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Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England

Lexington, Kentucky
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Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England

My husband and I are in our early 60's. We want to travel to Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England in late August this year. We have wavered between going on an escorted tour bus or renting a car. We are leaning toward driving right now and have questions: 1) Can cars be rented in one country and be driven or ferried to the other three countries? 2) What is the approximate cost of a car rental for one or two weeks (small to mid-size automatic with air) and what is the best rental company? 3) What is the price of gasoline now in those countries? 4) Any other advice for seeing these countries by car? Thanks.

Dunfermline, United...
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1. Re: Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England

Hi

If you are happy driving on the 'wrong' side of the road, you will find it a bit different from driving the interstates of Kentucky!

The United Kingdom is a small country compared to the US but there's a lot of people crammed into that small space and the roads can be stuffed with traffic jams often. Case in point, I had the misfortune to drive from Birmingham in the middle of England to my home near Edinburgh on Friday and it took 7 hours to cover 330 miles and it was motorway all the way. After the first 150 miles of nose to tail traffic it was fine but this is what you can expect. Road trips can be a strain on your patience but it is a great way of seeing the country.

In answer to your questions

1. No. You can rent a car in England, Wales or Scotland and drive happily between all three but you can't take it to Ireland. Different country and tax and insurance implications make it a non-starter although you could leave the car in England, fly to Ireland and hire another car there.

2. Check www.travelsupermarket.com for a comparison of car hire companies in the UK. You have all the familiar names liek Avis, National and Hertz and one or two independents. Be sure to stress that you want an automatic as most hire cars here are manual (stick shift) and small/mid size cars rarely have automatic (think Ford Focus/Vauxhall Astra). A/C is more common than previously but it won't be 'freeze your toes off' cold like in the US.

3. Gasoline (petrol) here is expensive. Currently around GBP1.18 per litre from the supermarkets. This equates to about USD 7 per gallon (bearing in mid a UK gallon is bigger than a US gallon). Ireland is slightly more expensive and will be priced in Euros, not Pounds Sterling.

4. As above, a road trip can be a good idea but allow plenty of time between towns and have a look at the route planner at this site www.theaa.com which is similar to the Triptik on the AAA site.

Good luck!

Hampshire, United...
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for Amesbury, London
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2. Re: Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England

Hi,

I feel a little concerned when you talk about driving around four countries in what I inferred from a further comment, to be within one and two weeks' duration. Did I read that correctly? 3 or 4 weeks holiday, then yes...

This would entail driving most of the day, every day on our lovely motorways and main roads, with only a skimming of the surface of actually spending time in places.

I appreciate the coach companies offer these tours, so of course it's 'do-able' but bear in mind driving is their living, and even they have strict working conditions on how much driving they can do in a day etc. It's not the same when you're on holiday and supposed to be relaxing and enjoying the sights! If you really want to do a 'if it's Tuesday it must be Liverpool' tour, then actually I think a coach tour might be the best way forward, because don't underestimate how tiring and stressful it is to drive over here.

Ireland comprises two different countries - Northern Ireland being part of the UK, and Eire being its own country and uses Euros, not sterling.

I was just thinking, if most of the places you want to see are towns and cities (when a car isn't necessary), then consider a Britrail pass which gives you x days of rail travel, which is (on the whole, strikes and engineering works aside) convenient, fast and infinitely more pleasurable than sitting in a traffic jam somewhere.

Which places did you have in mind to visit?

Hampshire, United...
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for Amesbury, London
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3. Re: Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England

Ps. I haven't seen petrol as 'cheap' as Dicanio's suggested around here for a while! It's about £1.22 (averaging between unleaded and diesel) at the moment, and due to rise with tax, albeit after you've been and gone.

Tralee, Ireland
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4. Re: Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England

If you are leaning towards a tour, have a look at www.cietours.com which receives positive reviews in the Ireland forum. They have tours that cover all of these lovely islands.

England
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5. Re: Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England

On Sunday 27th I saw petrol as cheap as £1.13 a litre, and as dear as £1.22 a litre, all in Kent / East London area.

It is always dearer at Motorway service areas, so these are best avoided.

I think the issue in hand should be deciding what you want to see, then deciding how best to achieve this - by car, train or coach tour.

Also consider how you migh like to cross the sea between UK and Ireland, fly or ferry, and which (air/sea)ports to use. The, having worked out a rough overview consider the transport options. Unless, of course you have a burning desire to travel by car / train / coach etc. Train travel is different from US, as there is a lot more of it, much at high speed.

Lexington, Kentucky
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6. Re: Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England

Thanks so much for all your fast, informative replies. I think we have finally decided that we will skip the escorted tour idea and go with traveling on our own.

We will probably plan a 14-day trip, plus our day for flying over and our day for flying back. We are considering spending about 6 days in Ireland, 3 days in Scotland, 2 days in Wales, and 3 days in England (we've already been to London, Stonehenge, and Bath).

We prefer traveling the back roads, stopping in small villages, meeting the people, listening to music, visiting pubs and outdoor cafes. We want to see the most impressive typical tourist spots but don't want to spend too much time at any of them. We saw enough cathedrals on our whirlwind Europe escorted tour to last us a lifetime. We want to see few castles but not spend days seeing all of them.

So, maybe you can now offer me more suggestions, I hope?

Sydney, Australia
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7. Re: Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England

If you like travelling the back roads and stopping off a lot (as it sounds) then you don't have nearly enough time to do what it sounds like you want to do IMO

I love this kind of travelling but I'd restrict it to a much smaller area. Maybe Ireland and then across to Wales and do Wales and Southern England.

Or Ireland, Scotland and Northern England

Even then I think that's a lot of travelling but it sounds like that doesn't scare you. But 2 days in Wales and 3 days in England will give you no time to see anything or soak up any atmosphere

Bingley, United...
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for Edinburgh
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8. Re: Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England

<<< We prefer traveling the back roads, stopping in small villages, meeting the people, listening to music, visiting pubs and outdoor cafes. >>>

With your plans you won't do any of them as you'll be spending too much time getting between places. Please reconsider and make it two countries at most

england
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9. Re: Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England

'we want to see the most impressive tourist spots - but don't want to spend too much time at any of them'. Dont worry, on your itinerary you wont have time to get out of the car, you will spend all your time either in a car, on a plane or on a ferry. You have to cut something out!!!

Hampshire, United...
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for Amesbury, London
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10. Re: Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England

(Someone else can talk about Ireland)

How about: Dublin to Holyhead: Caernavon / Conwy / Snowdonia area; Chester / Liverpool; To Glasgow via The Lakes, tootle around the Lowlands, end up in Edinburgh, hand the car back. Home from Scotland or train to London. Well, it's not my holiday, but just about do-able in the time allotted.