Top Ten Tips for Driving in the UK!
The vast majority of our guests here at adeo Travel choose a driving-tour of Britain; it is the simply the most flexible and convenient way to explore the countryside, villages and historic sites of England, Scotland and Wales at your own leisure. Driving on the “wrong” side of the road can come with its own concerns – but worry not, most of our clients tell us they get used to it remarkably quickly and with our extra tips you’ll be taking to driving on the left like a fish to water!
10. Book an Automatic Car
The vast majority of people here in Britain drive manual transmission (or stick) vehicles; for this reason automatics are more rare with rental agents and carry a supplement. We’d recommend an automatic transmission for overseas visitors – not having to change gear gives you one less thing to think about when adapting to driving on the other side. Simply request one and we’ll include it in your proposal.
9. Bring a GPS
Basic road directions to each of your overnight accommodations are included in your travel pack as standard on any adeo Travel driving tour, however using a GPS (or Sat Nav as we call it here in Britain) can give you that extra reassurance when navigating. GPS systems can be hired from the car rental desk on arrival but can be costly, so we recommend bringing your own device – just don’t forget to download maps for the UK in advance of your trip.
8. Embrace our Roundabouts
Here in Britain we share most of the same rules of the road as in North America and Australia; but one thing often noted by our clients is that we have many more roundabouts (or road-circles / rotary junctions). They may seem confusing at first but they actually work well to ensure a smooth flow of traffic; you simply have to heed or “give-way” to vehicles already on the roundabout (coming from the right). When it’s clear you can proceed on to the roundabout system and continue clockwise until you reach the exit you need. The beauty of a roundabout is that you can continue round as many times as you like until you find the right exit.
7. Stay Left, but not too much!
Here in Britain we drive on the left so don’t forget to stick to the correct side of the road! However, when you’re sat in the opposite side of the vehicle it can sometimes feel a little like you’re erring too much in to the middle of the road; obviously you don’t want to be driving towards oncoming traffic but fight the urge to hug the hedgerow or curb too much – you don’t want to scrape the left-hand wheels or clip anything in the verge.
6. Don’t go for the smallest vehicle
Our roads here in Britain can be smaller and narrower than many in other parts of the world, especially once you get off the beaten track and in to the country’s more rural areas. It can therefore be instinctive to go for an economy (smallest) class of vehicle. But we would recommend something larger like a compact model (Ford Focus or similar). We find this size of vehicle is better for touring offering greater luggage room and more power for the highways, whilst still not feeling too large to handle on our country roads.
5. Take your time
The beauty of England, Scotland and Wales is our wonderful natural landscapes; however roads that traverse rolling hills and through historic villages are inevitably slower than flat straight highways! Give yourself plenty of time to take your daily journeys so that you can travel at a comfortable pace for yourself. And of course, you’ll want to have plenty of time to make sightseeing stops en route!
4. Understand your car
When picking up your vehicle you may be eager to get on the road to start exploring, but taking your time at the rental office can save time and concern later. Make sure you fully understand the vehicle; where are the headlamp and windshield wiper controls? What type of fuel does the vehicle take? And how do you operate the Air Con? Ask lots of questions to the rental agent or if need be, take a drive around the parking lot to get used to the particular model. Either way, ensure you’re comfortable before heading out on to the open road.
3. Buy a Highway Code
The entire rules of the road in the UK can be found in one book – the Highway Code. This little book can be picked up in any bookstore here in Britain for just a couple of pounds or can be purchased in advance by ordering online or in any good bookstore in your home nation. Either skim read ahead of time or use as a handy reference during your travel just to clarify if there are any road-signs or markings that you’re not sure of.
2. Use your Road Map
GPS units are great for detailed directions when you’re in a town and searching for a particular address, but they will always give you a most direct route, the beauty of a driving-tour of Britain is taking the quieter backroads or more scenic routes. When booking a self-drive tour with adeo Travel we always provide an overview driving map in your travel pack perfect for advance planning, plotting potential sites or routes and gaining your bearings on your daily itinerary.
1. Know your speeds and Distances
Unlike pretty much the entire rest of Europe, here in Britain we measure our distances in miles, and therefore our speed limits in miles-per-hour. This will be natural for some of our overseas guests and not so for others. Speed-limits are usually clearly signed but if in doubt it is generally 30mph in
built-up areas, 60mph on country single-carriageway roads and 70mph on our motorways (highways).
Hopefully now any doubts you had regarding driving in Britain have now been allayed and you’re raring to go on your driving tour of the UK. However, if you do have any questions about driving, there is plenty more information on our website here or simply rest-assured that your experienced adeo Travel agent is on hand to offer their expert advice. So why not let us know which areas you want to explore and we’ll help you put together your perfect driving tour itinerary for your trip to Britain!
Check out our driving tours here.
Driving in Britain not for you? We offer a range of rail, great small-group itineraries and traditional coach tour, simply get in touch and we’ll be happy to advise on what tour would be best for you!
July 10, 2017