We have compiled the following list of travel tips for our registrants who are traveling to the U.K. to join us at the C.S. Lewis Summer Institute 2022.
This information is offered for your convenience, and the C.S. Lewis Foundation assumes no liability for errors or omissions. Hopefully this will help in your planning. Please note that the information is subject to change.
Before the Summer Institute
General Travel Tips
Rick Steves has an expansive website full of travel tips, specially geared towards international travel. The various categories here will give you plenty of helpful information and suggestions for traveling overseas.
The TSA provides this page about what you can and cannot bring in your luggage. They also have a very helpful page about the “Liquids Rule.”
Make sure your passport is current. Your passport cannot expire within six months of your return date. In the U.S. and other countries, passport renewals are taking longer than usual, up to 11 weeks in the busiest areas (shorter with expedited service).
COVID-19 Pandemic Policies
As of February of 2022, there are no pandemic restrictions or mandates in place in the UK. However, there is no guarantee we can offer regarding what the situation may be at the time of the conference. We will comply with all U.K. and local guidelines in effect at the time of the conference.
For travel requirements, please check your country of origin and the U.K. Border Control website for the most current information: https://www.gov.uk/uk-border-control
For American travelers, please visit the CDC’s page for International Travel for U.S. Citizens/Nationals, Lawful Permanent Residents, and Immigrants: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel.html.
As of Sunday, June 12, COVID-19 testing is no longer required for U.S. citizens returning to the United States. Please see this article for more information and what this will mean for your travel if you are coming to the conference from the United States.
Please note that there may still be a degree of uncertainty about any travel in 2022. If you are concerned, we recommend that you purchase travel insurance that matches with your degree of comfort with risk.
The C.S. Lewis Foundation assumes no liability for changes in personal, individual travel plans or additional travel costs due to travel complications that might arise (please see our refund policy above). In case of the event being cancelled, we are able to convert the amount to a donation, apply it to a future event(s), or refund attendees in installments and based on our Board of Trustees’ guidance.
Alert your ATM and/or credit card issuers of your travel plans (at least a week) before departure in order to avoid blockage due to suspicion of fraudulent charges being made overseas.
NOTE: You may need to change your pin number at your bank in order to access funds from overseas ATMs. ATM, Visa, MasterCard, or American Express cards yield the best exchange rates and are widely accepted at most hotels and shops throughout the U.K. Note: some places do not take American Express or Discover card. Check with your credit card company concerning fees for international use. Your bank may have a “partner bank” in the U.K. which might not charge extra for withdrawals.
There are some credit cards and bank accounts that waive fees for international purchases.
You may wish to convert dollars to Pound Sterling prior to leaving the States or you may do so upon your arrival in England. If you wish to do so ahead of time, you’ll want to check with your bank whether it does this (most smaller, local banks do not, but bigger, international banks sometimes do).
We recommend that you access needed cash in pounds via an ATM machine immediately upon clearing customs in order to pay the bus and taxi fares as the exchange rates tend to be much better than what you’d get at a currency exchange store.
PLEASE NOTE: Uber now operates in Oxford through local taxis (ridesharing is banned in Oxford, but Uber has arranged services with taxi companies). It’s possible and likely that you can pay for a taxi upon arrival in Oxford, using your credit card through the Uber app. However, we have not tested it ourselves yet and it’s best to be safe and have some cash on hand.
Be sure to know how your health care service works should you need medical treatment while overseas. If you are taking prescription drugs, make sure you have an adequate supply for your entire trip. It is also advisable to carry a copy of your prescriptions described by their generic names.
The C.S. Lewis Foundation is not responsible for any costs you may incur if you have to cancel your trip. We strongly encourage you to obtain travel and trip cancellation insurance. One potential company used by past Oxbridge registrants is Travelex Insurance at 1-800-228-9792.
England is beautiful in the summertime; however, it can often be cool, damp, and overcast. Plan for daytime temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Layering is recommended due to variations in climate. Casual, neat casual, and business casual dress, as well as comfortable footwear, will serve most occasions. A raincoat and/or umbrella are a must.
This is not a comprehensive list, but here are several important items that are easily forgotten:
- Airline ticket – good to print even if you have it on your phone; customs in the UK also needs to see this and it’s easier to show on paper
- Printouts/receipts of everywhere you are staying while in the UK for customs
- ATM card/credit cards
- Passport and driver’s license
- England ended all covid restrictions
- Alarm clock (or use your phone for this)
- A good, broken in, pair of shoes. There will be a decent amount of walking to do, often on pavement that can be a bit uneven (or cobblestones). While we have a shuttle for those who have mobility issues, most of our attendees will be walking to/from lunch and our evening venues.
- Voltage converter. Check your various electronic device plugs to see whether they have 220V listed as voltage. If you have anything that doesn’t take 220V, then you will either need to leave it at home or bring a voltage converter. Devices that use a lot of power and heat like heaters, curling irons, and blow dryers generally are risky to bring and could burn out/explode given their high energy use. Do so at your own risk. Also, don’t forget to double check the chargers for anything that has a rechargeable battery (toothbrushes, razors, etc.).
- A three-prong plug/outlet adapter designed for the UK (UK is 220V)
- Washcloth(s)—(towels are provided at St. Catherine’s)
- Toiletries; both accommodations consist of dorm rooms. They provide tea and coffee-making facilities, linen, and towels. Hair dryers, ethernet cables and adaptors can be hired/purchased from their Lodge.
- Bible, journal, and notebook
- Extra hangers.
- Chargers for your cell phone and other devices
Check with your provider to see if your cell phone will work internationally. If not, you may want to purchase a pre-paid phone or sim card in England. You may be able to order these ahead of time; on Amazon they have these cards at a cost around $29.99.
- Check with your airline regarding the number and weight limit of luggage allowed each passenger.
- Before you go, itemize the contents of your luggage as this will assist you in the event you need to file an insurance claim.
- Put your home address and destination address on the outside and inside of each piece of luggage, including carry-on bags.
See above for a shoe recommendation under the packing section. Past registrant tip: you might also want to prepare for the conference by getting some walks in ahead of time, especially if you have a new pair of shoes to break in.
While there is no set dress code, per se, most guests dress in casual, neat casual, or business casual attire. Some of us do dress up a bit more during the church services, particularly the closing service at the end of the conference (shirt/tie or suit, a dress, etc.).
Flight and Arrival
We are hearing that international travelers should arrive at the airport 3-4 hours before LOADING (not departure). These two videos offer helpful, current information for flyers: “Flights, Cancelled and Delayed – How to Survive Flying This Summer” and “How to Avoid Travel Chaos This Summer.”
Have a valid passport, driver’s license, and your airline ticket. You may wish to keep a copy of your passport separate in a safe place with you in case the original is misplaced or stolen.
Make sure you’re fully prepared to go through customs. This article provides 14 helpful tips for getting through the process quickly and safely.
Make sure you have print-outs of all your tickets, plus printed confirmation of your lodging (with addresses and phone numbers).
- During your flight you will be given a Visitor Card and instructed on how to fill it out.
- After claiming your luggage, proceed through Customs check (allow up to one hour for this entire process).
- You will need to present the Passport Control Officer with both your Visitor Card and a valid passport. The officer will ask you a few basic questions concerning your destination and the length and purpose of the visit.
You may be arriving at either London’s Heathrow or Gatwick airports. While Heathrow is a half hour closer to our conference sites, access to the university cities is fairly convenient from either airport. Your destination airport will depend largely on the airline you have chosen to fly.
Transportation to Oxford
In most cases we recommend taking the bus instead of the train—it’s inexpensive and direct.
Bus or Train from Heathrow to Oxford
Follow the airport directions/signs/maps to go to the Central Bus Station. Look for The Airline (Oxford Bus Company). More detailed information may be found here: https://www.oxfordbus.co.uk. A one-way bus ticket to Oxford currently costs about £23; it may be cheaper to purchase online in advance. No reservations are needed, and tickets may also be purchased on the coach (cash only). You may get more information about The Airline bus at www.oxfordbus.co.uk or by calling 01865 785 400 for details.
Bus or Train from Gatwick to Oxford
You can buy bus or train tickets in advance at https://www.thetrainline.com/train-times/gatwick-airport-to-oxford
Starting on July 17, Oxford Bus Company is offering an hourly Gatwick-to-Oxford service.
Upon Arrival in Oxford
If you are arriving in Oxford via The Airline bus, it will make several stops. However, you will want to get off at its final destination: Gloucester Green Station. Proceed to the taxi stand in the center of Gloucester Green Square and simply tell the taxi driver the name of the college to which you need to go (probably St. Catherine’s College, but it depends on your accommodations). The approximate fare is £5-£8.
Go directly to the Porters’ Lodge of the college to pick up your room key and drop off your luggage; luggage storage will be provided and rooms will be available after 2 p.m.
Walking directions to St. Catherine’s College from Gloucester Green Station (approximately an 18-minute walk) are as follows:
- From the bus station, head toward St. George Pl. and turn right.
- Turn left onto George St. Stay on George St. as it becomes Broad St.
- Before Broad St. becomes Holywell, turn left onto Cattle St./National Cycle Rte 57.
- Turn right onto Holywell St./National Cycle Rte 57.
- Turn left onto St. Cross Rd.
- Take a light right towards Manor Rd and continue onto Manor Rd.
- St. Catherine’s College is on Manor Rd.
Conference Check In
Proceed to the CSLF Registration Office (signs and volunteers will direct you) at St. Catherine’s College for registration and check-in. Volunteers will be on hand during registration time to point you in the right direction. (See schedule for more information).
Please take a look at “Saint Catherine’s College: Information & Important Points for Residential Guests”: https://www.catzconferences.com/site-resources/uploads/2017/08/Useful-Information-for-Residential-Guests-Factsheet.pdf
“Bed & Breakfast at Saint Catherine’s College”: https://www.catzconferences.com/site-resources/uploads/2016/11/Bed-and-Breakfast-Factsheet.pdf
Conference Check Out
Oxbridge 2022 official programming ends Thursday, August 4th after a closing service of dedication. However, breakfast is provided Friday, August 5th for those lodging at Saint Catherine’s College, and check-out is scheduled for that morning.