If your New Year’s resolution is to travel more and have adventures, crafting an epic year of road trips is sure to satisfy your wanderlust. Road trips allow you to explore a region intimately, take your time, and even save money on accommodations if you opt to sleep in your vehicle.
Before heading out on the open road, you need to carefully consider every component of your journey – from planning your route to syncing travel companions and packing your necessities. Being prepared and intentional about each aspect will lead to smooth travel so you can maximise enjoyment. Here’s what to consider if hoping to craft the ultimate year of road trips.
Choosing Your Vehicle
Your choice of vehicle is one of the most crucial decisions when planning a road trip. For group travel, consider these options:
- Standard Cars/SUVs: Reliable and affordable, cars do, however, have a limited capacity. This is likely only the best option for pairs or very small groups doing shorter trips.
- Camper Vans: These offer built-in gear storage and sleep space, making them highly versatile. The downside is higher rental costs but they can save you money on accommodation.
- Minibuses: These provide spacious comfort for medium/large groups up to 16 people. They’re easy to drive without special licensing. Minibus leasing offers an affordable option without a major commitment.
Consider group size, budget, license qualifications and type of gear/amenities needed when making the decision between a minibus lease and a campervan for longer trips. This will steer you towards the best wheels for wandering.
What to Pack
Once your route is set, decide what to pack. Consider these road trip packing essentials:
Snacks and hydration – Stock nutritious road trip snacks like protein bars, fruits and veggies. Pack a water bottle for each traveller. Bring coffee, herbal tea and electrolyte tablets like Nuun to stay energised and avoid fatigue. Powdered meal replacement shakes are easy sources of nutrition when you don’t have time for a proper meal.
Clothing layers – Road trip weather can be unpredictable, and temperatures inside the vehicle can fluctuate, so plan clothing layers accordingly. Have temperature-regulating base layers, light jackets, hats and gloves so travellers stay comfortable in all conditions.
Entertainment – Tunes, books, magazines, games, cards, and other amusement will keep the crew smiling during long hauls. Consider downloading content ahead if you’ll be in spotty Wi-Fi areas.
First Aid/Tools – Pack a well-stocked first aid kit, basic tools, torches, duct tape, zip ties, gloves and other practical items so you’re prepared for unexpected issues. Know where your warning triangle and high-vis vests are kept.
Camping Gear (if relevant) – For road trips involving camping and extended time living out of your vehicle, organised storage helps corral gear while preserving interior capacity. Collapsible containers, cargo nets and portable organisation systems all keep equipment accessible yet out of the way.
If you pack lots of equipment, create a master checklist so nothing critical gets left behind. But do audit what you bring and pare down unnecessary items. Only pack real essentials since excess luggage decreases comfort and mobility.
Preparing for Breakdowns
Perform thorough pre-trip inspections checking fluid levels, tire pressures, and components are in proper working condition. While basic maintenance goes a long way towards preventing breakdowns, you may still encounter issues on lengthy road trips. So, take these steps to minimise disruption:
Have your breakdown provider’s details handy – For coverage anywhere in the UK, The AA, RAC or Green Flag all provide reliable assistance and towing services if needed. Save emergency contact information in your phone and confirm membership details are squared away. Print backup instructions for reference.
Pack warning signs/lights – Carry high visibility warning triangles or flares and know protocols for safely signalling your vehicle if immobilised in a live traffic lane.
Understand basics – Have confidence checking fluid levels, changing wiper blades, jump starting batteries and other basic procedures. But don’t hesitate to call for help for complex repairs or dangerous situations like breakdowns on high-speed roads.
Syncing Travel Companions
While a roomy minibus may seem tempting to invite everyone, it’s a good idea to carefully curate your travel crew. Sync schedules with friends or family who share your travel style and interests for this trip. Choose companions who will embrace the journey, not just the destinations. The connections made riding dusty backroads or stargazing at camp are often what makes a great road trip. So, ensure fellow travellers will value presence over pace.
If your crew exceeds the size limits of a minibus, you could always lease a small fleet. However, coordinating multiple vehicles does complicate plans. Try to consolidate into one minibus whenever possible for maximum mobility. Just ensure everyone packs light!
Provisioning Your Ride
Outfitting your vehicle properly is key to comfort on the road. Consider these ride-enhancing accessories and preparations:
- Charging – Ensure phones and devices stay powered with cig lighter charger adapters, portable power stations, and multiple charging cables for all passengers.
- Visibility – Keep ample microfibre cloths, window cleaner, towels, and scrubs on hand to maintain clear sight lines, inside and out. Add slim wastebins for a tidy interior.
- Navigation – Mount your phone securely to follow maps/GPS with at-a-glance visibility. Download offline maps apps and playlists if heading to dead zones.
- Comfort – Pack neck pillows, blankets, supportive seat cushions and organisers for food, drinks, and electronics so gear doesn’t clutter seats.
- Protection – Consider seat covers, floor mats and even removable insulation kits to guard interiors from spills, mud and wear-and-tear.
- Mood – Create ambience with battery-powered string lights and portable speakers. Download playlists ahead that match the vibe you want for your road trip.
Thoughtfully outfitting the interior creates a home-away-from-home feeling so passengers stay happy mile after mile. You want your vehicle to enhance the adventure, not hinder it! And don’t forget exterior attachments for sporting equipment like bikes, kayaks or luggage racks if needed.
Designing Your Route
Once you have the basics sorted, it’s time to design your winding route across the incredible UK landscape. Identify key stops, then connect the dots, seeking intriguing backroads and mixing in motorways to cover long distances efficiently. Balance must-see destinations with flexibility for unexpected detours, as quirky finds often make a trip memorable.
If you plan a longer journey, build in periods of returning back to a home base location that serves as an anchor point on your route. Or opt for a new final destination at the end of your trip. Research along your route – campgrounds, hiking trails, restaurants, etc. Discovering hidden gems makes for an epic road trip.
Great UK Road Trips to Try
From the sweeping northern coastlines to the Cotswolds quaint villages, incredible road trips await. Try these iconic UK driving routes:
- North Coast 500 – This 500 mile route along Scotland’s northern coast reveals epic Highlands landscape.
- Peak District – Follow winding narrow passes through the Peak District National Park with quintessential English countryside.
- Welsh Borders – Journey England and Wales borderlands with imposing castle ruins and Wye Valley vistas.
- Cornwall Coast – Criss-cross Cornwall for fishing villages, dramatic cliffs and sandy beaches as far as Land’s End.
By intentionally approaching each facet – the route, companions, packing and provisions – you’ll craft a smooth ride primed for adventure. Then simply point your perfectly planned minibus toward the open road and let the memories roll! This is sure to be your ultimate year of road trips if you take the time to thoughtfully prepare every detail. So, what are you waiting for? Let those backroad adventures begin!