We’re in full holiday season, and many of you might consider going on holiday with your car instead of flying this year. Here are some tips on how to prepare your car before setting off.
DO make sure that your car is in good condition. Now is the time to get that weird noise that’s been bothering your for weeks checked out. You don’t want to get into car trouble while on the road or have to find a mechanic in a foreign country. This is also a good time to check the oil and brake fluid and to refill the wiper fluid. Basically all the things you might usually put off.
DON’T overfill the boot. Packing the car can be tricky, and you might need to play around with several options. It’s tempting to just stuff your luggage in there but that option is rather unsafe. Ensure that the luggage is moving as little as possible by filling any gaps with softer bags. In any case, DON’T stack the suitcases too high; they risk flying forward when you break and can seriously injure passengers, putting an end to the holidays before they even started.
DO check the tyres before leaving. Your tyres will have to work a lot on the journey and should therefore be in good condition. Make sure that they are not worn out by checking the tyre tread and if it’s too smooth, the tyres should be changed. Even if you don’t need new tyres, you should check the pressure of your current ones, this can easily be done at a petrol station. Check the pressure when your car is already loaded with luggage, as the pressure will need to be increased slightly compared to the pressure of the unloaded car.
DON’T forget to check speed limits and traffic rules of the countries you’re driving through. Speed limits vary from country to country, and traffic controls are frequent during the holiday season. To avoid getting fined, familiarise yourself with the rules of the respective countries you’re travelling through or to.
DO get a roof box if you need more space. Rather than overfilling the trunk, opt for a roof box to store additional luggage. It is worth the expense if you frequently travel with a lot of bags or sports equipment. However, these boxes should mainly be filled with lighter objects and can therefore not completely replace the traditional suitcase. Be aware of the weight limits of your box and make sure to attach it properly to avoid any accidents.
DON’T put loose stuff or open bags in the trunk. In case you breakdown and bags have to be removed from the boot to get to the spare tyre, for instance, it will be very inconvenient to take out stuff that is not properly packed. Put as much as possible into closed suitcases or bags to avoid disorder in an emergency. Packing your car like this will also make unloading easier when you reach your destination and significantly reduce the number of trips you have to make from the car to the place you’re staying in.
DO check that you have your high-visibility vest, triangle and spare tyre. Hopefully you won’t need them, but if you do get into car trouble and have to pull over, it is important that other drivers can see you standing on the side. Rather than keeping the vests in the boot, keep them close to you in the front of the car, under the seat or in the glove compartment, for example. This way you can already leave the car wearing your vest and don’t have to put yourself in danger while looking for it. Once you’ve left the car, stand some distance away from it when waiting for help, in case something that could endanger you happens to the car. If you have to pull over, remember to place the triangle a couple of meters ahead of the car, so other drivers have enough time to spot you.
DON’T forget that it will take you longer to break when your car is heavier. Your luggage will naturally increase the weight of your car, and this will then increase the time needed to bring it to a full stop. Just keep that in mind while driving and adapt your driving style accordingly. You could, for instance, reduce the speed and keep a larger distance between you and the car in front of you.