Sunday, July 11, 2010

Recent Travel Tips in the UK

Upon return from a vacation in Scotland, I have some travel tip updates to report:
  • I wrote some time ago about the chip-and-pin credit card system now being used in Europe. Since this system started in the UK, Scotland and the rest of the UK are well equipped to deal with our American "swipe-and-sign" cards. I even paid for drinks in a pub with my credit card and since every cashier instantly recognizes a yank by his strange accent, they know beforehand that your card is the swipe type. I never had to tell anyone to swipe my card. So the lesson is: Don't be afraid that you won't be able to use your credit card overseas. Before you travel, learn how recently they started using "chip-and-pin" and you'll have a good idea if you will have to instruct them to "swipe"
  • In another past post I discussed buying a country-specific chip for your sim-unlocked phone. I found them available in a range of pre-paid prices and the chip itself was free. I bought a 10 pound ($15) chip that I could add money to if needed. I used my phone moderately during more than two weeks, making short calls to U.S. numbers and lots of texts and never ran out of time. If you need to buy the phone along with the chip, the cost was 20 pounds ($30) which included $15 worth of talk time. The lesson here is: The only reason to have an overseas plan added to your U.S. phone is to keep your phone number while away. If your focus is on economy it's cheaper to get your chip in-country and text your friends your new overseas number. If you need to buy the phone there, remember that you can save it for use on your next trip to anywhere and just buy the chip.
  • Don't worry about confirming your return flight as long as you have signed up for automated airline notification (either texted to you phone or delivered to your email).

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