UK & Ireland Travel Tips
The United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland both operate on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
Irish (Gaelic) and English are the two official languages in the Republic of Ireland. Although Irish Gaelic is the native language andis widely taught in schools, everyone speaks English.
English is the official language throughout the United Kingdom. Irish is still spoken in some parts of Northern Ireland. Gaelic is still spokenin the Highlands and islands of Scotland.Welsh is an Indo-Europeanlanguage whose closest relatives are Cornish and Breton. At least a fifth of the population of Wales speaks Welsh as their native tongue.
- Smoking etiquette: There is a smoking ban in all public places such as restaurants, bars, shops in almost all countries in Europe. The law is applied quite extensively in some countries;throwing cigarette butts on the floor in public streets can be considered littering and a fine may occur.
The United Kingdom’s unit of currency is the Pound Sterling, divided into 100 Pence.
The Republic of Ireland’s unit of currency is the Euro, divided into 100 Cents.
Traveller's cheques are difficult to exchange here and are not recommended.Major credit cards (Visa and MasterCard) are widely accepted;Diner's Club and American Express much less so.
There is easy accessto ATM outlets throughout in the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom. Keep in mind most international ATM machines only acceptfour-digit PINs. If yours is longer than that, contact your local bank inplenty of time before leaving home to have it changed. Additionally, all merchants in European countries who are accepting any form of credit card payment are now requiring card holders to enter their PIN instead of signing areceipt for sale transactions.
Foreign Exchange: Exchange currency only at authorised outletssuch as banks and hotels, and exchange onlywhat you think you will spend in-country. Coins cannot be reconverted on departure. Save all receiptsfrom any currency exchange transaction. You may be asked to produce them when you exit the country, andthey are required if you intend to reconvert local currency.
Tipping in the United Kingdom: An amount equivalent to approximately GBP 30 per full day of sightseeing is suggested as a tip for your local guide(s), with GBP 20 suitable for your driver. For half-day excursions, equivalents of GBP 20 and GBP 10 are appropriate for guide and driver respectively. Transfer drivers should be tipped at a rate of about GBP 10 per service, transfer rep at your discretion. For driver-guides, equivalents of GBP 40 for full day or GBP 25 for a half day of service. These suggestions are per service.
Tipping in the Republic of Ireland: An amount equivalent to approximately EUR 40 per full day of sightseeing is suggested as a tip for your local guide(s), with EUR 25 suitable for your driver. For half-day excursions, equivalents of EUR 25 and EUR 15 are appropriate for guide and driver respectively. Transfer drivers should be tipped at a rate of about EUR 5 per service and transfer rep at your discretion. A driver-guide should be tipped EUR 40 for a full day or EUR 25 for a half day of service. These suggestions are per service.
- Transfer assistance isat your discretion but if a Guardian Angel performs a special service for you, it would be appropriate to tip him or her at the same rate you would tip ahotel concierge for similar assistance.
Taxi drivers would appreciate a gratuity of rounding up the fare.
Restaurant Service: A charge for service isoften added to restaurant checks but if not, a typical gratuity would be equalto 10-15% of the total.
For full details on climate, please see Best Time to Go.
Conservative "smart casual" clothing will be most useful for daytime touring. European daywear isconsidered to be somewhat formal (especially in larger cities). Therefore shorts are worn only for sporting activities.
For the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, cotton and other light fabrics arecomfortable choices for warmer summer days but lightweight sweaters and waterproof jacket are often necessary too. Spring and early autumn temperaturesdictate medium-weight clothing selections. Winters can be considerably colderand warm clothing is recommended, including a hat and gloves.
We also recommend you bring comfortable walking shoeswith low or no heels, a small umbrella or light raincoat and a swimsuit as somehotels have pools. Authorities in many European countries will not allow visitors in bathing suits or revealing clothing to enter archaeological sites or churches.
When dining at night itmay be appropriate for gentlemen to wear a jacket and tie, with an equivalentstandard of eveningwear for ladies.
Laundry Service is generally available at your hotels. Prices can vary widely though, so please note price lists (and return timing) before using this service.
Avoiding the Baggage Blues: Baggage allowances vary according to airline –check your airline for details. Do NOT pack or bring prohibited items to the airport–check the airports relevant to your trip. Make sure there is contact information inside your bags as well as outsideIn case your luggage isdelayed make sure you pack essential supplies such as medication, contactlenses, toiletries, etc. in your carry-on bag.
- It is important that you check with a qualified health professional for the most current information concerning your travel itinerary and personal health history.
- Tap water is generally considered safe to drink in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland but we recommend you stick to bottled water.
- We suggest you carry a simple travellers' first-aid kit containing remedies for headache, minor stomach complaints, motion sickness and colds, as well as band-aids, antiseptics and/or other items as you and your doctor feel may be required.
- Some of the places you'll visit in the United Kingdom and Ireland are not easily accessible by vehicle. Sightseeing on this itinerary may require, at minimum, the ability to walk at a moderate pace for a mile or two, and the balance and agility necessary to climb stairs, enter and exit trains and buses, and navigate uneven or cobble-stoned streets. Some sightseeing stops do not have elevators or wheelchair access. These circumstances can make this European journey more strenuous than an itinerary that visits a developing country in Asia or Africa, where most sightseeing takes place from a vehicle.
- We do recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance to cover you in the event of a medical emergency.
For up to date information on latest health and vaccination recommendations, please contact your doctor.
Electrical service throughout the United Kingdom and the republic of Ireland is supplied at 220 volts/50 hertz.
- Etiquette requires that you ask permission before photographing local people, unless you are shooting a crowded public scene. This applies especially to small children. Please be considerate of a desire not to be photographed. Photography is not permitted at some designated locations, which may include some museums and private houses, for example. These areas are usually clearly marked. In general, avoid taking photographs of airports, government buildings and installations, bridges and military or police personnel. If in doubt, please ask—and avoid having your film or camera confiscated. Some churches and museums in Europe charge a fee for photography or video-recording. Your local guide will advise when a fee is required.
Arrival and Departure Formalities
- On arrival in the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom you will be asked to show your passport and complete a Visa Waiver Form, which requests basic personal and passport information.