How to plan for a UK road trip: all you need to know!

How to plan for a UK road trip: all you need to know!
Even if you’re staying in the UK, planning a successful road trip holiday isn’t as easy as it might sound.

Careful planning is needed to ensure you’ve packed everything you need, your car’s fit for a long journey… and your party is still speaking to one another by the end of it.

Our essential checklist has everything you need to know.

UK Breakdown Cover

Join the RAC and get breakdown cover, we fix 4 out of 5 vehicles at the roadside!

How to prepare for a road trip

uk roadtrip

Before you hit the road, it’s crucial to take some time to give your car the once-over. That’s particularly important before a summer holiday as the warm weather, long distances and extra weight from luggage and passengers can put a bigger strain on your car

There are several maintenance checks you can do yourself, including:

  • Oil: Your car will break down if the engine doesn’t get enough lubrication, so do the dipstick test. Make sure the oil level is between the minimum and maximum markers.
  • Coolant: On a hot day, coolant removes excessive heat from your engine – essential if you’re stuck in traffic. Find out how to check your coolant.
  • Tyre pressure and tread depth: Your tyres should be inflated to the correct pressure, allowing for heavy suitcases in the back. To check the tread depth, insert a 20p coin into the tread grooves on the tyre. If you can’t see the outer band of the coin face, your tyres are above the legal limit (1.6mm). You face a £2,500 fine for each illegal tyre.
  • Lights: Defective lights affect road safety as they make you less visible to other road users, so make sure they’re all in full working order. Ask a family member or neighbour to check the back lights for you.

If there are any existing issues with the car, take it to a qualified mechanic to get these resolved – you don’t want to break down miles from home because of a minor problem that could have been fixed at your local garage.

Also make sure your car’s MOT is valid for the entirety of your road trip. For extra peace of mind, you could book your car in for a service before you travel.

Don’t forget breakdown cover

If you don’t already have breakdown cover in place, it’s a good idea to organise it before you go.

The RAC can provide road recovery services, meaning you have the security of roadside assistance throughout your road trip should the unexpected happen.

Buy an RAC Breakdown Assistance Kit today

Make sure you’re prepared for a breakdown and are kept safe at the roadside.

Essential items for your car

UK Roadtrip advice

Good drivers are always prepared.

Take these essentials with you on your road trip:

  • Important documents: Remember your driving licence, car insurance details and breakdown number.
  • Sat-nav: As well as giving you directions, a sat-nav can tell you where speed cameras are located and help you find service stations. Also take a road atlas with you as back-up in case your sat-nav malfunctions.
  • Loose change: Keep a few coins in the glovebox for toll roads and parking charges.
  • First-aid kit: In case of minor bumps and scrapes of the human variety, keep a first-aid kit in your boot that includes plasters, bandages and cortisone cream for insect bites.
  • Torch: You can use your phone, but a torch is easier to hold if you need to look under your car or inside the bonnet. Make sure the batteries are working and take some spares just in case.

Packing for comfort

Take these items to make your road trip more comfortable and relaxing:

  • Sunglasses: The sun can be dazzling while you’re driving, causing headaches. Drive in tinted sunglasses that will shield your eyes from glare.
  • Toiletries: Tissues, hand gel and wet wipes are a lifesaver if anything gets spilt or sticky fingers need cleaning, while sun cream is a must if you’re planning to stop off at the beach or go on long walks in hot weather. Take any prescription medicines you need too.
  • Warm clothes: If you want to beat the traffic and travel during the night, or first thing in the morning, take a jacket or woolly jumper with you as it could be on the chilly side. An anorak and pair of wellies may also prove useful if it decides to lash it down (we know how unpredictable the Great British weather is).ou need too.
  • Drinks and snacks: Take a water bottle to stay hydrated during the journey. Mints and gum will also prevent your mouth getting too dry in between stop-offs. Snacks such as bananas, nuts and granola bars can give you a boost if you start to flag. Take sandwiches if you know you’ll be driving for a long stretch in an area with limited dining options.
  • Music and games: Your road trip wouldn’t be complete without some tunes and fun travel games that all your passengers will enjoy. Get everyone to contribute to the playlist and play games in between admiring the scenery, such as 21 Questions and naming car brands etc in alphabetical order.

How to pack for a road trip

packing for a road trip

The way you pack your boot and roof box can help you save fuel as well as travel more safely. Follow these tips:

Packing the boot

For a smooth and safe drive, it’s important to maintain an even weight distribution throughout the vehicle.

  • Place the heaviest items towards the centre of the vehicle and the larger items towards the back.
  • Don’t pack items above the headrest level. Items above the head restrict rear visibility and, under braking, can fly forward and hit passengers.

Packing the roof box

If you’re travelling with lots of luggage, roof boxes are invaluable. You can put some of the lighter items in there so you don’t have to cram everything in the back seat.

  • Items such as duvets, blankets and sleeping bags should be placed in the box and locked securely.
  • When you’ve finished using the roof box, always remove it from the vehicle as it can add to fuel consumption.

Need inspiration for where to go on your big adventure? Check out our guide to five roads that can’t be ignored when holidaying in the UK.

Did you know, you can get fined for moving out of the way of an ambulance?

Want more useful content like this sent straight to your inbox?