merry christmas

Our top tips on surviving the long Christmas drive

18th Dec, 2018

Christmas is a time for family. For loving them, cherishing them, and arguably most importantly, getting shedloads of presents from them. In order to do that though, you’ve got to make it down to them first. Long journeys are par for the course for many people at this time of year, but that doesn’t necessarily make them any easier. Don’t worry though – we’ve got a couple of tips that can help make that journey positively fly by, so you’ll be enjoying Christmas dinner in no time.

Preparing your car for the trip

At the very top of your list to prepare will be the car itself. Poor car maintenance can cause you a lot of problems further down the line, and nobody wants to have a breakdown that might mean they have to prematurely scrap their car. Here’s a quick list of the most handy things to check before you set off:

  • Your tyres – look at both tread and pressure
  • Water, coolant, and antifreeze levels in the engine
  • Windscreen wiper blades
  • Rear lights and headlights

The legal minimum tread depth for tyres is 1.6mm, but most authorities recommend a tread depth of at least 3mm. Worn tyres mean that in wet weather you can easily find yourself aquaplaning (a fancy term for skidding), whereas the wrong tyre pressure can similar affect steering and braking. Your engine might not cope too well unless it’s got good reserves of all the most important fluids as well, so don’t forget about that, and your wipers and lights need to be in good condition so that you can both see and be seen at all times.

santa driving

Avoid tiredness on the road

Tiredness is one of the key enemies of the modern driver, so it’s wise to do everything humanly possible in advance to avoid running out of energy while you’re still on the road. Sleep experts advise getting at least seven hours of sleep for two days running in order to build your energy reserves for the big journey. Don’t forget to take breaks when you’re driving too, and increase their frequency according to how long the journey is. A good trick is to chew gum, as the repetitive process increases circulation and general alertness.

However, regardless if you’re chewing or not, make sure you take a break if:

  • You’re yawning a lot
  • You start to feel stiff
  • Your eyes feel heavy
  • You’re day-dreaming, or staring fixedly at the car in front
  • Your car wanders out of lane (however briefly!)

Even if you don’t feel any of the symptoms, listen to your gut feeling. If you have a nagging suspicion you should take a break, make sure you do. The alternative is far worse than a half-hour delay.

Stay fuelled up (and we don’t mean the car)

happy family

If you’re a parent, you won’t need us to tell you how vital snacks and drinks are. As well as bringing some for the little ones though, make sure you take some for yourself too, especially if you’re the driver! Having vitamin-rich snacks and water on hand allows you to stay fed and watered for longer, so you can power on through the journey. Of course, the downside is that you might need to have more bathroom stops… but we’ll leave the rationing to your discretion!

Keep yourself and your passengers entertained

This can be either a doddle or the hardest thing in the world, depending on the age of your passengers and what time of day you’re leaving. Some people choose to leave early in the morning or later at night so that children are more likely to sleep through the majority of the journey. Failing that, though, CD audiobooks are always a good failsafe, if you can find an audiobook that everyone can agree upon. To be honest, they’re still a good idea even if you’re travelling alone.

You might even consider another alternative; you can get foreign-language teaching audio CDs so you can do a bit of learning on your journey. You might be surprised at how much the journey whizzes by, and when you see Grandma this year you’ll be able to say ‘hi’ to her in German! (It’s ‘hallo’. Presumably the lessons on the actual CDs get more complex than that.)

Plan your stops

If you’ve made the journey several times before, it’s wise to plan out where you’ll stop along the way, even if they’re only rough ballparks. If nothing else, this can give you a point of reference for bored children asking ‘are we there yet?’ It also helps you to manage your energy levels, stretch your legs, and give you all an opportunity for bathroom breaks. Depending on how late in the evening it is you’re going, you might want to stop and have dinner somewhere along the way.

Of course, sometimes the strains of these sorts of journeys can be a little too much for your car. Or you may just be thinking about a new set of wheels in the New Year. Either way, if you decide to scrap your car, that’s where we can help! We’ve specifically designed the process to be as simple and easy as possible. All you need to do is enter your car reg and postcode onto our site, and we’ll instantly send you your very own scrap car quote.