Travel Tip #1: Don’t Travel by Car Unless You Must!
by Lucas Humphrey
Hello GWUOHS! Welcome to our first installment of Travel Tips. In this series, I will provide tips and suggestions for traveling in Europe—specifically, our spring break destinations for 2015, which primarily include London, Edinburgh, and Dublin. One of the highlights of my college experience was studying abroad in the UK, and I can’t wait to go back again as a teacher at GWUOHS and share the experience with you all.
One of my favorite things about European travel is the fact that there are so many distinct cultures within a relatively small continent—small, at least, compared to North America. These are all cultures that developed and flourished before it was possible to take a train or ferry to and from virtually anywhere within the continent. Today, there are so many options for traveling in and around the UK. We’ll focus on two of those here: the National Rail and the London Underground, commonly known as the “Tube.”
The National Rail (http://www.nationalrail.co.uk) offers rail travel in and out of London to a plethora of locations throughout the United Kingdom. It is not one single train service, but it consists of a variety of passenger train services that travel all around the UK. When in London, you’ll use the London Underground system to arrive at a National Rail station and travel to destinations outside of London. In the US, the most comparable system we have is Amtrak; however, traveling by train around Europe is far more efficient because the destinations are less spread out, and it is also less expensive than traveling by plane.
The London Underground (https://www.tfl.gov.uk/) offers travel to and from virtually anywhere in London. It is widely recognized as one of the best public transportation systems in the world. You will certainly want to become familiar with the London Underground routes you may want to take when you are traveling in London; however, even if you get lost, it is relatively easy to find your way back (as confusing as the map may appear at first). See below for a map that shows both the London Underground and the National Rail system.
You’re probably overwhelmed by this map, right? Between the National Rail and the London Underground system, you can see how easy it is to travel around the UK without a car. Personally, if I lived in London, I would see no reason to own a vehicle. Not only would traffic not be a concern, but I’d probably get my daily exercise in as well. In short, take advantage of public transportation when abroad! You’ll likely be surprised by the options and come back to the US wishing we had something similar. Until next time: stay hyped for spring break!