General Safety Tips
- Buddy rule: when you’re out, travel in pairs or groups.
- Let people know when and where you are going.
- In England, dial 999 in an emergency
- Collect cards or matchbooks of places you are going – be certain to include the address of the Sunley Center and The University of Northampton – if you ever get lost, you can show a card to a taxi.
Cell phone/Mobile Phone calls:
To use your cell phone, you’ll need to check with your provider to make sure your mobile will work in the UK. On some plans you need to switch on “international roaming.” If your mobile will not work, many companies offer an international phone service, where they will mail you a phone you can use temporarily. You typically need to order this service a few weeks before you leave.
Skype calling is the most affordable way to call ‘home’. Skype can be put on laptops, tablets, and cell phones. You need to set up an account and add “skype credit” to make calls.
The UK works on a different current. You’ll want to bring converters, which can be purchased at places like Target, Walmart, and luggage shops. (The rooms at Sunley come with hair dryers, so no need to bring this.) An example of a UK-compatible converter can be found at Amazon.
Here’s a good article from REI on what type of adapter or converter you may need.
England uses the GBP, or British Pound (£). At this time, the conversion rate is roughly 1 US dollar to .64 GBP. You can get pounds through your bank in the USA before you leave. Typically this will have to be ordered, so do it ahead of time. You can convert money at the airport as well. Banks tend to have the best exchange rate.
It is also possible to use ATM’s in the UK, if you use an ATM card with a 4-digit pin. You will want to check with your bank regarding any fees you might incur for withdrawing in other countires. Also some US banks have branches in the UK but operate under a different name.
Credit cards are widely accepted, but there will be circumstances where cash is needed (e.g. taxis). You may need to contact your credit card company to inform them that you’ll be using your card out of the country. Also check with your company regarding any additional fees that might be added when using the card overseas. The benefit of using credit is that most credit cards carry protections in case your card is lost or stolen, or if you need to dispute an incorrect charge from a merchant.
Weather in May/June can be variable; it will typically be cooler than it would be here in Texas. (Then again everywhere is cooler than Texas.) Note that weather is reported in Celsius (C), not Farenheit (C). An easy conversion is to double the Celsius and add 32. That’ll roughly get you to the F temperature. Average temperature will be in the 60’s (F) during the day, 50’s at night. Rain is likely. Check before you go to get the most likely forecast.
Given the weather variability, it’s a good idea to pack a light jacket, something like a windbreaker, and maybe a small travel umbrella. Dressing in layers might be the easier way to go. Wear comfortable shoes; we will do a lot of walking! Also the Institute is casual wear, there is no need to dress up. However, if you plan on attending a high end restaurant or show, more formal attire may be required.
You may also want to consider carrying a daypack/small backpack for day trips. This can make it easier to carry a camera, wallet, maps, water, and also anything you happen to buy along the way.
Hopefully this won’t be a concern, but accidents can happen. The UK operates with the National Healthcare System which offers free health care to residents. Emergency services are also free to visitors. For more information on what is available, this article gives a basic reference. You may want to check with your own health plan to see what is covered abroad. It is also possible to purchase temporary travel insurance that will cover medical needs.
If you have a medical emergency that does not require ambulance services or paramedics, just walk into:
- Any GP’s office (they are known as GP’s surgeries in the UK)
- A Walk-in Emergency Medical Centre
- A hospital emergency room. Hospital emergency rooms are called Accident and Emergency Units or A&E. People may also refer to that part of a hospital as a Casualty Unit or department
And pharmacies are also referred to as Chemists, if you’re needing to find the local Walgreen’s.
If you are taking any prescription or non-prescription medications, be sure you have an adequate supply for the duration of your time away from home. Some insurance providers such as HTH and travel assistance companies can secure prescription medications for you while you are abroad, but this service can be costly, and you must have subscribed to a company that provides the service. Sometimes medications easily found in the United States may not be available abroad or in the dosages that your doctor prescribed. All medications, including over-the-counter medications, must be clearly labeled and in the original containers, since they are liable to inspection by immigration officials.