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Wales: the practicalities

BAGS

As part of an eco-initiative, Welsh shops charge a nominal amount for bags to carry your goods.  Welsh people have got used to carrying a foldable bag with them at all times!

 

DRIVING

Driving regulations in Wales are the same as the rest of the UK.  You will need to carry a valid driving licence; for US & Australian nationals your licence from home is acceptable.  

 

ELECTRICS

Electrical appliances in Britain generally use the British standard plug with 3 square pins. Plug socket adaptors and power transformers are widely available.

 

HOTELS

Check-in is normally from 2pm.  Hotels will be happy to store your luggage if you arrive earlier; if you are likely to arrive after 6pm we would advise telephoning ahead to advise the hotel.  

 

INSURANCE & EMERGENCIES

Do ensure you carry you have adequate travel insurance and carry your documentation with you.  Wales is a safe destination but it is wise to look after bags and money in crowded tourist areas. If you have anything stolen do report it at the local police station.  Dial 999 for police, ambulance or fire services in life threatening emergency only. Otherwise didal 101.  If you need simple health attention (for example, treating cuts and grazes you will be treated free under the National Health Service, however if you need to be admitted you will need your insurance.   Your hire car company will advise you of action to take in the event of a collision/damage.

 

INTERNET ACCESS

WiFi coverage is widespread and available at most hotels. Public libraries also offer free internet access and there many cafes in tourist areas offer free WiFi.  There are WiFi and cell phone black spots in some rural areas.

 

MONEY

Banks are usually the best place to change money.  The big five are ubiquitous:  HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds TSB, Nat West and Halifax.  Opening hours in Wales are usually 9-5 in large towns, 9.30 to 4 in rural areas.   Most hotels, shops and restaurants are happy to accept major credit and debit cards, particularly Mastercard and Visa.  American Express and Diners’ Club are less widely accepted.   With a suitable PIN (check with your bank before leaving) you will be able to withdraw monies from your home bank account at ATMs servicing the international Cirrus and Plus networks.

 

SMOKING  

Smoking of tobacco is now prohibited in public buildings such as bars, restaurants and hotels.

 

TELEPHONES

To call the US from Wales you need to dial 00 +  1 + area code.  The GMS mobile phone system used in Europe is not always compatible with North American single band phones.  Do consult your telecom provider before leaving home.  You may be able to bring your phone and buy a new pre-pay SMS SIM card (approx £5) or you can buy a cheap telephone for as little as £20. Please advise us of your cell phone number for your stay in the UK to enable us to contact you if necessary.

 

TIME ZONES

The UK is on GMT except for the summer months ( March –  October ) when the clocks  are one hour ahead of GMT.

 

TIPPING AND SERVICE CHARGES

In most restaurants a service charge will automatically be added to your bill.  If it isn’t leave a tip of 10% (unless the service was very bad!).  Do check that the total box on your bill is filled in before handing over your credit card.  Taxi drivers will expect a tip of 10%.  It is customary to leave a nominal amount in your room for the housekeeping staff at the end of your stay.  If you have booked guides and cars through Where You’re From a gratuity is not expected but would nevertheless be appreciated if you feel they have gone out of their way to make your stay enjoyable.  An amount in the region of £20-50 is acceptable.  Bar staff are not usually tipped.  

 

WEATHER & CLOTHING

To say the weather in Wales is unpredictable would be an understatement, often we have all four seasons in one day! Do make sure you put in something warm and waterproof for the day.  In Wales we have a saying that there’s no such thing as bad weather – only inappropriate clothing!

 

WELSH LANGUAGE

English is spoken everywhere but only 25% of the population speak the ancient Welsh language. It is used as a daily language in the extreme west of the country.  

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