We all love a Bank Holiday, right? So much so we had an extra one added into our calendar to mark St Brigid's Day. This February lots of us will be hitting the road to take advantage of the additional long weekend.
Ahead of your Bank Holiday road trip, we’ve put together some handy tips and tricks on how to have a stress-free, safe trip.
Preparation is key
Pack your belongings the day before and make sure you have all you need ready to go, so it is one less thing to worry about before setting off.
Plan your route beforehand too, especially if it is a new destination along roads that you haven’t driven before. Put the destination into your car’s sat-nav or your phone or a mapping website before you set off.
The worst of the congestion will be along routes out of large urban areas. If you can, take the National roads and the more scenic routes. It may add more mileage to the journey but by avoiding the motorways and highways not only will you (hopefully) avoid most of the traffic but you will see more interesting things and some fantastic scenery.
While planning your route make sure you also plan your rest stops. We all want to get to wherever we are going but rest stops are important. You need to get out of the car, stand up and move around so your body, especially your back and shoulders, don’t get tense. The more relaxed you are behind the wheel, the more enjoyable the drive and the safer too.
Stopping for a break will also help to reduce driver fatigue. You may not feel tired but it is recommended that you stop at least every two hours. It is estimated that driver fatigue is a contributory factor in as many as 1 in 5 driver deaths in Ireland every year¹. See more on how to avoid drivers fatigue .
Music can make or break a road trip! The best road trips can be ruined with awful music, no music at all or worse still, crackly radio stations. So make sure you’ve got your playlists made and ready to go before you hit the road.
Singing is a great way to destress and have a laugh especially if you can get all your passengers involved - go ahead and sing your heart out!
Kids on board
If you are travelling with kids you will know how important it is to keep them entertained for the duration of the journey to avoid the dreaded “ARE WE THERE YET?”
Keep items for the children such as toys, wipes and snacks within arm’s reach. However, if your children are prone to motion sickness then tablets and books or any other toys that require them to look down are almost guaranteed to make them reach for the sick bags. The best thing to do to keep the little ones occupied is playing games like ‘Eye Spy’ and other games that require them to look up and out the windows or get some table holders fitted to the back of the front seat headrests so Peppa Pig can do her job and keep them quiet.
Bank holidays can result in a higher number of breakdowns on the road, so make sure you do all the necessary checks to make sure that your car has a good bill of health before you set off.
Simple checks don’t require a degree in mechanical engineering. Fill up the car’s washer reservoir, check if you need to top up your oil and check the pressure in the tyres to make sure that they are adequately inflated to the recommended pressure. Read more on getting your car road trip ready .
Check with your insurance provider to see if you have breakdown cover and what it covers. Make sure that you have the number of your breakdown company in your car or saved to your mobile phone just in case you need it.
If you plan on sharing the driving duties with your passenger check with your insurance company if they are covered to drive your car and if not, enquire if you could add them to your policy for the duration of the trip.
Make sure you have plenty of snacks and liquids to keep you sustained. Flapjacks are good as the oats have slow-release carbohydrate energy and blueberries, pistachios and dark chocolate are said to reduce stress levels. Water is of course the best when it comes to hydration but if you are tired and need a boost, caffeine has been shown to increase alertness.
No matter how long you are sat in traffic or how bored you get do not look at your phone. It is illegal to use a mobile device while driving and it will get you 3 to 5 penalty points and a fine of up to €90 if you are caught and convicted. If your car has a Bluetooth connection, make sure that your phone is paired to it before setting off. You’ll only need to pair it once.
No matter how much you want to get out of the traffic do not drive on the motorway hard shoulder it is illegal and will get you 1 to 3 penalty points and a fine of up to €120.
If the traffic is really bad, get off at the next junction and find somewhere safe to pull over (not on the motorway hard shoulder) and look at your map for an alternative route. If there is no alternative route then decide if it is best to sit in the traffic or to wait it out by sitting in a café.
If you have a passenger with you who is insured to drive your car, swap over as soon as you feel your stress levels rising and take a break from the wheel.
Remember, the journey is also part of the weekend and you should make that as fun and enjoyable as possible.
Happy and safe driving!