London travel questions

Old Jun 22nd, 2024, 07:18 AM
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London travel questions

My sister and I have booked a tour of London that includes private transportation. How much should we plan to tip the driver? We will be there for a week an are supposed to have the same driver each day. The tour, hotel, and airfare are all paid for.

We are also wondering how much cash we should take with us in pounds and if we should be concerned about using our US credit cards there.
Thank you!
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Old Jun 22nd, 2024, 08:16 AM
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Welcome to Fodors. My goodness, that must be a pretty expensive package. A private driver guide for a week must mean your budget is quite generous.

No need to take any £ at all but if you just want a some to have on hand you can just get some from a cash machine/AtM when you land at LHR. When using the ATM besure to click that you want the £ without conversion . . . i.e. to be charged in $ not the local currency. Wording on different machines may be different so just make sure you get the cash amount calculated in your own home currency - not £.

Tipping is a sore subject with Brits and other Europeans. They feel strongly that Americans waaaaaaay over tip and blame us for the fact that many restaurants now charge an 'optional' service charge. You ca tip anyone you like but definitely NOT like you do back home. maybe add 5% or 10-ish% to restaurants, leave 1 or 2 £ for houskeeping. But don't just tip willy nilly.

As for how much to tip your driver guide -- no way to tell since we have no idea how much this service is costing you (or what s/he is doing for you other than just driving, or doing full on tour guiding, or ??

Last edited by janisj; Jun 22nd, 2024 at 08:54 AM. Reason: fixed major screw up LOL
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Old Jun 22nd, 2024, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj
...
No need to take any £ at all but if you just want a some to have on hand you can just get some from a cash machine/AtM when you land at LHR. When using the ATM besure to click that you want the £ without conversion . . . i.e. to be charged in $ not the local currency. Wording on different machines may be different so just make sure you get the cash amount calculated in your own home currency - not £.
...
I may be misreading, but those two bold sections (my emphasis) seem to contradict each other? My understanding would be that one wants the first one -- local currency without conversion. Apologies in advance for any misunderstanding on my part.

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Old Jun 22nd, 2024, 08:52 AM
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OOPS -- I edited my my post and got it really screwed up Thanks. Its early enough that I can still edit/fix it . . .
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Old Jun 22nd, 2024, 09:11 AM
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why would you tip? The person will have a job and be paid as per contract.

If I was doing this for a week I would consider a £10 or 20 at the end of the period, but probably not.

The social niceties of having staff for a period of time are more complicated than mere tipping. Do you want to invite them to eat with you and you pay? What happens if they reject you. Good luck with all of that. I've done this sort of thing as a Brit and invited our driver on the last day to eat with us and we paid. But it has to be aproached carefully. After all they may be Plymouth Brethren.

If it helps, I live in the UK and haven't used cash for roughly 6 weeks now, since my last hair cut.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2024, 09:17 AM
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Not sure if Janis mentioned this, but regarding your credit and ATM cards make sure you call your bank(s) to let them know when your trip is and if you might be using yiur card(s) overseas. If anyone will still be at home (spouses, for example) and using those accounts while you're away, they may need to know that, too.

Last edited by Travel_Nerd; Jun 22nd, 2024 at 09:32 AM.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2024, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler
...

If it helps, I live in the UK and haven't used cash for roughly 6 weeks now, since my last hair cut.
Kind of makes the whole ATM thing obsolete, doesn't it... regardless, I still get some local cash, but wind up saving it for the next time.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2024, 09:58 AM
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We now mostly use our credit cards when we travel but take out a small amount of cash from an ATM once we arrive. We do notify our bank when we are traveling.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2024, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by KTtravel
We now mostly use our credit cards when we travel but take out a small amount of cash from an ATM once we arrive. We do notify our bank when we are traveling.
Our banks do not even require notification. We used our phones to pay almost exclusively. We never had a taxi refuse to accept credit card/applepay payment. Almost too convenient, really.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2024, 10:26 AM
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On my recent trips, I've used only credit cards. The only problem I've had was when I went to church and had nothing to put in the collection plate. Couldn't exactly put in an IOU.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2024, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler
why would you tip? The person will have a job and be paid as per contract.

If I was doing this for a week I would consider a £10 or 20 at the end of the period, but probably not.

The social niceties of having staff for a period of time are more complicated than mere tipping. Do you want to invite them to eat with you and you pay? What happens if they reject you. Good luck with all of that. I've done this sort of thing as a Brit and invited our driver on the last day to eat with us and we paid. But it has to be aproached carefully. After all they may be Plymouth Brethren.

If it helps, I live in the UK and haven't used cash for roughly 6 weeks now, since my last hair cut.
Plymouth Brethren don't eat?
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Old Jun 22nd, 2024, 04:42 PM
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Recently in UK and Belgium. The only times I really needed cash was to pay to use the toilets.

With tipping, please don't. It's a North American custom.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2024, 10:37 PM
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Originally Posted by bvlenci
Plymouth Brethren don't eat?
Yes, but they only eat with other members of their flock.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by KayF

With tipping, please don't. It's a North American custom.
If I choose to thank the room attendant for cleaning my hotel bathroom and freshening the room, I certainly will.
This small act increases my pleasure in my vacation.

I donít believe it affects the attention your hotel room receives.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 07:14 AM
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Unfortunately many Yanks just don't get it and assume our way is the only way.and that's how things should be done everywhere else . . .

(Tipping housekeepers in the UK isn't a huge deal in the scheme of things one way or the other -- but just try that in say Japan! )
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by nyse
If I choose to thank the room attendant for cleaning my hotel bathroom and freshening the room, I certainly will.
This small act increases my pleasure in my vacation.

I donít believe it affects the attention your hotel room receives.
What part of "when in Rome, do as the Romans" do you not understand??

I bet you would criticize a foreigner who did not tip in the US. Well, it works the other way too.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by thursdaysd
What part of "when in Rome, do as the Romans" do you not understand??

I bet you would criticize a foreigner who did not tip in the US. Well, it works the other way too.
People do what they are comfortable doing and if a maid or driver get a few extra Euro now and then it won't destroy the culture. Servers know when they have tourists so I can't think that just because an American leaves an oversized tip that they will expect it from everyone. I try to follow local customs but understand that I miss the mark. I've had servers make a point of stating that the bill does not include the tip, which really makes things uncomfortable because I know good and well that service is included, they are paid a living wage, etc., etc.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 04:30 PM
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Aye yee aye. Every time tipping comes up, things get heated. Many of us were called insane on a similar thread for not tipping hotels a couple of months ago. Do we really need to go down that path again?
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Old Jun 23rd, 2024, 07:17 PM
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Tipping is expected in North America. In North America, staff in hospitality are paid less than enough and are expected to collect the difference in tips. In Europe the hospitality staff get paid what is supposed to be enough. The staff are not underpaid and expected to collect the difference in tips. North American keep insisting on giving tips in Europe. Originally in Europe tipping could seem like an offence, like the tipper was implying that the staff picked the wrong profession. Now many staff in Europe could be used to getting tips from Americans. They are wrong. Do not give or offer your driver or any staff even one pence tip (even if it would make you feel good or even if other repliers act like its fine to give a small tip). In Europe your tip was already included in the original fee you paid them.

I took the London Underground and possibly the London Overground, multiple times in 8 days in London.
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Old Jun 24th, 2024, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by James2000
. . . Also, as you're Americans, I'm sure you'll tip him very well . . .
So you're saying Americans are too naive (or dumb) to know better??
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