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

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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.

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            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 January 13, 2022

              10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

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              10 Cheap And Amazing Honeymoon Ideas

              A honeymoon is important.  The wedding is over.  The months, or even years, of stress and planning are finally over.  It’s time for the two of you to relax, settle in, and start enjoying your time together as you embark on your first journey as a family.

              To make the most of this time for the least amount of money, it’s important to focus on what you want out of a honeymoon.  This isn’t your typical list of touristy honeymoon locations everyone goes to.  Rather, it’s a list of cheap honeymoon experiences a couple can enjoy together, regardless of where it’s at.

              1. Camping

              A week long camping trip is a fantastic way to see how you mesh together as a couple.  You’re put in a low impact “survival” situation where it’s just the 2 of you and nature.  You have a chance to see how your new spouse handles themselves when left with the basics of life.  There are amazing national parks all over the United States where you can camp for a week for $20-30, disconnect from technology, and enjoy some of the natural wonders our nation has to offer.

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              2. Staycation

              You don’t have to go anywhere for a honeymoon.  In fact, the tradition of taking a honeymoon vacation is a relatively new one.  Prior to the 19th century, a honeymoon involved staying home together for a month to get to know each other physically.  Think of how blissful it could be to take a full month off work, disconnect from the outside world, and focus entirely on projects together.  You may not be wowing your friends and family with pictures of some exotic location, but they’ll be envious of your escape from the rat race nonetheless.

              3. Island Getaway

              People tend to overspend on their honeymoon vacations to Hawaii, Tahiti, etc.  Going to these places doesn’t have to be expensive.  You don’t need to stay in a 5 star resort when you’re on a Best Western budget.  You’re there to be in the atmosphere of the island, not a hotel room. Book a cheap flight and sleep in a hotel alternative, on the beach or in your car.  It’s the view in paradise that really matters.

              4. Fancy Resort

              Book an expensive resort, spa, or retreat in the city you live in.  While this may seem counterintuitive as a cheap destination, when you consider your savings on airfare and other travel costs, you can afford to be treated like royalty within your own city limits.  If you book a honeymoon package, you’ll end up with a lot of free amenities and extra attention.  There’s no need to fly halfway across the world to live the good life.

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              5. Road Trip

              The journey is often more fulfilling than the actual destination.  If you fly out to some exotic locale, you’ll be stuck on a plane for 8-30 hours.  Rent a luxury car, pick a handful of places you each have always wanted to visit, and go on an adventure.  You can keep food costs down by packing your own snacks, but it’s always a good idea to sample the local delicacies wherever you go, even if it’s only a few states over.

              6. Charter a Boat

              If the ocean is your thing, a week-long cruise can cost you $1500-$3000 per person, depending on the destination.  You also have to factor in travel costs to and from the cruise, alcohol, souvenirs, and on-shore excursions.  You’ll also be surrounded by people.  For the same price (and often much cheaper), you can charter your own boat and enjoy the experience in private.

              7. Las Vegas/Atlantic City

              If gambling is your thing, these are the places to do it.  Which one you choose depends on your preference, budget, and proximity.  The way to make this vacation cheaper is to gamble smart.  Stay away from low odd tables (i.e craps, roulette) and read up on the MIT blackjack strategies to beat the house.  If you do it right, you can win enough for a free trip (and gain a valuable team skill in the process).

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              8. Themed Retreats

              There are weeklong retreats all over the world where you can fully immerse yourselves as a couple into a hobby you’re both passionate about.  Go on a yoga/meditation retreat, a ranch, a vineyard/farm, a backpacking adventure, treasure hunt, or whatever you’re into.

              9. Working Honeymoon

              Your honeymoon doesn’t have to be a vacation.  For a truly memorable experience, dedicate a week to a charity or volunteer organization.  You can drive out to a campground to help restore it in the offseason.  Maybe you’ve always wanted to volunteer to help out your local animal shelter, plant trees, help the homeless, etc.  Use the time to do something together as a couple that will fulfill you spiritually while contributing to the community.  Just because you’re on a honeymoon doesn’t mean you can’t be productive.

              10. Festivals, Fairs & Special Events

              Every city, state, and country has festivals, fairs, and special events.  Find one you’re interested in.  If you time your wedding right, your honeymoon can be a trip to one of these festivals.  Burning Man, SXSW, Bonnaroo, the Renaissance Fair, regional harvest festivals, Mardi Gras, New Years Eve in Times Square, a movie premiere, or whatever you’re into.  If you plan your honeymoon at the right time in the right place, the possibilities are endless.

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              Featured photo credit: Josue Michel via unsplash.com

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