Bridge in the park of Wilton House

Plan your own road trip & Example from Southern UK

Do you love touring on land but never dare to book your own independent route? Do you love cruising and want to stay longer before your cruise, but the cruise line offers either boring options in one place or too expensive high-end itineraries? Do it like me: be your own itinerary planner – it is not as hard as you might think! And best of all, you will enjoy much more of the wonderful anticipation of your trip because you will be involved in the planning. Furthermore, every detail will suit your needs. Sounds great? Read more here:

Round trip planner: how to start

Unless you want to get dragged down in endless research – there is so much to see in this world – you should start by deciding on the basics. If you’re thinking of planning a trip, you should decide on the following:

  • When you want to go, time of the year, month etc.
  • Is this date flexible or fixed, e.g. your cruise starts later? Or you want to be flexible, because there is an event taking place you will not miss during your journey? Etc.
  • Decide on the length of your trip, this will determine how far you can travel around.
  • What is your budget?

These points will give you a general idea and range about your journey.

Restaurants in Canterbury UK
Restaurants in Canterbury UK
Canterbury Cathedral Interior
Canterbury Cathedral Interior

Second task: identify the most important landmarks and activities

You should then do some research into the places you want to visit and/or activities you want to do. When I was planning our road trip around southern England, I had these things in mind:

  • I want to see historic old castles; and find the “best of the best”
  • I want to visit Canterbury Cathedral and stay in the village of Canterbury
  • I want to visit Stonehenge
  • I would not want to miss any other important historic landmark
  • The trip should include visits to historic old villages
  • There should be some castle hotels.
  • The end of the trip must be in Southampton, where our cruise starts

You may have very different ideas, such as I want to walk on the cliffs near the lake, go cycling in the countryside or go to a festival. It doesn’t matter, just find out what your main themes are first. And decide whether they need a fixed date and/or time for you to be there. To get a better overview, mark all fixed places on a map.

Afterwards you will want to do some general research regarding the topics you are interested in too. Then find out what other interesting places or activities are nearby. Search for “10 best things to do in x…” to find the main attractions if you like. Or see what people recommend on apps like Tripadvisor.

I googled “old historic castles in the south of England” and the results were endless. So I looked at the pictures and quickly realised that I had to go to Bodiam Castle because it has a moat around it. And that was something I had never seen before. Therefore, I marked it on my map.

You will probably find there are too many places to visit. This was one of my biggest problems when planning our road trip to the south of England. So many places to go and so many beautiful historic buildings, villages and landmarks. But you have to choose. But don’t dismiss all the ideas just yet, take the next step.

Bodiam castle UK
Bodiam castle UK

Assemble the puzzle to a roadtrip

Once you have identified the places you want to visit, you can choose your route. Use Google Maps to check how long it takes to get from A to B to plan a daily route. But remember:

  • You will need breaks for coffee, lunch, etc.
  • You want to have enough time to visit a historic site (most activities recommend how long it takes to visit).
  • You may want to change your plans depending on the weather.
  • You may want to change plans if you find something by chance; e.g. a really nice village etc.

Therefore, I would only plan to drive for approx. 3 hours a day in order to have enough time to explore. Most importantly, make sure you know how long it will take. Might there be any traffic jams in the cities? And if you are planning a trip of 10 days or more: do you want to stay two days in one place? It makes it much less stressful and allows you to explore a bit more… What I have found out: after visiting one attraction after another and doing a lot of things, you might want to relax for a day and just enjoy the scenery.

Pictures below: Stonehenge is really impressive, as well as Salisbury Cathedral.

Salisbury Cathedral
Salisbury Cathedral

Find hotels along your journey

Once you have decided on your route, you may want to start looking for hotels along the way. I know some people are brave enough to find hotels just when being on the road. But be aware that this would take a lot of time, depending on the season you are travelling. And most of the time during high season it is not recommended unless you are really flexible.

So I book my hotels in advance, but often have more than one option for sightseeing at one day. For example, if the weather is good, we go for a walk, if not, we visit a museum.

When you are looking for hotels, check first if you would like to stay in the city itself. We did this in Canterbury. The advantage was that we could walk out in the evening and enjoy the city centre. Pro tip: It is often possible to book a hotel on the outskirts of a city and get there by train, bus or taxi. This can sometimes be cheaper. Always check parking facilities if you are travelling by car. It is much easier if you arrive and already know.

My secret tip: check out hotels not only in cities, but also in the countryside. For example, there are so many beautiful places in the countryside of southern England, and you could even live in a castle for a day! How I found them:

  • Small luxury hotels of the world does have many locations in England:
  • Relais and chateau:
    Most of their restaurants have some Michelin stars, therefore the meals are more expensive but more exquisite. Check first, if they do have a more informal restaurant too, if you do not like your meals too special, or otherwise there is always the option to go out, if you are near a city or village.

Search for hotels on booking platforms, but book at the hotel itself might most of the time be the best options. I do only book at one platform, and that is – because one gets extras such as free breakfast or room upgrades there…

Bovey castle dartmoor
Bovey castle dartmoor
Bovey castle hotel, livingroom, Dartmoor UK
Bovey castle hotel, livingroom, Dartmoor UK

Complete your journey

Once you have all the hotels you need, you can finalise and book your itinerary. Do not forget to rent a car, if you want to travel around by car. I suggest you check prices on different platforms, it is really worth it!

What I do next: I make a plan for each day / each region we visit and write down all the things I want to do / see. This may be more than we would actually do, but options for good and bad weather, you never know. Besides, you might not know what mood you are in, right?

PS: And do not forget to include exact address and opening times in your list, that is helpful.

When you start your journey: be open-minded. It is not forbidden to do something else. Opportunities sometimes arise and might be wonderful. Therefore, enjoy your trip!

Park of Wilton House
Park of Wilton House
Bridge in the park of Wilton House
Bridge in the park of Wilton House

Example of our trip to Southern England

That was the road trip we did; find hotel and sightseeing links below.

Day 1London – Canterbury
Fly to London and drive to Canterbury. Go sightseeing in the village of Canterbury, stay in  Canterbury for the night.
Day 2Canterbury – Rye – Hook
Visit Canterbury Cathedral, Rye and the Bell Tower of St. Marys Church, Go to Bodiam Castle and drive to Hook for the night.
Day 3Hook – Stonehenge – Salisbury – Bath
Visit Stonehenge, the Salisbury Cathedral and Wilton House, stay overnight in Bath.
Day 4Bath
Stay in Bath, make a walk through the old city and along the river Avon, visit the old roman baths.
Day 5Bath – Bovey
Drive along the coast and visit the small fishermans village of Clovelly, afterwards drive to Dartmoor, enjoy the countryside and stay for a night in Bovey Castle.
Day 6Bovey
Enjoy the surroundings, go for a walk or just enjoy your time. We mada a short trip to the Eden Project Botanical Gardens in Bodelva. Stay another night in Bovey Castle.
Day 7Bovey – Southampton
Visit Corfe & Corfe castle along the way, do some sightseeing in Southampton and stay for the night.
Day 8Southampton – Portsmouth – Southampton
Drive to Portmouth for a wonderful “maritime day”: Visit the Maritime Museum, HMS Victory and the U-Boat Museum. Drive back to Southampton – and start a cruise!

Hotels South England road trip:

Sightseeing South England road trip:

Do you have additional tipps or need further information? Let me know in the comments below.

Best regards


Tylney Hall Hotel, Hook
Tylney Hall Hotel, Hook
City of Bath with River Avon UK
City of Bath with River Avon UK
Clovelly, UK
Clovelly, UK

Read more

Or find out more about me: about Yve

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *