Preparing for a long car journey
That’s it! You’ve received the booking confirmation for your next holiday, you’ve signed and returned the rental contract and all that’s left to do now is make your way to your holiday destination.
The secret of a great holiday lies in great preparation. You can plan everything in advance, stage by stage, from checking your vehicle and researching your route to loading up the car and getting together the essential travel items for your road trip.
Taking the time to organise your car journey in advance helps avoid stress and fatigue and makes sure you make the most of your holiday.
Planning your route
There’s nothing like a well planned route to get your holiday off to a good start.
First of all, plot a loose route, find the shortest and quickest way to your destination and work out how long the journey will take.
Then make sure your GPS is working – it will be your greatest ally en route to your holiday destination. It’s also a good idea to pack a road atlas in case your GPS fails.
Remember to check up on the traffic situation. Find out which are the quietest days. This is the best way to enjoy a stress-free trip and keep the time you spend in traffic jams to a minimum. Sometimes it’s better to delay or advance your departure time by a couple of hours, or even a whole day, rather than find yourself crawling along in heavy traffic and spending longer than you bargained for in the car. Check out the weather conditions for the whole route and avoid travelling in very hot or wet conditions where possible.
Check your vehicle
Before setting out on a long drive, it’s essential you make sure your vehicle is in good working order. There are a number of things you can do yourself.
Firstly, check your tires for wear and air pressure – and don’t forget the spare! Remember to check your oil, screen wash, battery, brake liquid and coolant levels, and top them up if necessary.
Make sure that your brakes, steering and battery are in good order before you leave. You should also give your lights, windscreen and other windows a good clean to ensure optimum visibility.
And if you have the slightest doubt about the condition of your car, better be safe than sorry! Take it to a garage where a mechanic will be able to run a full check before you leave.
Essential travel items
With a long journey in front of you, it’s always best to be prepared – especially if you’re travelling with children.
You’ll find things go much more smoothly if you remember the basics like your GPS, telephone charger, sunglasses and paperwork (passport, driving licence, log book, green card, etc.).
Take some food for snacks and plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated during hot weather.
Plan some games and other activities (music, songs, riddles, CDs, tablet, etc.) to keep your kids busy and help the time pass more quickly. Don’t forget a first-aid kit containing some basic medicines, plasters, travel bands, antiseptic wipes, and some deodorant and a hot weather cooling spray to help you stay fresh.
Loading up the car
Loading your luggage into the car can be a bit of a headache and is often left until the last minute: the ideal recipe for a fraught and stressful departure!
If you can, think about loading up the car several hours before you set off. That way you’re sure to be ready and relaxed when you get behind the wheel.
Spread the weight of your luggage evenly through the car to ensure optimum driving comfort and avoid placing things on the rear shelf. They reduce your visibility and can transform into dangerous projectiles if you have to brake suddenly!
If you’re using a roof rack, roof box, bike carrier or trailer, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and check the fixings from time to time throughout the trip.
Make sure you’re well rested
It’s important to make sure you’re well rested before starting out on a long car journey. As you eat up the miles, you’ll start to tire and your reflexes and reaction times will start to slow. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before you leave. Lack of sleep – even if it’s only a few hours –increases the risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
Take regular breaks to stretch your legs and get some fresh air – ideally a 15-minute break every two hours or so. And whatever you do, stop as soon as you start to feel tired and take a few moments to sleep or rest.
If you follow all the advice on our checklist, you’ll be one of the best prepared travellers on the road in France!
Other methods of travel in France
Your holiday in France is approaching and you’ve planned to make the journey in a hire car or use another means of transport. Plan ahead, take the time to organise your trip and book in advance to avoid last-minute stress.
The advantage of taking the ferry is that it will carry your car across the water, from one country to another, allowing you to travel abroad in your own car and enjoy a hassle-free holiday.
Take you own car on a ferry to France with P&O Ferries.
In a hire car
One of the advantages of renting a car is the flexibility it gives you. You can travel as and when you please and rent it for as long as you want. It’s also a good way of keeping costs down by saving on the rental price and on maintenance and insurance costs.
Choose the car that’s right for you when you travel in France with RENTALCARS.
Train travel also has its advantages. It generally proves faster and more punctual than travelling by car, and keeps you out of the traffic jams. It promises a hassle-free journey on which you can sleep, eat, drink or even watch a film… The train is an excellent option if you have someone who can come and pick you up from a station close to your campsite.
The SNCF is France’s national rail company, offering fast and inexpensive train travel the length and breadth of the country.
TRAINLINE is Europe’s leading independent train ticket reseller and works with all major European rail operators.
Coach travel is one of the most inexpensive forms of transport you’ll find, with a wide range of companies offering low prices throughout the year. Like the train, choose this mode of transport if someone can come and pick you up from a station close to your campsite.
Take advantage of some great low prices on long-distance coach journeys in Europe with FLIXBUS.
Climb aboard a OUIBUS and discover a new way of travelling to over 140 different destinations.