Do some thorough research on your destinations before embarking on your journey. We read many guidebooks and I searched the Internet for information. The Internet, as you know, is an unlimited resource.
Request an aisle seat on the airplane. You will be on the plane for many hours and it's nice to have the extra leg-room to stretch.
Even though you may have an idea of your itinerary before you leave, be prepared to be flexible. We experienced a two-day strike of the London Underground, so had to adapt our plans. During those days, we walked to sites near our hotel and resorted to using taxis a couple of times.
Speaking of The Underground -- London's Subway System -- USE IT to its fullest! For a couple of pounds each day you can travel the entire system and get to anywhere in the city. We never felt unsafe, even when traveling in the evening after plays.
Currency exchanges. We found that the best exchange rate was from ATM machines. It was also convenient to use a credit card. Avoid currency exchanges at tourist spots which have the worst rates.
Unless it is absolutely necessary to travel with a group once you arrive at your destination, get acquainted with the city and then take off on your own. We found it difficult to stay with a group, especially when everyone has their own pace of going through museums, cathedrals, etc.
Immerse yourself in the culture of the country you're touring. Our number one guideline was to not eat any American food (though we had to have Burger King a couple of times!) We enjoyed the local food -- fish and chips, steak and kidney pie, cornish pastry, hard cider, Guiness beer and even haggis in Edinburgh. At one pub we tried the "mixed grill" -- a gigantic platter of meat, vegetables and potatoes. If you drink alcohol, try "Pimm's & Lemonade." YUM! Buy a box of Thornton's toffee -- it's made with real butter and our cholesterol level jumped after we re-discovered this confection. Experience "high tea" at Harrod's in London; it's expensive, but you get to brush elbows with some of the city's upper class. Finally, try the white chocolate Toberlone candy bar; it's close to heaven on earth!
See some plays while in London. Even if you're not a regular theater-goer, London offers something on stage for just about anyone's taste.
If your hotel offers a free, full breakfast, take advantage of it. The meals at all three of our hotels were filling and got us through most of the day, with just a light lunch many times.
Carry your money, passport, credit cards, ATM cards and airline tickets in a money belt. We got the ones that go around your waist under your clothes. We put them on the morning and didn't take them off until we got ready for bed.
Shoot lots and lots of pictures. And make notes on what you are shooting, so when the pictures are developed you won't have to ask: "What's this building?"
Keep a journal. We recorded our daily events, and this really helped when we were trying to remember when we went somewhere or what we did on a particular day. Believe me, the time will fly by and days just seem to merge into one another.
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