Last weekend saw me and four friends set off on our epic road-trip from Glasgow to Cambridge to visit one of our best friends. We had done this once before back in July 2015, and safe to say we had learned from a few of the rookie mistakes we made. So I’ve compiled a list of hints, tips, tricks and do’s and don’ts to make sure you have the comfiest, most efficient and relaxing journey!
Leave at a sensible time of day
The first time around our trip was a bit of a last minute decision so a few of us struggled to get our holidays in before the deadline so we all ended up travelling down on a Friday night after work – not a good idea. Not only was traffic quite bad getting out of Glasgow because of rush hour, but because it was late leading into the weekend, some folk decided it was prime time to start some road works; thus diversions (arrghh! Not what you want to hear on the road!). This time we gave ourselves plenty of notice to get the friday off and we set off around 9am and made it in around 5 hours (including toilet and snack breaks).
Get a hearty meal in before you set off
I’m up for having a hearty meal any time of the day! Before setting off we had a big breakfast in style – McDonald’s. I got my usual: porridge and a bagel with Philadelphia. Not only does the meal mean you aren’t hungry , moany and fidgety, but it means you aren’t getting the driver to pull over into service stations so you can grab an overpriced tuna mayo sandwich. Gotsta save those dollas $$$.
Buy plenty of snacks (including water)
Just like before, you don’t want to be an inconvenience to the driver and have to stop because you’re hungry or thirsty. Water also keep you hydrated, unlike fizzy and sugary drinks that can play with your focus and mood.
Stop at service stations (even if you don’t need to pee)
Right I know I just said you don’t want to be an inconvenience, but sometimes it is good to just stretch your legs and let the driver have a break from focusing on the road. It’s worth prolonging your journey by 15 minutes if it means everyone is a bit more rejuvenated and alert.
Don’t overfill the car with luggage
The driver obviously has all the space, but what about you there in the back? Too much luggage can make you feel cramped and uncomfortable, not what you need on an epic road trip. Be ruthless, only bring what you actually need.
Bring a pillow
Who doesn’t want to be comfy, right? And those windows are quite hard and cold to rest your weary head. I recommend a normal bed pillow rather than travel pillow, they’re comfier and more versatile – they can be used for under your bum, lower back or head. Perfect.
Wear comfy clothes (and full socks)
The problem with travelling during the day is that everyone sees you and it’s unacceptable to dress like a comfy tramp in broad daylight. Any time between 10pm and 6am it’s OK. So at the very least wear loose fitting clothing and a pair of comfy socks (the ones that cover your whole foot, ankle and a little bit of lower calf! None of these “invisible footlets”.
Make several jamming playlists (and bring earphones if other start to drift off and you want to keep jigging)
Who doesn’t love a good bit of carpool karaoke, eh? Plus sometimes when you’re on the road, the radio signal can get a bit fuzzy so make sure you have some good tunes up your sleeve. I had an 80’s one, but nobody really cared for it. Last time I got everyone loving Shawn Mendes’ album!
Share the driving
Because our first trip was so unexpected, we didn’t have time to add people on to the insurance, thus only one person was legal to drive the car. This would’ve been OK if we had left at a sensible time, there weren’t any road works and it wasn’t pitch black most of the way. Sharing is caring, and tiredness can kill!
Download games on your mobile before you leave
I learned this little trick the first time I went abroad on a family holiday with my iPhone, 3G is extortionate abroad if you can’t get wifi. So on a roadtrip, most likely you won’t have access to wifi to download good music, games, reading material etc. unless you stop off at a McDonalds.
Bring good reading material
Without wifi and three others to compete for the cigarette lighter port to charge up your phone, it’s just way easier to bring a proper book with you to pass the time. I was reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Vlog your journey
This might not be for everyone, but something I recently took up to document and remember our journeys together. I’ve saved the vlogs and uploaded them on to YouTube but they are private. Too scared to share our awful Glaswegian accents with the world just yet!
Here’s a couple more things to keep in mind:
- Don’t be a back seat driver!
- Bare feet on seats are a no-no
- Have a route in mind, but if you want to take a diversion then go for it!
- Take a real map alongside your phone’s google maps app just in case 3G service/signal runs out – you never know!
- Make sure you have plenty of petrol at all times – you never know when the next petrol station will be
- Depending on where you are driving to/from – you might need change for tolls
- That being said, make sure you thoroughly research your journey beforehand
- Bring a spare care key (and give it to someone else other than the driver(s))
- Make up your own daft car games – who remembers Eye Spy?!
- If you are travelling on a bus with strangers – be respectful of their space, don’t put your seat back too far!
Have you ever been on a long-haul road trip?
Where is your favourite place to drive to?