If you're searching for information about the types of special services available for young travelers visiting Britain, you can get help through a free annual publication of the British Tourist Authority called "Young Visitors to Britain."
It includes information on budget transportation, low-cost accommodations, restaurants, sightseeing, youth travel agencies, work regulations, employment contacts, pen friends, exchange programs and long-term study programs.
One of the most helpful aspects of the guidebook is that it includes listings of a variety of budget accommodation services throughout the country, including youth hotels, university residences, YMCA and YWCAs and youth hostels.
It also carries information on specialized services that young travelers will find helpful. For example, you'll learn about the Camping and Caravanning Club at 11 Grosvenor Place. It operates a service for cycle-campers. A temporary membership costs 6 (about $10 U.S.). Members receive a guide to 2,000 camping parks and route-planning information.
Copies of "Young Visitors to Britain" are available from the British Tourist Authority, World Trade Center, 350 S. Figueroa St., Suite 450, Los Angeles 90071; phone (213) 628-3525.
Two Other Sources
Two other good sources of information for young visitors to Britain are: "Let's Go Britain and Ireland," $14.95 by Harvard Student Agencies (it's a 560-page guidebook researched specifically for those traveling on student-style budgets) and "Summer Jobs Britain 1987," $8.95 by Vacation Work of Oxford, England. It includes hundreds of listings of employers who offer paid and volunteer summer positions.
If you plan to enter Britain by flying into London, remember that taxi travel from the airports can be very expensive. More economical public transportation is available, however. From Heathrow Airport you can travel into the center of the city by subway or bus. If you arrive at Gatwick Airport, a convenient 30-minute rail service to the city is available right from the airport.
When you arrive in town you can get assistance in arranging accommodations, transportation and currency exchange at the British Travel Center. It's a two-minute walk from Piccadilly Circus, at 12 Regent St. SW1.
Although special tourist tickets are available for transportation in London, you should inquire at the subway stations about weekly Travelcards if you really want to stretch your dollars. Travelcards are inexpensive unlimited travel passes that can be used on the subways and buses for specific zones of the city. You must provide a photograph to buy one. Photo machines are in some of the subway stations.
Guided Walking Tours
Low-cost guided walking tours are available to suit a wide variety of interests ranging from haunted homes to historic pubs. The tours usually start from a subway entrance and the various programs are listed in newspapers. Not only are they inexpensive, they are a good way to meet other independent travelers.
If you plan to travel further within Britain, you have several options for discounted transportation. For example, anyone at least 16 years old--but under 25--can buy a Britrail Youth Pass for unlimited second-class travel in England, Scotland and Wales. Passes are available for eight days ($130), 15 days ($190), 22 days ($240) and one month ($285). The passes must be bought before you go to Britain.
If you stay for an extended period and you are a student, you might want to consider a special offer from National Express coach lines. Full-time students ages 17 and over can buy a Student Coach Card valid for a third off regular fares, for up to one year. Details are available at National Express offices in Britain.