One of the drawbacks of an organized tour is being shunted along with lots of other people to tourist attractions but then only having a limited amount of time to appreciate them, or spending time in the confined quarters of a coach, bus or train with people you have little or nothing in common with.
We highlight a few simple reasons why you should consider a self-drive road trip as an alternative to the normal way you travel.
The benefits of a self-drive road trip:
- You decide the overall pace of the vacation.
- Regardless of the car type you choose, you have the total freedom and flexibility to get to places off the beaten track, and then spend as much time as you want there.
- You can enjoy greater comfort and privacy.
- The countries we recommend self-drive in generally have excellent road networks, so getting around should pose no problem.
- Our specialists will have driven the route and visited the accommodation, so you can rely on this first-hand knowledge.
- They will provide you with detailed notes of these trips, giving directions, distances and any other relevant information such as nearby sights of interest. As a back-up, we even provide a road map with your hire car in case you do get lost.
It's all very easy. Audley can arrange all aspects of your self-drive road trip, including flights, accommodation and car rental. All you need do is turn up at the airport.
Trip ideas for self-drive
Highlights of South Africa self-drive tourSouth AfricaView this tour
Tokyo, Kyoto & Hakone tourJapanView this tour
Self-drive: highlights of IrelandIrelandView this tour
Start thinking about your experience. These itineraries are simply suggestions for how you could enjoy some of the same experiences as our specialists. They’re just for inspiration, because your trip will be created around your particular tastes.
Tips for a self-drive tour
Audley only chooses safe countries for self-drive vacation and the majority of these will be done on roads that are well signposted and generally well maintained.
However, there are a few simple measures you can take to ensure your self-drive journey is enjoyable and trouble-free.
Tips to remember on your self-drive road trip
- Obey speed restrictions at all times. These will vary slightly from country-to-country and some will be enforced very strictly. If caught speeding, under no circumstances should you attempt to bribe the police.
- Ensure you know about any significant differences in traffic regulations in the country you will be driving. Our specialists will advise you about the most common issues for any self-drive tour.
- Remember, the journey is often as interesting as your destination, so don't be in a hurry to cover those miles. Instead, set off as early as you can each day, as this will enable you to make regular stops along the route to take photos or simply admire the scenery.
- Although you will be following your own Audley tailor-made itinerary, it's still a good idea to take a good guide book (e.g. Lonely Planet) so you can visit those little-known or out-of-the-way places that might be nearby.
If going off-road
Technically, hire companies will not insure you to drive "off-road" in their 4x4 vehicles. However, you could find yourself traveling on badly pot-holed or corrugated dirt roads, so you should note the following:
- Reduce your speed on bad roads and take your time.
- Do not drive too close to the edge of gravel roads.
- Stay a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you when driving on dusty roads to ensure good visibility.
- Make sure you know how to change the wheel.
- Know what to do if your vehicle gets stuck. You might require at the very least a shovel and sand mats, possibly even a winch.
- Ensure you have plenty of food and water, a basic medical kit, and a mobile phone.
- If possible, give your route and expected arrival time to someone before you leave.
Car types for a self-drive tour
If you undertake a self-drive vacation with Audley, we will book your hire car(s) for the duration of your trip.
There are essentially four different types of vehicle from which to choose:
- Budget/economy — ideal for couples who may be driving short distances
- Intermediate — probably the most common type requested and ideal for couples or families
- Large/luxury — for those who want to travel in more comfort or who have larger families
- 4x4 — for those going on roads that are not always tarmac
Which part of the world you visit will determine whether your hire car will have an automatic or manual transmission. For example, vehicles in Australia and New Zealand will tend to be automatic, whereas in Africa they will all have manual gearboxes with only a small number of automatics being available.