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3 Tips for Your First Trip to England From the U.S.

3 Tips for Your First Trip to England From the U.S.

England is a marvelous and diverse place. I recently took my first trip there and this list of tips is gleaned from an admittedly limited two-week experience. That being said, my husband and I did travel quite a bit within the country, from Stratford through Bristol, to Exmoor, and to London. We got to see rural, suburban, and metro areas, as well as a seaside town in a lush national park.

England rural area
    Image by Julia Travers

    1. Sleeping is Good

    Jet lag is natural and is not a failing or weakness. Let yourself sleep at the beginning of your trip so that you can enjoy the rest of it. When we arrived in England in the morning, having flown through the night, I was quite a zombie. My plan to sleep on the plane had not worked out, even though I had taken a sleeping pill. I had to nap hard that day, even though I was excited to look around.

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    I was still able to sleep that night and felt fairly refreshed the next day. On the way home to the U.S. we flew during the day, and while I know travelling west through time zones is generally accepted to be easier anyway, I found day travel to be preferable over all. If you are an absolute pro at sleeping on a plane, the overnight may work for you. Regardless, I recommend embracing your body’s need to catch up on sleep so you can start your trip on the right foot.

    2. You May Have A Stronger Accent Than You Think

    While London is full of a marvelous mix of individuals and cultures, there was less cultural and linguistic diversity out in the country (as is the case in many nations). So, our American accents stood out in the small towns. I had prepared myself to possibly not always understand the English accents I encountered, but, naively, did not realize my accent might be so strong as to be unintelligible at times.

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    I have a mild Southern U.S. accent in Virginia but in rural England, it was clearly quite strong. I learned to expect this and just speak purposefully clearly or repeat myself when asked, which locals did for me as well. Overall, everyone we encountered was very kind and often wanted to know about our trip and where we were from. We spent some time in the quiet, charming small town of Bidford on Avon.

    Bidford on Avon
      Bidford-on-Avon Parish. Image by Julia Travers

      In more urban areas, our accents were almost completely overlooked.

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      London Bridge
        London. Image by Julia Travers

        3. Slow Down and Absorb

        Warwick Castle
          Warwick Castle. Image by Julia Travers

          So much of a culture can be experienced in the off-moments of a vacation. While I did find that having a few sight-seeing destinations, such as Warwick Castle, and other explorations booked ahead of time helped the planning to feel less daunting, some of my favorite moments were when we were un-scheduled.

          A good dose of local life can be absorbed subliminally and through opening up to the ambient, subtle environmental information all around you. Sitting in a pub, hearing local banter, resting my hands on the smooth, dark, aged wood of the bar, and feeling the fresh air come in from the open window, was lovely. I only saw one mosquito during our two week July trip and most buildings we visited kept the windows open.

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          One of my favorite places to take it easy and absorb was a small town called Porlock, below, which was very Brigadoon-ish (yes, there is a boat in the harbor named Brigadoon).

            Image by Julia Travers

            Many winding roads had to be traversed (on the left!) to get to this hide-away. By the way, driving on the left takes increased concentration and produces some anxiety, but is very possible. I’m not a huge fan of the word quaint, but Porlock was quaint in the best way possible.

            Here’s a shot of our sumptuous Porlock morning tea.
              Here’s a shot of our sumptuous Porlock morning tea. Image by Julia Travers

              I loved England, and can’t wait to go back. England has so many wonderful small towns and vibrant, bustling cities, so I know there is much more for me to see. If you’re heading out on your first trip to England, hopefully these tips will be helpful.

              Featured photo credit: Julia Travers via jtravers.journoportfolio.com

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              Last Updated on February 25, 2020

              Face Adversity with a Smile

              Face Adversity with a Smile

              I told my friend Graham that I often cycle the two miles from my house to the town centre but unfortunately there is a big hill on the route. He replied, ‘You mean fortunately.’ He explained that I should be glad of the extra exercise that the hill provided.

              My attitude to the hill has now changed. I used to grumble as I approached it but now I tell myself the following. This hill will exercise my heart and lungs. It will help me to lose weight and get fit. It will mean that I live longer. This hill is my friend. Finally as I wend my way up the incline I console myself with the thought of all those silly people who pay money to go to a gym and sit on stationery exercise bicycles when I can get the same value for free. I have a smug smile of satisfaction as I reach the top of the hill.

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              Problems are there to be faced and overcome. We cannot achieve anything with an easy life. Helen Keller was the first deaf and blind person to gain a University degree. Her activism and writing proved inspirational. She wrote, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

              One of the main determinants of success in life is our attitude towards adversity. From time to time we all face hardships, problems, accidents, afflictions and difficulties. Some are of our making but many confront us through no fault of our own. Whilst we cannot choose the adversity we can choose our attitude towards it.

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              Douglas Bader was 21 when in 1931 he had both legs amputated following a flying accident. He was determined to fly again and went on to become one of the leading flying aces in the Battle of Britain with 22 aerial victories over the Germans. He was an inspiration to others during the war. He said, “Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t do this or that. That’s nonsense. Make up your mind, you’ll never use crutches or a stick, then have a go at everything. Go to school, join in all the games you can. Go anywhere you want to. But never, never let them persuade you that things are too difficult or impossible.”

              How can you change your attitude towards the adversity that you face? Try these steps:

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              1. Confront the problem. Do not avoid it.
              2. Deliberately take a positive attitude and write down some benefits or advantages of the situation.
              3. Visualise how you will feel when you overcome this obstacle.
              4. Develop an action plan for how to tackle it.
              5. Smile and get cracking.

              The biographies of great people are littered with examples of how they took these kinds of steps to overcome the difficulties they faced. The common thread is that they did not become defeatist or depressed. They chose their attitude. They opted to be positive. They took on the challenge. They won.

              Featured photo credit: Jamie Brown via unsplash.com

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