How to plan driving home for Christmas
Christmas is coming and family members who are currently away will be feeling the call to return home. Perhaps you’re away at university or maybe working in another part of the country? No matter what the circumstances, this is the one time of year when being together really matters.
Although the roads are often exceptionally busy, for many of us, there are clear advantages to driving. You may need to bring luggage and perhaps have lots of presents to transport too. It can be a lot easier if you have your own wheels – or, as is increasingly happening, can borrow someone else’s. If a friend, for example, will not be using their car, then they may lend it to you to drive home and you can ensure it is fully covered with GoShorty.
GoShorty makes it incredibly easy to buy online, providing fully comprehensive insurance in minutes. You can take out insurance from an hour right up to 28 days, which should be more than enough for your Christmas family break. Drivers aged from 18 to 75 are eligible and you can insure a car with a value of up to £60,000 as well as protecting the owner’s No Claims Discount.
So, the transport and the insurance are sorted, now all you have to do is plan for the journey. These are some of the best ways to go about it.
Plan the route
It may be a trip you’ve done before or it could be the first time, but check for any changes or possible disruptions. It can be worth having a paper route, just in case you lose signal.
Make sure the car is serviced and perform some basic checks
If this is a car you do not drive regularly, ask the owner to run through the controls and to confirm with you when it was last serviced – this is particularly important if it’s a longer journey. Then check the tyre tread, tyre pressure and fluids such as oil, screen wash and coolant. Check the brake lights are working well and also where the spare tyre kit is kept.
Be prepared in case you are in an accident or breakdown
Knowing the vehicle is in good condition means that breaking down is unlikely. But, if you’re in an accident, have the necessary claims number to hand. If you already have personal breakdown cover, this will provide protection and you can even join roadside assistance organisations as required, if necessary, although the call out bill will be higher.
If you’re travelling on motorways, be aware where service stations are and if on a smart motorway, what to do if you need to pull over. There have been a number of smart motorway accidents in recent years and the advice is to try and reach a refuge as soon as you can and then phone for help. If this is impossible, pull up as close as possible to the nearside verge/boundary or slip road, switch on hazard lights and if it is not safe to get out, call 999. Emergency services can then reroute traffic.
Get your timing right
If at all possible, try to leave on a day and time when you’ll avoid the crowds. If you don’t drive that much, you may prefer not to drive at night, even though the roads can be quieter. Can you leave really early in the morning instead?
Check the weather conditions
It does not look that likely we’ll be experiencing a white Christmas this year. But, frost and extreme rain can make roads more hazardous. Check the advice and be ready to act accordingly. In the rare event that there are warnings not to drive, you should heed these. But, if driving does appear reasonable, then be prepared to amend your route, such as through avoiding any roads that might be affected by flooding.
Rest well before the journey and avoid alcohol
The festive season can involve many nights out and social occasions. But if you have a long drive, potentially starting early in the morning, avoid alcohol, which could not only affect your judgement, but also potentially lead to you driving when over the limit.
Stop and have a break every couple of hours
Be sure to have a break and if you leave the car, that it’s left somewhere secure. Ensure piles of gifts are not clearly visible, put these in the boot or cover with blankets or coats.
Have an emergency pack readily to hand
This should include your torch, phone charger, food and drink as well as any medicine you need regularly, car essentials such as de-icing spray, scraper and a powerful torch.
Plan a playlist
Although the radio can be useful in terms of traffic updates, particularly when on the home stretch you may want to start feeling in the Christmas mood by listening to your favourites. This is when your carefully planned Christmas playlist you’ve spent time on before the journey, will come into its own.