Road trip
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Driving tips

Driving tips for long journeys

Prep the car

On a long journey, you're expecting a lot from your car - especially if you don't usually drive so far. Give yourself a fighting chance.

  1. Check everything's topped up

    At the very least, check your tyre pressure, fuel, oil and water before you set off. These are the most common things to give you car trouble on your way, so make sure you tick them off.

    Breaking down on Christmas eve? Missing your little sister's graduation? Not the one.

  2. Pack a car kit

  3. Summer or winter, there are things you need with you on a long journey:

    Summer trip list Winter trip list All the time
    Sunglasses Warm clothes Jump leads
    Windscreen reflector Torch Map
    Sun cream Ice scraper Sweeties

    Plan everything

    So many things to go wrong: traffic, weather, missed turnings - do yourself a favour and get as much planned as you can before you set off.

    1. Have a route worked out

      Use Google Maps or your satnav - but also use your actual mind. Having an awareness of the general route means you're in a much better position to find an alternative if your way is blocked by traffic.

    2. Leave early

      A survey we did found 58% of people felt calmer in the car when they had plenty of time to complete their journey. Don't push it to the limit - leave as much time as you can for all the little things that always go wrong.

    3. Keep a map in your car

      Yep, even if you have a satnav. You can't always rely on a fancy machine to get you out of a tricky situation.

    4. Check the weather forecast

      Before you leave. Bad weather makes everything slower and can even close off certain roads. If you don't know it's coming, getting stuck in major traffic is going to put a big dent in your travel time.

    Don't drive tired

    Driving after a long day or a late night has some pretty bad side effects: drowsiness, irritability, inattention...it's quite a lot like drink driving to be honest.

    1. Rest up

      Plan on getting a good night's sleep before a long journey and avoid driving between midnight and 6am. You naturally feel like you should be sleeping, and that's a bad mental state to be in.

    2. Take breaks

      If you're driving for hours at a time, factor in 15 minute breaks every 2 hours. It's the minimum rest you need to stay alert.

      If you start feeling drowsy at any time, stop at the next services to walk around. Think coffee will get you through? Nope - it'll just put the inevitable off for a brief time.


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Honor joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of words on the Young Driver's Guide and blog. Her first car is a Peugeot 206 cabriolet, which is a very sensible choice for the British climate. Follow her on .