UK Escapist Tips and Tricks - Travel, Hotels, Transport etc

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imageSo you want to go to the Escapist Expo?
Good, so do I!
What? You live in the UK?
No problem! Since I haven't actually gotten around to building a fully functional TARDIS yet we have to rely on human air travel and hotels.

My laptop tells me that most, if not all, the flights to North Carolina go through London, which is good because I've been to London airport before! If we need to then London Heathrow/Gatwick (Heathrow is better IMO) can be a gathering point before setting off to scary America-land. Previous experiance in travel to the land of driving on the wrong side of the road is most welcome.

Raleigh-Durham airport is small and convieniantly close to where we need to go. However it is expensive compared to other airports like Greensboro which is further away from the Expo area, but cheaper to fly to.

So basically this thread is for UK Escapists to share any tips and tricks for getting to Durham with all 4 limbs attached and not having your house repossessed upon your return. Flights, travel, carpools, hotels etc, we need information on every way we can get there and for ideally the cheapest price too!


Visas:
This is very important! If you need a Visa and don't have one you can kiss the trip goodbye! However it seems that if you are a citizen of a selected country (see links below) and are travelling for less than 90 days and have a passport that conforms to these requirements;

Passportsissued, renewed/extended before October 26, 2005must be machine-readable;
Passports issued, renewed/extended between October 26, 2005 and October 25, 2006must also contain a digital photograph.
Passportsissued, renewed/extended on or after October 26, 2006,must be electronic.

Also you can't have a criminal record, or any kind of commutable illness etc then you don't apply for free Visa travel. Please please please read the links posted for all the info!
If you pass all these requirements then you can travel Visa free. Visas themselves are quite cheap (29) however you have to go to the embassy in London in person to get your Visa interview.

Main site for Visa Q&A. I suggest a comprehensive read:
http://london.usembassy.gov/nonimmigrant-visas.html

Visa Waiver Program; this is basically the list of requirements you need to not need to apply for a Visa:
http://london.usembassy.gov/vwp.html

Country requirements for VWP;
You will qualify for travel under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) if you are a citizen of the United Kingdom, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, or Switzerland

Note this is countries only, other requirements are listed in the link above

Visa Applications:
http://london.usembassy.gov/apply.html

Visa Waiver Applications:

Citizens of about 35 countries can travel to the USA for up to 90 days at a time as a tourist or for some business purposes by registering for ESTA > before < their trip begins. The cost is US$14, which is similar to the fee for the Australian ETA program.

https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/
http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/without/without_1990.html
http://www.usembassy.org.uk/visaservices/?p=129

Registering is accomplished online, you don't need the details of your trip, and the confirmation is valid for multiple trips to the USA over two (2) years so don't wait until the last minute.

Print the confirmation - or at least record the number - and keep the information with your passport. Having a return or onward ticket leaving North America is a requirement, so have a copy of your airline itinerary at passport control.


Passports:
Something as silly as not realising your passport is out of date can ruin everything. Go check it! Some countries require 6 months at least on your passport for it to be valid, if you need a new one then it can take up to 6-12 weeks for a renewal so don't dawdle!
Remember, for Visa free travel your passport must conform to the list above plus other requirements.


Health Insurance:

Check with your health insurance to find out if it covers you in the USA. If yes then take proof of coverage with you. If no or not sure then get trip medical insurance, which is cheap and sold by airlines & travel agents. The USA has wonderful medical care but it isn't free or even cheap. Please do not skimp on this as an otherwise-silly accident could turn into a crisis if you don't have medical insurance. This is a US government site, but the information is valid for anyone traveling away from their home country:

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1470.html

If you are planning a long visit then DON'T schedule your departure day for the 90th day (any part of a day in the USA counts as a whole day, so if you arrive at 23:59h on the 1st and leave at 00:01h on the 10th it is 10 days in the USA). Schedule your departure not later than the 88th day as there are no (zero) provisions in the Visa Waiver Program for someone to voluntarily extend their stay. If you miss your flight due to something Immigration might consider avoidable (ex. flat tire on the way to the airport) they may ban you from using the VWP in the future.



"Data data data, we cannot make bricks without clay"

Though not a UK escapist, I'll be keeping an eye on this thread as well. It might be easier for me to make a small hop to London (from Holland) first before crossing the Atlantic, so joining whoever will be going for a Heathrow pre/EE meet/up.

Send me money if you want to see me at the expo. /lulz

I'm gonna try really hard to go, honest, so I'd anyone is going and would like to share stuff like hotels or cars or whatever gimme a buzz.

Chrono212:
Send me money if you want to see me at the expo. /lulz

I'm gonna try really hard to go, honest, so I'd anyone is going and would like to share stuff like hotels or cars or whatever gimme a buzz.

I think hotels and carpools are going to be fine if lots of people can share. It's really the flights that are the killer and there's no sharing out that cost :(

TimeLord:

Chrono212:
Send me money if you want to see me at the expo. /lulz

I'm gonna try really hard to go, honest, so I'd anyone is going and would like to share stuff like hotels or cars or whatever gimme a buzz.

I think hotels and carpools are going to be fine if lots of people can share. It's really the flights that are the killer and there's no sharing out that cost :(

I dunno. You could pay for me. :3

What's public transport like in Durham?

Chrono212:

What's public transport like in Durham?

Nasrin posted a link about public transport in the information thread, so Id check that. EDIT: Sorry, just checked the link, but it was for intercity buses, my bad.

Im still not sure whether it would be easier/cheaper to fly to Washington and drive down or fly straight into RDU. Or how long Id be staying in the States, or where or... *deep breath* ok, lots of stuff still to check, but we have half a year to go still

Eleuthera:

Chrono212:

What's public transport like in Durham?

Nasrin posted a link about public transport in the information thread, so Id check that. EDIT: Sorry, just checked the link, but it was for intercity buses, my bad.

Im still not sure whether it would be easier/cheaper to fly to Washington and drive down or fly straight into RDU. Or how long Id be staying in the States, or where or... *deep breath* ok, lots of stuff still to check, but we have half a year to go still

Well I'm American so :B

I'll have to dig that up since I may be too young to rent a car.

Chrono212:
Well I'm American so :B

I'll have to dig that up since I may be too young to rent a car.

What are you doing in the UK Escapists thread then? and no my not being British isnt an excuse, that just makes us both wrong ;)

Eleuthera:
Im still not sure whether it would be easier/cheaper to fly to Washington and drive down or fly straight into RDU. Or how long Id be staying in the States, or where or... *deep breath* ok, lots of stuff still to check, but we have half a year to go still

i am have this same though. i live in the states but if ppl found there way to my area (Allentown PA. USA north of philly) i would be happy to put then up for that night and split a rental with them to drive down.

Eleuthera:

Chrono212:
Well I'm American so :B

I'll have to dig that up since I may be too young to rent a car.

What are you doing in the UK Escapists thread then? and no my not being British isnt an excuse, that just makes us both wrong ;)

Coz I'm British.
And contrary to popular belief, London isn't in the States. :P

Chrono212:
Coz I'm British.
And contrary to popular belief, London isn't in the States. :P

And now you're just confusing me... Besides we all know London is in Ontario, Canada.

The big thing is getting Visas, US immigration since 9/11 have become paranoid and power happy, like the warden in Dads army. If you aren't white expect some hassle, on business trip a few years ago a collage who is a Sikh took 2 hours getting through immigration and we had UK government Visas.

Eleuthera:
Though not a UK escapist, I'll be keeping an eye on this thread as well. It might be easier for me to make a small hop to London (from Holland) first before crossing the Atlantic, so joining whoever will be going for a Heathrow pre/EE meet/up.

If you can get there from Heathrow, you can get there from Schiphol and it will be 60 odd Euros cheaper due to not paying UK airpassenger duty.

Eleuthera:

Im still not sure whether it would be easier/cheaper to fly to Washington and drive down or fly straight into RDU. Or how long Id be staying in the States, or where or... *deep breath* ok, lots of stuff still to check, but we have half a year to go still

I have driven down from Washington to NC before, its a nice drive but it takes about 2 days, it may be cheaper but it limts time that you have at the convention. A total of 4 days travailing for 1 day at the convention, plus driving with jet lag isn't the safest idea on the planet.

Eleuthera:

Chrono212:
Coz I'm British.
And contrary to popular belief, London isn't in the States. :P

And now you're just confusing me... Besides we all know London is in Ontario, Canada.

I'm not Canadian! That would be just silly.

albino boo:
The big thing is getting Visas, US immigration since 9/11 have become paranoid and power happy, like the warden in Dads army. If you aren't white expect some hassle, on business trip a few years ago a collage who is a Sikh took 2 hours getting through immigration and we had UK government Visas.

Eleuthera:
Though not a UK escapist, I'll be keeping an eye on this thread as well. It might be easier for me to make a small hop to London (from Holland) first before crossing the Atlantic, so joining whoever will be going for a Heathrow pre/EE meet/up.

If you can get there from Heathrow, you can get there from Schiphol and it will be 60 odd Euros cheaper due to not paying UK airpassenger duty.

Eleuthera:

Im still not sure whether it would be easier/cheaper to fly to Washington and drive down or fly straight into RDU. Or how long Id be staying in the States, or where or... *deep breath* ok, lots of stuff still to check, but we have half a year to go still

I have driven down from Washington to NC before, its a nice drive but it takes about 2 days, it may be cheaper but it limts time that you have at the convention. A total of 4 days travailing for 1 day at the convention, plus driving with jet lag isn't the safest idea on the planet.

Google tells me it's about an 4,5 hour drive, so that wouldn't be too bad. The main reason for me to be looking at Washington is that I won't be flying back home after the Expo, but on to Aruba, so I'll need a connecting flight South. And I'm considering visiting a friend in Tennessee, so I'd need to rent a car anyway.

Customs/Visa from Europe generally haven't been a problem at all for me coming into the states in the past (even after 9/11, if anything it was easier in 2003 then it was in early 2001). But I can imagine it might be more difficult for "suspicious" people (which in today's atmosphere regrettably means anyone with a tan or a beard)

So far the tickets I found have indeed been cheaper from Schiphol then Heathrow, but if enough people book tickets on the same flight it might be worth it for the companionship :)

albino boo:
The big thing is getting Visas, US immigration since 9/11 have become paranoid and power happy, like the warden in Dads army. If you aren't white expect some hassle, on business trip a few years ago a collage who is a Sikh took 2 hours getting through immigration and we had UK government Visas.

I've just been looking at Visas myself, it seems if you have a passport and are a citizen of one of the listed countries (i.e. the UK) you can travel Visa free. Otherwise you have to make an appointment with the US embassy in London and go there in person :/

I'll update the OP with some official links

TimeLord:

I've just been looking at Visas myself, it seems if you have a passport and are a citizen of one of the listed countries (i.e. the UK) you can travel Visa free. Otherwise you have to make an appointment with the US embassy in London and go there in person :/

I'll update the OP with some official links

You still have to fill out the visa waver before you travel, you can do this online. US immigration gives more hassle to those using the visa waver then those who get visas. Also the visa waver system is more likely to through you out for stupid reasons. There was a case of a 78 year old Chinese woman from Wales getting thrown of a flight because her name was similar to someone on the band list. Its swings and roundabouts tbh.

I would love to go but I really don't have the pennies atm :<

Hey guys, Who wants to give me some Money?
They lied about me having a career and gaining money.
image

I have family in NC, so I've flown over there pretty often, if anyone needs some advice.

Gutted I won't be able to go, though, but then, university is kind of important too...

I'll hopefully be setting off with Timey, and since I already have my hotel booked, I don't mind PMing people the link. (It's a 10-15 minute drive to the Expo site, or a 45 minute walk, I think.)

I'm already set on my plans, I'm gonna set off on the Wednesday (Around Midday?) So I can arrive on the Thursday. That way I have time to get over the Jet Lag before Friday morning. :D

The advantage I have is I have a friend willing to pick me up from the airport. Sadly I can only offer 1-2 spots there, and Timey will probably get one of them. Also you have to be staying at the same hotel as me, 'cause we're not gonna drive around town for you while I'm dying of exhaustion >.> I'm selfish, I know.

(Side note: I won't be flying back till the next Thursday, but we can probably organise it so we're on the same flight going to American. Hopefully.)

Just thought I'd let people know my plans. =P If anyone's okay flying on Wednesday from London, then just let me know!

sky14kemea:

Just thought I'd let people know my plans. =P If anyone's okay flying on Wednesday from London, then just let me know!

I was planning on flying over on Wednesday or Thursday myself. Possibly from London as well. I'll definitely not be flying back with other Expo goers, since I'll head on to Aruba afterwards. I will probably rent a car anyway since I might be visiting a friend in Tennessee or another friend in Philly as well.

Phase 1 of the planning is a success (I'm welcome in Aruba). Now on to getting time off from work and getting the OK from my doctor.

Eleuthera:

sky14kemea:

Just thought I'd let people know my plans. =P If anyone's okay flying on Wednesday from London, then just let me know!

I was planning on flying over on Wednesday or Thursday myself. Possibly from London as well. I'll definitely not be flying back with other Expo goers, since I'll head on to Aruba afterwards. I will probably rent a car anyway since I might be visiting a friend in Tennessee or another friend in Philly as well.

Phase 1 of the planning is a success (I'm welcome in Aruba). Now on to getting time off from work and getting the OK from my doctor.

Dude! I'm also going to Tennessee afterwards :D fun times!

I dunno when my flight is being booked, I'll let you and Timey know the details once I get it.

sky14kemea:
Dude! I'm also going to Tennessee afterwards :D fun times!

I dunno when my flight is being booked, I'll let you and Timey know the details once I get it.

It would be fun if we could manage to travel together, better then literally flying solo at least :)

Where in TN would you be heading? I'd be going to Nashville (or near there anyway), that is assuming I am going there.

Eleuthera:

sky14kemea:
Dude! I'm also going to Tennessee afterwards :D fun times!

I dunno when my flight is being booked, I'll let you and Timey know the details once I get it.

It would be fun if we could manage to travel together, better then literally flying solo at least :)

Where in TN would you be heading? I'd be going to Nashville (or near there anyway), that is assuming I am going there.

Uhhhh.... 'Murfreesboro'? I think its an hour drive from Nashville. =P

sky14kemea:

Uhhhh.... 'Murfreesboro'? I think its an hour drive from Nashville. =P

This is getting silly, that's where I would be going as well...

Eleuthera:

sky14kemea:

Uhhhh.... 'Murfreesboro'? I think its an hour drive from Nashville. =P

This is getting silly, that's where I would be going as well...

.... What's your friend called? D:

sky14kemea:

Eleuthera:

sky14kemea:

Uhhhh.... 'Murfreesboro'? I think its an hour drive from Nashville. =P

This is getting silly, that's where I would be going as well...

.... What's your friend called? D:

Well, I haven't actually asked her yet if it was ok if I visited, but her name's Serena.

Eleuthera:

sky14kemea:

Eleuthera:

This is getting silly, that's where I would be going as well...

.... What's your friend called? D:

Well, I haven't actually asked her yet if it was ok if I visited, but her name's Serena.

AAAAAAAAAAR-Never heard of her. xD

That was getting scary for a minute D:

sky14kemea:

Eleuthera:

sky14kemea:

.... What's your friend called? D:

Well, I haven't actually asked her yet if it was ok if I visited, but her name's Serena.

AAAAAAAAAAR-Never heard of her. xD

That was getting scary for a minute D:

Indeed, it'll probably turn out they're neighbours or something ;)

Eleuthera:

sky14kemea:

Eleuthera:

Well, I haven't actually asked her yet if it was ok if I visited, but her name's Serena.

AAAAAAAAAAR-Never heard of her. xD

That was getting scary for a minute D:

Indeed, it'll probably turn out they're neighbours or something ;)

Indeedy D:

btw do you have Skype? I've asked Timey but he hasn't reply yet. It'd be way easier to coordinate our flights if we searched together. :/

sky14kemea:

Indeedy D:

btw do you have Skype? I've asked Timey but he hasn't reply yet. It'd be way easier to coordinate our flights if we searched together. :/

I do have skype, but I can't really start planning/booking flights yet until I get those days off from work (which I should be able to arrange tomorrow, I hope)

albino boo:

TimeLord:

I've just been looking at Visas myself, it seems if you have a passport and are a citizen of one of the listed countries (i.e. the UK) you can travel Visa free. Otherwise you have to make an appointment with the US embassy in London and go there in person :/

I'll update the OP with some official links

You still have to fill out the visa waver before you travel, you can do this online. US immigration gives more hassle to those using the visa waver then those who get visas. Also the visa waver system is more likely to through you out for stupid reasons. There was a case of a 78 year old Chinese woman from Wales getting thrown of a flight because her name was similar to someone on the band list. Its swings and roundabouts tbh.

Yeah, I'd recommend people getting the Visa's online rather than just assuming it'll be okay. Better to be safe than sorry. =P

I already signed up for mine.

TimeLord:

Also you can't have a criminal record, or any kind of commutable illness etc then you don't apply for free Visa travel.

It's not just a criminal record, but if you've even been arrested and released without charge or just cautioned without charge, apparently you can't apply for a free Visa and will have to travel to London to be interviewed... and judged... pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debrief and numbered.

Apparently even the most minor of incidents that has involved official Police interaction can jeopardise your chances of being let into the US if you don't declare it, but at the same time if you do declare it you'll have to jump through a lot more hoops and pay lots of different charges to be able to get a Visa.

Anyone driving from Toronto who's willing to share a car with me? :D
I really want to go, problem is, it starts about a week into the school year... and before that, I'll be at another convention up here in Canada...

Hey guys! Another travel tip is that Durham has a free bus that goes around in a certain loop. It's call the Bull City Connector: http://www.bullcityconnector.org/faq.html.

There are also Amtrak (train) and Greyhound (bus) routes that take you right to downtown Durham from most major cities too: http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/HomePage and http://www.greyhound.com/.

We also plan on updating the official Expo site, http://www.escapistexpo.com, with more travel information once we get registration up.

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