5 Top Tips for Planning a Road Trip This Summer

There’s something wonderful about the experience of being out on the road in your campervan or motorhome, taking each day as it comes and heading towards the horizon. Except, it may not be as simple as it sounds, if things aren’t planned. To help make your road trip go smoothly and feel you have made the best out of your break; an amount of homework and planning definitely needs to be done! Preparation is key to a smooth journey and maximizing your time on the road.

In our opinion, you get more from your trip, if you take the time to plan. Here, at Uncover Britain Road Trips, we have lived and breathed all things campervan for as long as we can remember. We’ve road tripped across Europe and across the UK, we’ve wild camped, plus pitched up in huge holiday parks with heaps of facilities – and everywhere in between. Our philosophy is that everyone can create their own adventure, uncover more, and make a deeper connection using our UK road trip inspiration. We provide the ideas and inspiration, and you do the rest, like cherry pick what takes your fancy, set your own pace, and ensure your road trip exceptional. From our passion and experienced, we share with you some of our tips of the trade to make your road trip truly memorable and stress free.

    1. Make a shortlist in advance but be prepared to change plans!

Take time to plan your trip by starting with a start and end, with the places in between you want to visit - sounds simple so far, right? It’s about getting your ideas down. Refine your shortlist and options further, add a few ideas of start and finishes. This will help you decide how many places you can visit and how long you can stay there and how long you will be driving for in between.

Straight away, a bit of homework will pay off as you start to devise a plan. Factor in time to be flexible and allow things to change, as they usually do. We call this Plan B! The weather may affect your plans, or you may like somewhere more than expected and choose to linger. Your shortlist will help you prioritise what’s important to you. This will help you decide how many places you can visit and how long you can stay there and how long you will be driving for in between.

When looking for ideas for activities and attractions, jot them down as you find them when planning. Once you have a list, you can re-order them and put them in a priority order later, either when finalising plans or even on the road.

At the very least, be sure to outline the simply can’t miss activities and attraction for each location, as these can be one of the main reasons for choosing to go to a specific destination in the first place!

One important task to undertake at home in advance, is to look carefully at opening / closing times plus seasonal opening to make sure things are actually open on the day you are there. Often museums and galleries for example, are closed on Mondays or Tuesdays. We’ve made this mistake ourselves on several occasions! Whilst you’re checking out the opening times, it’s worth checking out entrance prices too. Is there a discount for buying in advance? Will buying in advance guarantee your entry to popular places, or save time queuing?

    2. Allow enough time to enjoy the journey as well as the destination

Our recommendation is to average no more than 4 hours in every 24 hours driving so you can enjoy the journey and the destinations, make sure you are resting and enjoy as a leisurely trip including sleep time! Of course, everyone is different and will have varying available time to undertake the road trip. At Uncover Britain, our road trip ethos is to take time to discover more, enjoy the great outdoors, find those hidden gems, take a dip in the wild swim spots, and really savour the experience. If you’re looking for a sure-fire way to guarantee hidden gems, wild swim spots and scenic viewpoints, check out UncoverBritain for road trips with heaps of references.

If you’re like us, aim for around 10-15 hours’ drive time on a 3–5-day road trip, 20-25 hours’ drive time on a 6–8-day road trip and 30-35 hours’ drive time on 9–14-day road trip.

When you have considered the time it takes to travel between places on your route, plus the time required to enjoy the activities and attractions, you can refine your shortlist further but retain your back up ideas for a Plan B. (There is usually a Plan B, trust us on this!)

    3. Be responsible, eco and ethical on your road trip

2021 saw the publication of a code of conduct for motorhomers and campervanners, promoted by Lake District tourism and widely adopted across the UK. The code encourages holiday makers to enjoy quality food from local shops, cafes, and pubs, and visit local attractions and to ‘think like a local’.

Taking the code of conduct into account, it asks visitors to:

  • Plan their route and parking, taking the country roads into account and places to pass, for example. We’re all over this, as there’s nothing more stressful than getting lost / not finding a parking place without height barriers / finding the road is scarily narrow etc.
  • Be considerate as a driver and where you park. Be even more considerate to the environment, leave no trace, take litter with you, and dispose of grey and back waste correctly.
  • Park in approved places and only stay in overnight where permitted. Check out our list of Secret Stays if you’re looking for rural pubs, laybys, and car parks where you can stay overnight on route. If you need facilities, book a campsite.
  • Linger and enjoy the local area, enjoy local food, explore the trails, river or even the bridleways, whatever is in the vicinity to really get to know the place and its environment. This is what we’re all about. Take the time to enjoy it! Shop at the local food markets and devour seasonal, local foods with low food miles, whilst supporting local.

Being responsible, eco and ethical on your trip will make you feel good about your trip and allow you to feel like you have made a deeper connection.

    4. Pack the right things and invest in a kit for the van to make your road trip a breeze

It goes without saying, we are fan of a list, or two! They never left us down. You can even keep the same list for next time to and tweak it as you go, so you become a pro and pack in super quick time. If you have what you need, it makes your time on the road much easier. Have no regrets!

It’s absolutely not worth the time, in our opinion, nicking the stuff from your home house, if you intend on making road tripping a frequent thing. It’s a nightmare, you lose stuff, forget stuff, and it doesn’t go back in the right place. Invest in a little kit to keep just in the van, from kitchen stuff to bedding. It’s well worth it.

Invest in a kit, it’s so worth it in the long run. Trust us, we’ve learned from experience. The best awning we’ve had, by a long shot, is Olpro’s Loopo Breeze, it is easy to put up and it folds down well and actually goes back into the bag easily. An air beam is usually lighter and quicker, so suits a road trip better than faffing with the poled counterpart.

A shout out to the lovely Berrow Hill Melamine, after years’ of use it still looks great and we absolutely love the design.

Whenever we’re on a road trip, we like to feel that we are organised enough to be able to cope with issues if they arise, so that everything is a breeze, whatever happens. This means, we like to have a credit card for a back-up if we need more money than budgeted / loose or even theft of a card / want to treat ourselves.

Check out our free road trip planning for a detailed of list of items to consider packing.

    5. Use apps and itineraries to keep a track and organise your options

If you are technology savvy, then a road trip planner app is for you! There are many on the market, some free and some you have to pay a one-off or subscription-based fee to use. You should be able to log on online or download on your smart phone as you go! Here are a few to try:

  • Waze
  • Google Trips / Road Trippers
  • Parkopedia
  • Getyourguide

Using the following websites will help you find amazing things to do when you get there, such as experiences and activities to take part in.

  • Withlocals
  • TripAdvisor
  • AirBnB experiences

An advantage of a road trip with visiting different locations means you can include a great mix of the great outdoors as well as towns and cities.

You have the flexibility to go off-route or take a different direction when you want! Be sure to search for things to do between locations so you can enjoy new experiences along the way.

For those who are time-short or feel the planning can be dauting or overwhelming, consider a ready-researched road trip itinerary meaning you can be sure you are ticking off the things you should see and do on the way – helping you with making choices and to maximise your time on the road by choosing the best options for you. Take a peek at Uncover Britain’s choice of 7 regions of road trips as well as themed road trips, with 27 road trips around the UK and access starts at just £4.99. A year’s worth of road trip access and overnight stays is £59.99. Olpro customers can benefit from a 20% discount, using the code OLPRO20 at checkout before 30.11.2022.

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