The ultimate guide for a successful road trip

With the changing situation around restrictions and lockdown, many travel plans have been put on hold but, if you are lucky enough to get away, a UK road trip is a favourable option. Although the pandemic has changed travel as we know it, the road trip may be the least affected mode of transport, with minimal contact and interaction with other travellers needed. 

From booking in advance to making sure you are safely social distancing, what needs to be considered in order to have a smooth road trip? Here, the Classic Car Finance Team at Cambridge & Counties Bank have come up with some helpful tips ahead of going away by car, in the near or distant future.

Plan plan plan 

Planning your trip is the key to staying safe and having fun. With travel restrictions changing at a quick pace, it may make it harder to plan well in advance, but it is extremely important to do so nonetheless.

If you plan to break up your drive with a rest break, you will need to outline where and when beforehand, it’s best to book necessary accommodation or eateries ahead of your visit. Look ahead for key landmarks or attractions to stop at; this is a great way to break the journey up whilst also providing a taste of adventure.

For the trip itself, plan your itinerary clearly, making sure to do your research to check that landmarks and areas of interest are operating. Whilst you can socialise within your own small travel group, mixing with large groups of other travellers won’t be possible. Restaurants, bars, and other events will be operating on a smaller, more restricted scale, so bear this in mind when making arrangements. 

Remember to pack all the necessary equipment, such as masks, hand sanitiser, and anti-bacterial wipes, to ensure you are equipped to follow safety guidelines. 

Expect it to get busier

Since there has been a rise in staycations in the UK, depending where you are going, you may experience more crowds than usual as well as a higher demand for hotels, landmarks, pubs, and other eateries. Although this should not be an issue for many, if you are wanting a tranquil staycation, it may be worth tweaking where you go to avoid disappointment. For example, popular staycation resorts like Cornwall, Devon and The Lake District will inevitably be busy, whilst lesser known places like Pembrokeshire, Durham and the Scottish Isles may not be. When considering a time of year for your trip, it is worth opting for autumn or spring months, purely for the vibrant colours during this period.

To avoid heavy traffic, opt to travel outside of peak times and weekends, as this may have a substantial impact on travel time. It is also worth buying and looking over road maps in advance as this is the best way to discover the roads worth driving as well as build excitement.

Pre-trip checks 

When embarking on a long car journey, it is vital that your vehicle is in sound condition beforehand. Ahead of departure, conduct your regular checks by looking over the battery, tyres, and fluids to ensure everything is in order. Turn the engine on and assess the dashboard for any warning lights, taking the time to check all of the car’s interior and exterior lighting is working. 

In addition, make sure you have sufficient car insurance and road tax in place before taking your car out as you don’t want this to expire mid-trip.

Fuel 

Before setting off on a road trip, check you have sufficient fuel and even consider packing a spare tank, as it may be harder to find a petrol station, especially if you are off the beaten track. Depending where you are, you may find that fuel prices are more expensive in certain locations, so planning this efficiently ahead of time will ensure you get the best value. It is also worth noting that fuel prices tend to be slightly higher at service stations, so try your best to fuel up before.

Take regular breaks 

On long road trips, driving for long periods of time can take its toll, even for experienced drivers. Drivers should ideally take a break every 2 hours and should incorporate stretching your legs and getting fresh air as part of this, to help avoid stiffness and drowsiness. Where possible avoid driving for long periods at night-time and try to diversify the scenery, as long straight roads are more likely to cause tiredness. It is also recommended to rotate drivers if possible, to give you the chance to relax. 

Most importantly, have fun!

Despite the current restrictions, it’s important to relax and enjoy the experience you are about to embark on. Don’t get too lost in preparations and be open to veering from the plan if need be, as this often leads to further adventure.

The success of a road trip is determined by a mixture of the journey, the vehicle and the destination, so it might be worth investing in a special car for the trip. Perhaps hire the classic or supercar that you have always longed for such as a classic British car like the Jaguar XK150  or a bit of Italian passion such as the Maserati Gran Cabrio, bearing in mind what terrain you will be covering as to whether you need a four-wheel drive, high clearance or a convertible.  The choice ultimately is a personal one.

It’s important to remember that no matter how much you plan you can never predict what will happen on the road. But by taking a few simple steps, you can make sure that your next road trip is a safe and successful one. You’re on holiday after all, enjoy it!

Keep up with the top stories from Reader’s Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.