With the government saying that overseas holidays are unlikely this summer, more people are looking to the UK for their summer getaway.
But whether you’re holidaying in Wexford, Cork, or Wild Atlantic Way, there’s bound to be a few miles between you and your destination.
Driving long distances is different for everyone. Some love it, others hate it. But no matter how you feel beforehand, there are ways to make the drive less stressful and more enjoyable.
Here are our top tips for driving long distances.
1. Plan ahead
I bet when you drive somewhere familiar you feel relaxed, am I right? That’s because you know where you’re going. How good would it feel if you were just as relaxed driving somewhere you don’t know. Somewhere hundreds of miles away.
Knowing where you’re going sure makes driving less stressful. But it’s not just handy on short journeys. Whether you use a GPS or old school maps, familiarising yourself with the route will ease the stress on long journeys too.
Now we’re not saying you should memorise the entire route — as that’ll take days to learn, and there’s no need if you have a GPS — just the major A roads, motorways and junctions. Even if you are using a GPS, it still helps to know this.
As well as knowing where you’re going, it helps to schedule pitstops too. Places to fill up, eat, rest and chill out for an hour. Again, doing so will reduce stress and make the drive more pleasant.
Driving shouldn’t be stressful, so plan your route!
2. Prepare your car
Would you forget to stretch and hydrate before setting off on a marathon run? No, you wouldn’t. Because if you did, you wouldn’t make it to the finish. Preparing your car for a long journey is just as important, and failing to do so could have the same effect.
While not all the tips on this list are safety-driven, preparing your car is! Not only will it help keep you, your passengers and other people safe, but it will lessen the chances of you breaking down too.
A First Stop vehicle safety inspection will make sure everything is in good condition and reduce the chances of you breaking down. To help you avoid such trouble, it’s worth getting your car booked in for a service before you hit the road.
If your car has recently had a service, you should still check the following things before you set off:
- Fluid levels (AdBlue, brake fluid, coolant, engine oil and screenwash)
- Tyre tread (1.6mm is the legal minimum tyre tread depth limit in the UK)
- Tyre pressure
- Fill up before you set off (fuel is often more expensive at service stations)
3. Pack an emergency kit
Packing an emergency kit might seem a little extreme, but accidents do happen. And being prepared only sets you in good stead to handle the unexpected.
Everyone’s emergency kit will look different. But here are a few things you should include:
- First aid kit
- A roadside safety kit (hi-vis, reflective triangle, foil blanket, jump leads, tow rope, tape, non-slip gloves)
- Spare tyre
- Jerry can
4. Sleep the night before
Few things are more dangerous than driving when you’re tired. So it’s no surprise that getting plenty of sleep the night before makes an appearance here.
When you don’t get enough sleep, you’re more likely to micro nap. This temporary lapse in focus is dangerous when you’re behind the wheel. But it gets worse. Studies show that if you’re awake for 20 hours, you could be as impaired as a driver who is above the legal alcohol limit.
Getting enough sleep relates to being prepared for your trip. If you’re prepared, you’ll get a good night’s sleep and wake up with a clear head.
5. Make sure you pack your driving documents
Make sure you pack all your important driving documents. This includes roadside assistance, driving license, car insurance and your owner’s manual. You never know when you’re going to need them. And the last thing you want is for your trip to be derailed because of something like this.
6. Give yourself plenty of time to get there
Like planning your route, plan what time you’re going to set off too. Whether you use a sat nav or Google Maps, give yourself plenty of time to get there. Factor in the pit stops, toilet breaks and allow for traffic.
The key is to not put unnecessary pressure on yourself ahead of a long journey. It will only make you stressed. And driving when stressed can be dangerous. So plan ahead, give yourself plenty of time to get there and enjoy the drive.
7. Don’t rely solely on cruise control
Cruise control is great for long journeys. But because of the lack of driver involvement, it’s not recommended for a long period. If your car has cruise control, use it in short stints over a long journey.
8. Don’t forget the entertainment
Long drives can be boring, so entertainment is key, especially if you’ve got kids. There are several ways to entertain kids on a long drive, whether it’s a game of I Spy, colouring books or a pack of top trumps.
But for adults it’s a little more difficult. So how about an epic road trip playlist? Gather all your favourite tunes, hit shuffle and sing until your lungs give out. Or for something a little more educational, try an audiobook or podcast.
Remember, if you’re playing music from your phone, you’ll need to download all the tracks beforehand to avoid buffering. Oh, and if your car doesn’t have a USB port, make sure you charge your device.
9. Eat light and stay hydrated
This is where a lot of people make the wrong decision. They stop at a service station and rush to the nearest fast-food restaurant. It’s easily done. But it’s not good for you when you’re driving long distances.
Fast food and heavy meals make you bloated, uncomfortable and tired. When you have a long drive ahead, this is not how you want to be feeling. So instead, grab snacks and healthy foods to eat on the way. I know it’s not as delicious, but you’ll be more focused and less tired. What’s more, snacks keep kids quiet too.
And then make sure you stay hydrated. Dehydration can cause tiredness and fatigue, so it’s a wise move to pack a large bottle of water for your summer road trips.
10. Take a break every 100-150 miles
Regular breaks are a must if you’re driving long distances. From a safety standpoint, they’re key for concentration—and will help you stay focused.
Taking a break will split up the journey too. No one likes sitting in the same spot for hours on end, especially children. Use it as a chance to stretch your legs, recharge and grab a coffee.
And here’s another thing. If you’re clocking up the miles and passing various cities, why not stop somewhere along the way?
We recommend taking a break every 100-150 miles.
11. Share the drive if you can
If you have someone to share the drive with, we strongly recommend that you do. If your drive is longer than 10 hours, then it’s a must unless you’re staying over, as 10 hours is the most anyone should drive in one day.
Off you go!
So that concludes our list of tips for driving long distances. Above anything, you should prepare your car for the journey ahead. If you haven’t had your car serviced in a while, take a trip to your local First Stop garage to get booked in.
The last thing you want is to have to call roadside assistance for something we’ve mentioned in this post.
Now happy journeying!