Passports & Visas
A passport is required for travel to the UK.
For US and Canadian citizens don’t require a visa to join us in Scotland on this tour.
We recommend photocopying the first page of your passport, airline tickets, driver’s license and/or birth certificate to expedite the process of replacing any documents lost while travelling. Keep the originals separate from the copies and pack some extra passport photos as well. Another option is to scan your passport, airline tickets and credit card numbers and email them to yourself as attachments. Please be sure to fill out the "Emergency Next of Kin" section in your passport as well.
Travel and medical insurance should be arranged before departure. Please make sure to
write down important information such as the insurance company’s telephone number and your policy number.
We may be biased, but we think Britain is a fantastic place to visit in all seasons! British
weather can be unpredictable. Come prepared and you’ll find that each time of year has its own appeal. During September - November the colours around the country begin to change and autumnal golds and oranges spread through the landscape. It is possible to get warm, sunny ‘Indian summers’ in September but it is likely we may also be seeing wintery showers, especially in northern Scotland. The average maximum temperature in Scotland during September is a pleasant 16°C /61°F, with a minimum of 9°C/48°F, which means visitors can expect to be cool during the day, and chilly at night.
What to Wear
Pack wrinkle-resistant, easy-care clothing and bring enough underwear and socks so that frequent laundry is not necessary. You may wish to bring a few smart casual outfits for the evening. Bring practical, comfortable walking shoes for excursions and one pair of dressier shoes. Layering is advisable and remember to bring a raincoat and warm sweater for chilly or wet days.
What to Pack
Some suggestions for what else to pack:
- Sunscreen and sunglasses
- Warm hat
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, hair brush, razor, feminine products and cosmetics
- Tissues and antibacterial wipes
- Travel alarm clock
- Basic first aid kit: medications for upset stomach, prescriptions, aspirin, antiseptic cream, cold medicine, vitamins, bandages, personal prescriptions
- Prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses
- Mini flashlight
- Converters, adapters, chargers and power cords
- Camera and extra memory cards
International air carriers are often very strict about the size and weight of baggage and carry- on luggage. Please contact your air carrier or visit its website for specific requirements prior to your departure, as size and weight limitations vary according to the airline and destination. It is also important to check any domestic flight regulations as these too may vary. We are providing porterage for one large suitcase at each hotel.
Currency and Money
The currency in the United Kingdom is the British Pound or GBP (£). The United Kingdom does not use the Euro (€) as used in other European Union countries.
Cash: The most straightforward way to obtain cash is to withdraw it from ATM machines. These are easily accessible throughout Britain (if there is anywhere in your itinerary that does not have easy access to an ATM, we will let you know). Banks in the UK do not charge for the use of ATMs but your bank at home may charge a fee for withdrawing currency abroad. Bank withdrawals tend to have a better rate of exchange than using currency exchange houses. We recommend informing your bank and credit card company that you will be travelling abroad so they can expect overseas charges on your account.
Card Payments: Almost all shops and restaurants in Britain accept payment by either debit or credit card. In some small shops or cafes there may be a minimum spend to pay by card, usually £5 or £10. Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted credit cards and some places may not accept certain cards, so it’s best to bring more than one.
Important Note: European countries use chip-and-pin credit cards, so cards with magnetic strips on the back (commonly used in North America) may not work with certain automated machines. You might want to carry some extra cash in your wallet to use in these situations just in case.
Britain is going through a food renaissance. Where once we were known for stodgy pies and fish and chips, we are increasingly becoming known for excellent local produce and fantastic chefs. In all the major cities the variety of food available is staggering. It would be hard to think of a cuisine that you could not lay your hands on in the Capital. Eateries range from very upmarket Michelin starred restaurants to quirky little cafes and food stalls.
Out of the cities, many restaurants and pubs produce excellent quality food, with an increasing emphasis on good, local produce. Even in very remote locations, it is becoming common for pubs and restaurants to serve high quality meals prepared from excellent local food.
Where you are making your own choice of where to dine, will give you suggestions of where to eat locally – though of course the ultimate choice is yours.
Alcoholic Beverages Britain’s national drink has got to be Real Ale. In recent years, huge numbers of micro-breweries have opened and many pubs now stock a good range of good quality, often local, beers. The variety available has exploded, so even if you think that beer isn’t your thing, it is well worth a try. A pint of real ale in a country pub after a long walk is a quintessentially British experience!
You shouldn't leave Scotland without trying a 'wee dram' of Scottish Whisky. An addition to the original itinerary, we will be visiting the Famous Grouse Distillery to do just this as well as enjoy the distillery’s whisky tour which provides an interesting insight into the process (as well as an opportunity for some tastings!).
A huge variety of wine from all corners of the world is available as standard in most restaurants, pubs and bars.
Restaurants Tipping is entirely discretionary but it is normal to tip at around 10% in restaurants in Britain (more if you feel that the service has been particularly good). Some restaurants have started to add a 10% or 12.5% service charge automatically to the bill. This is always discretionary so if you have been particularly unhappy with the service it is open to you to choose not to pay the service charge. Where a service charge has been added, you are not expected to leave an additional tip.
Pubs and Bars
It is not expected that you will tip in a bar or pub if you are only buying drinks from the bar. You may want to leave a small tip if there is table service.
Tipping in cafes is discretionary and it is very unusual for it to be added to the bill. If you have received table service you may want to leave up to a 10% tip. It is not usual to tip staff when you have collected your own food or drinks from the counter.
If a porter takes your bag to your room in a hotel it is normal practice for you to give him a small tip. A pounds would be fine.
Tipping in taxis is not necessary but drivers appreciate it if you round the charge up to the nearest pound.
Special Dietary Requirements
Please inform the Big Journey Company of you have any specific dietary requirements so that we can be as prepared as possible for your visit. Thank You.
Please let The Big Journey Company know prior to travelling if you have any medical needs or take any medication that we need to be made aware of to ensure that you have a safe and pleasant tour.
Important: Pack a sufficient supply of any medications you are taking, copies of the prescriptions and the telephone/fax numbers of your doctor. Some countries require that prescription drugs be carried in their original container with the label clearly visible. In case of lost medication, it is also a good idea to keep a list of your medications to show to a doctor should you need to obtain a repeat prescription in the UK.
Emergency services and healthcare The telephone number for all emergency services in the UK (Police, Ambulance, Fire Brigade and Coastguard) is 999 from a landline telephone and 112 from a mobile/cell (although 999 will also work).
The National Health Service provides free emergency care to all visitors to Britain, irrespective of their nationality. However, should you need treatment that goes beyond emergency treatment (for example, if you are required to be admitted as an in-patient in a hospital), you will have to pay NHS charges for that treatment and therefore you must ensure that your travel insurance includes cover for medical expenses.
Visitors from the EU and EEA are entitled to entirely free health care from the NHS providing that they can show a European Health Insurance Card. You should therefore ensure that you obtain an EHIC card in your home country before you travel.
You will be able to use your mobile phone in the UK from abroad but it may be extremely expensive, particularly for data roaming. Do check with your own mobile phone provider before travel. If you are planning to make a lot of calls using your mobile phone while you are in Britain, we suggest buying a UK pay-as-you-go sim card, which can be obtained very cheaply. Most mobile phones will pick up reception from UK networks while in the UK. However, mobile/cell phone reception in rural areas can be poor even for UK mobile phones so there may be times when you are without reception.
We recommend Skype as a cheaper alternative to using your mobile or cell phone if you want to call home, providing that you have internet access. The vast majority of our hotels and other accommodation provide free Wifi access for its guests. Free Wifi is also available in many cafes, restaurants and pubs.
Britain has a unique three-pin plug that is not used elsewhere in the world. You will therefore need an adaptor to use any electronic items brought from abroad. Adaptors should be readily available at both your departure airport and the airport you arrive into in the UK. You may also need power converters – please check the devices power supply requirements before plugging it in.
Distances and Measurement
Technically, Britain has a metric measurement system. However, it is still common practice for shops to sell produce in both kilos and lbs. All distances on road signs are in miles and most people continue to measure themselves in feet and inches and weigh themselves in stones and lbs.
October- March, Britain is on Greenwich Meantime (GMT). This is 5 hours ahead of New York, 8 hours ahead of California, and 10 hours behind Sydney.
March - October, Britain uses British Summer Time, one hour ahead of GMT.
English is spoken throughout Britain. There are some regions of Wales where Welsh is the first language but English is widely understood.
Other areas of Britain speak with a strong regional dialect and these are a pleasure to encounter but can take a bit of getting used to, even if English is your first language!
There is a national general ban on smoking in enclosed public places. This includes all hotels, cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs as well as other attractions such as museums and public transport (which also includes hire cars). Most places will have a designated outside space that people can use should they wish to smoke.
Smoking in outdoor public spaces (including the street) is permitted.
Safety and Security
Use common sense and take basic safety precautions. Keep valuables locked away and don’t wear expensive watches or jewellery, flash expensive cameras, or walk in deserted areas. Keep car doors and windows locked at all times. If in doubt, ask a guide or at your accommodation for safety guidelines.