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Driving tips and other life stuff

Driving tips for long journeys

That moment in the WhatsApp group when someone says "Let's go on an adventure!" and someone else replies "Wooo, yeah, road trip!"

14,897 messages later you've FINALLY all agreed on where to go. There's just one small problem: it's a 6 hour drive away.

On a long journey, you're expecting a lot from your car - and from yourself - especially if you don't usually drive so far. So, here's how to make sure the journey's a smooth one.

Prep the car

  1. Check everything's topped up

    At the very least, check your tyre pressure, fuel, oil and water before you set off. These are the most common things to give you car trouble on your way, so make sure you tick them off.

    Breaking down on Christmas eve? Missing your little sister's graduation? Or just having a car full of mates stropping but pretending it's fine. Not want you want.

  2. Pack a car kit

  3. Summer or winter, there are some things you're going to need with you on a long journey:

    Summer trip list Winter trip list All the time
    Sunglasses Warm clothes Jump leads
    Windscreen reflector Torch Map
    Sun cream Ice scraper Sweeties
    Bottle of water De-icer Cloth or chamois
    Picnic rug Blanket Carrier bags

    Plan everything

    So many things to go wrong: traffic, weather, missed turnings - do yourself a favour and plan as much as you can before you set off.

    1. Have a route worked out

      Use Google Maps or your satnav - but also use your actual mind. Having an awareness of the general route means you're in a much better position to find an alternative if your way is blocked by traffic.

      Obviously you're not going to remember every bend and junction, but if you can pick out a few landmarks, buildings, bridges, tunnels - whatever stands out - it will help build a picture of where you're going.

    2. Leave early

      A survey we did found 58% of people felt calmer in the car when they had plenty of time to complete their journey. Don't push it to the limit - leave as much time as you can for all the little things that always go wrong.

    3. Keep a map in your car

      Yep, even if you have a satnav. You can't always rely on a fancy machine to get you out of a tricky situation - especially if you're in the middle of nowhere with no signal.

      Knowing you got to your destination using your map skills alone will make you feel like an absolute hero. A real explorer right there.

    4. Check the weather forecast

      Before you leave. Bad weather makes everything slower and can even close off certain roads. If you don't know it's coming, getting stuck in major traffic is going to put a big dent in your travel time.

      This is when you're going to really thank yourself for doing your car prep before you left too. Bad weather + a car that isn't playing ball + a route you're not familiar = one stressed out driver.

    5. Stay focused

      Any kind of road trip sounds great until you're 3 hours in, your back is starting to ache, your usual radio stations are no longer in range and your stomach is doing that weird baby whale sound.

      Make sure you've got enough stuff to entertain yourself along the way. Download some podcasts and sort a driving playlist with a range of music to keep things interesting. Everyone loves a bit of Ed Sheeran but you might not feel so warm towards him by the end.

      Tip: Buy some interesting snacks for if you get stuck in standstill. You're not going to want that soggy sandwich you left home with.

    Don't drive tired

    Driving after a long day or a late night has some pretty bad side effects: drowsiness, irritability,'s quite a lot like drink driving to be honest.

    1. Rest up

      Plan on getting a good night's sleep before a long journey and avoid driving between midnight and 6am. You naturally feel like you should be sleeping, and that's a bad mental state to be in.

      Long journeys can start to feel boring pretty quickly, so if you're already struggling on the enthusiasm scale it's going to be a really draining drive.

    2. Take breaks

      If you're driving for hours at a time, factor in 15 minute breaks every 2 hours. It's the minimum rest you need to stay alert.

      If you start feeling drowsy at any time, stop at the next services to walk around. Don't rely on copious amounts of coffee or energy drinks either. Drinking a bottle of water, stretching your legs and getting some fresh air will do the trick.


Katey Joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of all things social and content. She passed her driving test in 2015 and her first car is a Toyota Yaris T3 named Tyrone.