Thursday, July 07, 2011

Three questions about Britain, for the BibChr Brain Trust

Accomplished world-travelers that (many of) you are, I ask this:

  1. Where do I go to prepare for iPhone usage in Great Britain, so I can use my iPhone without being charged $4793.00 for it? Is there a link, or...?
  2. Thinking of plugging my GPS into the rental car, I am wondering whether the voltage in British cars (like the voltage in their outlets) is different, or the same? What is it?
  3. Anyone have leads on finding places to stay in London at won't-empty-the-bank prices?


Si Hollett said...

the car outlets (on older cars, cigarette lighters) are 12V. You'd need UK mapping on your GPS, obviously. Also, I'd not bother renting a car while you are in London.

Are you looking for a UK SIM card for your iPhone? If so, you'll need to unlock it, but Orange, Vodaphone, O2, Tesco and 3 all provide services for iPhones in the UK (not sure which do pay-as-you-go, as most iPhone users are on the ~£30/month contracts, lasting a year). If not, I don't know how you would get around roaming charges.

As for hotels, try looking at Stratford - the hotels for the Olympics/Stratford City development are beginning to open, but what they are open for isn't finished yet.

RT said...

London will probably be a bank-emptying experience no matter what you do, but I started staying at Bailey's Hotel across from Kensington Palace back in the 90's and have never been disappointed. It is rather modest and has rooms available as low as 115 pounds or so, which, for London (or any major city for that matter) is quite reasonable. You can find it on the web if you want to review it or make a reservation.

Gary Benfold said...

OK; it's important to realise that the voltage in the UK is not different. The voltage in the US, however, is.
Depends on your budget for hotels; if you want cheap and cheerful, you could try the Foreign Missions Club in Highbury. It's what it says - originally (and still) a venue for foreign missionaries to stay while on furlough.

Jerry said...

I am visiting in September myself.

I was able to unlock my Android phone and get a pay as you go UK SIM card with T-Mobile.

Cars have standard 12V power.

Hotels? I don't know, since my son used his Marriot Reward points to get us our place just off the A25 for 2 weeks.

Many of your US devices, such as laptops, etc. have power requirements of 120-240 volts. These can be used in the UK with a cheap plug adapter. Check your power supply, and if they say 120-240 you are good to go.

CR said...

How long will you be in the UK? For question 1 - you should call ATT before you leave and purchase some data, maybe around 100 mb. That will cost you about $100. I know the data is not much, but data is very expensive outside the US. But that 100 mb will allow you to use the data function when you really need to. Then, while you are there, use wireless while you can. Again, unlike the US, I don't think you'll be able to stay at a Starbucks and have your tea and surf for five hours. Data is very expensive. They may charge you five bucks for 30 minutes of time for 60 mb.

Check your hotel and see what they charge for wireless. Some hotels may give you free wireless in their lobby for 30 minutes per day. Otherwise, they charge you $30 a day for wireless if it's a nice hotel. If it's not a nice hotel, they may not have wireless capacity.

Hopefully, if you have some UK readers, they can shed some light on this. I know in NZ, data was very expensive.

Aaron said...

European and American cars all have plugs that operate at 12V DC (direct current). You plug in an inverter which changes the current to 120 or 240 AC (alternating current). In reality, the voltage fluctuates between 5-6 Volts and 15 volts. But your inverter compensates for this.

The biggest thing to watch out for is that the plug sizes are a little different. European cars often are fitted with plug size B while American cards are usually outfitted with plug size A. This shouldn't be a huge proglem but sometimes the inverter will fit in a bit loosely.

As far as power in the UK (your home receptacles) you should be able to plug most of your electronics into the wall with a simple adapter. Most electronics have chargers that can handle both American (Japanese) and European voltage (look at your plugin for your Iphone and the plug for your laptop to see the voltage requirements).

As for places to stay, you should look into a B&B or "holiday apartments" for rent on the outskirts of the city. One GBP goes for about $1.60 now so the exchange rates aren't great. Also, my church supports a church in England, that I think is not too far from London. I could inquire to see if a family is willing to put you up.

Good luck.

DJP said...

Thanks, all. Si, your suggestion in particular may be paying off. Thanks!

JohnBrianMck said...

Leave your smart phone at home and take a stupid phone.

You know one of those old phones that all you can do on it is talk!

Buy an unlocked phone on eBay, and use pay-as-you-go.