The Essentials for Road Trips in the UK

If you’re planning a road trip in the UK, here are some of the essentials you need to pack for your trip

The Honister Pass through the English Lake District with an old slate mine at the summit of the Pass

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I absolutely love road trips, whether I’m driving across Europe or just heading North for a trip to the West coast of Scotland.

And even though travel is starting to get back to normal now, you may well be planning a UK road trip for your next holiday. Whether you’re exploring Cornwall by car, driving to Portmeirion in Wales for the weekend, or heading to Dundee for a city break, you’re spoiled for choice in the UK.

Taking time to make sure you’re well prepared before you leave is the best way to make sure that your road trip around the UK is as fun and as safe as possible. So before you leave for your next road trip, take a look at our list of essentials for road trips:

Driver’s licence and insurance details

First things first, you need to check that all of your paperwork is in order before you head off on your road trip.

Make sure that you take your driver’s licence along, and that you have your insurance policy details together with the phone number you will need to call in the event of an accident. And if someone else will be sharing the driving duties, make sure that they are covered to drive your car as well.

If you’re renting a car for your trip, don’t forget to take along the rental documents with you together with the details of their insurance and roadside cover.

Road side assistance policy

Talking of roadside assistance, this isn’t strictly speaking a necessity but it can certainly give you peace of mind. Check your roadside assistance paperwork before you leave to make sure that you and any other drivers are covered for your trip. If you don’t already have membership then it’s cheaper to sign up before you need to call on them!

If you’re renting a car, check if your rental agreement includes roadside assistance and ask about adding it if necessary.

Sat Nav

I’ve used paper maps to navigate on road trips across Europe before. It can be fun, but I have to say that sat nav makes a road trip much easier and more relaxing!

So before you leave on your UK road trip, it’s a good idea to check your sat nav options.

If you don’t have one, this TomTom sat nav comes with lifetime map updates and is compatible with Siri and Google Now.

Click here to see this item on Amazon

Alternatively, you could use the GPS on your phone, although it’s a good idea to download the map to your phone in case of spotty signal. And if you’re using your phone, remember that the law has changed on using your mobile phone for sat nav while your car is moving.

You may want to buy a holder so it can sit on your dashboard where you can see it clearly.

This one has a sturdy sticky pad to fix it to your dashboard and 360 degree adjustment for the best viewing angle. And it is compatible for many of the most popular phones – be sure to check that the one you buy will fit your phone!

Click here to see this item on Amazon

Safety Equipment

Better safe than sorry, so remember to check your safety equipment before you leave. Check that your tyre jack is in place (do you know where to find it?) and that you know how to use it.

It’s also worth having a reflective safety triangle in your boot together with a high vis jacket or vest. They aren’t a legal requirement in the UK, but they’re worth having on hand in the event of a breakdown or accident.

This kit includes both of those items together with jump starters, towing ropes and other useful safety equipment.

Click here to see this item on Amazon

And a couple of bin liners or a plastic sheet will also be useful if you do have to do something like changing a tyre.

Click here for some important checks to make before a winter road trip

Car Charger, charging cable and portable battery pack

Running out of battery on your phone is always annoying. But if you’re using it for navigation, it can be worse than annoying!

So make sure you have a 12v charging plug in your car, together with a charging cable for your phone. And a portable battery pack is always good to have on hand for extra power – just remember to charge it before you set off.

Camera

These days, everyone has a camera with them all the time on their phone. But it’s still worth taking your camera along with you as well, for those shots that need something with a little more oomph.

I like to take my telephoto lens with me on road trips, so that I can capture shots in the distance as well.

Waterproof jacket and walking boots or shoes

The weather in the UK is notoriously changeable. So even if the weather forecast looks good for your roadtrip, it’s best to make sure that you have a waterproof jacket and some sturdy shoes packed.

With all of the gorgeous places to explore on foot, it would be a shame to miss out if the opportunity for a walk presents itself. And if the worst happens and your car breaks down, you’ll be glad that you have some proper shoes to walk in!

And while you’re packing your rainy day gear, it’s worth throwing an umbrella in the boot as well!

Hand sanitiser and masks

This is a new addition to my list of essentials for road trips. Until recently I would never have thought to pack these items, but in the Covid-19 era we all need to make sure that we have hand sanitiser and disposable face masks as well.

Don’t forget to pack a supply of bags so that you can safely store re-usable masks until you can wash them, or to dispose of your paper masks properly.

First Aid Kit

Make sure that you have a basic first aid kit with you to cover any minor accidents that might happen.

I always have a very simple kit in my bag with me, which just has some paracetamol, ibuprofen and few plasters in it. In summer I add some anti-histamines to ease my hayfever symptoms.

And then I keep a more comprehensive kit in the car, like this one on Amazon. It includes things like eye wash, icepacks and bandages as well as plasters and gloves.

Click here to see this item on Amazon

But whichever kit you use, and wherever you keep it, it’s important to make sure that you replace any items that are used up or go past their expiry date.

Blankets

I always make sure I have a couple of fleecy blankets in the back of the car, especially on winter journeys. If you break down or get stuck in a tailback on the motorway, they will make you feel much more comfortable.

If space is at a premium, you could always pack a couple of these foil space blankets to keep you warm instead. They might not be as cosy as a fleece blanket but if you break down on the motorway, they’ll keep you warm and dry while you’re waiting at the roadside.

Reusable water bottle and reusable cup

There’s not much worse than getting stuck in traffic on the motorway without a drink. So I always make sure that I’ve got a drink with me when I’m driving long distance. But I don’t drink it too quickly, because there’s nothing worse than being stuck on the motorway and needing the loo!

I always make sure I’ve got a refillable water bottle with me, and a reusable cup so I can get a coffee on the motorway services. I really like this Contigo travel cup which has a very secure leakproof seal.

Click here to see this item on Amazon

And don’t forget to take a reusable bag with you as well in case you need to stock up on snacks.

Loyalty Cards for Petrol and Coffee

If you’re planning to stop off at motorway services, don’t forget to take your loyalty cards with you. It may not save you a huge amount, but you can save points towards free drinks, discounts and more.

Tunes, Snacks and Mints

You can’t go on a road-trip without plenty of good tunes, and some snacks to keep you going while you’re on the road. And I always make sure I’ve got a bag of mints close at hand on a road-trip.

Load up your phone with some great road trip playlists and albums, or go old-school and pop a few CDs in the glove box. And then you’re ready to hit the road!

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