Cover image for 'What do you need to do to prepare for a long car journey?'

What do you need to do to prepare for a long car journey?

Published: 29 July 2022

Depending on who you are, a car trip can either be a source of excitement or dread for you, it depends if you’re a comfortable driver or if you worry about the little things! Most of the time, things can run a lot smoother if you just prepare properly for your journey, as this will help you in the long run.  

Pre-journey checks 

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

Firstly, you should check your oil level and 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 at if all of your lights are working, including your headlights, brake lights, indicators and reserving 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 vital safety features.  

It’s also a good idea to check 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 – then take your sunglasses!  

Pack the essentials  

You should also have certain 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, including a few snacks in case you get peckish while driving!  

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/distract 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 from asking the dreading question ‘are we there yet?’! And make sure you have entertainment yourself, this could be in the form of a good playlist of music, audiobook or new podcast, as this will keep you alert and engaged. 

Expect the unexpected 

When you’re driving, you never know what you’re going to come across, 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 and allow extra time if you’re on a tight schedule.  

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. This will save you from stressing or worrying about it when you’re on the road already driving. 

We always find that it’s 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 and it’s a fun time, 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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