|My wife and I had always talked about going to England. We even went
to a travel agent to get prices.... But, kids, careers, house payments,
family obligations-- something or another always seemed to put England
on the back burner. As our 25th anniversary approached, we decided to finally
Trans-Atlantic vacations are not cheap-- we had to save up for a while. I pretty much gave up going to science fiction conventions for the year, just so that we'd be able to afford the trip. I even skipped going to Burning Man to save money. We could only handle being away for a week, maybe two... and after dreaming about the trip for so long, there was a lot in England we wanted to see. Compromises had to be made. We had to accept that we couldn't see everything. Friends recommended renting a car, or backpacking on foot across the country, but as first-time travelers we weren't very comfortable with those ideas.
We decided a bus tour was probably the best idea. There's no shortage of bus tours in England. Lots of companies offer packages for tourists. You can spend as little or as much as you want being bussed across Britain.We settled on the "Amazing Britain" package from Trafalgar Tours. The tour advertised it included visits to London, Stratford-upon-Avon, Hadrian's Wall, Edinburgh, Culloden, Loch Ness, Bath and Stonehenge -- plus many more places in between. It seemed to touch on at least most of the main places we wanted to visit.
|Early in 2007,
we visited our local travel agent. We paid a deposit on the tour we wanted,
and also got some travel insurance-- in the case of an emergency, if we
had to come back home before the tour was over, we could get some of our
money back. I hoped it wouldn't be necessary. We also learned from the
travel agent the restrictions on our luggage. Traveling overseas, we were
only allowed one carry-on bag, which had to be no larger than a certain
size. The Trafalgar company sent us each a special carry-on bag, the maximum
size allowed, along with big wallets to carry our passports, tickets, and
other papers. Each of us could bring one suitcase, but it too had a maximum
size; I figured that was because there was only so much storage space on
We also had to research what was allowed to take on a plane anymore. I was amused that the list of restricted items included crowbars, knives... and dynamite. The government actually thought it was necessary to put it in writing that you can't take your dynamite on board a plane with you. I also tried to get some British money before we left. Most of Europe used Euros, but England still used the British pound. It turned out, however, that only one bank in Tulsa exchanged foreign currency, and they needed a week or so to order it. So, I got traveler's checks instead. I figured that would keep our money safe until we could exchange it in England.
We took off the necessary time from work, got our passports ready, and packed our bags. We looked forward to a grand adventure.