I’m finally going home after 4 years in Singapore!!! Okay, so it’s only a short holiday but I’m still excited. 4 years away from my home country is a long time. I’ve been planning things for the past few months and am ready to go. This post is going to cover some pre-trip stuff then I’ll post about the trip when I get back.
Part One – The Preparation
I wanted to keep all of my travel information in one place so am using TripIt. It’s free to sign up and I use it to import all of my flight and hotel confirmations along with notes. It’s so easy to use. Just forward your emails to firstname.lastname@example.org and the information is imported into the site. You can then save your whole itinerary as a pdf, share with others, or print. It’s also easy to add maps and driving directions.
There are lots of comparison sites for car rental including Travel Supermarket and Kayak. We’re going to be using Europcar for this trip. Their collection point is a short way from the airport so we’re going to pay extra to collect directly and drop off at the terminal. I was shocked to see the rental prices for sat navs and child car seats though. We still have our UK sat nav but need one more for the second car. So we went on Ebay and bought a cheap one for around £35. This is much cheaper than renting. We are lucky in that I have family over there so I can order things and get it sent to them. We also decided to buy car seats rather than rent as price-wise it works out the same. But at the end of the trip we get to keep the seats. We can then bring them back to Singapore and keep in case we buy a car, or just sell them.
We are not going to be renting the cars for the time that we are spending in London. Too much traffic and expensive with the congestion charge (£11.50 a day!). So we will be using the tube and bus and then taking the train for short day trips. I always use thetrainline.com to search for train tickets. It is much much cheaper to book in advance than buy at the ticket counter. You can also use it to check what timing is cheaper and the number of changes required.
You can buy sim cards and prepay vouchers from places like Carphone Warehouse on the high street. I ordered free sim cards from giffgaff, but again, you need someone with a UK address as they won’t send them overseas. They do really good monthly “goodybags”.
Because there are so many of us travelling, we have decided to rent apartments instead of hotel rooms. The only exception is the first night, where we will stay close to the airport. We only need something basic so are going to stay at a Travelodge. If you book far in advance, you can get rooms as cheap as £30 a night. Travelodge is a big chain and has many places throughout the country. An alternative is Premier Inn. Slightly more expensive (still cheap though!) but a bit nicer.
We have booked the rest of the accommodation through Airbnb. All are either 3 or 4 bedroom houses. Some also have gardens for the kids to play in. Will let you know how it works out as this is my first time using this site.
I will be doing most of my shopping in person but sometimes online is much cheaper. So I’ve also ordered a few items from Amazon and The Book People (yet again to be sent to a relative for me to collect). The Book People have these great sets of kids books for good prices (at least compared to Singapore). If you’re just interested in newly released popular books, the supermarkets sell them quite cheaply.
So that’s it for this post! I will be writing some more about the below topics soon. If you’re looking for touristy places to visit in England, MadPsychMum has been posting recently about her trip to the UK.
Part Two – The Trip
- Long Haul Flying with Two Toddlers
- Travelling around England (by car, train and tube)
- Peak District (coming soon)
- Cheshire & Manchester (coming soon)
- London (coming soon)