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**This post was updated in April, 2019.
It is easy and (relatively) reasonably priced to see much of England and Scotland relying solely on public transit from the major cities.
Many first-time tourists overspend on private day tours or rent expensive rental cars, mistakenly believing that is the only way to see disparate sites through England and Scotland. While private day tours may sound appealing, they allow for less freedom than you'd expect and, if you're anything like me, you may end up stuck with a guide providing more commentary than you'd actually enjoy.
Also, if the best part of a day trip is visiting the local pub (which it just clearly is), I'd rather do this without someone I don't know waiting in the car. Renting a car in foreign countries is also, of course, expensive, and driving with different rules of the road is complicated, to say the least.
Money saving tip:
It is often significantly cheaper to buy your train tickets in advance. Rail Europe is my usual choice. That said, sometimes the convenience of being able to change your plans or a desire to take a spur-of-the-moment trip, makes the extra expense worth it! Be sure to check into ticket prices for your awareness, so you don't have an unpleasant surprise at the station.
Restrooms on the trains:
There are WC on essentially all light-rail trains (not on the Tube) and they are the nicest of any I've been on. I've only been on one that had run out of paper (one - ever!!). The stations also generally have free WC, and more so recently in the large stations, though some of the more remote ones aren't monitored often.
Eating and drinking on trains:
What will likely be surprising for my American friends is that you can drink on trains in the U.K. (after 10 AM - don't be ridiculous). You can even bring your own booze onto the train (they sell small, safely packaged booze in the train station shop, for this purpose). Additionally, many of the trains will have a bar and food sales area, or a cart that comes through. But why risk it - bring supplies on board with you, just to be safe!
Starting your trip of right with the Heathrow Express:
When you start off your trip, don't forget that the Heathrow Express is undoubtedly the easiest way to get from Heathrow to central London. Buy your tickets, online, in advance (here), and hop on the direct train, which takes you straight to Paddington Station. From there, you can either hop on the tube, or just take a cab to your hotel. You'll save yourself so much hassle and stress - it's worth every penny.
Top 10 U.K. day trips accessible solely on public transit:
Happy Travels!! Consider checking out Rick Steves' helpful tips in his UK guidebook - a must-have for any traveler!
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