Summertime is a wonderful time to go on holiday and with many of us in the UK deciding to holiday in the UK or drive to France, making sure your vehicle is prepared for the long car journey ahead will keep you cool. Please note, we cannot provide any advice for the “are we nearly there yet” question you’re likely to hear again and again!
Plan your journey
Yes, it sounds obvious but planning your journey for a good 10 minutes – even if it’s just before you leave – will ensure you avoid stressing yourself out during the drive. Holidays with the family can be stressful enough! Many mobile phones nowadays have satellite navigation included, so you enter the address of your destination and get a route plotted out, often with warnings of any traffic jams. However, relying on your mobile phone satellite navigation is dangerous if you’re visiting a remote spot or travelling abroad (check for roaming data fees with your mobile provider, otherwise you could be stung with a big bill). The same too could be said for dedicated satellite navigation systems, as the road database could be out-of-date depending on when you last updated it. Therefore it’s highly recommended that you take a road map (you can buy one from any fuel garage) and this is a great back-up should anything go wrong. Make a note of the roads you intend to travel on and if you have a passenger give them responsibility for checking traffic reports on the radio and route you through any diversions.
You may have a great idea of timing and getting to your destination thanks to your sat nav or phone app but take into consideration that long journeys will require stops for eating and with kids extra stops to let them use the service station facilities. Remember not to drive for longer than 3 hours at a time otherwise you could become very tired. Also have a good think about what you plan to do if you get stuck in bad traffic, or the journey takes longer than expected. Think about these points carefully:
- Have you got enough time to reach the holiday destination taking into account all the breaks?
- Do you have a phone number of the holiday destination to call if you’re running late?
- On longer journeys do you have a contingency plan if you can’t reach the destination on the day you expected? Check out good hotels and bed and breakfasts along your journey just in case.
Luggage securely stowed and tied down?
Don’t be in a rush trying to get your luggage in the car. Plan it out, making sure heavy loads are positioned over the wheel arches or even in the middle of the car, so it doesn’t affect the drive. Don’t overload the car either. Safety is paramount and having an extra suitcase for the ‘just in case’ scenario should be forgotten so you can drive safely. Make sure you can also see properly through the back window and side windows, making you confident of your presence on the road. For roof racks and bikes, check your manufacturer’s instructions for the correct positioning and set-up. Make sure anything that is outside the vehicle is secured down safely. Having a bike fall off or clothes fly out of the roof box at 70mph is going to cause a fair few accidents and you’ll be accountable!
Make sure your car is running properly
This holiday journey is likely to be one of the longest car journeys you’ll make all year. Don’t ignore any of the warning signs your car is giving you and get them checked out by a garage with plenty of time to spare. Check your tyre tread & pressures, coolant levels, engine oil, screen wash, air pollen filter and brakes are all in order. A good tip for filling up the car with fuel and saving money on costs is to fill-up to 3/4 of a tank. However if you’ve got a very long car journey and aren’t bothered about the money savings, it’s probably easier to fill to the top.
If you’re driving abroad you’ll need to make sure you follow these guidelines regarding your vehicle. Also, triple-check you have everyone’s passports, ferry/Eurotunnel tickets and relevant insurance cover for the place you’re visiting – this last tip can be handy even if you’re staying in the UK.
Emergencies and breakdowns
As much as you can plan a holiday and the journey, sometimes car breakdowns can happen out of the blue. You can prepare for the worst by following these helpful tips should your car break down:
- Have a car recovery membership (AA, RAC, Green Flag, etc.) and a suitable level of cover for the country you’re visiting.
- Take blankets in the boot for each passenger should you break-down at night so you can keep warm. A torch is also handy.
- Take enough food to keep you going longer than you expect.
- Mobile phone and charger – your main form of communication in an emergency and a life-saver which needs juice too.
Enjoy your journey
Our last tip could be said to be the most important. Keeping yourself happy and relaxed on the journey is not only important for your safety on the road but also for your enjoyment of your holiday. Don’t let yourself get wound up by traffic – play your favourite tunes on the radio instead. Kids complaining in the back? Play games or if you’re so inclined buy them some entertainment to enjoy on the journey. This is your holiday remember and you want it to be memorable for the right reasons.
So go forth and have a fantastic summer holiday road trip and if you need a garage near Bath, based in Radstock we’re here to help – just book yourself a garage appointment online here.