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Avoiding Common Tourist Issues in the UK: A Guide for Travelers

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high street in Chester England lined with historic buildings including several white buildings with black painted timber cladding. Lacking internet in the UK is one of the most common challenges first-time visitors face

The United Kingdom attracts millions of visitors per year. Its four nations, England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, boast a rich history and heritage, natural beauty, iconic landmarks, and world-class museums. Yet, first-time visitors might encounter a few challenges during their stay. In what follows, we discuss some of the most common tourist issues in the UK – from accessing internet and mobile data to navigating the public transport system and more – and the best ways to address them.

Lack of internet access in the UK

Most first-time visitors may need help finding internet in the UK. It is, in fact, a common issue for anyone travelling abroad who has to get in touch with loved ones back home or find directions through apps like Google Maps. While you can use the airport’s public Wi-Fi network or activate your phone provider’s data roaming, activating an eSIM card is one of the most convenient options.

Regarded as the evolution of the traditional SIM card, the eSIM card is built into a smartphone, tablet, and a range of devices. This eliminates the need to purchase a plastic card from a local provider. A UK eSIM can be acquired before the journey and enabled by simply scanning a QR code, which is typically sent via email. While this is a practical and convenient way to have the internet in the UK, not all smartphones are compatible with the eSIM card technology. So you may want to make sure your device is equipped with an eSIM chip first.

Navigating the public transport

Public transport varies depending on where you are in Britain. In large cities such as London, visitors can find a variety of choices, including the underground (or the tube), overground, trams, the railway, and even rental scooters. Other major cities like Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool, Birmingham, and Glasgow will have several (though not all) of the aforementioned options. In many cities, it’s possible to pay for your fare with a contactless debit or credit card. London offers flexible options such as the Visitor Oyster Card and the Travelcard.

On the other hand, public transport tends to be less reliable in smaller towns and rural areas. Payment options might be also limited, and you should be ready to pay for your fare in cash. Luckily, when in cities like Chester, Durham, and Norwich, to name a few, you may not need to use public transport as most places of interest tend to be condensed in the city centre area.

a red double decker bus next to a yellow double decker bus on a grey tarmac road.
In addition to lacking internet in the UK, tourists can struggle to understand the complex public transport system in big cities.

Power adapters and water taps

Power plugs and sockets are different across the world. Electricity supplies can also vary between 100V and 240V. If you are coming from abroad, you will need a power adapter if you would like to be able to safely connect and charge your phone, computer, or any other electronic device. A type-G universal adapter works in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland and you should try to get one before your departure.

Speaking of which, you will find that power sockets in the UK come with an on/off switch. This is quite helpful, as you can switch off appliances at the power outlet itself and have your smartphone plugged in without it taking up power. Just make sure that the switch is on, otherwise your device will not work at all!

Another thing that is slightly different in the UK is the water taps. Basically, a sink has two separate taps for cold and warm water. So try to familiarise yourself with which one is which to avoid any accidents.


Finally, one of the most common tourist issues in the UK is budgeting. Visiting Britain can be quite expensive, especially when it comes to massive cities like London. On average, tourists spend around 135 pounds per day. However, this number will be much higher or considerably lower according to how you like to travel. If your budget is limited, spend less time in London and opt for more affordable cities such as Cardiff, Cambridge, Glasgow, and Manchester.

To conclude

Wrapping up, your first visit to the United Kingdom might have some challenges. Luckily, there are simple solutions to make an enjoyable and hassle-free experience. Plan your budget carefully, take advantage of the many public transport options, pack your travel adapter, and don’t forget to get an eSIM for internet access in the UK.


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