Magazine

How to prepare for a long car journey

•    Check the car over thoroughly
•    Pack the essentials
•    Expect the unexpected

A car trip can be a source of excitement or dread, depending on how you feel about driving a great distance and even who you have in the car! But the majority of the time, it’s how you prepare for the journey that will help you in the long run.

Pre-journey checks

It is vital that you do certain checks on your car before setting off, doing these may avoid certain issues to the engine and ensure safety while driving.

Firstly, you should check your oil level, windscreen washer fluid and top them up if needed, you should also do a visual check of your tyres to see if the tread is within safe limits and then a pressure test to ensure they’re inflated correctly. Next, you should look if all of your lights are working, including your headlights, brake lights, indicators and reversing lights. Finally, put your windscreen wipers on and see if they function efficiently.

If your bulbs, tyres or wipers are faulty or not working at 100%, you should replace before setting off, as all of these are important safety features. You should also look at what the weather is going to be like while you’re driving, as you may need to adjust your driving style if it’s snowing, raining or if there’s dazzling sunshine.

Pack the essentials

You should also have particular items in your car in case you breakdown, are involved in an accident or are stuck in a traffic jam. Extra water, a breakdown kit, phone charger, cash, blankets, first aid kit and jump leads are all things that you should consider taking with you and keeping in your car at all times, as these may help you in a countless number of situations.

If you are taking children in the car, it’s also a good idea to keep some food and drink handy for them, as well as different ways to entertain them, this may be a portable DVD player, iPad/tablet or games for them to play. If it’s a long journey, you’ll need a lot of different ways to keep them distracted!

Expect the unexpected

When you’re driving, you never know what you’re going to encounter, so for this reason, you should always assume something is going to go wrong, whether that’s more traffic than you anticipated, a major road that you were going to take has been closed or you need to stop more often than you thought you’d have to – you need to prepare for everything.

It’s for this reason that it’s recommended you plan your route and keep your sat nav device on and visible in case you need to make a diversion. Leave with plenty of time to spare and try to look at the best places you can stop at on the way, whether that’s a quick leg stretch or to grab a bite to eat. You should also have your breakdown cover’s contact details saved in your phone and written down in the car should you need to use it.

It’s always best to be over-prepared than under-prepared in these situations, as you never know what your journey is going to bring. Most of the time, it’s easy and problem-free, but if you do run into an issue, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that you have everything you need at hand.

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