The obvious route is to take the M1 but that doesn’t give you many opportunities to make a couple of stops
How about leaving Derby via the A38 and picking up the M40
It’s not going to take much longer overall and you are not in a hurry anyway
If going to Oxford use the park and ride.Edited: 31 July 2018, 18:31
But it depends on what interests you, if you give us a clue nature, history, architecture, military museums, zoos then we can give you more ideas.Edited: 31 July 2018, 18:50
Those are all great ideas. I will look into all of those suggestions. Thank you!
We are driving into London to fly home the following day. I know Manchester is closer to Derby but it saved us a few hundred dollars flying out of London instead so that’s why we will be driving there. We will be returning the rental car and staying at an airport hotel that night. Is it really very awful driving into London? Or is it something you think we’ll be able to handle? Is driving out of London any better? We are spending a few days in London and plan on getting the London Pass and just using public transportation but then we will be renting a car in London to head out to Swindon to do Bath and the Cotswolds before we head up north. Your comments about not taking the driving into London lightly have me worried now!
If you need to park the car in London that can be very expensive. Also factor in the Congestion Charge. Driving in / around London can be quite slow with heavy traffic. I'd suggest having a good Sat Nav (that you can work!) if you do go for the driving in London option.
>Is it really very awful driving into London?<
No, it's not. It's the same as driving in a big city in the US or Europe. The issues will be that you will have to remember to pay the congestion charge (if you enter the congestion charge zone) and parking can be expensive. However, you mention that you will be staying at an airport hotel so it sounds like you won't be driving into London at all.
Unless your flight is very early the next morning, staying in Windsor would be a more interesting alternative to an airport hotel. A taxi from Windsor would take about 15 minutes to the airport.
We plan on just going straight to the rental car place to give the car back so we shouldn’t need to park anywhere.
You need to do the maths before buying the London Pass - check what the entry costs are for the attraction, checkout the section above right re the 2-4-1 deals that may be available, and be realistic about what you will actually have time to visit. Bear in mind also that most of London's world class galleries and museums, such as the National Gallery, British Museum & V&A, are free to enter and will also take time.