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16 days UK self drive itinerary - Pls opine!

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Singapore, Singapore
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16 days UK self drive itinerary - Pls opine!

I am planning a self drive trip to UK next June for our family of 5. Our 3 kids will be 17, 14 and 7. The 2 older ones are boys. The youngest is a girl. This is what I have worked out:

Day

1 Arrive in Heathrow and drive to Windsor (1 night)

2 Visit Windsor castle & Stonehenge. Drive to Bath (stay 2 nights)

3 Sightseeing in Bath

4 Drive from Bath to Stratford upon Avon. Visit Chipping Camden, Shakespeare House etc (Stay 2 nights)

5 Stratford upon Avon Stratford. Visit Bichester and Warwick Castle.

6 Drive Stratford upon Avon to Manchester (stay 1 night)

7 Drive from Manchester to Lake District (Stay 2 nights)

8 Sightseeing in Lake District.

9 Drive from Lake District to Edinburgh (Stay 2 nights)

10 Sightseeing in Edinburgh

11 Drive from Edinburgh to York. Visit Hadrain's Wall enroute. (Stay 1 night in York)

12 Drive from York to Cambridge (Stay 1 night in Cambridge)

13-15 Drive from Cambridge to London (Stay 3 nights in London) (return rental car in London). Besides the usual sights in London, we'd like to do the Harry Potter Studio Tour.

16 Drive from London to Heathrow to catch flight home

I have some questions which I hope TA members can help me with:

1. Should we just stay 1 night in Bath or 2 nights?

2. Is there sufficient time to visit Warwick castle when we are at Stratford, and still vist Bicester?

3. Should we stay another night at Stratford so as to visit Oxford? I had not included Oxford because I was told by friends that Cambridge is nicer, so I had instead planned a day at Cambridge. If you have to choose one, would it be Oxford or Cambridge? or not at all?

4. I have included Manchester in my itinerary. But really cannot decide between Manchester and Liverpool. Are they very different?

5. Should we stay a night at Cambridge as I have planned, or should we just drive on to London and stay the night in London instead?

6. I am toying with another idea, ie to catch a domestic flight to Edinburgh on arrival at Heathrow on Day 1 and drive from there to London on the reverse route via Lake district, Manchester, Stratford, Bath, Windsor and finally London. We can always do Cambridge as a day trip from London. But what we'll miss are York and Hadrain's Wall. Would you miss York and Hadrain's Wall to save some driving and perhaps use the extra day in London or anywhere else?

Lastly, since we are 5, I am thinking that we need a 7 seater MPV so as to accomodate us and our luggages comfortablely. But I'm wondering how save it'll be since my bags will be in full view in an MPV while we're driving from places to places for sightseeing.

Would appreciate feedback and advice. Thanks!

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1. Re: 16 days UK self drive itinerary - Pls opine!

DNL, I think you are moving around way too much and will be wiped out by day five. You have so many two-night stays, which is really just one day. And London is a very large and spread-out City with lots and lots of wonderful things to do and see, so your allocated three nights, which is really two days, is way too short. I did not count the nights you have on land for this trip, but a good rule of thumb is about four stops in two weeks. See if you can, or want to, modify your plan.

Adelaide, Australia
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2. Re: 16 days UK self drive itinerary - Pls opine!

It is not wise to drive after just arriving off a long haul flight, use the route planner to check the mileage between destinations www.viamichelin.com Then review your itinerary to enable you to enjoy your visit.

www.visitbritain.com

U.S. expats
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3. Re: 16 days UK self drive itinerary - Pls opine!

You could re-do this trip using London as a base, or using several bases and taking the train most places.

You could fly in and take a cab or public transportation to London. Get over jet lag. The following places are all doable as day trips from London, by train

--Windsor

--Bath (and there are afternoon tours from Bath to Stonehenge, but I would consider spending the night)

--cambridge

--Stratford-upon-Avon

--Warwick

--York

From there, you could rent a car and then move North. I would consider an open jaw flight, so you depart for home from Edinburgh, instead of traveling back to London.

U.S. expats
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4. Re: 16 days UK self drive itinerary - Pls opine!

Here is a list of day trips from London by train....

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g186338-c174500/Londo…

Another thing you might want to consider--slow your trip down. Perhaps consider doing southern England this time around, and the North another time.

Edited: 30 August 2013, 05:23
Cardiff, United...
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5. Re: 16 days UK self drive itinerary - Pls opine!

Your schedule involves way too much driving and not enough seeing things.

Also you appear to be driving from London to Heathrow after you returned the rental car.

Why do you want to go to York? Because if on the first day you are driving from Edinburgh to York, stopping en route, and the next day you're driving from York to Cambridge, at which point are you actually getting to see much of York. Same would apply to Cambridge the next day.

London, United...
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6. Re: 16 days UK self drive itinerary - Pls opine!

If you are ok with the driving element it looks fine to me. Between Oxford and Cambridge I would choose Cambridge every time.

If you are planning on going to Bicester for the outlet shopping you need to get there early. It gets VERY busy very quickly and parking is very difficult.

I would choose Manchester over Liverpool.

For MPV if there are 5 people + luggage you need a full size MPV. Full size means something like a Ford Galaxy, VW Sharan, Seat Alhambra or Chrysler Grand Voyager which would be the best of the lot but difficult to get.

Don't be misled by the rental agent or anyone else telling you how a mid size MPV is going to be fine. the room is less than a full size MPV. Ones to avoid in this category are Ford S-Max, Vauxhall Zafira, VW Touran,and Renault Scenic. The Peugeot 5008 is also not that big for your needs. Also you will be much better off having extra space for things that you may wish to buy while you're here. However, it all depends on how many big suitcases and bags you will have. If they are small and you have soft bags you MAY get by with an estate car/stationwagon or possibly the mid-size MPV. But if you're here for a while then my guess is for 16 days you'll probably have a large suitcase each and possibly a small one for the youngest.

Depending on the specification of the vehicle you get it may already have 'limo' tinted windows (i.e. what is effectively black glass for the second and third row passengers and luggage area). Otherwise I'm afraid you'll have to do with the standard tinted glass. However, as long as you park somewhere secure and don't leave valuables on display you should generally be ok.

If you need help with planning a Lake District itinerary come over to the Lake District forum or pm me.

Finally, for the amount of driving you're doing try and get a diesel vehicle if you can - it'll work out more economical fuel-wise.

Edited: 30 August 2013, 08:06
London, United...
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7. Re: 16 days UK self drive itinerary - Pls opine!

I also think that you will enjoy your holiday a lot more if you choose 4 locations and stay 3 nights in each one and then do day trips out from each one. You will still see a lot of the UK doing it that way and you wont be constantly packing and repacking your cases and your car

And yes as others have said you could use trains as well if you prefer.

London will be one location and then for me it would be York ( or nearby Harrogate is nice too ) as another choice and then 2 more.

Good luck with your planning

London
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8. Re: 16 days UK self drive itinerary - Pls opine!

Too many locations to enjoy each properly in the time available IMO. Also do check you can get parking in locations like Bath and Edinburgh where a car is a bit of a liability.

I wouldn't schedule much time for Manchester or Liverpool tbh. I would add the time to either the Lake District,Scotland or Hadrian's Wall/Northumberland which is a wide area. You do not have enough time for this section.

London
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9. Re: 16 days UK self drive itinerary - Pls opine!

With all the rental firms, on their standard fleets you reserve by vehicle class - not specific vehicle type. Unless you make a specialist reservation, you are not guaranteed a model, you're guaranteed a type. The Hertz example for a 7 seater is Ford S-max and for Avis it is Peugeot 5008, so I wouldn't expect a larger vehicle than that if you reserve this vehicle type.

As others have said, I think your initial plan has too much time allocated to driving and not enough time set aside for seeing places.

Edited: 30 August 2013, 10:26
Singapore, Singapore
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10. Re: 16 days UK self drive itinerary - Pls opine!

Thanks all for your feedback. I think flying to Edinburgh, then drive to London via Manchester, Lake District, Stratford and Bath will probably be a better option. Then we'll do a day trip from London to Cambridge.

I understand some suggestions are to stay in London, and visit Stratford, Warwick, Windsor, Bath as day trips. But wouldn't this be a waste of time? Stratford and Warwick are near each other. Wouldn't there be a doubling back? Similarly for Windsor and Bath. I had thought that since they were in the same direction, it s more efficient to visit them one after another instead of moving in and out of London. Am I too idealistic? Or did I miss something? Google map shows that driving between these places are between 1 - 2 hours or max 3. So I had thought that after driving to each place, I still had time to visit places. Wouldn't doing day trips spend just about the same time traveling to and fro? Thanks for your advices.