Planning on putting together the UK road trip to end all road trips? You are going to absolutely love the tips that we share on this page. We are going to walk you through everything that you need to know about hitting the British roads.
Why Travel The UK?
The UK is a small country. Yes. It will take you just 24-hours to travel from one end to the other. However, it is an absolutely tremendous place for a road trip.
Despite being a small country, it has a little bit of everything. You have forests. You have lakes. You have mountains. You have vast open areas of land. You have large cities. You have tiny quaint villages.
The people too. Oh, the people. The UK is a country that has been shaped by thousands of years of history. Each part of the country has its own distinct feel to it. There is no other country in the world where you can experience so many different things in such a short period of time.
Make a List of Your Must-See Sights
Your plan for the ultimate UK road trip will start with you making up a list of the things that you absolutely must see in the UK.
We recommend that you have a flick through a guidebook or two here. Try to see whether there are specific villages, natural sites, or historical monuments that you want to see as you travel through the UK.
The reason why you are putting together a list of those must-see sights is so that you will be able to start putting together a rough plan for your route through the country.
Something that we find especially helpful here is to pull out a map of the UK. It doesn’t need to be a particularly detailed one. You can then mark on the map the places that you really want to visit. Once you do this, you will likely start to see potential routes forming on the map.
Now, do bear in mind that unless you plan on being on the road for months on end, you won’t really be able to see everything that you want to see. This is why it is so important that you just focus on your absolute must-sees.
You May Want to Focus on One Specific Part of The Country
There is nothing that says that you need to travel from one end of the UK to the other. Plenty of people don’t. Instead, some people will just focus on traveling through a couple of different counties.
As you put together your list of must-see destinations, you may notice that many of them are concentrated in the same region. If that happens, then why not plan your road trip around that area?
There are people that will take multiple road trips in the UK to see it all. We are lucky in the UK to have 4-weeks of holiday time each year. Why not make use of all of it?
Plan To Spend At Least 2 Weeks on The Road
As we said, the entire country can be crossed in just 24-hours. However, this is going to be incredibly boring. You wouldn’t be able to see everything.
In our opinion, a road trip through the UK should last at least 2-weeks. In that amount of time, you should be able to head to a good 5-6 different destinations. Although, of course, the more time you have on the road, the more you will be able to experience. We reckon that you will be able to cover most of the country, at least the parts worth seeing, in about a month. However, even then, it will feel like a little bit of a rush.
Plan Your Route Carefully
Since you are on this website, we are assuming that you will be travelling through the country in a camper van or motorhome. If you are British, then you will know just how narrow the roads are in this country. If you aren’t British, then you are in for a huge shock.
Many of the country lanes in the UK are tiny. The chances of you being able to navigate a large recreational vehicle through them is going to be tough. The problem is that these country lanes are going to be everywhere.
If you don’t feel confident navigating those tight, winding roads, then we suggest that you plan your route carefully. Stick to the larger roads wherever possible.
If you can, we suggest that you pick yourself up a GPS that has been specifically designed for recreational vehicles or, at the very least, lorries. These GPS devices will allow you to steer clear of the tougher to navigate roads.
Steer Clear of London
If you are travelling around the UK in a camper van, then steer clear of London. Actually, if you are on a road trip in the UK with any vehicle, steer clear of London.
You can visit London any time you want. Don’t try to pack it into a road trip. Navigating through London in a large vehicle is the very definition of hell. The roads are absolutely crazy. Not to mention the fact that you will be ‘enjoying’ the congestion charge.
If you really do want to include London in your road trip, then we suggest that you don’t actually travel into London with your vehicle. Instead, use Sussex (plenty of campsites there) as a base and then get a train in. The train should take no longer than an hour to get into central London, and it is going to be nowhere near as expensive as you may think.
Join a Caravan & Camping Club
There are plenty of them in the UK. Joining one should cost no more than £20 to £40. We suggest that you stick to the big ones i.e., the ones that actually own campsites e.g., the Camping and Caravanning Club.
The reason why you will want to join a club like this is to provide you with access to campsites that you may not otherwise have access to. For example, if you joined the Camping and Caravanning Club, then you will have access to dozens and dozens of small camper pitches throughout the UK. Many of these are going to be fully serviced i.e., they will have access to water and electricity.
These clubs will also give you huge discounts on staying at campsites. Since travelling around the UK is going to be expensive enough already, you will probably want to save as much cash as you possibly can.
On top of this, joining a club will give you a wealth of other benefits. This includes:
- Discounts on insurance for your vehicle
- Easy access to repairs and spare parts
- Discounts on tourist destinations
As we said, it isn’t really that expensive to join one of these clubs, and you will probably end up saving way more than it initially cost you to join.
Join The National Trust and Get a Scottish Heritage Pass (If You Are Heading into Scotland)
Throughout the UK, you will find a ton of historical monuments e.g., castles, old houses, large gardens, etc.
Most of these places will be managed by either The National Trust (England & Wales) or Scottish Heritage (Scotland). In order to cover the upkeep for these destinations, there will be entry fees.
If you are travelling through England & Wales, then we suggest you join the National Trust. If you are planning on heading to Scotland, then get yourself a Scottish Heritage Pass.
These memberships are not all that expensive. They will also provide you with discounted, and sometimes free, access to some of the top tourist destinations in the UK.
This is a great way to see some of the best of what the UK has to offer for the lowest possible price.
Put Together Your Itinerary
Once you know where you want to head in the UK, and how long you have on the road, you can start to put together an itinerary.
We suggest that you come up with a day-by-day plan.
We recommend that you try to plan things, so you are not driving more than 2-3 hours per day. We know that there are some people that will be driving upwards of 8-hours ago. However, at this point, you are going to be spending way more time on the roads than actually enjoying the beauty of the country.
…. But Be Flexible
One thing that we absolutely do not recommend is booking your accommodation in advance. Well, unless you are travelling during the summer months. You will likely need to have a much more rigid schedule then. This is because most campsites can be heavily booked at that time.
The reason why you need to be flexible is that you may want to spend an extra day or two in one place. You may even want to take a little bit of a detour from your planned route.
We have travelled quite a bit in our camper, and we have often found that there are days where we just don’t want to drive, or don’t want to drive as far as we have planned. There is nothing worse than having a solid plan in placing and feeling forced to travel somewhere.
Book your accommodation as you go. Most of the time, we book accommodation on the same day. However, you may be able to get around by booking the day before, particularly in some of the busier parts of the UK (e.g. the National Parks)
One of the great things about travelling through the UK is the fact that you are never going to be too far from civilisation. This means that, unlike other countries, you probably aren’t going to need to stock up on petrol or food. This means that you are going to have a bit more space in your camper van. However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be thinking about packing appropriately.
In terms of clothing, you have to remember that the British weather is unpredictable. You could have stunning sunshine one minute and then rain or hail the next. As you head up into the north of the country, you may start to find there will be snow and you will need to bring some incredibly warm clothing along.
The one thing that you should remember is to not overpack. Every bit of weight that you will be adding to your camper van will be increasing the amount of petrol that you use on the roads.
Think long and hard about what you are putting in your vehicle. For example, do you really need to bring equipment such as a coffee machine when a kettle would be just as fine? Do you need to bring a TV when you probably won’t be watching it for more than an hour or two per day?
We know that it can be difficult to pack appropriately the first time you hit the road. It is something that comes with experience. However, try to make up a list of everything that you plan to take. Scratch off everything that isn’t 100% essential.
Look Up Recommended Routes Online
We know that planning a road trip in the UK can be pretty tough. Therefore, why not just rely on the hard work of others? If you look online, we are confident that you will find countless routes that other people have followed during their British road trips. You will be able to use these routes as a guideline for your routes or, if you really don’t want to put in too much effort, you can follow those routes exactly.
Honestly, planning the ultimate UK road trip isn’t too difficult. The country is small, which means that once you have a list of sights you want to see, it is just a case of mapping out your route. Most shouldn’t be more than a couple of hours away from each other. Just make sure that you build a bit of flexibility into your plan. You never know when you may want to see something a bit different.
Save this pin to your van life Pinterest board for later
Keep up with our full-time van life travels over on our YouTube channel! If you enjoy our videos, please give us a thumbs up and subscribe to our channel 🙂 – Three As A Bird – Vanlife Travel – YouTube
You can take a look at some of our other van life posts which include lots and lots of hints and tips on all things van life here – Van Life – Travel Information, Hints, Tips and Advice (threeasabird.com)
If you’d like to follow more of our adventures or keep up to date with our travel hints and tips, please join our Facebook group, we’d love to connect with you all! –https://www.facebook.com/groups/309295536220437
Also, if you have Pinterest, please give us a follow for your van life travel inspiration! – https://pin.it/770Cq1Q
I love everything about travel, from seeing new places, learning about new cultures and trying new foods! I believe that travel is one of the best forms of education you can get, I have learnt so much about myself and about the world from travelling all over. Travel is something I feel so passionately about, and I love the fact that we are now lucky enough to have this opportunity to do what we love as much as we can, it’s a dream come true.
Before we started travelling, I worked in local government in administration. I had been in this job for several years and had reached a complete brick wall where I was so fed up, but didn’t know what else to do. The only thing I knew that I wanted to do was to travel, and had wanted to do that for many years.
There were hundreds and hundreds of places on my wishlist that I wanted to go to, and I knew that going on a weeks holiday maybe twice a year if we were lucky wasn’t going to cut it.
After being in lockdown due to the Covid pandemic, and working from home staring at the same 4 walls every day, 2021 seemed like the perfect time for us to take the risk to finally do what we had dreamed of for so long.
It was a hard decision to completely change our lives, but so far it has been the best decision we have ever made!