Preparing for longer car journeys
A key part of completing a happy and safe longer journey with the family in tow is planning ahead.
It may seem obvious, but one of the most important things in making long journeys both easier and safer is to ensure that you, and your car, stay hydrated. Recent research has shown that three out of four people on long road trips in Britain are likely to be de-hydrated - a major cause in behaviour changes, like irritability, bad temper and road rage.
It is particularly important for drivers to maintain fluid intakes if they are to face the congestion and arrive at their destination safe and sane. Even an hour's drive across a city can result in the loss of as much as half a litre of water which needs to be replaced if drivers are to remain calm and comfortable.
Take a break
While caffeine-laden drinks are indispensable in giving drivers temporary relief from fatigue while travelling, the best option during a normal daytime family trip is plenty of stops to give everyone a break and a stretch as well as lots of water for passengers and driver. Soft drinks and tea and coffee can also contain ingredients that act as a diuretic: while they may initially quench the thirst, ultimately, they’ll lead to more toilet stops. De-hydration can also be responsible for lethargy, lack of concentration and alertness as well as headache - none of which makes for safe and happy drivers.
Avoid road rage
Longer journeys are often marked by disputes and ill temper due to the almost inevitable delays and frustration. By making some basic preparations, being mindful of driving style and keeping fluid levels up, then everyone can enjoy their outing.
Checklist for Happy Journeys
Ensure driver and car fluid levels are topped up, but while the car should be full of fuel, an overfull driver is likely to suffer from drowsiness. Both should be ready for the journey ahead, the driver refreshed and alert, the car serviced.
Begin the holiday as soon as the trip begins. This means wearing comfortable clothes and having plenty of snacks, drinks and treats for all the family in the car.
For kids it means making sure that they have got things to keep them entertained. Small, quiet toys are ideal while story CDs for older kids and sing-alongs for younger ones help to pass the time. Many kids these days are happy to play the latest games available on their mobile phones but be wary of travel sickness induced by constant concentration. Old favourites like 'I Spy' can also help to fend off travel sickness by encouraging the child to concentrate on items outside of the car.
Make sure that the car is well ventilated, if you have air-conditioning use it. A window blind can also help to deflect annoying sunlight.
Many children, and adults, find it relaxing to sleep in the car. Pillows and covers are a helpful aid to this although it is obviously vital that all passengers remain restrained by their seat belts.
Plan the route, and an alternative, and plan breaks into the schedule. A 20-minute break every two hours is the ideal if travelling with a young family. Think about the timing of your journey. Setting off late at night or in the early hours of the morning may mean avoiding the jams but it is also the peak time for fatigue related accidents.
If stuck in heavy traffic, keep plenty of distance between you and the car in front. This will help to keep pressure off the driver.
But most importantly enjoy the journey and your holiday!
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