In the five years that I’ve been driving it’s safe to say that I’ve been on my fair share of road trips. With family that live up North and us living about as South as you can go, we make fairly regular trips up the country. Through our own mistakes and experiences, I’ve put together my 6 tips for planning a successful road trip, including the importance of having an up to date MOT/service and things to avoid such as sat nav moments.
1. Get map savvy, don’t rely on satnavs
Most of us have had a ‘sat-nav moment’ at one time or another. You know the kind of moment when you’re driving down a lane fit for a quad bike but your sat nav has calculated that you should be able to whiz down it at 60mph in your low profile tyres. Or perhaps when your satnav just decides it’s had enough navigating for the day and can’t connect to any satellites. My favourite sat nav moment was whilst driving through France, having told the sat nav explicitly to avoid Paris at all costs only to find our selves entering a very large city, and two seconds late to drive past the Eiffel Tower. FML. Reading and understanding paper maps can be a life saver and is a skill so many of us neglect now that we have Google Maps on our phones and GPS in our cars. Make yourself familiar with one before you go, tuck it away in the glove box and forget about it. All being well you won’t need it, but if your sat-nav had a mid life crisis, then you’re prepared.
2. Pack the snacks
I get very angry when I’m hungry, and no one wants to be stuck in a car with a hangry Sophia. So snacks are essential, be it Doritos or apples, whatever floats your boat, be sure to have ample supply of food and water for your trip. On a more serious note having food and water in the car is always a good idea on longer journeys just in case you have the misfortune of breaking down. I will always remember spending the hottest day of the year in a lay-by with one can of warm Coca-Cola between three people waiting for the RAC to take us away. It wasn’t fun.
3. Bring a bin
This point follows on nicely from the previous one. Spending a lot of time in the car creates a surprising amount of rubbish and if you don’t want to find it stuffed into your seat pockets or trodden into the carpets then having a car bin is essential. This can be anything from a carrier bag to an actual car bin, like this one from Amazon. Either way, if you don’t want to be finding fruit pastels in your air vents a car bin is for you.
4. Plan your entertainment
If you’re travelling with adults then entertainment perhaps is slightly less of a priority, a good selection of songs and each others company is normally more than enough to pass a few hours in the car. However travelling with children is a whole nother story. I remember before the days of electronic babysitters our car activities used to involve crayons and endless games of I spy. Now there are so many amazing gadgets on the market to keep kids entertained that it may be worth investing in one for your own peace and quiet as well as to make sure that you aren’t distracted by unruly passengers.
5. Check your car
Although this is perhaps the most important tip of all it’s one that many people forget. Cars need regular servicing and an MOT to make sure that they are in tip top condition, safe and legal. Having a properly maintained car with the right tyres, MOT testing, wheel alignment and wheel balancing helps to minimise your chances of spending your road trip in a lay by or worse pulled over by police. The fine for an invalid MOT certificate is a whopping £1000 and once your car is declared un-roadworthy it is no longer allowed to be driven, leaving you stranded at the road side. With the power of the internet, you can now even book your appointments online for MOT testing in Hertfordshire such as DAT Tyres*, for more car care tips check out my previous post – How I Care For My Car.
6. Break up the journey
Whenever I travel long distances I like to break up the journey, stopping at interesting sites and restaurants along the way. This not only gives the driver a chance to switch off, rest and re charge a little but also makes a very long drive seem far more manageable when you see it as little chunks. By adding in stops along the way you’re also bringing the holiday into your road trip, the activities don’t have to start when you get there, instead make them a part of the road trip, and see parts of the country that you would have otherwise just driven straight through.
If you could go on a road-trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?
This post was kindly sponsored by DAT Tyres, however, as always, all opinions, tips and content is my own.