How to plan an incredible self-drive holiday in 4 simple steps
Want to get away this year, but fancy a change from your usual package holiday?
If you like the idea of exploring multiple destinations from the comfort of your own car, then a self-drive getaway could be the perfect choice for you.
Travelling to your destination by car puts you in the driver’s seat (literally), meaning you can go where you like, when you like, taking in the scenery at your own pace. There’s no need to worry about airport transfers or hanging around for hours waiting to catch a flight, and you won’t be subject to pesky baggage restrictions or charges, either.
If taking the scenic route sounds like the perfect holiday for you, read on to find our four essential tips for planning an incredible self-drive holiday — you’ll be ready to hit the open road in no time!
Prep your car and make space for luggage
Whether you plan to stay in the UK, or venture further afield to Europe, you’re still likely to cover hundreds of miles during your trip, so it pays to get your car ready for the long journey ahead. To reduce the chance of a mishap spoiling your adventure, book your car in for a service, and make sure that you’ve got breakdown cover in place. If you’re going abroad, you’ll need to look for a roadside assistance scheme that will cover you wherever you plan to go.
No one wants to pack up the car on the day of their trip only to discover that the boot won’t close, so if you’ll have lots of luggage, it’ll be sensible to add some extra space. A box trailer is great for this, as all you need to do is hitch up, tie down your luggage, and you’re ready to go: choose one which is designed to withstand long distance trips, like these ERDE Classic box trailers. It’s a legal requirement to display your number plate on the back of your trailer, so be sure to invest in a road-legal illuminated trailer plate before you travel. You’ll also want to get some good trailer lights so it is easily visible by others at night.
Plan your route in detail
One of the best things about a self-drive holiday is that it gives you complete freedom to design your own itinerary, letting you visit off the beaten track destinations at your leisure. So, once you’ve decided where you’ll visit, sit down and plan out your route in detail, including a few places to rest and refuel as you travel.
If you need a little help designing your route, then try using a journey planning app. The AA’s Route Planner lets you add four different stop points to your journey, so you can tailor your trip to include a spot of sightseeing or rest breaks. There are also options to avoid motorways and toll roads, so you can avoid paying extra charges and enjoy some relaxed scenic driving.
Just remember to print out a physical copy of your directions, in case you get caught out by poor reception in remote areas. And don’t forget to pack an up-to-date road atlas, in case you take a wrong turn and need help getting back on track.
Check the terms of your insurance
Most people don’t realise it, but many insurance providers have special rules and exceptions in place for holidaying abroad in your own vehicle. Most comprehensive policies will provide full cover in EU countries as standard, but some insurers will only provide third party cover unless you pay to extend your current policy. This would mean paying for any repairs to your car out of your own pocket, so it’s definitely worth considering a policy update, even if it will cost a bit extra.
If you plan to take a longer holiday, then you should also check whether there’s a limit on how long your insurer will cover you while you’re abroad: this could be anywhere from 25–90 days a year. Travelling without checking the terms of your policy could invalidate your insurance, so contact your insurer to make sure you’re fully covered before you set off.
Follow the rules of the road
If your adventure will take you outside of the UK, it’s essential to spend some time familiarising yourself with the rules of the road in your destination. Drink driving laws, speed limits, and rules around giving way can all be very different outside the UK, so take a look at the RAC’s foreign travel advice centre to learn more.
You’ll also need to keep the following essentials to hand in your glove box, so you can easily access them if needed:
- Your driving licence (don’t forget to check it’s still in date!)
- Your car’s registration documents.
- A valid passport, if you’ll be driving outside the UK.
- Any travel visas, if you’ll be travelling in a country where these are required.
Certain countries will require more than this, so be sure to research your chosen destination before you set off.
If you’re looking for something a bit different this year, a self-driving holiday could be the right choice for you. As long as you plan your route in detail, get your car ready for a long journey, and stay mindful of the law, you’re sure to have a memorable adventure out on the open road.