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supermarket aislesNext year I’m going to Liverpool, England, for a friend’s wedding. My husband and I plan on staying five or six days with my friend and then venturing out for three to six days. Though I’ve been to London, I’ve never ventured outside the British capital.

Inspiration for trip ideas has been easy to come by. While looking for a few really cool experiences in the Liverpool area, I checked out IndependentTraveler.com’s 13 Best England Experiences and have already added the Magical Mystery Tour to our list of things to do.

But I need more than just ideas for things to do and places to see. I need to figure out how to plan my trip as inexpensively as possible.

So how am I preparing?

I plan to consult a long list of resources, ranging from the official Liverpool and England tourism websites to asking various British friends. And, of course, I’m checking out the advice we’ve compiled here at IndependentTraveler.com. Between the various articles on money, packing, international travel and more, I’ve already started putting together a list of must-dos.

For instance, one of the best ways to save money on a trip to England, where their currency is stronger than ours, is to get the best exchange rate that I can. In Buying Foreign Currency: Get More Bang for Your Buck, Mark Rowlands, sales director at currency provider Covent Garden FX, advises shopping around before leaving home. Additionally, he says to prepare ahead of time by checking the money market. I shouldn’t trust suppliers to tell me what the current rates are; instead, I should pre-check them myself with a website like XE.com.

“You can’t buy from a wholesaler, but knowledge is power. If your supplier is adding 5 percent — which is not unusual — walk away.”

Travel Budget Calculator

Furthermore, once I’m in England and need more currency I know to stick as much as possible with credit cards and ATM withdrawals, thanks to Get the Best Exchange Rate.

Another area we might be able to save money is transportation. Do we rent a car or do we stick to mass transit?

If we rent a car, Traveler’s Ed author Ed Hewitt recommends looking at smaller rental car players, like Europcar, and not just sticking to the big names. In Car Rental Secrets We Bet You Don’t Know, he also advises using an aggregator like Priceline to find the best price:

“As I have written numerous times in different contexts over the past 15 years, the best place to get a great rental car price is Priceline. It posts prices for the majority of rental car companies.”

On the other hand, if we stick with mass transit, we’ll have to hit the rails, at the very least to get from wherever we land (Manchester, hopefully) to Liverpool and back again. According to Getting Around England: Flights, Trains and More, we’ll need to check out Virgin Trains, which offers a range of inter-city routes, like London or Manchester to Liverpool.

Customizable Packing List

If you’ve got any suggestions for me, please stop by my Liverpool and Surrounding Areas thread on the IndependentTraveler.com’s members’ forum.

— written by Dori Saltzman

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One Response to “Like Dreamers Do: Planning a Liverpool Vacation”

  1. Platypus says:

    You’ll love getting out of London and seeing more of the country! Here are my tips based on my many trips home to England.

    The cheapest U.K. car rentals I have found tend to be packaged with a flight, but remember that if you want an automatic transmission you will have to pay more and book in advance as automatics are not so common in the UK.

    Gas is about three times more expensive than the U.S. and British roads are narrower, slower (for the most part) and can be tough to navigate if you are not used to driving on the left, navigating roundabouts or (if you leave the city and head into the countryside) traversing roads that are only as wide as your car.

    You might want to rent a car for a day or two, instead of for the full length of the trip.

    I never change money in advance anymore. I use ATMs as they offer a good exchange rate and you don’t have to carry large amounts of cash around – either risking losing it or spending more than you might if didn’t have so much on you. Some U.S. banks have U.K. counterparts which allow you to withdraw cash without an additional fee.

    The new chip and pin style of debit and credit cards in the U.K. mean that U.S. debit and credit cards are not accepted everywhere. When you make a payment at a store, tell the cashier you don’t have a chip in your card (ignore the perplexed look) and advise them to swipe the card like an old-style (yes, it’s that uncommon) credit card.

    Places to go? Liverpool will keep you busy, but consider a jaunt over to North Wales for a few days in more rural surroundings.

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