A few weeks ago I wrote about our vacation planning in broad strokes. Last week we did some more planing for our trip to the UK.
Although we will be going for 3 weeks, half the time we will be spending with my mother, so there are no great expenses there. For the other half we will be doing some travelling around. We always like to do some travelling each time we go over, the kids like to see different parts of the country and it’s good to have them connect with their heritage.
We did consider not getting a car, and instead doing everything by train. As foreign visitors you an get a rail pass which allows unlimited travel. However when we ran the numbers, renting a car worked out to be cheaper, plus provides us with more flexibility. In the UK we can get away with renting a smaller car than in the US, so actually rental prices are not that bad.
We like to mix up the things we do, but we do like to visit castles and other cultural sites. So for that we have purchased an English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass. This cost us 72 pounds for 16 days of unlimited access for the family. As each castle can cost up to 10 pounds a person this a pretty good deal.
For accommodation we are staying in Premier Inns. These are pretty low end hotels, but we only use them as a base for sleeping. They are kind of the Southwest Airlines of hotels; pretty much every hotel is identical and are semi-automated with automatic check in and limited staff. They also all have restaurants attached (nothing fancy, but they have a pretty good breakfast buffet) with additional charge, but we probably wont use them much if at all.
Instead, for food, we typically don’t eat out much. But we find the UK grocery stores have a better selection of picnic food than their US counterparts. So hopefully if the weather is good, we can live off sandwiches and sausage rolls for cheap. Obviously we will need a few meals out but I think we can do it pretty frugally.
Our daughter is starting to think about college, even though it is 3 years away. She is interested exploring the possibility of going to college in the UK. So we will take the chance to visit a couple of campuses while over there. We will be spending a few days up near Durham, so will visit that university. This is an old fashioned university in the Oxford and Cambridge style of having separate colleges. This should give her a good idea of what an old fashioned university looks like.
I’m sure we will do other things too, we will have a couple of days in London. Everyone likes to visit the shops and to see some of the sights. London has lots of free stuff to do as well, from the Natural History Museum to the National Gallery. So i’m sure we will visit one or two of those places too.
We will also get up into the countryside. When we are up in Durham we have good access to a couple of National Parks and also the Roman ruins along Hadrian’s Wall. So these will all be interesting places to visit.
When we are down with my Mother, there are plenty of cool places to visit there too. Our son wants to go fossil hunting in Lyme Regis, which is one of the best places in the world for it. Also there are some great beaches and outdoor walks if the weather is nice.
It obviously helps to have family, but with some planning vacations don’t have to be overly expensive.