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The Guide to Self Drive

5 August 2022

Self drive holidays are ideal if you like to stop and explore along your route, you enjoy your own space and you appreciate having the flexibility to be spontaneous. Feeling tired? Have an unscheduled stop. Fancy an early lunch? Find a hidden gem. Unexpected nappy disaster? Pull over.

We’ve put together this guide to self drive for you so that whoever is getting in your car for your next trip, you’re totally prepared.

Self Drive with Friends

A self drive getaway is such a fun way to spend time with your buddies. We all have friends who we never tire of but we similarly have friends that we can only take in smaller doses. When you’re planning the list for who makes the cut, think about who you can share a small space with.

Have a loose plan, decide on a region or a route that everyone agrees with. If you want to Explore & Stay with Coast and Country, our expert agents will help you plan out the perfect itinerary.

The beauty of a self drive trip is flexibility so don’t forget to allow room for flexibility. This should be an adventure after all!

Just because you’re traveling together doesn’t mean you need to be joined at the hip. If you’d rather go for a hike while someone else fancies visiting the local castle and the other two want to go sit in a pub garden, let it happen. Space is as important as time together especially if you want to do what you’d like to do whilst you’re away!

Once you have the logistics squared away, here are our top tips for having a great self drive holiday!

  1. Take turns driving
  2. Put phones away and connect
  3. Take loads of photos
  4. Schedule stops that work for everyone
  5. Communicate with each other (if it’s your turn to drive but you’re feeling tired, switch out but let them know!)

Ready to start planning your getaway with friends? We’re here to make sure it’s a memorable one!

Self Drive Holidays with Babies & Children

Have a young family and are planning a road trip? The key advantage of self driving with small children is the flexibility.

Regardless of meltdown, car sickness or unexpected loo stops – you’ve got the wheel and all the control.

When you’re hitting the road with little people, leave your expectations at home. Let’s be honest, not much will go to plan so it’s best to be ready to stop every hour or two for feeds, snacks, the toilet or a run around.

Plan until your eyes hurt. It’s always better to know where you can stop that will work for the children. There are a number of services with play areas which is a great way to help burn off some energy before the next leg of the trip.

Take your time packing the car. Are the critical items reachable? Snacks, drinks and entertainment being the holy trinity when it comes to self drive holidays! If you’ve got a baby on board it’s always handy to have a pre-stocked grab bag for nappy changes. Still on formula? Take a flask of hot water so you can prep bottles on the move.

If you’ve got the timings just right then they will probably need a nap on the way. If your child doesn’t fall asleep easily in the car then recreate their sleeping environment with window shades, dummy, comforter or white noise/music.

Once you’ve got all these biggies checked off, there are some great ways to keep the kids entertained on the road;

  1. Take a rubbish bag. The amount of rubbish doesn’t decrease just because their space does, it will be a God send having somewhere to stash all the snack wrappers and fruit peels.
  2. Always have a pack of wipes up front for sticky hands, mouths, boogers and anything else that might need a quick clean.
  3. Take a ball for when you stop. This is a great way to engage them and get them moving their tired legs after sitting in the car.
  4. Play games. Anything from I spy to Count the Lorries keeps them distracted and distracted kids are happy kids.
  5. Babies love looking at faces so you can make a small book of family photos or a hanging picture frame that attaches to the back head rest so they can enjoy looking at the pictures.

Want to know some of the best places to go? Get in touch with us and we can help you plan the best route!

Self Drive with Your Partner

Whether you’re in the first exciting few months or years deep, a self drive break is always a great way to spend some time off.

Figure out what you are both hoping for from a trip and plan something that is the best of both worlds. If you’re looking for walking routes, try Norfolk, the Lake District or Yorkshire and Durham. More interested in history and castles? Try Wales or Stirling Castle.

Role assignment. This may seem like a small thing but if you have been traveling together for years, you’ll know who is the starting driver and who is best to drive second. You’ll also know who to trust for navigation. Make sure you have a rough idea of which directions you’re following and who is doing which driving shift.

Put a budget together for adventures. You’ll more than likely have your accommodation sorted but when it comes to date nights on your break, activities and so on it’s best to have a budget to stick to.

Take lots of stops. The beauty of a self drive holiday is that you aren’t pushed by any schedules. If you see a sweet farm shop, stop for a coffee and take it all in. You never know what you may stumble upon on your travels.

If you’re only away for a few days there will probably be an overwhelming amount of things to do, prioritise what you really want to do so that you don’t miss out on your must do’s.

We can help you plan the perfect trip, head on over to our Explore & Stay page to learn more. In the meantime, here are our top tips for your next self drive trip with your partner;

  1. Pack snacks for the drive. There is nothing worse than your hangriness causing an altercation.
  2. Be spontaneous! Explore where you stop and stop to explore. There are so many beautiful spots in the UK to see and experience so take the time to enjoy it.
  3. Create a playlist or choose podcasts for the trip. This is a great opportunity to have fun together and leave all your worries behind at home.
  4. Connect and learn. Whether you’re fresh into your relationship or have been together for years, there is alway more to learn. A self driving getaway creates a bubble that is yours alone as you travel, stay and explore together. A great way to disconnect from work, devices or stress and reinvest in each other.
  5. Do your own thing too. Just because you’re away together does not mean you have to do everything together. Take some time to indulge in your favourite hobbies or pastimes.

Self Drive with Dogs

If you’re a dog lover then the top reason for a self drive holiday is being able to take your furry friend with you.

Have your dog with you the entire trip when you decide to self drive to your next destination. Find dog friendly areas to stop where you can let your dog stretch their legs before returning to your route.

Make sure to take your dog’s medical records along with you should you have to pop in for any vet treatments along your travels. This is really worst case scenario stuff but if your hound needs some treatment on your trip it’s always best to have all their records.

Pack your dog’s usual food, treats, medication and supplements. We would always suggest packing a few days additional food etc in case of any unexpected delays. It’s best to feed your dog 3 to 4 hours before you set off to avoid any illness in the car. If your pup gets car sick then get any medication sorted in advance.

Is your dog’s ID tag up to date and microchip info recent? Double check this so that if your four legged friends opts for a walkabout you can rest assured you will be contactable.

Do you have a bowl for the trip and a steady supply of water? If you’re traveling in the warmer months in particular ensure you are well equipped to keep them hydrated.

If you’ve never taken your dog on a self drive trip take some test drives so they can get used to spending longer periods of time in the car. This will help them adjust to a longer car trip when the time comes to set off.

All of our Coast and Country Hotels are dog friendly, so you have the run of the country when choosing where to take your furry friend on a self drive vacation! Here are some extra tips for you;

  1. Take something familiar for the car journey like a blanket or bed so they feel secure in the car.
  2. Long and short leashes or an adjustable leash is best so that you can adhere to area restrictions as necessary.
  3. If you’re planning on experiencing some water activities along the way make sure you have a life jacket for your hound.
  4. Always take an extra collar with ID tags just in case!
  5. Old towels are magic, take a few especially if you’re planning on enjoying some hiking and need to get a mucky pup back into your car.

Explore & Stay with your dog and we can make sure you have the best time! We’re here to help you plan out the perfect route for you, get in touch and find out more.

Whether you’re planning to self drive with your partner, kids, friends or dog – we are here to make sure you have a wonderful time away exploring the UK. Let us know what you’re interested in doing and we’ll plan out an itinerary you’ll be itching to get started on!

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