Holidays: How to Prepare for a Long Car Journey

Going on holiday is a treat, but the task of getting there can be arduous if the proper planning isn’t initiated. Long car journeys can be made easier however, and even fun, with just a little preparation.

So, with this in mind, we have compiled a list of tips for those who are embarking on long drives, with the goal of helping to make things just that little bit better for you. 

sleeping

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

This is an important first step. Before ever stepping into your car, you should always make sure that you are fully rested.

We spoke to Lisa Artis from The Sleep Council -- an impartial organisation that looks at how to adopt healthier sleep habits -- about the importance of a good night’s sleep and how it can affect those driving.

“It’s important to get a good night’s sleep before attempting a long drive. Tiredness impacts on your driving ability, reaction times, judgement and causes poor concentration which can increase your chances of having an accident.” Said Lisa.

“Key to achieving a good night’s sleep is regular hours i.e. going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time every day. Aim to get into a relaxing routine before bedtime - switch off electronic devices (including the TV) an hour before bedtime and do something more calming like reading a book, listening to soothing music or even meditating.  Create a restful bedroom environment – one that is cool, quiet and dark, free of clutter and gadgets and has a comfortable supportive bed to sleep on.”

Lisa also provide some tips for how to stay alert when already on the road.

“You need to be fully alert and aware of what’s going on around you when driving so if you start to feel drowsy on your journey, pull over when it’s safe to do so and take a power nap or get 20 minutes rest. Fresh air makes you feel alert so step outside of the car or wind down windows. Listening to music can also perk you up.  Stay hydrated and avoid high carb and sugary snacks that result in an energy slump.

“Remember don’t begin a long journey if you feel tired.”

If you are having trouble sleeping, or know that when you need to sleep that just makes it all the more difficult, try something like the Pzizz phone app. Pzizz utilizes dreamscapes to help you fall asleep fast, stay asleep, and then wake you up refreshed for your journey.

Pzizz spoke to us about the importance of avoiding driver fatigue, bringing up some interesting statistics.

"Around 20% of all fatal car crashes happen because of driver fatigue. Based on data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, people who sleep six to seven hours a night are twice as likely to be involved in such a crash as those sleeping 8 hours or more, while people sleeping less than 5 hours increased their risk four to five times. Getting a good night's sleep is absolutely critical for your safety on the road. Whether you need a sleep aid like Pzizz, or you sleep great on your own, just make sure you get the rest you need before driving."

Plan Your Journey

Planning is crucial for any car journey, and indeed in the age of technology it has never been easier to organise and navigate your next adventure.

If you have a long drive planned for your next family holiday or excursion, it would be prudent to make sure that not only do you know where you are going but just what is the best route to get there.

So beyond considering what time of day to drive in order to avoid traffic (if possible), try downloading a GPS app like the ones at Scout to help guide you smoothly to your destination – always remembering however to fix your phone in a mount, as your attention must be on the road. If you prefer a physical Sat Nav unit, Snooper have a selection of devices to help you out.

The last thing you want is to have packed the family (and bags) into car and realise you’re not quite as certain as you thought about your path, or that an unforeseen road closure has forced you to abandon your chosen route. 

luggage

Pack Your Car the Night Before

Not many of us enjoy the act of packing, but it does signify the start of your much desired and deserved time off.

So if you are going on holiday you should make sure to have organised your packing to the best of your ability. This will help you avoid any unwanted stresses such as forgetting important items or realising that you’ve packed too much stuff to fit the family in your new Ford car with you.

So make sure that not only are you being as efficient as possible when filling your bags and suitcases, but that you also do so in plenty of time. It is never a bad idea to load up the car the night before your departure. That way all you have to worry about the next morning is a good breakfast and driving off for your next holiday.

Horizn Studios, the company behind “the world’s smartest design luggage”, have a variety of top bags and luggage to help you during this process. Such as the Model M Cabin Trolley, which Horizn Studios described as being “Designed and engineered by international specialists with the finest materials”.

Speaking about the Model M, Horizn say that by being “constructed with durable Nylon and exquisitely finished with Vacchetta leather, the Model M has an easy-reach front pocket to allow you to safely stow away your laptop, files and gadgets. A space-efficient, inner compartment (including a removable laundry bag) together with the Trolley’s light weight ensures maximum space for packing.”

Breakdown Coverage and Travel Insurance

Fingers crossed your car will not break down, but should it occur, you need to be prepared. Breakdown cover is essential, and you will also want to check that your breakdown company still covers you if you are travelling abroad.

When staying within the UK for your holidays, you might think that travel insurance isn’t necessary but it is absolutely recommended. By taking out insurance with someone such as Freedom Insure you will be covered in case you have to cancel your holiday even before you arrive at your destination, giving you peace of mind when out on the open road. 

You’re better off having it and not needing it, than needing it and not having it.

car wheel

Check Tyres

In the theme of safety one should always check your car’s tyres before setting out on long car journeys.

By checking your tyre’s tread depth, and making sure that all is in order before departing, you will be at peace knowing that your car can maintain a good grip on wet roads. And by checking your tyre pressure, your car will be able to handle the roads as it should, providing you with an incident free journey.

Tyresafe.org is a fantastic resource for all things tyre safety, so by checking their site for tips and tricks before you set out, and even by popping into your local Ford garage, you can make sure you’ve done everything you can.

Provide Entertainment

Once you have finally made it into the car, you will certainly want to have some entertainment to help pass the time.

There are plenty of ways to help you and the family have the most enjoyable experience possible when driving, such as a host of car games, and of course there is not much that can beat listening to a selection of your favourite music.

If you are looking at your current stereo and thinking that it could use with a bit of an upgrade, picking up something from a retailer like Car Audio Centre, with USB connectivity or Bluetooth capabilities, can help provide a nice alternative to whatever is playing on the radio.

Simply hook up your phone to the new stereo for your favourite tunes, or even put on one of your cherished podcasts to help make that epic drive just that bit more enjoyable. And then before you know it, you will have arrived safe and sound, ready to relax.