Friday Five- Ultimate Road Trips

Multi-ethnic hippie hitchhikers with guitar and luggage on a road

So anyways, I learnt a few things this week. For example- did you know that bananas and humans share 60% of the same DNA. It must be true- it was in my OMG Fact of the Day calendar. In any case, it certainly explains quite a bit.

The really big thing I learnt was that there’s a little arrow beside the petrol gauge on your car’s dashboard that points to the direction of the tank opening. This means that no matter how unfamiliar the car is, you’ll know what side of the car it gets filled up on. You’re welcome.

What? You already knew this one?

I was amazed and astounded when my BMF told me the other day. He’d been amazed and astounded when his daughter told him. I was expecting the same amazement and astonishment when I told my daughter…but was disappointed by her response.

‘Yeah, I know.’

‘How do you know?’

‘Dad told me.’

‘How does he know?’

‘Someone must have told him.’

Whatever.

What else?

I’m in the process of detailed planning for the Ultimate Road Trip.

We’re off to Britain at the end of the year, and will be travelling around for about 5 weeks. This trip is something that we’ve been saying we’ll do when Miss 17 finishes school since…well, since she started school!

It will have been 20 years since hubby and I were last there. Back then we did a lot of it the way I prefer to travel (and write)- by the seat of our pants. This time I have to find accommodation for 3 it’s tougher- and more expensive. I’ve mapped out routes to take care of family commitments (in Gloucestershire, York, and Scotland) but other than that (and a week to finish in London), we’re avoiding (as far as possible) major centres and M roads. I’ll tell you more about our plans as the weeks progress, but for now, I’ve learnt the following about booking stays in Britain…coincidentally, there are five…I suspect there will be more…

Electricity included.

When I first saw this advertised on an accommodation site, I did the WTF thing. Really? Then I read a Trip Advisor review for the same place complaining about being stung for excess metre charges on departure.

Given that we’re talking about Scotland in November, adequate heating is a deal breaker, so I’m double and triple checking that electricity is included. And continuous hot water. Yes, really- some places make a point of advertising this too.

Security Deposits

I’m used to lodging a credit card imprint at check in with hotels here in Australia- and, indeed, when travelling through New Zealand and Asia. I’ve never been asked for a cash security deposit.

In three properties I looked at booking during the week- one around Oxford, and two down in Cornwall- for a stay totalling £250 I was required to pay £100 up-front as a deposit (cool with that), the remainder a month before we travelled (ok with that), and an additional £200 at that time as a security deposit (not cool). This would be refunded to Aussie bank account 7-10 days after our stay. Naturally, we would be responsible for the foreign exchange fees.

At current exchange rates, that would tie up almost $500 for a fair proportion of our holiday. It goes without saying that I found alternative accommodation- places happy to take a credit card imprint.

Self-Catering

This trip is being planned around regional stays- with day trips from each mini base.

Aside from the ability to explore a region in a little more depth, the main advantage of this approach is cost. B&Bs for three works out to be quite costly. Also, the extra space and bedrooms in self-catering cottages maximises the chances of us getting to the next destination still talking to each other.

Self-catering also means that we have laundry facilities- a luxury that can’t be underestimated when the alternative is wasting valuable holiday hours in a laundromat.

I’ve booked a few lovely B&Bs on some of the longer trips eg we’re breaking the York to Inverness leg with an overnight in Melrose. Besides, we didn’t want to miss the joy of a full English breakfast- B&B style.

Trip Advisor

I was looking at a cute farmstay cottage in the Cotswolds the other day. It sounded gorgeous- there was a farm shop on the estate, and wood burning stoves. The blurb on the website read beautifully. I had images in my head of chooks and sheep at the back door. Until I read the trip advisor reviews.

Buried in amongst some great reviews was a comment about how the farm shop was a 20 minute walk across a muddy field, and that you parked the car at the bottom of a hill and walked up. With suitcases. I don’t think so.

And you had to turn the hot water on or light the wood burner long before you needed a shower. I don’t think so.

Then there was the cottage that looked like it had sprung from the pages of a travel guide. Again, good reviews…except for the comment about the traffic noise coming from the A road…that ran out the front.

It pays to read the fine-print.

Sawdays

Special places to stay. I’ve found most of our accommodation through this website. I’m sure we could have got some accommodation cheaper, but I’m a sucker for great places in one central location- virtually speaking. Speaking of websites- so many small accommodation suppliers need to update their websites and social media. There are a few exceptions who do it well- bringing the property and local area to life through blogs, snippets, and quality photographs. If any of you are reading- I’m available for hire.

Are you into the road trip thing? Are you a pantser or a planner? What are your best tips?

Comments

2 comments on “Friday Five- Ultimate Road Trips”
  1. Deborah says:

    I’ve done very little travel other than short visits to neighbouring countries when I worked in international development. My only trip to Europe, was to Portugal for 6-7wks to do a Portuguese language course before going to Mozambique.

    I really only want to go to Italy but also love the idea of visiting some quaint little UK villages (like those you see on TV). I’m not a great sightseer so would just need to stay somewhere for a while and soak up the local atmosphere.

    This post has made me a tad wistful.

    And I didn’t know ANY of this stuff!

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