Every day there seems to be a new low-cost airline appearing, encouraging more and more Brits to visit foreign shores. However, with finances remaining on the tight side increasing numbers of British citizens are choosing to head off around the UK on a ‘staycation’ as opposed to a ‘vacation’. With that in mind, here is a ten-point preparation guide for enjoyable and safe travel whilst on your staycation:
1. Make sure that your car has been recently serviced
The last thing that you want on your staycation holiday is for your car to break down in an area that you are not familiar with. Ensuring that your car is serviced prior to your journey by a qualified mechanic can bring to light any underlying problems that may affect your journey and/or holiday. A service will also give you peace of mind that the car is fully prepared in terms of oil levels, tyre pressures and other internal workings.
2. Ensure that you have breakdown cover (and have the phone number to hand!)
In the days before your journey you should take an hour or two ensure that you have breakdown cover in place, and are aware of what it does or doesn’t cover. If you don’t have any in place you should make sure that you take out a policy that covers all of your needs, as different policies carry different benefits. When you have a policy in place you will receive a certificate that contains your policy details and the relevant breakdown numbers should the worst happen. You should keep this certificate in your glove box in case of an emergency.
3. Create a driving rota for extra-long journeys
Sharing driving duties with a partner or friend can help you get the rest that your eyes need from the repetition of the motorway. Staring longitudinally at the road can make you drowsy, putting yourself, your passengers, and other road users at risk of an accident. Changing seats every couple of hours will help to keep both of you alert ready for your next stint at the wheel.
4. Take frequent breaks
If you can’t share the driving role with someone else, ensure that you take a break from driving at least every two hours. Be sure to have a drink during the break and get some fresh air to keep your alertness up. This is also a good opportunity for toilet breaks and a leg-stretch – especially if you have kids travelling with you. Ensuring that you get a good night’s sleep the night before the journey can also help you to stay more alert in comparison to someone who has had just a couple of hours of sleep.
5. Set up travel updates
Long journeys are already tedious, without traffic jams and accidents prolonging the travel time. Where possible you should set up traffic alerts on your car stereo or satellite navigation system. You could also have one of your passengers keep tabs on the BBC Traffic website, which shows traffic problems on all roads across the UK along with their severity level. All of these will alert you to any upcoming traffic problems before you get there, giving you time to plan an alternative route to your staycation destination.
6. Start the journey early
It is a well-known fact that roads are clearer in the early hours than the middle of the day. Starting your journey at the break of dawn will allow you to make fast progress on your trip, before the bulk of motorists take to the road. An additional benefit to setting off early is that you can enjoy half a day extra on your staycation holiday!
7. Always have a physical road map on hand
Whilst satnavs are perhaps one of the best inventions in recent times they aren’t always reliable, particularly in rural areas where it is difficult to gain a signal. Investing in a road map for the car will save a bunch of time if you get lost in the great British countryside, and your satnav chooses that exact moment to throw a tantrum.
8. Plan an interesting route for your staycation journey
Whilst motorways are much faster at getting you places than rural roads, planning a route that takes you off the motorway and though quaint villages or towns every so often can make journeys much more bearable. It gives your eyes something else to look at besides the seemingly endless motorway, and also makes the trip more interesting for your passengers. You could also turn the journey into a landmark hunt for the kids to keep them occupied as you travel.
9. Take in-car activities for kids to do on the journey
It is almost guaranteed that the tots in the back will pop the “are we there yet?” question at some point of the drive, so keep boredom at bay by taking along some in-car activities for the kids. Something as simple as a colouring or puzzle book will keep their brains occupied and active, in turn preventing them from distracting you as you concentrate on the road.
10. Take a packed lunch
If you are travelling for more than a couple of hours, it is a good idea to take along a cool bag with sandwiches, snacks and drinks. Service stations can be packed with unhealthy and expensive food outlets, so taking your own food along can save money and time on the journey. Consuming small snacks on a frequent basis on the road can also help to keep your energy and concentration levels high until you get to your staycation destination. Try and avoid large meals as these can make you feel tired and lethargic, which can make your driving dangerous.