Road trips are a great way to spend your holidays with friends or family and really see the sights along the way. Unfortunately without the proper planning they can also turn into a complete nightmare but with Abel’s helpful tips you’re well on your way to a great drive.
- Plan your trip well
- Prepare yourself and your vehicle
- Drive smart; save money and arrive safely
- Take care of your passengers
Plan Your Trip
While it may be tempting to just load the car up and hit the road, you may be missing some very important steps. Just like any other trip, you really do need to plan your long drives.
- Book your accommodation in advance to make sure you’ll have somewhere for adequate rest along the way. Never rely on finding a spare bed in the next town, particularly if you’re driving in regional areas
- Avoid rush hour traffic. Nothing makes a long drive worse than spending an extra two hours in stop-start traffic. If you are driving near any major cities, avoid doing so anywhere near peak hour
- Plan to stop for at least 10 – 15 minutes every couple of hours along the way. It may sound like a waste of time but it can only take one momentary lapse in concentration to end more than just your road holiday! Pull over and have a snack or take a closer look at some of the local sights
- Always allow extra time for unexpected stops. Running to a tight schedule and allowing no room for delays is a sure way to have everyone on edge from the beginning. Allow yourself plenty of time and if you do end up getting a flat or needing a couple of extra toilet breaks its no big deal, you’ve got all day, right?
- If you are planning a long solo trip, bring some form of hands-free attachment for your phone. You never know when you might want to take a call and of course, you don’t want to be caught driving while holding your phone. Not only is it unsafe but you could land yourself with a hefty fine to go with it
- Make sure your vehicle is roadworthy. Avoid unnecessary fines and breakdowns by giving your car a thorough check over. Make sure you have sufficient fluid levels, all lights are functional and your tyres are in good order
- If you are driving in regional areas, plan your fuel stops as well. You should always plan to fill up long before you run out, especially when your next service station may be 200km away!
Preparation is Key
Once you’you’ve got your trip planned its time to prepare yourself and the vehicle. These tips may seem minor but can easily be the difference between an uncomfortable day in the car or a fun trip with friends.
- Get plenty of sleep. Both before and during the trip, make sure you are getting plenty of rest. Studies have shown that driving while tired is no better than driving under the influence of alcohol; hardly a risk anyone should be taking for the sake of a couple more hours rest!
- This one should go without saying but we’re going to say it anyway… do not drink alcohol before you set off. Even a beer or two can be enough to make you drowsy and lose concentration
- Eat before you drive. Even though you are almost entirely sedentary, long drives can be very tiring so make sure you eat before each stint behind the wheel to keep your energy and concentration levels up
- Pack an eski or cooler bag with snacks and drinks so you have something to munch on while you drive and stay well hydrated
- Don’t immediately reach for the caffeine. It may seem obvious that caffeine will help you stay awake for longer, just being awake is not enough. It may even help to disguise signs of fatigue over a long period so while you may be awake, your concentration levels will continue to drop
- Wear comfortable clothing and footwear. Soft, baggy clothes and a pair of thongs are often the best choice as they are cool and comfortable and you can easily take your shoes off in the car
Now, you’ve got your trip planned, everything is ready to go and its time to hit the road. There are just a few things to keep in mind while you drive as well.
- Try to share the driving responsibilities with others where you can. This will allow you to eat, sleep and relax without having stop. You also get a better chance to look around and take in the scenery
- If you are driving alone, turn the radio on and crack the window a bit to keep some fresh air circulating, this can help you stay alert for longer
- Minimise fuel consumption by removing any unnecessary weight and try to keep your acceleration smooth and consistent. That 50kg of tools rolling around in your boot can really make a difference to fuel economy on a long drive
- Keep the radio on to listen to relevant traffic reports so you can anticipate any additional down time.
Take Care of the Cargo
Particularly if you are driving with young children, your trip may become miserable if your passengers become irritable.
Handy Hint:If you are driving a hire car, familiarise yourself with the common controls before you hit the road. You don’t want to be searching for the wipers when your windscreen is already covered!
With these helpful tips in mind you can be sure your road trip experience will be an unforgettable one for all the right reasons. The most important tip of all? Buckle up and enjoy the ride!