UK – Health and Safety

Health Advice

The US Center For Disease Control maintains an updated list of medical advice for those travelling to the United Kingdom.

The CDC recommends being up to date with all your regular shots. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot

They also suggest be vaccinated for hepatitis A. There is also some advice about protection for hepatitis B and rabies – but this depends to some degree on where you are heading and what you are doing.

 

Food Safety

All mains tap water in the UK and Ireland is safe. This will come as a relief to those travelling on a budget, since bottled water is charged at a premium, especially in London. Filling up your water bottle from the tap is an easy way to cut costs.

There are still lots of fish and chip shops and cafes outside city centres. Most suburban and small-town shopping streets may have several. These can be good places to try an English breakfast. If you cannot find one head for the local market as there is usually one there to cater to the needs of market traders. In many town centres, US chains like McDonald’s and KFC can be found, Chinese and pizza takeaways, as well as doner kebab shops, are popular with late-night drunks. Small town hotels tend to specialize in overpriced mediocrity. Pub food can vary from a standard menu to a carvery serving Sunday style roast dinner. Pub chains may offer a club night several times a week offering a different style of food each night.

Your best bet is to find an Indian restaurant, even the smallest town has at least one.  If there are people sat eating at around 8 pm it will be OK.  If no signs of life it makes its money from the late-night drunks who can afford a bit more than the kebab house above.  Steer clear.

When thinking about food in Britain it is important to distinguish between British cuisine and restaurants in Britain. The British themselves rarely go to a restaurant to eat their own native cuisine, when they go to a restaurant it’s most likely to be an Indian, Chinese, Thai, or Italian. There is a very international range of food available both in restaurants and in supermarkets. “Ethnic” restaurants offer probably the best-value eating in Britain.

Vegetarian restaurants also offer some of the most imaginative British food, unable as they are to follow the traditional “meat and two veg” formula.

 

Safety

Here is a link to the US State Department Travel Advisory for the United Kingdom for the latest information on travelling to the United Kingdom.

Remember the emergency number in the UK is 999.  It works on any phone.

Violent crime is low, and most tourists will never be bothered by safety concerns other than petty crime. It is ranked 33rd on the ranking of the world’s safest countries. In some cities, some neighbourhoods are pretty nasty and risky for tourists – refer to local advice or our city guides to know which parts are better avoided. In London and other cities, some areas with a lot of bars and nightclub can get dangerous at night, where intoxicated people are sometimes easy targets for muggers. Sport events – such as soccer games – can end with some violence between teams. Traffic and crossing lanes can be an issue since people drive on the left side of the road, and every year tourists get run over because they forgot to look before crossing the road. Pickpockets are an issue in urban areas cities or at crowded events. Travellers should also know that pickpockets often work in teams, and sometimes even in conjunction with street vendors. Begging is not uncommon in some larger cities, but not to a greater extent than in most other major cities, and you will rarely experience aggressive beggars. Some beggars are organized in groups. Be aware that flashing any cardboard sign very near to your body could be a pickpocket trick. Recent terrorist attacks have happened in neighbouring countries (France and Belgium); and while tourists should raise their level of caution, the police presence has been greatly increased in large cities to deter further attacks. While very few tourists have been victims of these attacks, the terrorist threat is reflected in the safety ranking. Be especially vigilant for bag and phone thieves at transport hubs like train stations, airports, restaurants, outdoor cafes, beaches and on public transport. Protect your personal belongings at all times, especially your ID and passport. Petty crime, like bag snatching and pickpocketing, is a serious problem around touristic areas and on public transport.