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Travel Outside the US

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    • Travel Outside the US

      I want to visit the UK, particularly London, next year. I have never traveled outside the US and I have never even been on a plane. But while I am doing my research, I really wouldn't mind pearls of wisdom from those who have traveled overseas.
      Of course I talk to myself... sometimes I need expert advice.
    • Tuckahoe wrote:

      I want to visit the UK, particularly London, next year. I have never traveled outside the US and I have never even been on a plane. But while I am doing my research, I really wouldn't mind pearls of wisdom from those who have traveled overseas.


      When things seem different remember who the foreigner is.
      Apply early for your passport.
      Do not try to carry on even a small pocket knife.
      Know the latest ounce limits on liquids for carryons.
      Dress comfortably in layers for the plane.
      Take precautions for pick pockets.
      While there is lots of information available online, a small guidebook and maps can be nice.
      If you are an ultra liter, that will probably come in handy when packing and keeping up with luggage.
      Check into currency exchange, is it better here or there.
      Notify your credit card company of where you are going.
      Smile and have fun! :)
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • Patience. Pack lots of it.
      All of Astro's comments.
      Pick an airline not a fare. May cost more but 38000 feet is no place to get nervous.
      Carry debit and or credit cards. Don't use them in airports. (4 digit PIN number essential)
      Carry a bit of the local currency with you for taxi, snacks etc.
      If you have ever used recreational drugs ensure you have absolutely none on you and that none of your gear smells of the stuff.
      This is most important in non western countries but holds true for Europe as well. Even the Netherlands hates the pot tourists.
      If you can - "wing it" as much as possible. Get out and walk. Take trains and buses like a local, not a tourist.
      Renting a car may not be a good option (although I like to) if you aren't comfortable with a "stick shift" or driving on the left (rotaries will do your head in).

      If you want to PM me or post some of your plans I will be happy to comment on your specific itinerary. Not to dissuade you but highlight any good/bad/caution spots.
      Above all DO IT! Travel is wonderful. You make friends in the strangest places.
      Resident Australian, proving being a grumpy old man is not just an American trait.
    • OzJacko wrote:

      Patience. Pack lots of it.
      All of Astro's comments.
      Pick an airline not a fare. May cost more but 38000 feet is no place to get nervous.
      Carry debit and or credit cards. Don't use them in airports. (4 digit PIN number essential)
      Carry a bit of the local currency with you for taxi, snacks etc.
      If you have ever used recreational drugs ensure you have absolutely none on you and that none of your gear smells of the stuff.
      This is most important in non western countries but holds true for Europe as well. Even the Netherlands hates the pot tourists.
      If you can - "wing it" as much as possible. Get out and walk. Take trains and buses like a local, not a tourist.
      Renting a car may not be a good option (although I like to) if you aren't comfortable with a "stick shift" or driving on the left (rotaries will do your head in).

      If you want to PM me or post some of your plans I will be happy to comment on your specific itinerary. Not to dissuade you but highlight any good/bad/caution spots.
      Above all DO IT! Travel is wonderful. You make friends in the strangest places.


      he can teach you how to speak british.
      eleven!!
      its all good
    • hikerboy wrote:

      OzJacko wrote:

      Patience. Pack lots of it.
      All of Astro's comments.
      Pick an airline not a fare. May cost more but 38000 feet is no place to get nervous.
      Carry debit and or credit cards. Don't use them in airports. (4 digit PIN number essential)
      Carry a bit of the local currency with you for taxi, snacks etc.
      If you have ever used recreational drugs ensure you have absolutely none on you and that none of your gear smells of the stuff.
      This is most important in non western countries but holds true for Europe as well. Even the Netherlands hates the pot tourists.
      If you can - "wing it" as much as possible. Get out and walk. Take trains and buses like a local, not a tourist.
      Renting a car may not be a good option (although I like to) if you aren't comfortable with a "stick shift" or driving on the left (rotaries will do your head in).

      If you want to PM me or post some of your plans I will be happy to comment on your specific itinerary. Not to dissuade you but highlight any good/bad/caution spots.
      Above all DO IT! Travel is wonderful. You make friends in the strangest places.


      he can teach you how to speak british.
      eleven!!

      If you want a perfect British accent just ask Army Ant to do an Australian one!
      Resident Australian, proving being a grumpy old man is not just an American trait.
    • Get an ATM card that does not have a credit card logo to use for cash withdrawals. This way if it is lost, they can't clean out your bank account. I travel with two credit (not debit) cards. Keep one in some other location (hotel safe/money belt) as a backup if you lose your wallet. Don't fret over exchange rates. When you use a credit card or an ATM, you will get the bank rate which is better than what you will get anywhere else. Consider getting a credit card with no foreign transaction fee. Most charge you money to use your card overseas. A few don't.

      Real ale in a pub (from the hand tap) is not "warm and flat", but rather cellar temperature and naturally effervescent. It is vastly superior to what is passed off for "beer" in most of the US. Get used to it.

      Don't be afraid of public transportation.
    • Let's see...

      I have no problem behaving like a guest on my part, and I have a lots of patience.

      I am a cheap bastard, so...
      From what I have gleaned about airlines, it seems they all suck and their customer service approval rating is atrocious and runs across the board at approximately 50%. Anyway, at the moment I am looking at flying Aer Lingus to Gatwick. But I'm a year out and nothing is set in stone yet.

      I have no problem with public transportation. Got around just fine in DC on the metro, and I dont expect the London underground to be all that different. Already researching the Oyster Card for getting around.

      And I have been pretty happy with my Hosteling International experiences in the States, so I intend to lodge there.

      Not a doper and really dislike dopers and drunks, so no issue there.

      Very much prefer to wing-it. Only things that should be planned and set are flight/travel/train schedules.


      As far as a passport, fortunately my local post office handles applications and photos. Everyone has been pretty universal with their advice to go ahead and get it now. Process seems easy enough. But my only question is that the application asks for travel dates and where I would be traveling to. Beyond a year from now and to the UK my exact plans are not that firm. S there an expectation to be precise on travel plans when applying?

      As an American I do not need to apply for a visa to travel to the UK, but from the government website, it says that I should bring the same documentation with me, that would have been provided if I applied for a visa. Whats the real story here?
      Of course I talk to myself... sometimes I need expert advice.
    • Sounds like you are pretty much ready and aligned to have a great time! Attitude is so significant in these types of things. :thumbup:

      For your passport question just put the proposed year out dates as you know now and you should be fine.

      As for the UK visa question, I never got a visa for the UK and I am not for sure what to tell you there (other than to the best of my knowledge it is not necessary). Hopefully someone else can help. Sadly the people I would recommend you ask are with the government, so beware that you might get the run around on it.
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • Was that the US or UK govt that gave the visa advice? I find those govt web sites to be overly pessimistic about travel warnings and advice. Think of the safest country in the world and then go read the travel warnings for that country from the US State Dept. It will tell you about all the ways you could be killed or injured traveling there.
    • The biggest problem you're going to have is boarding, and getting off the plane.
      People bring to large and too much stuff to try to cram into the overhead baggage bins.
      Then they stand in the aisle trying to make it fit. That slows boarding way down and sometimes delays pushback from the gate.
      At arrival the problem reverses itself. But all of that can be avoided if you can treat yourself to a first class seat as they usually get to board first.

      Don't bring anything onboard that wont fit under the seat in front of you. Then you don't have to be part of the problem I mentioned above.
      The airline's web site will tell you what size that would be, if not call them.
    • Astro wrote:

      Dress comfortably in layers for the plane.


      ^ This.

      A flight from the east coast to the UK isn't too bad but if you've never flown, it will seem like it an eternity.

      In warmer weather, I wear slides to the airport. Easy to pop off for security and I get to keep my toes aired out. Once on the plane, I'll put on a thick pair of socks and leave the slides under the seat. Jeans get pretty constricting when stuck in your seat for 6 - 8 hours. I opt for loose-fitting synthetic pants and a synthetic under shirt. My favorite over shirt is loose fitting and has a pocket - perfect for holding your boarding pass.

      In your carry-on, bring a travel toothbrush and travel-size toothpaste. A zip-lok bag with facial wipes or even baby wipes will allow you to freshen up before landing. And drink as much water as you can in-flight to avoid dehydration. Get up and walk the aisle at every opportunity. If your seatmates get up, do the same even if you don't need to use the restroom.

      Write down the address of your local lodging and place it at the top of your suitcase before closing it up. If your bag doesn't make it because the tag gets lost, the airline will have a way to get it to you.

      It's also handy to have the address (and a pen) in your carry-on as some arrival cards request your temporary address.

      It may be obvious that you're a tourist. Just try not to look like a clueless tourist. If I'm lost or need to stop and plan my next move, I'll find a discrete spot out of the flow of foot traffic to study my map or my phone. That also makes me less of a target for thieves as it's obvious if someone approaches me.

      Enjoy yourself and embrace all of the new experiences!
      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, Max Patch to Franconia Notch NH and the Gale River Trail to Crawford Notch NH.
    • odd man out wrote:

      Was that the US or UK govt that gave the visa advice? I find those govt web sites to be overly pessimistic about travel warnings and advice. Think of the safest country in the world and then go read the travel warnings for that country from the US State Dept. It will tell you about all the ways you could be killed or injured traveling there.


      Was reading up on the UK gov site about visa requirements.

      AnotherKevin wrote:

      Bear in mind that your prescription drugs and even your over-the-counter meds may need special considerations. Benadryl, for instance, is treated in some countries as an illegal narcotic, and in others is by prescription only.


      Thanks! Making a note to look into information about prescription medication.

      LIhikers wrote:

      The biggest problem you're going to have is boarding, and getting off the plane.
      People bring to large and too much stuff to try to cram into the overhead baggage bins.
      Then they stand in the aisle trying to make it fit. That slows boarding way down and sometimes delays pushback from the gate.
      At arrival the problem reverses itself. But all of that can be avoided if you can treat yourself to a first class seat as they usually get to board first.

      Don't bring anything onboard that wont fit under the seat in front of you. Then you don't have to be part of the problem I mentioned above.
      The airline's web site will tell you what size that would be, if not call them.


      Is it reasonable to think that I could do a trip with only carry on?
      Of course I talk to myself... sometimes I need expert advice.
    • Tuckahoe wrote:


      Is it reasonable to think that I could do a trip with only carry on?


      My son is headed to Norway this May and is insistent that he will be fine for two weeks with just the clothes he can fit into a carry-on. Daughter is in Italy right now and took her largest suitcase stuffed to 50 pounds.

      Me? I'd rather do a small checked suitcase so I have room for extra clothes and bringing home souvenirs. Another option is to use a backpack stuffed inside a duffelbag as checked baggage. The duffelbag keeps the straps from getting caught on handling equipment and also makes it a little more difficult for someone to take a quick peek into zippered external pockets. Once at your destination, you stuff the duffel inside the pack and off you go without having to tow a suitcase.

      I picked up a rectangular duffel from Campmor that fits my pack with just enough room for boots, poles and a fleece. That was the method I used when I flew to Atlanta for my Georgia section hike.
      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, Max Patch to Franconia Notch NH and the Gale River Trail to Crawford Notch NH.
    • Tuckahoe wrote:

      odd man out wrote:

      Was that the US or UK govt that gave the visa advice? I find those govt web sites to be overly pessimistic about travel warnings and advice. Think of the safest country in the world and then go read the travel warnings for that country from the US State Dept. It will tell you about all the ways you could be killed or injured traveling there.


      Was reading up on the UK gov site about visa requirements.

      AnotherKevin wrote:

      Bear in mind that your prescription drugs and even your over-the-counter meds may need special considerations. Benadryl, for instance, is treated in some countries as an illegal narcotic, and in others is by prescription only.


      Thanks! Making a note to look into information about prescription medication.

      LIhikers wrote:

      The biggest problem you're going to have is boarding, and getting off the plane.
      People bring to large and too much stuff to try to cram into the overhead baggage bins.
      Then they stand in the aisle trying to make it fit. That slows boarding way down and sometimes delays pushback from the gate.
      At arrival the problem reverses itself. But all of that can be avoided if you can treat yourself to a first class seat as they usually get to board first.

      Don't bring anything onboard that wont fit under the seat in front of you. Then you don't have to be part of the problem I mentioned above.
      The airline's web site will tell you what size that would be, if not call them.


      Is it reasonable to think that I could do a trip with only carry on?


      It could be. It depends on how much stuff you are bringing. And that might depend on what you plan to do there and what time of year you go.
      Will you need formal dress attire? Will you need a warm coat with hat, gloves and maybe a fleece? You see what I'm getting at?
    • LIhikers wrote:



      It could be. It depends on how much stuff you are bringing. And that might depend on what you plan to do there and what time of year you go.
      Will you need formal dress attire? Will you need a warm coat with hat, gloves and maybe a fleece? You see what I'm getting at?


      Starting to sound a lot like packing for a hike. :)
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • I have some very generic carry on size suitcases (the kind with two wheels). Sort of the traveler's equivalent to an ultralight backpack - no frills, compartments, etc. Just a box with wheels and handle. You can get quite a lot in there. There is a weight limit for a carry on that you might hit before the size limit (have seen it enforced on rare occasions). My carry on bag without all the bells and whistles is usually smaller than most others so if they are going to actually enforce the carry on size rule, they probably won't go after mine first. I've always been able to get it to fit in the overhead bin (wheels facing out) with no problem. Sometimes a joker with a ginormous carry on will take up the whole bin by putting it in sideways. I rotate it 90 degrees and slip mine in along side. When the bin won't close because the oversized bag sticks out too far, it isn't mine that gets gate checked.

      check out 1:50 in this vid
      hulu.com/watch/539034
    • Well I got my passport application completed, documentation and IDs together and went up to the local post office to get photo, turn in application and pay the fee. Nope... no walk-ins, appointments only and the next available appointment is 1 month from now. Apparently only the main Newport News post office takes walk-ins. Good thing I am starting a year out.

      Government administration at its best.
      Of course I talk to myself... sometimes I need expert advice.
    • Re seeing London.
      We have found that if you are visiting a city for a few days it is value on the first day to do one of those really crappy tourist bus rides to get all the "big ticket" looks at things. It also helps getting over the travel and learning the lay of the land so to speak.
      London has a really good and simple open top double decker bus ride. (several actually). Look for a hop on hop off option and do a lap of the place like that. then go "freelance".
      Resident Australian, proving being a grumpy old man is not just an American trait.
    • OzJacko wrote:

      Re seeing London.
      We have found that if you are visiting a city for a few days it is value on the first day to do one of those really crappy tourist bus rides to get all the "big ticket" looks at things. It also helps getting over the travel and learning the lay of the land so to speak.
      London has a really good and simple open top double decker bus ride. (several actually). Look for a hop on hop off option and do a lap of the place like that. then go "freelance".


      Good point about that first day. From the US, most trans Atlantic flights land in the morning. If you are like me, you will get no sleep on the plane. To beat jet lag, the most important thing is to stay awake, preferably in the sunshine (if possible in London) and do not go to sleep until normal evening hours. If you can do this, you will probably get a good nights sleep and feel pretty good on the next day and for the rest of the trip. But if you sleep/nap too much on your first day, you will wake up in the middle of the night and you could be off-kilter for days.

      The problem is that first day is a bitch. On our first trip to London, we scheduled a tour of Westminster Abbey. That was a mistake. It was dark inside and we walked through like zombies and didn't remember anything. On our next trip, we did more outside stuff on our first day - walking through parks and gardens is good. Riding a tour bus would be OK too, especially if the weather is good and you can be on the top of one of those open-top buses. But if you are sitting (instead of walking), you might just doze off. This happened to me on our second trip. My wife (a librarian) had arranged to do some research in the British Library. So I had to watch the kids for an hour while she was looking up some references. We walked around the park across from the library. At one point we sat down on a bench and we all fell asleep. I wonder what people thought to see this guy with three kids sleeping on a park bench in London.
    • Something you have already thought of or maybe not: Bring a plug adapter for your electronic equipment. When I went to Italy and then Germany a few years later, I was glad to have it. Phone and clippers (for my bald dome!) in 2005 and all of that plus the iPad in 2011.

      Something like this works well:
      target.com/p/embark-adapter-plug-set/-/A-13535425

      As for the actual arrival part, I found some of my best experience were when I just wandered and saw what looked good. In Rome, I found little restaurants or cafes where no English was spoken and I gave my bad Italian a real work out. Awesome food. In Anzio, no one goes there except Italians. Until I spoke, everyone just assumed I was a local. Cool...

      I suggested this idea in Germany to my darling wife and her friends, but at least the Germans I was with did not seem to be too keen on getting off the schedule. :)

      (talk about contrasts in culture between southern Italy and Germany. :) )
    • Almost everyone there speaks English. I was on a Rhine River Cruise in Germany and I felt funny cuz not one perdon spoke English. Finally somebody sneezed and I heard "Gesundtheidt". I told myself someone here actually speaks English and then I realized it was a German word.

      One of the coolest places I went was La Cincaterre in Italy.It was really cool and no one spoke English. High cliffs, fisherman beaches, just beautiful.

      I really liked Athens and going to the port everyday and taking those old Ferries to the Small Greek Islands. Aegina is great and has a temple on the mountain in the middle that is older than the Parthenon.

      Rome is really cool and watching out the back window of your hotel can be educational.
    • Having lived in Ireland for 3 yrs I was embarrassed at how many American visitors kept saying "back home we do it this way"; it really irritated the locals although they didn't show it. I'm a female and was told to never ever ask anyone for a "ride", so be prepared to make mistakes and laugh at yourself along with the locals.

      I found that the Irish ask a lot of point blank questions, including your views on politics, the President, etc. I tried to never express views that were anti-American. I figure you can express your true feelings when you're at "home", but maintain "family loyalty" when abroad. These are my opinions and you will undoubtedly have different experiences and receive different advice from others.
    • gypsy97 wrote:

      Having lived in Ireland for 3 yrs I was embarrassed at how many American visitors kept saying "back home we do it this way"; it really irritated the locals although they didn't show it. I'm a female and was told to never ever ask anyone for a "ride", so be prepared to make mistakes and laugh at yourself along with the locals.


      And not surprisingly, not something uniquely American. On the other hand there is something unique about watching a Brit raging in the coffee shop I go to because the generic "jams and jellies" bin included orange marmalade. "Its not jam!!"


      I found that the Irish ask a lot of point blank questions, including your views on politics, the President, etc. I tried to never express views that were anti-American. I figure you can express your true feelings when you're at "home", but maintain "family loyalty" when abroad. These are my opinions and you will undoubtedly have different experiences and receive different advice from others.


      I wont engage Europeans in discussions of American politics either.
      Of course I talk to myself... sometimes I need expert advice.
    • Oh hey...look at this old thread. Well I guess 7 months later I can update this.

      Well back in March I applied for the passport, and from application interview to emailed notice that the passport shipped was 1 1/2 weeks, and received a couple days later, bringing the process from beginning to end to 2 weeks. WOW!

      As far as itinerary, rather than flying into London, I've decided that It would be more interesting to fly into Dublin. Tickets into Dublin are $500 cheaper than London. Spend a couple days in Dublin, and then take advantage of the great sail-rail fare to get through Wales and just into the West Midlands to start my time in England at Ironbridge Gorge. I mean how could I look at myself in the mirror if I didnt take the opportunity to start in the birth place of the industrial revolution?

      After a few days in Ironbridge Gorge, Coalport and Coalbrookdale, I'll get back onto the train for a couple days in York before heading to London for about 6 days. And then back to Dublin to fly out. And I am looking at airfare, ferry and train plus lodging to come to a total of $1500 for two weeks...
      gif.014.gif finger.gif
      Of course I talk to myself... sometimes I need expert advice.
    • My sister is been married to a Welshman for 30 years, she goes all the time. My nephew who I've hiked with, has been, but I, never.


      Ovs niece is in Germany with her Army Captain Husband. She wants to take her daughter, as a senior graduation trip................I, have not been to Montana in 3 years and I'd really like to backpack again out there. And fish.


      ............and I now realize I have 1 year left on my passport! ;(
      Cheesecake> Ramen :thumbsup: