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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in road trips

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Road Trip Tips


It’s road trip time! Whether you’re going with your family as a chance to get more driving practice as a learner or venturing independently with just a bunch of mates to keep you company now that you’ve passed your test, there’s something incredibly exciting about heading off on a long journey!

So if you’re planning to visit far-flung family over Christmas, driving from coast to coast, or even just have a long car journey ahead of you for less interesting reasons, follow these top tips for an awesome trip!

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1 – Pre-trip checks

It goes without saying to give the car a quick check before setting off on a long journey, but in the last-minute rush to cram everything into the boot and fuel up, it’s easy to forget!

If you’ll be going on a really long trip or driving abroad it might be worth taking the car to your local garage for a proper once-over, but there are plenty of useful checks you can do yourself. A lot of them are even part of “Show me, tell me” section of your driving test!

Make sure you take a look at:

·         Brakes and power steering

·         Oil, engine coolant, brake fluid and screen wash levels (including antifreeze in winter!)

·         Headlights and tail lights, indicators, break lights, wipers

·         Tyre pressure and tread depth (when tyres are cold). If you have a spare tyre, remember to check it too!

·         Any warning lights on the dashboard

 

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Image source: Unsplash

2 – Pack


There are a number of things that are always useful to have in the car, especially on longer trips:

·         A hi-vis vest, warning triangle, first aid kit, your insurance details and membership details if you belong to a roadside recovery service

·         A phone charging cable or portable battery (depending on how modern your car is, for the cigarette lighter plug or for your stereo system’s USB port)

·         Bottled water (to drink and for your car radiator in emergencies until you can get to a garage. Make sure it’s not tap water though, because the minerals could damage your engine, and try to mix it with coolant/antifreeze if you do have to do this. It’s a good idea to inform yourself about your car’s specific requirements before you set off in case you can’t get any phone signal to Google it!)

·         A physical atlas/map, in case your GPS runs out of battery or has no signal

·         Spare oil/coolant/screen wash etc.

·         Small change for parking meters (or tolls depending on where you’re driving)


If you’re travelling in winter there are a few extra things to consider:

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 Image source: Pexels

·         Blanket/s, pillows etc. if you get stranded somewhere (also useful for tired passengers!). Foil emergency blankets are also good, not to mention compact!

·         Antifreeze

·         An ice scraper

·         A torch

·         Some non-perishable food (see next tip!)

·          

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3 –  Snacks

It’s technically not illegal to eat and drink while driving in the UK, but be aware that you can still get a fine if it causes you to drive ‘carelessly’ and you aren’t in full control of the vehicle as a result.

That being said, it’s always a good idea to take snacks on a road trip! Good road trip snacks are easy to eat and pass around, for example cereal bars, crackers/oatcakes and fruit.

For the car’s sake it might be worth considering non-crumbly foods, but if crisps are your fuel of choice you can always vacuum when you get back. Let’s face it, by the end of a long drive there will always be rogue crumbs, wrappers and assorted other rubbish like stray coffee cups floating around, so what’s an extra smooshed crisp or two in the grand scheme of things!

As far as drinks are concerned, keep in mind that energy drinks and coffee may mean you’ll need to make more bathroom stops than you would otherwise!

 


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4 –  Route

Planning your route in advance is a no-brainer. But even if you plan to rely on your trusty smartphone or Satnav, make sure you bring backup because technology can let you down at the most inconvenient times –  and you don’t want that to happen when you’re lost in the dark in the middle of nowhere!

It’s also a good idea to designate a navigator who’s in charge of keeping track of where you are and setting up the Satnav, especially if you’re driving somewhere unfamiliar. That leaves you free to concentrate on the road and the other cars rather than where you’re going

Print off your route from Google Maps or your map of choice, bring an atlas and download the areas you need on your smartphone navigation app so that you can use it in offline mode. Sometimes that means that you can still find out exactly where you are if your GPS is working but you can’t get phone signal.

Bonus hack: you can mount your phone on your dashboard without a special holder – just be sure to check this before you drive off to make sure it’s secure. The UK law is very strict on phone use while driving, and even if you’re using your phone to navigate it must be set to hands-free and you can’t touch it while you’re behind the wheel.

 

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5 –  Entertainment

You’ll definitely want to bring some entertainment for a long drive. Instead of relying on the radio, set up a playlist before you go, or even go old-school and make a mixtape/CD! That means you get to listen to songs you actually want to hear rather than the fifteen top chart songs on a loop, because even if you don’t mind those, they’ll get old pretty fast. Some people like listening to audio books on trips, though be aware that they might distract you a bit.

If you’re on an easy stretch of the drive, channel your inner kid and play some road trip games –  just try to avoid “I spy” if you’re currently in the driver’s seat! There are also plenty of fun grown-up road trip games you can try!

 

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Image source: Pexels

6 – Breaks and Exercise

Another no-brainer really, but if you’re trying to get somewhere on schedule it can be easy to neglect this one. Tiredness causes almost 20% of accidents on major roads, so make sure you do take plenty of breaks –  the Department for Transport recommends stopping for at least fifteen minutes every two hours.

Also remember to check the labels of any medications you’re taking (e.g. antihistamines or cough syrups) in case they cause drowsiness.

Anyone who’s done long trips before knows that you also get pretty stiff from sitting so long, and especially stop-and-start traffic can cause your muscles to ache from using the clutch so much. Try some stretches and exercises when you stop for a rest – your body will thank you!

 

Hopefully these tips will make your road trip even better! Safe travels!

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Image source: Pexels

 

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