Coronavirus in the UK: chatting to our local expert

Staycations are jumping in popularity post-Covid, and there’s no safer way to travel than by car. We chatted with Marcela Bernal, our local UK expert, to learn more.
Mousehole Harbour near Penzance Cornwall England. Photo: ian woolcock/Shutterstock
Mousehole Harbour near Penzance Cornwall England. Photo: ian woolcock/Shutterstock

Hitting the open road and remaining closer to home are both trends of the post-Covid season. Road trips represent a safe and convenient way to travel, especially if you have your route planned by our local expert, Marcela, based in Edinburgh. We spoke to her to learn more about her experience of coronavirus, and how things are shaping up as we motor into the future. 

In conversation with Marcela Bernal

Marcela Bernal. Photo: private archive

Q: Your office is based in Edinburgh (Scotland), but you and your team are currently spread out. Where are you and do you see any differences with regards to daily life depending on where you are in the UK?

A: As a company, we were already used to working remotely sometimes, and therefore work and processes have been very smooth during the lockdown. However, It has been hard to be away from our colleagues at the office, not only for the sense of teamwork, but also on a personal level. 

I believe adversity challenges us to be stronger and better. The Covid-19 situation is giving us the opportunity to support our customers and suppliers through the crisis and prove how committed we are to our job. 

Either from the office or from home, we are here as a strong team. We love our job and we are looking forward to being able to keep doing what we do best: making the most enjoyable travel experiences for our customers in this amazing destination that we call home. 

Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands. Photo: Helen Hotson/Shutterstock

Q: You've been organizing trips all over the UK for many years now. What are your favourite spots?

A: Amazing nature attractions, impressive castles, enchanting little towns, interesting cities… the list would be endless. However, here are a few examples of places that always take my breath away: 

One of my favourites is the valley of Glencoe in Scotland. Driving through it to get to the Highlands or the Isle of Skye makes you feel like you’re in a movie (James Bond to be precise) and, depending on the time of the year, the landscape changes completely. You are very likely to bump into a stag, a little deer, or highland cows that run wild near the road. 

Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, is another. Standing next to this impressive monument makes you realize that we are all part of human's journey on the earth, and feel a connection to our ancestors from over 5000 years ago. Mind blowing!

Edinburgh Castle is a must-see if you visit Scotland. The majestic castle on top of a hill, located right in the heart of one of the most beautiful gothic old towns, takes you back to medieval times. From the castle, there are not only amazing views over the New Town and the sea, but you also gain an insight into day-to-day life in the castle in times past.

London, The Lake District, The Cotswolds, York, The Hadrian's wall, Devon, Whisky distilleries, Steam trains, sea life, wildlife, stargazing, National Parks, museums, cathedrals, universities, prehistoric sites and monuments, history and legends… I could go on for days. My recommendation is to visit, explore and experience this unbelievable country. Tell us your interests and preferences and we will make a tailor-made itinerary to make your trip unique and authentic for you to enjoy the most astonishing holiday experience.

Edinburgh Castle. Photo: Michal 11/Shutterstock

Q: Self-drive trips are very popular these days. You specialize in rental-car trips – what kind of cars and transportation do you recommend these days and why? What are the advantages of renting a motorhome for example? 

A: We specialize in self-drive holidays – from our point of view, this is the best way to enjoy this beautiful destination. Travelling in your own vehicle will give you the comfort of a vehicle of your preference, manual or automatic and the freedom to choose where to stop, as well as the duration of your visit and timings. It will also give you the opportunity to reach places that are off the beaten track and to get to know the locals, their customs and traditions. 

We can also arrange a campervan or motorhome. These are fantastic options for those that love nature, freedom and a true adventure. Children are big fans of this kind of holiday. These vehicles are very comfortable and will take you to the most remote and amazing places. Imagine your own room close to a wild beach, in the middle of a national park, surrounded by nature or on the outskirts of a city waiting for you to explore. It is a priceless experience at a very affordable price. 

At this particular time, due to Covid-19, self-drive trips either in a normal vehicle or a motorhome make it easier to avoid crowds, and to adhere to safety measures so that you can enjoy your holiday safely.

Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway. Photo: Edward Quick/Shutterstock

Q: Do you have any favorite places to stay, such as unique castles that you personally love?

A: I recommend staying at a range of different accommodation options along the route to be able to try the whole range of experiences that the country offers. Central hotels in the main cities are very convenient for exploring without the worry of parking or traffic. They are very comfortable and well located. 

B&B and guest houses offer the most authentic British accommodation experience. Most of these properties are run by local owners who will give you the warmest welcome and try their best to make you feel at home. They frequently cook a homemade traditional breakfast and can give you the best tips that only the locals know.

Farms are one of my favourite choices, and I would recommend you stay at least one night in one of these. Not only because you will have a very authentic experience, but also because you will have the best of the locals and the best of nature in the same place. They often use their own products to make breakfast, like farm-made jam, their own eggs, milk etc. You will see daily life on the farm, and have the countryside at your doorstep. 

Finally castles, mansions, lighthouses and other unique buildings are ideal for special occasions, where you can treat yourself and feel like a royals. You might find four-poster beds and balconies, sip afternoon tea, indulge in a spa treatment or enjoy a whisky tasting in their traditional bars. These are very popular with couples. However, I think this is an experience that everyone should have for at least one night. 

Do not forget other special accommodation options such as self-catering, glamping, train carriages, boats, tree houses… We take the time to get to know our customers and recommend the accommodation that best suits their budget and preferences.

Landscape on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Photo: elxeneize/Shutterstock

Q: What do you recommend British travelers these days, especially those with children or traveling in groups, to take into consideration for their summer and autumn holidays?

A: If they are planning to travel around the UK this year, travelers should contact us for all the right up-to-date information regarding restrictions, safety measures and insurance. We will be happy to work on your itinerary, put together all the services and keep you updated about any changes regarding safety regulations. If instead you would like to plan your trip for next year, this is a very good moment to do so. Flights are very affordable and flexible at the moment and we will have time to work on your itinerary and make sure everything is ready for when the time comes. 

The tourism industry is taking a deep breath, but we are ready to welcome our customers as soon as the situation normalizes to give them the holidays that they deserve and are looking forward to.