees. Also, always choose to pay in the local currency rather than your home currency, and this includes when withdrawing money as well as paying for things over the counter. This will avoid extreme charges and poor exchange rates. My advice is to try and pay using your debit card as much as possible, rather than withdrawing money to avoid charges. Make sure you always have identification on you in case you need it to exchange money. If you need to change your money, you can do this at the airport, any major hotel, shops such as Marks and Spencers, the Post Office, at the bank or an exchange office.
I used the Monzo card when I was travelling which allowed me to withdraw £250 free of charge per month and no charge incurred when I paid for purchases using my card, although this may change, so please check their policy information. Another option is the Starling Card. I would suggest taking two bank cards with you, or one bank and one credit card and store them separately, so if you lose one, you will always have a back up.
Go Travel and Talk Top Tip: Always let you bank know beforehand that you are travelling abroad. This will prevent them from freezing your card which they will do if they think it has been stolen.
Getting Around England
England has multiple airports and depending on where you are going, most tend to be in easy distance to the town or city you are looking to explore. Some of the major airports are: London (Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton & Stanstead), Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol.
Buses Within Cities & Towns:
Buses within the cities and towns are super affordable and a great way to explore. You can either buy your ticket at the station beforehand or pay the driver when you get on the bus. You will usually board the bus from the front and exit through the side or back door. Please be aware in London, you cannot pay for buses in cash, you will have to use a Oyster card (which you can buy in London) or tap your debit card on the reader when you get on the bus (make sure you can use it in the UK). The buses have a bell system that you press if you would like to get off. I suggest downloading maps.me which allows you to follow your journey and location offline - make sure you download the area you are exploring when in Wifi and before you set off, unless you can use your data. For the major cities, use Citymapper which is invaluable when it comes to planning your transportation. Buses run regularly throughout the day in major towns and cities between 6am-11pm, but in small villages they will be much more infrequent.
Long distance buses:
Traveling around England via bus is much cheaper than taking a train. The main long distance bus services are with: National Express; Mega Bus and Go Euro. You can also use Check My Bus to compare fares across different bus companies. The major bus terminals in London for national travel are Victoria Coach Station and Liverpool Street Coach Station.
National Express: With a nationwide bus network, the National Express has frequent services between all major cities. Fares vary, if you book in advance they are considerably cheaper. The most expensive time to travel is on a Friday afternoon. As a guide, London to Manchester will cost you between £15-£25 if you book in advance. Discounts are offered to full time students and under 26, called young persons coachcards - this will give you 30% of the standard adult fare. For non UK Citizens, the National Express offers Skimmer passes, allowing unlimited travel for 7/14/28 days for between £69-£199. No need to book your seats in advance if you have this pass.
Megabus: These buses operate a budget coach service serving more than 100 destinations across England. Book early and go at quieter times to pick up the real bargains, such as £1 from London to Manchester!
Go Euro: Now known as Omio, they provide another great service for long distance journeys within the UK and to connecting cities in Europe.
England has a great rail network run by the National Rail. However if you are travelling in winter where snow is likely, expect frequent disruptions and delays. A variety of trains connect all the major cities in England. Different providers service different areas of England. There are currently 28 national train companies that operate within the UK. To avoid confusion, we recommend that you focus on the route you want to travel rather than the train company to travel with. The biggest difference with the trains is the onboard services; some of the bigger companies such as Virgin Trains and Great Western Railway (GWR) have new trains with excellent First Class sections, WIFI, at-seat-food and drink services.
You can book online with National Rail or The Trainline and if you book in advance you can get some great deals. Simple type in where you are coming from and where you would like to go, and they will give you a selection of trains that are available at set times. Prices vary depending on your journey and what class you book (Standard or 1st Class). For more information, check out the Man in Seat 61 blog, he offers incredibly detailed information on destinations, how to book, what to expect and so much more. To save money, sign up for a rail card. Most cost £30 and will save you a third on all rail fares. It is definitely worth doing if you are travelling alot by train.
If you are a night owl or want to save money on accommodation, it is an excellent idea to travel at night with sleeper trains. Sleeper trains are usually equipped with beds, washing facilities, towels and air conditioning. They have several travel classes onboard depending on your budget and requirements. One of the most popular sleeper trains is from London to Edinburgh (Scotland) and from London to Penzance (Cornwall). For more information, head to The Trainline.
In London only, there is an extensive underground tube system. The tube offer a quick and easy way to explore London and connect you with all the main tourist sites. The network is exnsive and can take you across great distances in London. Costs vary depending on what ticket you buy, but expect to pay around £2 ($2.50) for a single journey. For more information see our London travel guide.
Hiring a Car:
If you wanted to explore on your own terms, hiring a car is an option but it is more expensive than getting a bus/train. If you plan in advance you can get some really good deals, but remember you will need to pay a deposit and extra for the insurance. I would strongly advise booking this in advance and picking the car up at the Airport or in the city centre you fly into.
Travel Insurance for England
You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries and it is the only travel insurance we will ever use! It is designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
WorldNomads.com is backed by a suite of strong and specialist travel insurers who provide you with great cover, 24 hour emergency assistance and the highest levels of support. The WorldNomads.com prices are some of the most competitive online and if you need to change plans, you can buy more cover or claim online while you are still away. You can even buy a World Nomads policy if you're already travelling. They also offer travel safety advice and tips online through the World Nomads Travel Safety Hub and WorldNomads.com members can learn the local lingo through a series of iPod & iPhone Language Guides and can stay in touch with family and friends with an online travel journal. You can find out more about why travel insurance is important for your trip. If you have any questions about your travel insurance or travel safety in general, please contact WorldNomads.com directly.
Medical Advice for England
The World Health Organisation recommends that you should have the following injections before visiting England. These can be booked through your doctor. If you would like more information, check out Fit for Travel.
- Hepatitis A and B (for protection against contaminated food/water).
What to pack for England
- Long sleeved tops and long comfortable walking trousers if you are hiking
- Dresses / shorts / light clothes for the beach
- Warm clothes for the evenings
- Smart clothes for the evenings
- Swimwear / beach items
- Waterproof clothing / rain poncho - I suggest both!
- Walking shoes / trainers / sandals
- Battery pack / electronics / adapters
- First aid kit and Suncream
- Book / journal for bus journeys
- Travel pillow
- Packing cubes. Get different colours to separate your clean and dirty clothes!
- Life Straw. This is an amazing accessory to have when you are trekking and a cheap alternative to buying water along the way, it also saves on buying plastic bottles and for every purchase, a child in a developing country, receives clean drinking water for 1 school year!
- Zip lock bags for traveling with left over food items / prevent liquid items from spilling
- Money belt
Safety Considerations for England
I have lived in London for 8 years and I have never experienced any problems or felt unsafe, at any time. However, it is always good to remain cautious, especially in the larger cities such as London, Manchester, Birmingham.
- Always keep your valuables hidden or locked away.
- Always keep your valuables in your small backpack and wear it on your front
- If you are travelling on buses, do not store your backpack overhead or in the back of the bus, keep it on you at all times. For extra security, put your passport, money and phone in a Money belt around your waist, under your clothes.
- When travelling on buses, always padlock your big bag.
- Do not walk around at night on your own, always take a taxi, even if it is a short distance.
- Always ask your hostel about the area and for safety advice.
- Keep your bank cards separate, so if anything happens, you have a second source of money.
- Always have a photocopy of your passport, so if you lose your passport, you still have a copy of it
- Bring another form of identification with you (drivers license).
- Never leave your drinks unattended at night.
Budget for England
This is completely subjective and dependent on what you do whilst exploring England. If you are exploring multiple areas, transport costs will add up, but there are plenty of budget friendly hostels in the major towns and cities and good guest houses in the more rural areas and house sitting opportunities all over the country and you can find lots of cheap eats. However, if you are visiting castles, museums, famous sights, eating out, partying etc your expenditure soon adds up. If you are travelling as a backpackers, £80 ($90) per day should be about right but you won’t be able to experience all the sights.
Don't forget to buy your Travel Insurance...