It’s just over a month until we set off on our annual UK holiday and I can’t wait. It’s a tradition we started when Maddie was a puppy, deciding that she deserves a holiday each year too. Traditionally she would be a working gun dog and we know she’s happiest out in her natural environment. The first two years we went to Cornwall and last year we headed to the Cotswolds where we’re returning to again this year.
Heading off on a road trip always requires a little bit of planning, especially with a dog in tow. And not to mention the OCD husband (“have you locked the door?” “yes”. “Are the windows all shut?” “yes”) – we have such endless triple checking that I sometimes wonder if we’ll ever be able to set off. Better to be safe than sorry though and so we always have a checklist in place to make sure we’re road-ready and road-worthy.
Plan The Route And Stops
The Cotswolds aren’t too far from us, only a couple of hours in good traffic. When we headed down to Cornwall though, planning rest stops was vital especially with a puppy. We looked out for service stations with dog-walking areas and found the perfect country pub to break up the journey for lunch.
There are different apps available that help plan the route, and they’ll also identify points of interest en route as well as estimating fuel costs. Just like a boy scout, best to be prepared! It’s always good to have a GPS back up too. Our new one is built into the car but the old one oh my goodness. The amount of times it got us lost. Thankfully for Pete I love a bit of map reading and am pretty good at it too (modest much).
Whilst you can plan to a certain extent, it’s always good to be flexible in case of eventuality. We try to work around rush hours and leave extra time plus make sure we’re never in a rush to get somewhere. Fill the car with road trip treats and then it doesn’t matter if you get stuck. The second time we went to Cornwall it took us nearly ten hours to get back…note to self, don’t book a half marathon to run the day after you get back from holiday. That was not a fun experience.
Stick To The Budget
Pete is fastidious about maximising economics, especially with the new car. Ways to save money even on the road including stocking up on petrol before you go, it’s amazing how much the cost can vary across the country. Think about the weight too. We tend to need quite a bit of kit with dog paraphernalia and walking stuff but still try to ensure it’s only the essentials that come on the journey. Once you do need to fill up with petrol whilst away shop around to get the best price – motorway service stations tend to be pricier so it’s worth looking around so long as you don’t get caught short.
Make Sure The Car’s Ready
For all the years Pete and I have been together, we’ve relied on his workhorse VW Passat. He had the car before we got together and it did such a great job for years but eventually became so costly to run. MOT’s ended up costing more than the car was worth and trying to get it roadworthy for a big trip involved a lot of prep.
Last year we finally said goodbye and have been zooming around in our new Audi Q3 Quattro since. WHAT a difference it makes. That said, it still always needs to be road trip prepped, checking tyre pressure and so on. If you have been thinking about changing or upgrading it – now could be the best time. Companies like Fords of Winsford specialise in used cars and are a great place to start.
Just like Toad in Wind in the Willows, there’s nothing quite like hitting the open road and exploring this beautiful country. Hopefully a little bit of planning will always make holidays to remember.
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