What better way to celebrate this time of year than by planning the perfect Christmas trip?
Whether you are travelling to stay with friends and family, or you are going away by yourself over the festive season, we’re here to ensure your journey goes exactly to plan.
Curl up by the fire and grab a cup of warm cocoa as you plan a Christmas trip you’ll remember for years to come.
Make Sure Your Car Is Ready for Winter
A well-maintained vehicle is far less likely to break down than one that isn’t cared for.
Make sure that you check your spare tyre too!
If your windscreen wipers look damaged, you should have them replaced before making the trip so that you can see the road ahead with ease.
If something isn’t quite right with your car, it is definitely worth booking a winter health check in the run up to your trip.
You can keep yourself and your loved ones safe and ensure that you get to your destination right on time.
Plan Your Route
Did you know that Friday evenings are always the busiest – especially in the lead up to Christmas?
The Friday before Christmas is actually known as ‘Frantic Friday’ as a result, so you may want to think about driving on an earlier day when the roads will be quieter.
Be sure to plan your route in advance and check for traffic updates as you drive. You don’t want to encounter unexpected road works along the way.
Keep a physical map in your car just in case your phone dies or loses signal. Even if you’ve done this drive countless times, this can be reassuring to have.
You may also wish to invest in Sat Nav software if you don’t currently have this.
Remember and charge your phone as you drive by plugging your charger into a USB port, in case you need to call for assistance - and keep physical notes of any numbers you might need nearby.
You may want to avoid rural roads as these could be treacherous if the weather is bad, and staying away from big motorways can help you reduce the chances of getting caught in Christmas traffic jams if you are an anxious driver.
If you own an electric vehicle, then make sure that you charge the car the night before you set off. Take a note of where the public charging points are located along your route so that you can get to one should you need it.
You should also factor regular toilet breaks into your journey.
The driver may need to rest their eyes at a local hotel if it is a long distance drive, so make sure you book reservations in advance.
Lastly, you should double-check that you have breakdown cover in place before embarking on your Christmas trip.
Prepare for Any Situation
In addition to checking weather and traffic reports throughout your journey, you need to check that you have everything you need with you in the event of an emergency.
You can put together an emergency car kit which you can keep in your vehicle all-year round.
You can keep vital supplies including water, snacks, spare boots, a first-air kit and a high-vis jacket in your kit.
Pack plenty of warm jumpers and blankets too so that you won’t need to have the heating on the entire drive if it is particularly cold out.
Make a List…and Check It Twice
You don’t want to be sat at Christmas dinner wondering if you’ve locked the front door back at home.
When you make a list and check things off as you go, you can put your mind at ease - and give yourself proof which you can refer back to whenever something comes to mind.
You can also take photos of anything you want to remember having packed - or having turned off in your home before heading out.
Pack Away Your Christmas Presents
To ensure that no one tries to steal your presents, if you stop anywhere, try and park as close to the shop or petrol station as you can.
You should lock your car and leave all gifts in the boot with a cover placed over them.
When you arrive at your destination, park close to the entrance and lock the car doors between each trip back and forth with your belongings.
When it comes to packing up your car in the first place, footwells should be kept clear, but you can make use of the space under the front seats and in the glove compartment.
If you have walking boots in the car, you can keep smaller items in them if you’re running out of space.
As you place items in the car, you want to keep the centre of gravity in the car low and reduce weight over the wheels.
Place heavier, bigger items at the bottom, towards the front and centre of the car.
Take care not to overload the roof rack if you have one, and don’t forget to pack the essentials in your haste to pack the presents!
You should never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
When your Christmas trip is coming to a close, you should wait until late the next day to drive home if you have been drinking the night before.
It may be worth extending your stay and driving home at a time when you know you haven’t had anything to drink for a few days.
There are plenty of great non-alcoholic alternatives out there if you want to steer clear of alcohol completely.
Don't Drive in Extreme Weather
The weather in the UK can be unpredictable at the best of times, never mind in winter.
You should check the weather forecast in the run up to your trip so that you know what to expect - if the weather is particularly bad then you may want to consider delaying the journey until it has brightened up.
If it is icy out, try and stick to gritted roads where possible. Avoid flooded roads so that you can reduce the likelihood of aquaplaning.
Brake, accelerate and steer gently so that you can stay safe.
Let someone know when you are setting off, so that they will know when to expect you.
Make a Christmas Playlist
You can make your own Christmas road trip playlist in the days leading up to your trip, so that you won’t have to mess around with the radio as you drive.
You can leave out all those Christmas songs you’ve heard one too many times, in favour of those Christmas classics you never get tired of listening to.
If you're travelling with kids, then this could be a great activity to do together in advance of the journey.
Give Your Car a Christmas Clean
When driving in the low winter sun, visibility can be a real issue.
Aside from keeping sunglasses in your car, it can help to give your windscreen a good clean so that you can see where you’re going - even in the dark.
Using glass cleaner or white vinegar, you can polish your windows and get them shining in no time.
If you want to clean your car’s exterior, remember to clean the wheels, number plate and headlights.
Throw out the rubbish that has been accumulating in the backseat and give your car a good hoover - small actions can make a big difference.
Keep the Kids Entertained
If you are travelling with young kids in the car, then you should think particularly hard about when to make the journey.
Whilst driving at night may mean that the roads are quieter and the kids could sleep through the journey, you will probably find the roads are busier than usual at this time of year.
You may have to leave early in the morning to avoid traffic jams and congestion, but this could upset your child’s normal routine.
Make sure that you put your belongings in the boot – or on the roof rack – so that the kids have plenty of space in the backseat.
When driving with kids, you should consider packing the following for your Christmas trip:
- A packed lunch
- Downloaded Christmas Films or DVDs
- Sick bags
- First-aid kit
- Anti-bacterial wipes
- Rubbish bag
- Microfibre towel
Factor in toilet breaks and rest breaks at motorway service stations or at a tourist attraction along the way if you have the time to spare.
Make sure that your kids are dressed in comfy clothes so that they can relax and hopefully sleep for some of the journey - ready to celebrate Christmas when you arrive at your destination.
We hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a great time on your trip.