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Dublin: 16 °C Sunday 20 May, 2018

7 top tips for preparing for a long car journey

Riding along in my automobile…

IF YOU’VE YET to take your summer holliers or you’ve a long car trip coming up, you’ve probably got a long to-do list whirling around your head at the moment.

From what you’re going to wear, to where you’re going to stay, there’s so much planning and preparation to think about for when you arrive at your destination.

First though – you have to get there, and there’s more to a long car journey than just hopping in the car, so we’ve rounded up seven tips to help you prepare for your journey and get there safely.

1. Plan your route

Uses Ireland's M8 Source: topgold via Flickr/CC

It probably seems too obvious to need to be stated, but planning your route could save you loads of time on the road.

From finding out where there are roadworks, to knowing which towns to avoid if at all possible, a little planning never hurt nobody.

Probably the best app to use is Google Maps  (Apple & Android) for pure route advice, but there are more touristy apps out there that will help you find restaurants and scenic spots along the way. Try ‘My Irish Guide’ (Apple) or the family-friendly ‘Are we there yet?’ (Android).

It’s best to avoid using apps while driving – so print out your route once it’s planned.

2. Pack the car properly

Source: Giphy

Another ‘things to do before you even get in the car’ tip, is pack for various eventualities.

While it’s nice to hop in the car and just drive into the sunset, chances are – particularly if you have kids – you’ll want to put a little more thought into it than that.

Depending on how long the trip is this can mean anything from snacks to overnight cases and stuff to keep the kids occupied (more below).

Also, the car itself needs to be looked after – do you have a spare tyre, jumper cables and a reflective triangle? How about a first aid kit, torch or a high-vis vest? All worth investing in for day to day driving but particularly for longer trips.

3. Get a good night’s sleep

Source: Giphy

You may not realise it, but your trip starts the night before – by ensuring that you get a proper sleep.

Chances are you’ll be up early to get ahead of the traffic, so aim not to be frantically throwing your clothes into a bag at midnight, but getting into bed at a decent hour to get close enough to your eight hours sleep.

You’ll thank us on the road.

4. Fill ‘er up

Source: rbrwr via Flickr/CC

While driving in cities and suburbs means you’re unlikely to ever be too far from a petrol station, when you’re on longer trips and you’re unfamiliar with the area it would be wise to fill up the tank when you get the chance.

While there are apps that can help you find petrol stations, it’s better to be safe than sorry in this instance, and not run out of petrol in the middle of nowhere.

5. Take breaks

Source: Giphy

It’s really important to stay rested and alert when you’re driving, especially at night.

According to the RSA, ‘fighting sleep at the wheel is as dangerous as driving over the legal alcohol limit.’

Here are some tips to help you stay alert and keep driving for another hour:

  • Find a safe place to park – there are generally service areas on the motorways, and often you won’t be too far from some sign of civilisation in Ireland
  • The get some fresh air and stretch your legs for a few minutes
  • Nap for no more than 15 minutes

6.  Keep the kids amused

Source: Giphy

If you have kids with you on a long journey you know that you’re entering the first circle of hell as soon as the ‘are we there yet?’ questions start. From separating them with pillow walls to stop the fighting (was that just us?) to playing endless versions of ‘I Spy’ there are a couple of better ways to keep the kids occupied that won’t make you want to lose your mind before you get there.

While the fancier cars have built in DVD players in the back seat, we’re not going to assume everyone has that, so here are a couple of more low-tech solutions.

  • Audio books – you can stock up on these in the library. If your kids like Harry Potter, you’re in luck – there’s no way you can reach any destination in Ireland before you reach the end of this seven-book epic. 
  • Card games – games that the kids can play in the back seat that don’t have tons of little parts that will spill or get lost are the best kind of games to have on board.
  • Take breaks – factoring in a couple of interesting stops will keep the kids focused on their next fun thing to do, and provides conversation about the last fun pit stop they made. Plus you might wear them out enough that they’ll fall into a blissful, well-deserved (for you) sleep.

7. Bring dem beatz

Source: Giphy

Make sure you stock up on plenty of great music for the journey. From making playlists specifically for the trip to putting all your favourites together and playing them on shuffle, great music to sing along to will keep your spirits and your energy up.

Do you have any other tips for us? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation on Twitter at #DriverSafer.

Wherever you’re planning on heading off to, make sure to drive carefully and get there safely.  Check out the Liberty Insurance Safety Centre for lots of tips on how to stay safe on the road with videos, blogs and safety guides.

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