we are a family of 5. Me, wife and kids, 16, 18, and 21. Would like to see a lot of England before my 18 year old starts a study abroad in York. Not sure if renting a car might be best or using trains or bus. Thanks
Why not a little of both? You did not mention if you/family have been to England/London before. If not, you probably want 3-4 days in London. Wonderful city. U can walk or take the tube anywhere. I don't encourage driving in big European cities. We prefer to take a train out to a smaller city, like Cambridge, get a rental to tour around the countryside, return the car, and train back to London/Heathrow. The soul of a country is often found in the smaller pubs/bistro's/B&B's, etc. A rental car w/ GPS offers that flexibility.
The answer will depend to some extent on where you want to go in England, how much time you'll have, your budget, etc. If you're only going to be visiting larger cities, then trains or Coaches (National Express) will be the easiest option. OTOH, if you want to visit more rural areas such as the Cotswolds or parts of North Yorkshire, then a car will be an asset. Could you provide some idea on areas you're planning to visit? Also, WHEN will this trip be taking place?
If you haven't driven on the "correct side of the road" before, I'd suggest reviewing previous posts here on the subject of driving in the U.K. I've driven there numerous times and have always been able to manage fine, but some people have problems with it. Some of the driving rules are different (ie: NO turns on red lights), so "doing your homework" would be prudent. If you rent a standard transmission vehicle, you'll be shifting with your left hand. I'd also suggest a GPS unit along with a good Map. Even on the motorways, I've found that driving seems to take longer than planned, so be sure to allow adequate time.
Some of both depending on where you want to go. If you are only doing big cities, a car is a burden and trains are fine, but to see places like the Cotswalds or the Lake District you really need a car to get around. Doing homework is important and one of the more enjoyable parts of any trip. Cars sound expensive but when you are buying five bus tour or train tickets at a shot, a car starts to look quite economical. If you check out Rick's book the train system is excellent but very expensive and at 5 people you have crossed the cost line.
If you do end up using a car, you want to take your own GPS that you know how to use with a European map card in it. Pre-load it with as many destinations as you can so you hit the ground running. The problem with GPS systems in rental cars is that they are built into entertainment/information systems and you are going to need to sit there with a manual that may or may not in the car and learn how to use it. Two weeks may sound like a long time but it is not and time is precious so you don't want to fritter it away doing things like that. Also, before you go, go on line and buy some good paper maps to back up/supplement the GPS so you can know where you are in the grans scale of thongs.