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Driving in the UK and more.....

Los Angeles...
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Driving in the UK and more.....

I have a quick question. I would like to visit and tour the UK but at my own pace. I would like to rent a car and drive to all places that most tour operators do not include in their brochures. I have an extensive driving "experience" but only within the US and more specifically LA. I have driven briefly in South Europe ( a unique experience by itself). Nevertheless, I would like to know if renting a car is a good idea or should a solely rely on public transportation. I am also a bit concerned about safety since I am a female and probably I would be traveling by myself. If I decide to rent I would appreciate any helpful insights about reliable car companies (should I consider the traditional ones?) or local UK based. Also, is there reliable roadside assistance especially in those countryside roads that intertwine between those lively English villages that I am dying to visit. Yes, I plan to bring along all the gadgets (cell phone ipads etc.). By the way, how reliable is the wi-fi in the countryside? is wireless free in places like Starbucks etc?

I would appreciate if someone can enlighten me!!!

Thanks.

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Los Angeles
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1. Re: Driving in the UK and more.....

Where are you actually planning to go? There's a reason places are in tour brochures - they're generally the ones of most interest to visitors.

Oakham, United...
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2. Re: Driving in the UK and more.....

It depends where you want to go. Fro major cities - London, York , Oxford, Edinburgh, use the train. If you want to see countryside and villages, then get a car for those sections.

The UK is densely populated, so there is always breakdown assistance if you've paid for it - nowhere is that far from civilisation!

Rural wifi cover? Many pubs, B&Bs, coffee shops , dare I say it McDonalds all have wifi. 3G phone cover is often available, if you have a UK sim card with affordable data rates.

Safe? Yes, the UK is pretty safe, particularly in places you're likely to be visiting. We don't even carry guns here :P

Have a read of other threads on these boards. There are dozens by people plannign to drive here.

Thsi one mentions many off the beaten track places:

tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g186216-i15-k721…

Edited: 17 May 2014, 18:00
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Ipswich, United...
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3. Re: Driving in the UK and more.....

Your biggest problem could well be the fact that we drive on the left here, which in turn means the steering wheel is on the right. Some people get used to this within minutes (as UK people do when they have to drive on the right when on the Continent), but others take longer. Apart from that I think you'll find that driving here is a little less nerve-racking than driving in Southern Europe!

Los Angeles...
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4. Re: Driving in the UK and more.....

I would like to travel extensively throughout the countryside. From Cornwall all the way to the Highlands. I am pretty ambitious. I plan to spend a month maybe more. I have been to England before and visited the touristy sites but now i want to do things "my way." I want to be a bit independent and not feel restricted by time and itineraries imposed on me by tour operators. So, do you think is doable? or maybe I should curtail my plan. Unfortunately, I do not know if I would have more time in the future to spend traveling throughout the UK so I would like to make the most of it by spending a month or more driving around.

Thank you for answering.

Los Angeles...
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5. Re: Driving in the UK and more.....

Thank you, I think I can manage. It would be challenging driving a stick shift since i would need to use my left hand to shift gears. Other than that, if i can manage to turn the " right way" when I encounter my first four way intersection then I know " I passed the test." LOL!

Oakham, United...
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6. Re: Driving in the UK and more.....

If you have a month, then you have lots of time.. go for it. You'll obviously need to work out what areas you want to see, because it'd take you much more than a month to see everything.

Don't plan on too much driving though. Roads aren't that much fun. Your time is much better spend outside that car than in it. Many visitors seem to plan far too much driving in a short time. You have a month though - pick a small number of areas and explore them thoroughly would be my advice, but it's your choice. Remember walking or cycling can be fun too, and get you more in touch with the landscape than a car. The UK is blessed with thousands of miles of footpaths through woods and farmland that you are free to walk on, away (mostly) from roads and cars.

Southampton
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7. Re: Driving in the UK and more.....

The problem is you won't come to a four way intersection. You will come to a roundabout.

Google the highway code and then read it. It's the UK driving bible. Hire a car a quarter of the size you drive at home and request an automatic if you think that will help (it will be more expensive).

Which villages have you heard are "lively"? Most are the opposite.

Los Angeles...
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8. Re: Driving in the UK and more.....

Thank you much for all the detailed info. I plan to study these maps and plan my itinerary. By the way, are the M-# autoways something analogous to freeways we have here in LA (5-6 lanes one way) or more like highways (3-4 lanes?). I been to some of these as a teenager but I cannot remember since at the time I was not paying any attention.

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9. Re: Driving in the UK and more.....

Yes it is very safe for a single female travelling. I would rather break down in the countryside as far as feeling safe is concerned, than on the outskirts of a city or motorway. People tend to be local and helpful.

Yes there is reliable roadside assistance. Also if you have an ipad you can look up the nearest garage possibily. Network coverage tends to disappear in hills and valleys. Safe to get out and walk in the countryside when you wish.

Rental cars can't usually be taken to Ireland and if they do it is expensive and the insurance too. Best to leave one behind and rent one over there.

You might need some extra rules of the road in the countryside. Narrow roads you may need to pull in to let a larger vehicle pass or they will do it for you. Courtesy. A raised hand palm forward is and acknowledged way to say thank you from your car and is appreciated. Here is a good thread, long but lots of good advice

tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowTopic-g186338-i17-k672…

You will find cars parked on the side of the road, both sides often which narrows it. Courtesy says that if someone is starting through you pull up and wait.

Good time to visit is April - June (May is the most beautiful in the countryside) or September - October. These are times when the weather is reasonably good and the roads not so busy. It is also a time when booking accommodation there are likely to be vacancies last minute and you have a choice. Just be aware of Easter and the two May Bank Holidays when it does get very busy on the roads.

There are at least a couple of American regular posters who travel solo in this part of the UK. Scotland and Wales too, perfectly safe to be in the wilds. Perhaps plan the most scenic routes. The west country we can do then you need to work up the forums ;-)

Edited: 17 May 2014, 18:28
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Los Angeles...
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10. Re: Driving in the UK and more.....

Thank you for the info. Yes, I come from a culture that we spend most of the time driving around especially here in S. Cal. Anyway, I got a lot of useful insights and I am looking forward to decide my "plan of action."