Last year, according to The Independent three quarters of us stayed in the UK for our holiday destination. Our beautiful country undoubtedly has a lot to offer with popular destinations like Yorkshire, The Cotswolds, Devon, Cornwall, Norfolk and the Lake District to name just a handful seeing a huge influx of visitors at peak times. This places a lot of pressure on our stressed road networks and services and can mean the journey to and from holiday can be long, gruelling and troublesome.
With more of us hitting the UK’s roads at the same time, how do we keep our cool and arrive in blissful anticipation for our well-earned break? The key to success is all down to what you do before you leave.
Pack like a pro.
I’ve been trying to hone my packing list for some years now but nevertheless there are always a couple of items that travel the 500 miles round trip without ever being used. I now have a running list of things I have forgotten in the past that would have made a difference. This year I ordered our shopping to arrive to our holiday cottage, it worked so much better and meant I didn’t have to drag the kids around a busy and unfamiliar supermarket after a 6 hour journey. Also check if there are laundry facilities, it might mean you can pack a little lighter and throw a couple of loads on throughout the week instead if you need to.
However this is not just about what you pack but also about how you pack, it’s just not comfortable being crammed in between bags and boxes, think about the space you have – one big suitcase might work better than smaller cases or vice versa. Try and keep unwieldy or heavy items in the boot space if you can. Pillows and blankets are much more comfortable to travel with.
Plan your stops.
It’s always good to have a conversation before you leave about when and where you think would be good to stop for rest breaks, fuel and food. If you have children they might not give you enough warning before they need the toilet. This is always a tricky one, especially if you’re on the motorway with nowhere safe to stop. Take into consideration what they are drinking and when they are likely to need to stop. Leaving your stops to chance particularly in an area you’re unfamiliar with can quickly turn your journey into a family feud fest.
Time your travel.
We all know there are popular holiday destinations that are best travelled out of peak times, although leaving at the crack of dawn or travelling through the night is not for everyone. If you need to travel at peak times, be prepared and accept it is what it is.
Plan your route.
Whether you have a sat nav or map it’s always good to check the directions from the holiday accommodation if you’re offered them. Sometimes sat nav’s don’t take you to the exact location so local knowledge is useful too. We also found that the sat nav took us down the most challenging of narrow roads where quite frankly, the term single track was even pushing it a bit. The sensors were going mad and the brambles were scratching and scraping at the paintwork, this is a time we were happy to have taken out the Smart Insurance!
Prepare snacks and drinks.
Having a stash of food, snacks and drinks on board is one way to be prepared for long queues or unexpected situations. Think about snacks that won’t get too messy or cause spillages. By using reusable containers, this means snacks don’t have to be eaten in one go and also the containers can be handy for the rest of the holiday and on the journey back too.
I’ve always been of the mind-set that the kids should be able to amuse themselves with the views out of the window and a few activities, but after a disastrous journey last year I decided to make technology my friend. I got a mobile broadband unit from Vodafone which turned the car into an amazing WiFi bubble and signed up to Amazon Prime. This turned out to be a real hit and everyone was happy and – with headphones – quiet, meaning less distraction for the driver.
In-car ‘just in case’ kit.
It’s always a good idea to have tissues, water, wet wipes, painkillers, mints or sweets on board, plus chargers for electronics if you’re using them. If your passengers are prone to travel sickness, pack a few sick bags too (or something that will work just as well).
Prepare for emergency.
Anything could happen on your journey from getting a flat tyre, breaking down or having an accident. Check your insurances and breakdown cover before you leave and make sure you have all the phone numbers and reference numbers to hand. A pen and notebook is also useful.
Be as safe as you can be.
One way to lessen the chances of something happening is to give the car a check-over before you leave, check tyre tread, tyre pressures and water levels as a minimum. Keep a high-vis jacket in the car and a torch. Make sure there is nothing in the car that can act as a missile if you have to do an emergency stop. Ensure the front seat passenger doesn’t put their feet on the dashboard, if the airbag is deployed it could cause serious injury.
Upgrade for comfort.
If your car is getting old or too small for your family or lifestyle, consider upgrading. Leasing is cheaper than getting finance on a new car so you might be surprised at what you can afford on a Personal Contract Hire (PCH) agreement (which is the same as a lease). Speak to Chris at Pinksauce Leasing or complete our Contact Us page to find out whether leasing a car is right for you.