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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 September 28, 2020

              The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

              The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

              At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

              Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

              One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

              When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

              So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

              Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

              This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

              Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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              When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

              Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

              One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

              Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

              An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

              When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

              Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

              Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

              We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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              By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

              Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

              While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

              I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

              You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

              Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

              When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

              Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

              Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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              Con #2: Less Human Interaction

              One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

              Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

              Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

              This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

              While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

              Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

              Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

              This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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              For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

              Con #4: Unique Distractions

              Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

              For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

              To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

              Final Thoughts

              Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

              We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

              More About Working From Home

              Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

              Reference

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