You can take more with you – even the dog! Holidaying close to home works in your favour in so many ways whether you’re a family, friends or a couple, which is why a lot of us love driving holidays so much.
The scenery (with breathtaking routes like Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way or Cornwall), the flexibility (stop for a bite at that picturesque pub village), and the control factor. No delayed flights, just you and the car, good Satnav and a map.
But there are still ways, with just a little upfront planning, to make driving to your home-from-home timeshare destination even more enjoyable. Here are few pointers for your next road trip in the UK, with a couple of tips too, if you’re heading across the water…
- Service the car ahead of time. It’s a no brainer and has to be done, so you might as well do it before a big trip.
- If you don’t have Satnav, study the maps online or get a good map and do your research upfront. Depending on weather conditions, that scenic route curving around clifftop bends could either turn out to be a highlight or a regret.
- You’re in Britain! Goes without saying, check the weather forecast for your travel dates just before you leave. While we’re having a warm autumn, we could be in for a snowy winter, the weather is so hard to predict on our unique island!
- Tolls – if you can check how many you’ll come across ahead of your trip you could save significantly by avoiding them, although if time is not on your side the toll roads will probably be the fastest routes in many cases.
- Border charges. If you’ve crossed the water into Europe, country-to-country border charges are another cost you’ll need to take into account.
- Take enough cash. Sounds obvious again but if you’re exploring the lesser known regions of Scotland, for example, you never know when the only bank machine for miles will be out of order.
- Speaking of border charges, don’t just assume your auto insurance covers you for driving overseas. Does it really? A quick call to your insurer or a check of the terms, conditions and restrictions in advance (i.e. not the day before!) could save a last minute panic.
- Rewind to 8 June this year and you’ll remember the big news about changes to the paper portions of UK driving licences which were abolished. If you intend to hire a car abroad for any reason (unlikely if you have your own, but you never know), you need to register for an online code in order to rent a car overseas. You can check the DVLA sitefor more info at gov.uk/government/organisations/driver-and-vehicle-licensing-agency
- Keep a change tin handy for city parking meters that will guzzle your euros like they’re going out of circulation! It can be incredibly expensive to park the car in places like Paris or Geneva and if you’re staying overnight at a hotel, underground parking can sting your wallet, too. (Although security for your car is the first priority)
- On the same note, dig out those euros left over from last year’s holiday in Malaga before you set off and spend them along the way – they’ll come in handy for bottled water at petrol stations, bread and cheese for in-car picnics, the little things.
- Accessories. Did you know in France, technically, you should carry a breathalyser kit? Are you driving through territory where sudden snow could fall? Unless it’s summer, anything could happen in mountain regions which can suddenly become clouded by fog, dusted with snow, etc. etc.
- This is one that gets a lot of us! Check you can use your GPS to tackle any surprises along the way. If you’ve never used it before or just got a new car, familiarise yourself first. Fiddling with the GPS and driving is not wise, and driving while your partner fiddles with it can be worse! State of the art car sound systems can be hard enough, let alone navigating your way around a high tech Satnav system.
Last but not least, split the driving as much as possible so you all get to enjoy the trip, take books and videos for the kids and keep a first aid kit and healthy snacks and drinks to keep the hunger pangs away along the way. Driving holidays are one of the best ways to see the parts of a country others never reach – bon voyage!