Now that the winter break has just come to an end, quite a few people will recently have spent hours in the car, driving to and back from the ski holidays. Here are a few tips, suggesting how these long car journeys might become less strenuous and boring.
DO get fuel before leaving. This one is pretty obvious but still worth mentioning, top up on fuel right before you leave. This might not only delay your first stop but will also save you some money if your starting point is Luxembourg, after all it’s no secret that our fuel prices are much lower than our neighbouring countries’.
DON’T forget to pack some snacks. Snacks are a car journey essential, it is just nice to nibble on something while being on the road for hours. If you pack your own snacks you can also save money, as the food from petrol stations or service areas is usually quite expensive. If you are driving with kids make sure to bring enough and a variety of different snacks, because the children will inevitably get hungry and it is best to be able to have a variety of foods on offer in order to avoid tantrums on the road. At the same time don’t put off drinking water just to avoid toilet breaks, it’s important to stay hydrated even on the road.
DO plan your journey. Planning your journey, especially one that has several intermediate stops saves you a lot of stress on the road. Even though a GPS will most likely guide you, it is best to have at least a vague idea of the way, in case something unexpected happens. Similarly, the time of paper maps might be almost completely over but it might be wise to carry one, especially when you are driving through areas with no or only weak phone signal, in which your phone could not replace the car’s GPS in case the latter stops working.
DON’T pick fights. Fights can easily emerge when a group of people has to spend hours in a confined space, such as a car. However, fights do not only ruin the good mood that comes with the excitement of going on a trip but they are also dangerous. A fight, no matter if the driver is involved or not, always distracts them and the risk of accidents becomes much higher. It is better to stay calm and talk about the issue latter even if that seems hard at the time, it is eventually safer. Moreover, don’t let other drivers provoke you, road rage has never helped anyone, instead focus on your own driving and safety.
DO take breaks. Even if you don’t feel tired, take a break. It is easy to overestimate oneself when driving for a long time on a monotone road such as a motorway, but even if it does not seem hard your body gets tired and the consequences of microsleep can be fatal. Take longish breaks where you can properly rest and maybe go for a little walk so your body gets some relief from sitting down the entire time.
DON’T forget about entertainment. This is especially important if you have kids in the car, they will get bored very easily and very quickly. Make sure you have plenty of books, car friendly games and films on hand to keep them entertained and limit the ‘When will we get there?’ questions to a minimum. Playing games that involve observing your environments or counting cars also keeps them busy. For adults, music might be the most important factor, you could prepare a playlist with songs that accommodate for everyone’s tastes to avoid annoyed faces.
DO consider creating a driving rota. If you are driving with a group of people you trust, alternating drivers is a good idea. That way the person who was just driving can properly rest, maybe even sleep, and breaks can be shorter because someone new is driving.
DON’T overload the car. It’s very tempting to pack lots of clothes and other stuff if there is no weight limit on your suitcase, as it is the case for planes. Moreover, the car offers lots of corners where even more bags can be stored. However, this can become very dangerous and should therefore be avoided. As the car gets heavier, the time it takes to stop when breaking gets also longer, this makes the car harder to control. Additionally, suitcases cases which are not stored safely can be projected to the front during sharp breaks and injure passengers and cause accidents.
DO check your car before leaving. You can do your own check-up if you have the required knowledge and equipment or have all the important features such as tire pressure, oil levels and the like checked by a professional before you leave in order to minimise the risk of breakdowns or other troubles on the road.
DON’T forget about road tax discs and car tolls. A lot of countries such as France or Italy have road tolls which need to be paid regularly. To keep the time spent at the check points to a minimum for you and your fellow drivers, keep some cash or a credit card ready so you don’t have to start looking for it when it is your time to pay. Likewise, some countries such as Switzerland, require you to have a car vignette. While they can be purchased at the border, it is much easier and more time effective to buy them in advance at home.
DON’T get annoyed by traffic jams. If you are travelling during the school holidays you have to be prepared for traffic jams as most of the time they will inevitably happen at one point of the journey. But there is no reason to get annoyed because you can’t change anything about them an just have to accept the delay. To heighten your chances of avoiding traffic jams, try not to travel during peak times or days such as weekends or bank holidays.
DO make sure that the countries you are travelling to or through have the same traffic rules. If you are visiting a foreign country for the first time, it is worth checking if they have traffic rules different to the ones you’re used to. That way you won’t be surprised and don’t risk endangering other drivers just because you’re not familiar with their rules.