Who is your best driving partner on long distance drives?
Who do you want sitting next to you in the front of your car on a long distance driving trip? Who will be your driving partner? Husband, girlfriend, stranger, sibling, parent?As part of your preparation it is worth thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of a life partner team, long standing friends of either same or opposite sex, relative strangers or a parent-child team. Do you prefer to be the principal driver or the navigator? Who will take the responsibility for route directions? Mechanical maintenance? Paying the bills? Checking the luggage? Many combinations are successful depending on your own personality, aspirations and experience. And I will add here too, your sense of humour.
Let me explain further. One day at a motor club meeting, a business man in his early forties was with his girlfriend and mentioned that he’d like to tackle the next Peking to Paris Motor Challenge which is run every few years. It is an international event run over several weeks with time and reliability trials as well as challenging road and driving conditions. He wanted his brand new girlfriend to be his co-driver. I caught her eye and she grimaced at me. She was obviously madly in love with her new man, but had very little motoring experience and was not competitive and wasn’t excited about possible camping or humble lodgings en route. I briefly explained that one needed to be self – sufficient; mechanically, physically and mentally with a strong team approach and wished them well. I’m not sure what they decided or whether their relationship would survive.
When times are tough, I’ve seen a driver and navigator get out of the car and have fisticuffs or leave one behind on the roadside. Yes, it is rare. However even with years of experience with driving with my husband, I still experience ‘instant divorce moments’ and mutter, ‘ I’m supposed to be enjoying myself. I am on holiday. Did I pay good money to be here? But things do go wrong. That is when a sense of humour is helpful, as is understanding and managing each other’s reactions and foibles.
Some questions you could ask yourself and your driving partner are;
- Do I have a serious petrol head sitting next to me?
- If I do.. how will it affect my holiday?
- How competitive am I?
- What are my priorities?
- What is my attitude to time? deadlines?
- What is my personality type?
- How do I respond to stress? What are my trigger points?
- What is the best way to manage stressful situations?
A dear friend of mine says he never drives long distances with his wife as they always have huge fights. Sat Nav devices such as a Tom Tom or Garmin have saved many serious divorce moments and reduced stress inside the car cabin. But beware that even Sat Navs can be wrong especially in rural areas.
Preparation is always the key for successful long distance driving. So give thought to who will be your driving partner, remembering that your particular small team needs to survive day after day, cramped in a small car space dealing with many road and driving conditions. You want value for your holiday time and time and to finish the drive with happy memories.