International Travel


Well-Known Member
Hey guys. So I'm going to London for a few days this week for my spring break. Wasn't sure if I would get my passport in time but it just arrived in the mail! This will be my first time doing the whole international travel thing. I'm just wondering if you guys have any tips as far as what to expect (how early to arrive at lhr coming back, etc...). I'll be non-rev (D2) the whole way on AA.

Any advice (doesn't have to be specific to non-rev travel) is welcome!
I'm stationed here in Italy and have been up to the UK twice in the last 9 months. If you're staying the London, don't try to drive at all. Between the tube and taxis you're covered for trans really cheap and it's easy to get around.

Don't complain about the prices; the exchange rate for Sterling is great compared to last time I was there. The UK is 'Europe lite'. Just remember the Pub ain't for getting snockered at and usually closes early. I was up there for work last year and saw most of the really cool stuff over a two-day period and then went to Silverstone Raceway on another day and hit a few laps in a Lotus Esprit (with IP) for about 50 GBP.

Also, have the Embassy's number in London stored in your cell phone and don't be afraid to use it if you need to.

Finally, have fun and don't be a jackass. Oh yeah, remember we beat them in a war a few hundred years ago; don't rub it in when your drinking ale from a brewery older than our country ;-)
the departure taxes are hefty going into/out of Britain....i'm assuming you've already purchases your NR pass?

make sure you have a way to check load status and get to the airport at least 2 hrs early (going there and coming home)...better to be early than late cuz you never know how fast security is...altho security outside the US is actually faster than inside the US (like duh!)...

don't exchange more than you plan to spend, otherwise you'll be carrying around british pounds for a while as the exchange rate back into $$ isn't very good.

use your ATM card, don't use those travel exchange places as they charge more than your ATM will.

remember that London Gatwick and Heathrow are still using liquid rules (same as here... 2-3 oz, in a ziploc bag). anything else will have to go thru checked luggage.

try to get as much sleep on the flight over as you can (do you think you'll be riding coach or up front?)...with it being such a short flight, i know i got jet lag pretty bad once i got there because of the lack of sleep and dehydration...

oh and drink at least 1 liter of water going there and coming home so you can beat the dehydration jetlag...
Just got back from London. As was mentioned, great public transportation. If you're taking the train from LHR, take the Heathrow Connect, not the Heathrow Express. It's quite a bit cheaper and only adds maybe 10 minutes to your trip. Takes you right to Paddington Station and you can go anywhere from there.
Last time I went was in 2007. Women love the American accent. Everything's relatively expensive because of the damn exchange rates. Make sure you visit Harrods!
Thanks for all the tips guys! Great info.

These will be the longest flights I've ever been on in my life, lol. I'll be going in first or business on the way over, but coach on the way back (AA charges extra for first and with the LHR departure fees I'm trying to pay as little as possible coming back)

I have a friend that attends the Royal Academy of Music so I'll be staying with him. I'm assuming we'll be taking the tube around everywhere.

I AM a little worried about the jet-lag, since I haven't done this before, but hopefully it won't be too bad.
Whatever you do, do NOT go to bed early (5pm) on your first day. You will really screw yourself over, and be miserable for days afterwards. Force yourself to stay up to a reasonable hour, 10pm ish... then you can sleep.

Sounds weird since the jetlag actually works the other way, 5pm in London is late morning in the US, but you will be tired after getting in from the 'redeye' flight, and you'll want to sleep. Don't :)
Your mileage may vary, but I've found what's best for me is to take a 3-4 hour nap after you get there. It will be hard to force yourself to get up again, but you'll be able to function a lot better for the rest of the day and into the night and you'll still be tired enough to go to sleep again at the normal time of 10pm-2am, especially if you go out, hit it pretty hard and are at the point of passing out anyway. That worked well for me the last four times I went to Europe.

Coming home is much easier. You'll want to go to sleep at an early hour when you get home; you'll get up early the next day and it's easy to adjust from there--just stay up later.
Withdraw cash with your ATM card when you get there. When you get back take your money to your bank. Usually no exchange fee unlike the TravelEx in the airports which are a scam.