Heading overseas, with much of the country unable to take foreign holidays due to the cost and complexity of the Covid rules this summer, is not an option for many of us.
However, taking a staycation for some of us can bring on more stress than relaxation according to new research by Europcar UK, the lack of car use over the past 18 months can be a cause of concern for some drivers. There’s also a question mark over whether the family car is ‘fit for purpose’ for the big trip away.
The research found that over half of UK motorists (58%) worry that their car is unreliable and will not make the trip. Despite this, 55% admitted they don’t do basic vehicle checks, such as oil levels or tyre pressure, before embarking on a long journey, with a worrying one in ten admitting to never doing this.
Over half of Brits also admitted to being on a car journey where the rear or side windows were obstructed – whilst not illegal if you have side mirrors, it is unlawful for your vehicle to be over its recommended weight.
So, what does make us nervous behind the wheel? For men, it’s other drivers (29%), while for women, it is driving on unfamiliar roads (30%). A similar percentage of men and women agree that driving to a new location is nerve-wracking (18% men vs 16% women).
In reality, the last thing a family needs is to breakdown because their car wasn’t up to the journey. If you doubt the reliability of your car, give us a call to book a summer health check.
Check everything before you set off
Before hitting the road, run a few basic checks, such as tyre pressure, tread depth, coolant, and oil levels. Drive over to Mr T Autos, and my team will run an in-depth summer health check. Even with regular servicing, your car might not be ready for clocking on average 1,105 travel miles for a holiday journey.
The following will need checking:
- tyre pressure
- oil level
- coolant level
- exhaust pipe
My technicians will conduct a summer health check service, which includes checks on air conditioning, fluid levels, screen wash and tyre tread together with engine coolant. You will receive a comprehensive advisory report detailing all the inspection checks.
My guys also have a few tips on how to get ready and enjoy the journey…
Packing up everything safely
If you are going to be towing a trailer, you need to think about efficient weight distribution. Ben’s advice: “The centre of gravity of the load needs to be about 10-20 cm in front of the trailer or caravan’s wheels, which you can achieve by loading slightly more weight in the front half of the trailer or caravan than in the rear, ensuring that you don’t exceed the recommended towing weight for your vehicle, of course.
“You should never load a trailer so that it is lower at the rear. It should be either level or, ideally, slightly nose down. Secure any load to the trailer with tie-downs where available, and you’re good to go.
“Remember it is a legal requirement to use extended mirrors when towing. This ensures you have full visibility around the vehicle for safety purposes.”
And here are two more packing tips from Ben for your holiday: “Because of the heavier load, your tyre pressure will need to be adjusted, according to your handbook. Plus remember, the weight in the rear of the car lifts the front, so, to avoid the headlights from blinding oncoming traffic at night, the beam should be adjusted too.”
Once you have made sure to stow your luggage away safely, and everybody is buckled up and ready to set off on your journey! Here are some tips from me that will help you reach your destination safely and more relaxed.
When you’re on the road
Long-distance driving aims to arrive safely and in good spirits; speed should not be your primary focus! Long trips demand frequent rest stops as fatigue not only affects your concentration but also dulls your reflexes and judgment and increases the danger of having an accident.
Don’t stress yourself as the driver. You should be aware of overall discomfort, muscle aches in the neck, arms and shoulders, or blurred vision. This physical manifestation is your body telling you it needs a break. Turning the music up, drinking caffeine or stopping to take a short walk may all be short-term fixes, but they do not cure tiredness. If you start to feel sleepy, either trade places with another driver or pull over to take a nap.
How to deal with bored passengers
Passengers, especially children, may be more prone to travel sickness. Over-the-counter drugs are available for treating motion sickness but consider taking these pills before the trip starts. However, consult your doctor before giving your children any new medication.
Kids should not have their heads bent down looking at screens playing video games or watching movies; this downward-looking stance makes them feel dizzy or physically sick as it’s a natural reaction to the unnatural motion going on around them. Try and have the screens mounted higher – although really, what’s wrong with switching off electronic devices and looking out the window?
A passenger’s nausea is made worse in stop-start traffic or on bendy-windy country roads. You can make the situation better by adopting a smoother driving style (no sudden braking or harsh acceleration); it goes a long way towards reducing feelings of nausea – and it reduces fuel costs too.”
Avoiding travel sickness
- Move the poorly passenger to the middle in the back seats, or preferably the front, to see the road ahead.
- Drive smoothly and potholes
- Distract sufferers – even a family sing-along could help.
- Drink cola, eat ginger biscuits but avoid coffee.
- Use a pillow or head support to keep your head as still as possible.
- Operate air-con to keep fresh air circulating
- If you’re travelling with pets, take lots of breaks to stretch their legs and shake off nausea and give them water to refresh.