Although the global pandemic brought the travel plans of many to a grinding halt earlier this year, the gradual easing of lockdown means that visiting new places is increasingly possible after months indoors. And since many of us will be understandably cagey boarding a flight at the minute, local travel, "staycations" and micro-holidays have become a welcome replacement for more far-flung destinations.
Road trips, in particular, make for a feasible post-lockdown escape now that restrictions have lessened and a degree of normality has returned. Whether you're with your family or friends, hitting the open road and taking in some of the most incredible reaches of the country is definitely a worthy substitute to an overseas getaway.
To help your first post-lockdown road trip go as smoothly as possible, we've put together some top tips and advice with regards to packing and planning, as well as keeping your car hygienic while you're on the road. You'll also find a selection of driving routes to help inspire you if your wanderlust has dwindled in the past few months.
Planning for a road trip
When you've decided on the destination, map out the route to give yourself a rough idea of the driving time and any places you might want to see along the way. The British summer is unpredictable at the best of times too, so be sure to check the forecast and prepare accordingly.
Similarly, if you're planning on spending more than one day on the road, plan for any overnight stop and make reservations. Additionally, it's a good idea to contact your hotel or Airbnb ahead of time to see what their safety precautions are with regard to the pandemic.
As for your car, it's important to get your car serviced before taking to the open road. The last thing you want to happen is hit a snag early on because of a faulty battery or problems with your tyre pressure. Take it for a service and have a professional check your car's fuel, engine oil, coolant, air conditioning and brakes. And, if you haven’t already, we’d strongly recommend getting breakdown cover so you aren’t left stranded at the roadside during your trip.
Invest in a multi-outlet adapter, too, so that your car has enough outlets to ensure everyone's devices are charged. Depending on how long the journey is, you'll want to make sure your passengers are kept busy with phones, tablets and music devices along the way.
Packing for a road trip
As always, an emergency kit that includes a first-aid kit, water, a roadside safety kit, some warm blankets and a flashlight is essential, while cleaning items like antibacterial wipes, paper towels, and bin bags, ensure your car stays spick and span on the move.
If you're staying somewhere overnight, then be sure to pack a separate overnight bag with essentials such as toiletries, nightwear and a change of clothes.
As for food and drink, you want to pack enough so that you aren't having to stop off at every service station you pass, as they can be expensive. Stock up on enough water for each person, and bring snacks such as fruits, nuts and sandwiches that won't create too much mess.
Depending on where your journey is, you may need to pass through toll booths, so be sure to carry enough change with you at all times too.
Keeping your car hygienic
Make sure you disinfect your car, especially the most commonly touched surfaces like door handles and window handles, before starting your journey, and bring antibacterial wipes and hand sanitiser with you too. Likewise, any display screens, plug outlets and radio buttons should be disinfected since these are going to have their fair share of touching during your trip too.
With new measures coming into place as of 24 July, make sure that you and all of your passengers have face masks with them, otherwise, you may not be able to enter shops, museums and other places of business. Hands should be washed thoroughly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser before and after you leave your car, and take care not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth frequently, especially if you've been around crowds.
Creating a road trip playlist
Now for the fun part: making a playlist of top-notch tunes to soundtrack your road trip with. For the most part, since you're doing the legwork, you get to call the shots. And providing you don't go for ear-bleeding thrash metal or any other passenger-displeasing choices, you pretty much have free rein providing you know your audience.
Go for songs that you not only love, but those your friends and family can enjoy too. If you know their musical tastes, then build your playlist around what you know they like with a few personal highlights sprinkled in too. Either way, you'll want music to match the mood, and since this is your first road trip in some time, then you and your passengers are bound to be in high spirits.
And if all else fails, then Spotify has a plethora of road trip playlists that are sure to get your motor running.
Our pick of the best post-lockdown driving routes
You may already have an idea of where you want to venture, but if you're looking for some inspiration, here's a selection of the UK's best driving routes for you to traverse post-lockdown.
The Lake District: With hills, lakes and plenty of greenery to admire, take a peaceful drive from Kendal to the Lake District National Park, featuring Lake Windermere, the largest of its kind in England.
Snowdonia: There's no shortage of great scenery here! Immortalised in many an automotive magazine photoshoot, petrolheads should make a beeline to the roads around Bala for this very reason alone.
The Scottish Highlands: Famed for its rolling hills and mountainous landscapes, get away from it all with a trip to some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.
Devon to Newquay: Along the A39, there's a stretch of road between Barnstaple in Devon and Newquay in Cornwall that lets you take in some superb views of the Atlantic while passing through the towns of Bude, Camelford and Waterbridge. Newquay makes a great destination for families too, thanks to its reputation as the nation's favourite seaside town.
Cheltenham to Stratford-Upon-Avon: Rather than being a major roadway, this serene stretch of road provides a tranquil path that transports you through the sleepy tranquillity of the Cotswolds, with plenty of pasture and woodland to see along the way.
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