A summer road trip can be great fun, but it can quickly turn into a nightmare if you don’t prepare before setting off. There’s a lot to consider, such as organizing roadside assistance (just in case you have a breakdown), keeping tabs on speed cameras, making sure you have the means to pay any tolls you encounter and ensuring you’re compliant with any Ultra Low Emission Zones.

Good preparation is especially important if you have an older car. If yours is particularly dilapidated it might be worth moving it on and trading up for your getaway. You can get a quick valuation and add your old motor to the roster of used cars for salein the UK. Once it’s gone, put the cash towards something more reliable and more comfortable for your trip.

Scroll down for some nuggets of wisdom on the most important motoring conundrums you’ll encounter on a summer road trip around Britain. Wherever possible, we’ve linked out to some handy government tools to give you a little more clarity on legislation or guidance.

Ultra Low Emission Zones

Ultra Low Emission Zones are becoming more numerous. London was the first city in the UK to implement one, with the aim of improving air quality for its residents. Currently, if you drive within the boundaries of the A406 in a petrol car built before 2005 or a diesel car built before 2015, you’ll need to pay a daily charge of £12.50. Remember, though, the ULEZ borders are scheduled to expand to the boundary of the M25 in August 2023.

London isn’t the only UK city with a ULEZ, though. Drivers now need to pay a fee to enter certain areas of Birmingham, Bristol and Oxford – and Glasgow has barred access to its city center for petrol and diesel cars that fail to meet Euro 4 and Euro 6 emissions regulations respectively. If you’re unsure about whether your car is compliant, use the government reg plate checker.


The two most likely toll roads you’ll encounter on your British road trip are the M6 Toll (in the West Midlands) and the Dartford Crossing (in Essex). However, the government has compiled a list of all the toll roads and bridges in the UK, just in case you want to check your route before setting off.

It’s very difficult to get away without paying the charge on the M6 Toll. Halfway down the road, there are a set of barriers that prevent you from continuing your journey until you’ve forked over the cash. Beware of the Dartford Crossing, though – the toll is enforced by cameras and you must remember to pay the charge online by midnight the day after you cross or you’ll be issued with a fine. Happily, you can pay in advance if you know you’ll drive over it.

Speed cameras

The UK is littered with speed cameras. There are thousands dotted around our roads – and their numbers have only increased thanks to the UK government’s relentless pursual of its controversial smart motorway campaign. If you’re caught speeding, you could be issued with a fine and points on your license. The latter will increase the cost of your insurance premiums as it signals to insurers that you’re a dangerous driver.

The government has published a list of all the fixed speed cameras, which means you can plot your routes to skirt around them. However, you can’t plan for mobile speed camera vans. They’re harder to track because they’re not fixed – and they’re often parked in areas where the speed limit reduces from, say, 60mph to 40mph, ready to catch drivers who aren’t paying much attention to their speed. So, make sure you pay attention to your speed.

Motorway driving

The standard of driving on UK motorways has slipped in the past decade. There are lots of ‘middle lane hoggers’ on our highways. They sit in the second lane, even when there’s no traffic in lane one, forcing other drivers to move into the third lane to overtake them. This restricts the flow of traffic because they’re forcing what should be two lanes of traffic into one.

Remember: on the motorway, you should always strive to be driven down the inside lane. Lanes two and three are reserved for overtaking. Once you’ve completed your overtaking manoeuvre, move back towards the inside lane as soon as is safely possible. The government introduced new laws designed to combat middle-lane hoggers in 2013, which could see those responsible issued with a careless driving charge. That’ll result in a fine and points on their driving license.

Roadside assistance

Roadside assistance is a great idea for any car. If you have an older car that breaks down on your road trip, you probably won’t have the parts with you to get it moving again. Modern motors are equally troublesome because they’re so dependent on their computers. You’re almost certain to be stranded without the correct equipment – so leave it to the professionals if you’re not confident.