It is all good and well to talk about being settled into your new London home and braving the winter to get out there and experience everything that the city and the surrounding countryside has to offer, but if you do not have a good understanding of the roads system then you might find yourself going around in circles; literally.
Although central London is congested at the best of times, getting in and out by road is easy with the huge network of well-planned motorways that travel the length and breadth of Great Britain. There is so much to explore across the country so hiring a car for the day and getting out of the city is a brilliant idea.
Main roads in England are categorised with a letter and then up to four numbers after it. ‘M’ stands for motorway, ‘A’ for major road and ‘B’ for minor road. Greater London is encircled by the M25 intersected by the other roads, which spread out from the city centre across the country. Nearly all journeys out of London will mean that you travel for part of your way on the M25 and distances are usually given from this point onwards. It might be useful to remember that it can take over an hour to get from central London to this point, so factor that into your journey times.
If you’re travelling to the coast to catch a ferry to France, then Dover is about 60 miles from M25 if you take the A20. Folkstone is reached on the M20 with an easy drive of just over an hour. If you’re travelling north then use the M20 to get to Leeds and the M40 to get to Birmingham.
Many fascinating places to visit are close. The M11 takes you to the university town of Cambridge and the M40 to the cloistered spires of Oxford. The M4 is the major link between London and Wales if you fancy a trip to the towns of Swansea or Cardiff.
The best way to see some of the surrounding towns and attractions outside of London is to hire a car. There are many car hire companies in London offering you great packages on your car hire requirements. Remember though, you will have to pay the congestion charge if you drive in central London, so hiring a car is more suited for an out of town day trip to discover the best of the British countryside. If you are hiring a car for the day then there are a few things you should know, from a practical perspective it’s best to remember that the British drive on the left hand side of the road and the steering wheel will therefore be on the opposite side than you are used to! It can get complicated if you’re not confident with this.
You’ll need to have a valid international drivers licence to hire a car in England and you must ensure that you have a roadworthy vehicle and are adequately insured before you take to the roads. It is a requirement of the law that all occupants of a vehicle wear safety belts. There are strict laws about driving under the influence of alcohol and there is a ban on the use of any hand held mobile phones while driving.
The many car hire companies offer different packages so be sure to compare prices and rates before you book.