The last few articles we have written have been all about our plans during the London portion of our trip. Now, it’s time to move on to the rest of the trip. Catch up on all the trip plans here.
One of the things I’m looking forward to most on our upcoming trip is renting a car. I love to drive in the UK – most Americans are scared of doing it – but it’s second nature to me (and it’s helpful to have Mrs. Anglotopia with me to scream CURB!). As our total time in Britain is 33 days, and only 8 are in London, we will need a rental car to get around for 25 days of the trip, something that is not going to be cheap.
Which Car Rental Company To Go With?
In the past we’ve rented with two companies, once with Hertz and the other with Europcar. Hertz was perfectly fine and we had a good experience. Europcar was also perfectly fine. Both times we got a good rate and had no issues with returning the car.
This time, we decided to let them decide. Being a publication we can offer advertising, coverage, etc in exchange for a car rental, so I decided to reach out to them directly and see if there was any way we could work together and save us some money.
Renting a car for 25 days, in the size that we were going to need for all the kid gear and car seats was approaching $2,000.
I got no response from Europcar after multiple attempts but Hertz did respond and were happy to work together. I won’t go into the details of the deal but essentially we’re still paying for a rental but they’re giving us a complimentary upgrade to the car we need plus a few extras to make the trip go more smoothly.
So, Hertz it is this time around and we can’t wait to work with them.
To Heathrow or Not to Heathrow That is the Question
We don’t need the car while we’re in London and we certainly don’t want to drive in London anyway. So, we’re not picking up the car until the day we’re leaving for Dorset. In the past, we’ve just taken the train out to Heathrow and picked up the car there.
But in practice, it’s not ideal as public transportation drops you at the terminal, then you have to wait for the free bus to the car rental place then go through the whole process. It takes a lot of time. I don’t reckon doing it with a wife and two kids and a ton of luggage in tow would be fun.
I could do this on my own, but again it will take a lot of time we’re not going to have that day.
So, we decided to rent the car close to where we’ll be staying at Victoria Coach Station. We’ll pick up the car, drive it back to our flat, pack it up and hit the road to Dorset. This will entail a small bit of driving in central London which is a rather terrifying prospect. But we should be able to manage.
Where We’ll Spend the Day
As we have to be out of our London flat by 10am and we can’t arrive at our cottage in Dorset until after 4pm, we have the day to spend doing whatever we like. A few weeks ago I lamented that we didn’t have time to visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour. Well looking at our schedule yesterday, I realized we had plenty of time to visit the attraction and make it to Dorset with plenty of time. So, it looks like we will indeed get to visit the Harry Potter sets. I’m truly very excited about this! They’ve decorated Hogwarts and Hogwarts for Christmas so it will be seasonally fun!
After we spend the day there, we’ll hit the road to Dorset, which will be a couple hour drive if traffic is good. If we have time, we’ll make a stopover in Salisbury to visit their famous Christmas Market. If we’re not up to it, we’ll do it the next day.
After that we will head to Updown Cottage, where we’ll be spending the next 16 days for our dream Christmas in Dorset holiday.
We’ll have an outline of some of the things we plan to do while we’re in Dorset next week. We’ll also have some tips for driving in Britain after we get back from our trip.
Have you rented a car in Britain? Do you have any travel tips to share with our readers? Let us know in the comments!