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Leaving for the UK next week and not entirely ready...

Hi all! So after much planning and reading of the GB and London travel books, I leave for a 2 week escapade in England and Scotland next week. As I'm trying to tie up all the loose ends, I have a few quick questions. 1. We are renting a car in Bath to drive around the Cotswolds. I already contacted the Enterprise Office there and they told me I need to get an IDP. No problem. My question is however about insurance. Can I purchase car insurance there, or do we have to do something with our insurance over here. I've never rented a car before, so I am a little iffy on that. 2. What is the best way to get to Inverness from Liverpool? We are planning on taking the train, but the prices are a little steep205 pounds for two people. Any better ways of transport?
3. I'm still a little unsure on this, but the best place to buy an 7-day travelcard is when we arrive at Kings Cross from Edinburgh, correct? Seeing as I've been planning this trip for about 4 months all by myself, I'm a little stressed. But the reward will be worth it! Thanks, Annaliese

Posted by
970 posts

Hey, first, don't worry. You'll have a great trip. You are asking questions that only affect things at the margin. Car insurance: Call the company that insures you currently and ask what kind of coverage you have for a rental in the UK. You may be surprised. Pay attention to the difference between collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, and liability coverage. You don't "need" insurance in the UK anymore than in the States, but stuff happens. Rental car companies sell something called "Collision Damage Waiver" (CDW) which absolves you of paying for nicks, scratches, or anything else that happens to the body of the car. Pay attention to liability coverage. A car might take $30,000 to replace, but the guy you run over can sue you for millions. Best way LIverpool to Inverness: Depends on what "best" means. Bus is probably the cheapest, but also probably the slowest (traffic, stops, etc.,) Trains are faster, and buying tickets online can save money, even if you buy a few days in advance. Driving is probably the most expensive, especially if you need to rent a car. Google "National Express" and "Megabus" to see about bus fares. At usual, it will be a trade off between time and convenience. Travel Card: You can buy a Travel Card, or an Oyster Card, at the first Tube station you hit that has a human being working behind the window, which is most of them. There are not special Tub stations that sell them.

Posted by
1238 posts

Consider renting a car for the time you are not in London. We have driven a car the last two times we have been to UK. Other than driving on the left side it is no worse and in the countryside less crowded than driving in Seattle. Don't spend too much time in Cotswolds...sure it is pretty...but there are many more interesting and dramatic ...plus cheaper places as you go to the Midlands and North. Driving allows you to stay on farms and visit out of the way castles, etc.

Posted by
5668 posts

The train probably is the best way to get from Liverpool to Inverness. It's a long trip, I would not want to do the bus for that long a journey. Plane would make no sense whatsoever. You could keep your car, but I don't think it would save you any money and it's quite a long drive. If you wanted to split the journey and stop maybe in the Borders then it might make sense to keep the car. Use via Michelin on the web to check routes and times. Add about 25% to the time as you'll be touring which takes longer. Pam

Posted by
1986 posts

I would agree with Pamela, the journey from liverpool to Inverness is a long drive if you are on your own. Unless you plan to take three or four days and stop wherever you fancy along the way. I would suggest train and use the time you save to tour around the highlands

Posted by
1238 posts

If you rent a car from here you might be able to get a better deal...we did. The distances in the UK are not that great and you can really make time on the Ms. We did England, Scotland and Wales in 3 weeks and saw tons of stuff and didn't feel rushed. If you can drive I-5 and 405 in Seattle Metro you can drive in UK. Plus there are hardly any trains left in Scotland...just the main lines. The rental cars are small so you can fit down the narrow country lanes. The small extra expense of having a car is worth it for the flexibility it provides.

Posted by
571 posts

Annaliese,
An IDP is essentially a multi-language translation of the major fields on your regular U.S. (presumably Washington state) issued license. Why did Enterprise tell you that you need one? The last time I checked the spoke English in England and (some form of) English in Scotland, too. Do you carry a driver's license in another language?

Posted by
241 posts

Definitely train from Inverness to Liverpool EXCEPT checkout internal cheap flights - both are small airports so this an unlikely option, but have a look anyway.

Posted by
4 posts

We just got back from a 2 week vacation in Britain, so here is my take. 1. We rented from Alamo, and ended up buying a zero-deductible option along with a 2nd driver option. Wasn't the cheapest, but didn't have to worry about having any big expenses if we had an accident. We got IDP at AAA, but they were never asked forjust our regular state-issued license. 2. Try to be flexible on your time when taking the train. We found late morning or after lunch train times to be much cheaper that leaving during the morning rush. We took the train from Glasglow to York on a Sunday, leaving at 1:30 PM and the cost for 3 adults was GBP 81.00. I just checked the National Rail website and there was one train leaving at 1:27 PM for £115.00 for 2 adultsall the other times were £205. Relax and have a good time. We thoroughly enjoyed our vacation and good forward to going back some day.

Posted by
2023 posts

Is IDP an international driving permit? We have never needed one except for Italy. You will get a better deal renting the car before getting to the UK. We always take the full coverage for insurance-a fender bender in Germany was much easier and cheaper with the coverage. Last fall we got train tics through Virgin Rail and the cost was about $30 pp from Edinbourgh to London so you may want to check on that.

Posted by
27 posts

Sorry it has taken so long for me to reply, between finishing up planning, starting to pack, and it being finals week, I've had a lot going on! Thanks to everyone who has replied to my question! After checking out planes, trains and automobiles, I think our best bet/cheapest option is renting a car. The train is upwards of 205 pounds even with flexible times, and even with the car, insurance, and gas the car will still be cheaper than that. As for an IDP (International Drivers Permit), I'm not sure why we need one, just that Enterprise told us we needed to have one. I'm not going to be the one driving (I'm only 19), and even though my aunt has a WA state license they told us we had to have one. Better safe than sorry I guess. Once again, thanks for all the replies and suggestions! 7 days and counting! Thanks, Annaliese

Posted by
970 posts

Annaliese, the outfit I'm renting a car from in the UK says I need an IDP, too. So, I'll get one. I've lived and driven a lot in the UK and never had one before, so I suspect this is just a bit of rental car company hicanery. In any case, it's easy enough to get one of the things, but I bet no one ever asks me to produce it.

Posted by
231 posts

If you're planning on using the 7 day Travel Card to take advantage of the 2 for 1 deals, then you do need to buy it at King's Cross or another rail station. The card has to be the paper one with the "crows foot" National Rail symbol on it. If you're not using the 2 for 1 deals, then you can buy the card at any Tube station or have it added to an Oyster card. Interesting about the IDP card. We are renting from Enterprise in Bath also and my husband specifically asked about the card due to your post. He was told we didn't need one, but we're in our 50s, so perhaps they thought you might be driving and recommended one because of your youth. :-) As you say, better safe than sorry. Have a wonderful time. I first visited England when I was 20 and still have many, many wonderful memories of that trip.

Posted by
31435 posts

Annaliese, Regarding your questions..... > I've heard comments before about needing an I.D.P. in the UK, however that absolutely defies logic. The primary purpose of an I.D.P. is to provide a translation of the terms of your license in several languages, for the benefit of law enforcement in non English-speaking countries. Note that I.D.P.'s must be accompanied by your home D.L. > I highly doubt that U.S. based insurance companies would insure rental vehicles in other countries (except for that provided by some credit cards). I'd suggest taking the CDW offered by the rental firm so that you'll be well covered. It's a bit expensive, but that's what I usually do. > For travel from Liverpool to Inverness, I'd suggest using the train, despite the cost of £103 PP (I checked briefly but wasn't able to find any lower fares). The driving distance is considerable! I've found that it always takes longer than planned when driving in the U.K. I checked National Express (Bus) and the cheapest fares were £59.70 PP. However, the fastest trip was 11H:30M. If you want to enjoy the scenery and relax and have the time, that might be an option. As you've never rented a car before, your first experience with this will be driving on the "correct" side of the road. You may want to check the net regarding the protocols for roundabouts, etc. It's good that you're renting in Bath, as the roads there are a bit "quieter" so you'll have a an easier time. A GPS or at least a good Map would be a really good idea! When using a GPS, don't trust them implicitly as they DO make mistakes. Happy travels!

Posted by
9110 posts

Darren, what card covered it in Italy????

Posted by
709 posts

Hi Annaliese,
I too am skeptical about the IDP, for the same reasons listed above. But if it makes you feel, better, they're only about $15. regarding insurance, my credit card covers me and my rentals, so that's what I use. You can get the CDW, but they're pricey. Might be worth it if you're concerned though. I just got back from Italy and someone jacked up the side of my car there, and my card covered that damage. It's your call.

Posted by
27 posts

Hello all! I just returned from holiday in the UK, and you all were rightI had a fantastic time! Just wanted to let you know about a few things we encountered while over there. First off, the two companies that we rented cars from, Hertz and Enterprise, checked our IDP. At Enterprise, we had to give them that, proof of residence, and our hotel information, and also our passport numbers. Hertz was more lenient and only looked at our IDP as well as our state drivers license. Maybe it was due to our age, but the only person who drove the car was 35, so not entirely sure. We purchased car insurance through the rental car companies, so that was not a big deal. We paid the extra 10 pounds a day for extensive insurancebetter safe than sorry, especially driving on the "wrong side". We ended up driving from Liverpool to Inverness, and it made for a long day, but I was glad that we did. We were able to stop off at Hadrian's Wall and drive through the lochs and enjoy the scenery of Glencoe and Fort Williammost trains don't take that route. Driving took longer than anticipated with the stops and all, but I would recommend it. Gas was expensive, but overall it was cheaper and more fun than taking the train. In London, we ended up just getting the pay-as-you-go Oyster card and found that to be the most reasonable and easiest thing to do. Thanks again for all the help and suggestions. I'm already planning my next trip to the UK! Christmas sounds like a nice time to go... Thanks again, Annaliese

Posted by
5668 posts

Curious, how long did it take you to drive from Liverpool to Inverness? Via Michelin says it takes 6 and a half hours, which sound to short to me. In my experience, it's a good 3 hours from Edinburgh to Inverness. Did you stick with the M6? Was Hadrian's Wall your only major stop? I'm always interested to compare reality with sites such as via michelin. Pam

Posted by
27 posts

Pam, We left Liverpool around 9:30 am (late start due to the Hertz people at the Liverpool airport; supposed to open at 8 but weren't open when we got there at 8:45) and arrived in Inverness at 9:45 pm. We mainly stuck to the M6, but instead of going North through Perth, we took the scenic route, opting to take A82 out of Glasgow, up through Glencoe and Fort William through the lochs. We went this way because our train ride to Edinburgh would go through the east side of the Highlands, and we wanted to see more of the scenery in and around the lochs. In reality it was only slightly longer in distance, but the twisty roads around the loch slowed us down. The 12 hours also included a 3 hour side trip to Hadrian's wall. This included the time at the wall in addition to the time it took to get to and from the M6. We also got lost for an hour in Glasgow, which didn't make the drive any shorter. So in reality, one could make the drive in about 7 or 8 hours, depending on the route taken and stops along the way. But I found it to be more fun going the long way, getting lost, and seeing more of Scotland and the Highlands than I had anticipated! Annaliese