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UK for the first time!

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May 24th, 2012, 04:40 AM
  #1
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UK for the first time!

Hello all!

I did some searching on here, but I thought I'd just ask my questions as they come:

I'm traveling to Europe and leaving North America for the first time.

-I've seen COUNTLESS electronic adapters online. Are there ones that are better than others?

-On the plane, I got coach tickets cause first class was WAY too expensive. Are these seats like the ones you'd sit in to fly cross-country in USA? If so, that's not gonna fun...

-What did you guys do on the plane for 8 hours? I have awful ADD lol

-What are some things you wish someone had mentioned to you about air traveling to Europe for the first time before you went?

-I have a 6 hour layover in Dublin. Is it a nice airport?

-While I was in Canada, i learned the debit card system was much different than America's. Is it the same in Europe? Can I just use my debit card as a plain ole credit card?


Thanks so much for any help!
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May 24th, 2012, 05:40 AM
  #2
 
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-I've seen COUNTLESS electronic adapters online. Are there ones that are better than others?

I dont have a particular preference but make sure it is an converter and not just an adapter if you plan to use it with electronics.

-On the plane, I got coach tickets cause first class was WAY too expensive. Are these seats like the ones you'd sit in to fly cross-country in USA? If so, that's not gonna fun...

Yup - same seats.

-What did you guys do on the plane for 8 hours? I have awful ADD lol

Hopefully your carrier has entertainment in the seat backs so you can watch movies, play video games etc. If not they should have tvs that play probably 2 movies for the entire cabin. I also bring a book and try to sleep.

-What are some things you wish someone had mentioned to you about air traveling to Europe for the first time before you went?

Be prepared when going through security so you dont hold up the line! Have your jacket off, shoes off if required, and everything ready to go!

-I have a 6 hour layover in Dublin. Is it a nice airport?

Dublin is a very small airport. There are places to shop and eat though not much else to do.

-While I was in Canada, i learned the debit card system was much different than America's. Is it the same in Europe? Can I just use my debit card as a plain ole credit card?

You can use your debit card in bank machines to take out cash. If it has a chip and pin you can use it to pay for things, but if not you will not be able to swipe and pay for things. So if you dont have a chip and pin card (you can see the chip if you have one) then plan to use bank machines to take out cash or a credit card.

Hope this gets you started - I am sure more people will chime in!
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May 24th, 2012, 06:08 AM
  #3
 
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Just flew out of Dublin last week, and it unfortunately it looks and has the amenities of a standard airport.

There is one exception, if you are an American citizen and you are flying back from Dublin, you go through American customs and immigration at the Dublin airport and should be there THREE hours before your flight.

Legroom is coach on intercontinental flights and some some palnes have personal screens and ptehrs do not.

There are few brand names associated with adapters, so one must inspect them for sturdiness, which, of course, is impossible to do on-line.
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May 24th, 2012, 10:50 AM
  #4
 
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"I dont have a particular preference but make sure it is an converter and not just an adapter if you plan to use it with electronics."

You won't need a converter with most modern electronics as they are usually dual voltage (110v-250v), you'll only need a plug adapter. The only thing you may need a converter for are hairdriers, irons (anything with a heating element in it that is 110v) but in reality don't bother bringing anything like that.
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May 24th, 2012, 11:32 AM
  #5
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yeah i'm borrowing a hair dryer and a straightener when i get there so as to try to avoid the voltage confusion.

mostly i only need an adapter for my ipad and phone charger.

same seats? man i hope it's not a full flight. maybe i can move around and get a double seat and stretch out.

i don't have the chip in my debit card. that's the different thing in cards i noticed in canada. our system in the US just basically runs it like a credit card, no chip required, but i usually didn't run into too many instances where they wouldn't take my debit as a credit card, so here's hoping.

can i leave the Dublin airport and come back for my flight to England? Cause that would be nice
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May 24th, 2012, 12:04 PM
  #6
 
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You need a card with pin if you intend to use ATMs
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May 24th, 2012, 12:19 PM
  #7
 
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" -What are some things you wish someone had mentioned to you about air traveling to Europe for the first time before you went? "

It was 47 years ago and your question reminded me. Wear your most comfortable shoes. I went for fashion and when I got off the plane I could hardly get them on with a very painful subsequent couple of hours.

In addition, be sure to call your credit/debit card companies to tell them where and when you'll be there or they probably won't work. Credit for purchases, debit for cash.
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May 24th, 2012, 12:40 PM
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If you are on an overnight flight try to get some sleep, even if it is 30 minutes here and there. I also buy a bottle of water at the airport and try to drink/take sips every 30 minutes or so to keep from getting dehydrated.
Make sure you have comfortable walking shoes (I had very comfy cute sneakers), 2 pairs. Try not to wear the same pair two days in a row. That truly saved me.
Do some research ahead of time regarding the trains, generals area, etc.
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May 24th, 2012, 12:51 PM
  #9
 
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The planes going overseas are much larger than most of the planes flying within the USA. Wide-body planes that have 3-3-3 seating or 2-5-2 seating. You can stand at your seat without hitting your head (if you're under 6' tall). Plus every seat back has a flat panel monitor with a dozen stations to watch or listen to music (bring your own earbuds!). Most of the flights are overnight so sleeping is always an option. You probably won't sleep much, so having a layover in Dublin will give you the option of napping in the terminal! Ireland is Euro while UK is Pound Sterling.

The only problem I had with my ATM card was that my PIN started with a zero, which didn't work in England or France. I made a call to the 800 number on the back (from my AT&T phone with a local SIM card) and was able to change the number temporarily. Remember to notify your card company that you are traveling so they won't freeze the card (thinking it's been stolen). Try to get about $200 at a time (euros or sterling) so you don't rack up too many fees. Just be smart about your surroundings when you get money. I felt safer in London and Paris than in Baltimore! Learn where the local Tesco's or Sainsbury's are - supermarkets are one of the best places to grab an inexpensive lunch! Soda is especially expensive in restaurants. Save your money for other things ;-)

Don't expect a cupful of ice when you order ice water or soda. You might get one large cube. And don't ask for iced tea. You won't get it, lol! When in a pub, look for the signs for ordering. It's done at the bar, not at the table. And NEVER tip the bartender. For some reason they find it offensive. Pub grub is great and pretty cheap. The English (I think all Europeans) eat everything with a knife and fork - except cake. If you don't, you may want to practice at home or you may feel a little odd. Such a small thing, but even my kids started eating with a knife and fork on our first trip.

Paper money is colored and different sizes. Larger domination bills are larger. Coin money is very common. One pound and two pound coins. Tax is already included on items you purchase in shops. The price you see is the price you pay. Ten percent tipping is pretty standard in sit-down restaurants.

I bought an adapter kit from AAA because I was traveling to different countries (England and France have different plugs). I did find out that many of the hotels and B&Bs have a box full of converters accidentally left by previous travelers. That was pretty handy on my last trip when I forgot mine!

The bus service in England is great, you can take a local bus or coach bus pretty much anywhere in the country cheaply. If there are at least three of you traveling together in a larger city (like London), it's usually cheaper to take a taxi than taking the subway - although the subway can get you there faster.

They only let you take one item on board with you when you leave the UK, even if you're on an American carrier (one bag - not one carryon bag and a purse). And you won't need to take off your shoes. Going through Customs will take a while, be patient. They will ask you where you are going and how long you are staying. Don't be offended, they ask EVERYONE the same questions. Many cultures don't wear deodorant and Europeans in general have a different concept of personal space. They also don't smile all the time, but that doesn't mean that they aren't friendly. Being courteous will go a long way in making your trip more enjoyable.

Sorry, I know it's a lot of information. Probably more than you need or want!

Don't sweat the small stuff. And don't overpack. Shopping for replacements in the local shops is part of the fun!! Hope you have an amazing trip!!
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May 24th, 2012, 01:06 PM
  #10
 
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The first thing I do before leaving country for any amount of time, is to call the bank, credit card companies to let them know I will be out of the country, not to where. So, they are aware if any suspicious transactions, is not me.
I never had problems with ATM cards, and that is the best way to get cash, they have the best exchange rate and additional fees. And if you find out which banks have corresponding bank to yours in the US, they give you a better deal.

About converters, I saw this Monday at Costco a Samsonite adapter, key locks and converter set, which looks very nice and streamlined, my converter (quite old) is very clumsy.

About the long flight, nowadays they have such good multimedia, game consoles, depending from where you fly between the movies (always much better than continental US)games, programs, snacks and dinners will go quite quickly, but advise you whenever possible to stand up and stretch those legs and arms.

I have a neck pillow from Tempurpedic, which is bit more expensive than your regular one, but it pays in long run for the comfort.

And, since you are going to England, do not forget a good rain jacket with hood, you'll need it.

Bon Voyage
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May 24th, 2012, 01:49 PM
  #11
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thanks guys! don't tip the bartenders? hmm. if you don't do that here, they spit in your drink

yeah my debit card can double as a credit card so i'm not TOO worried about that, but we'll see how it goes.

Are there stores here in america that sell converters and i can actually TALK to a person about them? (i saw the costco reference, but sadly i don't have a membership)

thanks again for all the help!
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May 24th, 2012, 02:02 PM
  #12
 
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I've been told that tipping the barman is "pretentious", sort of like you think you are superior to them. One thing I did notice was if you are actually drinking in a bar (not just stopping by for a bite to eat), you can always "buy" the barman a drink as a thank you. Sort of like "Have one on me" sort of thing. I've never had one turn me down!
It's also common to buy a round for anyone you've been chatting with for a while. You don't have to buy for the whole bar though
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May 24th, 2012, 02:18 PM
  #13
 
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For the adaptor you can grab one at Brookstone or Bed, Bath, & Beyond. I am almost positive mine came from BBB and it was a full set (5 different types) labeled with the area/country it can be used in. Love it.
My travel clock is from Brookstone (buy may also have gotten that at BBB). I like to have it for my own piece of mind and usually set it for 5 minutes before my wake up call just in case I doze back to sleep.
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May 24th, 2012, 02:20 PM
  #14
 
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Wobbers: Debit cards have PINs in the US.

Some advice: you do NOT need a converter for your computer, ipad, ipod, ilife, etc.

Do not take any cash with you - just withdraw from the ATM. Know your fees so that you don't keep drawing and charging yourself. A CapOne online account or credit union account will minimize foreign transaction fees.
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May 24th, 2012, 03:05 PM
  #15
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yeah i just called my bank today to get the run down. not too bad. they have a 1% fee for any international transactions. no biggie.

I need to get a keyboard for my ipad too. i'm not taking my computer over there, but i feel i need an ipad. i know brookstone has them, are they good?
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May 24th, 2012, 04:07 PM
  #16
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also, i saw this kit online:

http://www.brookstone.com/webassets/...9498p_alt1.jpg

from what i understand, the plug farthest to the left in the second row is the UK plug.

true or false?
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May 24th, 2012, 04:26 PM
  #17
 
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true.
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May 24th, 2012, 04:31 PM
  #18
 
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Radio Shack and Best Buy also carry converters and adapters. Usually the package of adapters includes a paper with pictures of which plug is used where.
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May 24th, 2012, 06:49 PM
  #19
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lol i'm all about pictures making things easier. truly.
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May 25th, 2012, 09:15 AM
  #20
 
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Re tipping in Bars/Pubs in the UK...

It's really not necessary and they won't take offence, and definitely no spitting unless you are in a really dodgy pub ;-). It's very different to the US in that you pay for each round of drinks at the bar and take them back to your table.
The only time you might want to tip is if you get table service - more popular in bars than pubs.
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