The purpose of this blog is to reduce stress in the cabin so that long distance driving is as relaxed, safe and fun as possible. See my earlier posts for a variety of topics.
Let’s go through some of the general ways to keep angst to a minimum. These are some true and tested techniques whilst on the road for several days or weeks. These hints apply to self-drive holidays, rallies or any motoring challenge.
1) Always put your car to bed before yourself.
No matter how tired you are, no matter how bad the weather, no matter what dinner engagements beckon, you must put your car to bed first. This means fill up with fuel, check basic maintenance such as oil and water levels, check tyre pressures or any slow punctures, clean a dirty windscreen and anything else peculiar to your vehicle. This will save heaps of time and indeed anxiety the following day if your car is ready to go. Running out of fuel is guaranteed to raise angst.
2) Be luggage light.
Heavy suitcases are no fun to lug out of vehicles nor carry anywhere of distance. They also take more time to unpack and sort out. Keep a separate bag of various chargers for mobile phones, i pads, cameras. Some people insist on labelling their own chargers so it cannot be lost or confused with one’s partners. Also have a zip – up bag or similar, to keep items safe which you need at hand such as money, phone, maps, portable sat navs, camera, electronics, pen, tourist leaflets, mints, snacks, bottles of water etcetera. Use whatever you require for maximum easy organization.
3) Pay accommodation bills last thing at night.
Breakfast is over, bags are packed, the room checked for missing chargers and your partner is ready to hit the road. The last thing you want to do is to wait in a queue at Reception to pay bills or question items. Check if there is an easy online check-out system instead. Also where to deposit keys so you can depart effortlessly with your prepared and packed car.
4) Know how to leave the carpark.
Sounds simple but I’ve been caught out with either not having correct token, money or credit card, not knowing which exit ramp or indeed on which level was the exit. In huge carparks, memorize or take photo where your car is parked. One time I ‘lost’ my car in a massive multi – level car park and walked around for ages until a security guard approached me as a suspicious character.
5) Know your first navigation direction of the day
Spend time the previous evening quickly checking the following day’s first directions. Next morning, if you come to the first roundabout, or roadworks and detours, you need to think quickly and know which direction to follow. Sat navs do fail and having maps or a Plan B is necessary. I have been known to instruct my driver to go around a roundabout twice before I found the correct exit. My heart rate always rises uncomfortably when we drive off a ferry somewhere into a new country. There is no time to hesitate and one may be confronted with a new language, road rules and road signs, so be as prepared as possible.
What will the future holiday car look like? Today I read about a prototype vehicle which displays the driver’s heartbeat on the outer panels via electroluminescent paint and a heart monitor. Thank goodness my cars didn’t show this as I recall my ‘Oh No!’ moments and several instant divorce moments between driver and navigator on holiday trips.
We all have our own quirks and routines so work out what is best for you. Be thankful that no-one yet can see your heartbeat exposed on the car panels for the world to see.
Until next month, safe long distance driving.