When it comes to setting off for a holiday on the continent, drivers and families have a packing list as long as beach towel. But it’s easy to forget one or more vital elements. European insurance, breakdown cover, extra kit to comply with foreign laws and your driving licence are all indispensable. And unlike a missing tube of sun cream, these aren’t easy to organise abroad and missing them can take the joy out of a much-needed break.
That’s why it’s important that drivers write out a list of everything they and their car need for the trip. That way, there should be no danger of conking out on the hard shoulder only to find that your car insurance doesn’t include breakdown cover abroad. Or that the tool to release wheel nuts is at home in the garage.
Millions of Brits prefer to drive rather than fly, given the affordability, practicality and flexibility it gives them. Here are the things you’ll need for a road trip abroad.
As sure as you’re going to have at least one spectacular wipe-out on the ski slopes, packing the car for a self-drive ski holiday will have you muttering under your breath and wondering whether it would have been easier to fly and rent all your equipment at the ski resort.
But keep the faith. As many holidaymakers know, there’s a whiff of romance to a long distance road trip, and during the winter ski season the traffic at the ports and on the roads is mercifully light – unlike the queues at airports.
Most of the popular European winter resorts are less than 10 hours from the continental coast. And once you know how to properly pack your car with ski gear, you’ll find everything slots into place like a series of deftly executed parallel turns.
Here’s how to do it.
Drivers in the Philippines capital Manila have the longest commute
Where’s the best place to be a driver? With our potholed roads and frequently congested city streets, you probably don’t think it’s the UK. In fact, you may not be surprised if the UK was towards the bottom of any road ranking. The good news is, we’re not. There are some places in the world where the traffic is so congested you wonder how anyone ever gets anywhere.
There’s more good news for hard-pressed UK drivers. We have one of the best records in the world for road safety. That’s compared to some roads in the world where safety is so shocking it borders on scandalous. However, it’s not quite time to get out the bunting and begin baking the celebration cup cakes. The UK has a long way to go before it can match the best for drivers on a daily basis.
The best countries for safety
First the good news. One area where the UK is world class is in road safety. According to the International Traffic Data Safety and Analysis Group which analyses information from 32 countries around the world we’re in third place with 2.9 deaths per 100,000 people. Only Sweden on 2.8 and Iceland on 1.2 were better.
The best place for drivers
Pets can bring an enormous amount of pleasure to their owners. But car travel with pets can be as stressful for the humans as it is for the animals. Whether it’s with man’s best friend or a family feline favourite, travelling with pets in a car requires careful planning to keep people and pets safe.
For those that haven’t driven with pets in the car before, this beginner’s guide is aimed at covering all the basics for national and international travel. If any seasoned travellers have more tips for keeping pets safe in a car, please share them in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
Keeping kids smiling when you’re on a long trip can be a challenge
Old-style in-car games such as I-Spy are the most popular ways to occupy kids on road trips. They beat smartphones and tablets, which astonishingly, are among the least popular choices to keep young passengers happy on car journeys.
New research by YouGov for garage rating organisation Motor Codes tallied with a recent study by Green Flag which found that travelling together is an opportunity to spend quality time with the family. The increasingly popular driving holiday is seen as a time for families to ditch technology in favour of entertainment that encourages creativity, learning and laughs for the whole family.
Looking out of the window and playing age-old observational in-car games such as I-Spy were cited by more than 60 per cent of drivers as the best way to keep youngsters entertained. This was the particular favourite of 18 to 24 year olds and over 55s.
Great in-car games to play with kids
The roads might be quieter at night but they can also be more dangerous
When we’re heading off on our summer holidays, many of us choose driving at night because the roads are quieter after dark. It can make for a quicker, cheaper and less stressful journey. But it can also be more dangerous.
According to government figures, around four out of 10 road accidents occur after dark. Considering there are generally fewer cars on the road at night, that’s a significant proportion.
Around 90 per cent of the information we use when driving is processed through our vision. When it’s dark, our ability to see things obviously decreases. That means it takes longer to spot pedestrians and other road users, road signs and traffic signals. So here are some tips for staying safe on the road when you’re driving at night.
Clean up your act
British holiday makers and France go together like a slice of camembert on a freshly baked baguette with a glass of Bordeaux wine. A staggering 17 million Britons visit France every year, and whether they’re living it up in the City of Light or unwinding in Provence, one thing is certain: millions use their car to explore la belle France.
We’ve prepared these hire car tips after research found drivers planning to rent a car this summer are likely to face a disappointing experience. Almost one in 10 travellers have arrived to collect their hire car only to find that none are available. One in five have had to queue for more than half an hour at the rental company desk. And nearly one in five said they found the process of collecting a hire car a stressful experience.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Almost a third of drivers were unexpectedly given a better car than they expected. The findings are the results of a YouGov survey. It discovered that Continue reading
You don’t want your summer holiday spoilt by car trouble. Our simple car checks can help prevent it
Every summer, millions of British drivers set off in the car for their annual holiday. It’s an exciting time, but sometimes in the rush to get away simple car checks can be overlooked. And for thousands of drivers, the holiday is ruined by unexpected problems with their car – most of which could have been avoided.
I know the problems that strike drivers’ cars most frequently. So follow these simple car checks designed to prevent your car conking out when you need it the most.
Have your car serviced
The cross channel ferry route you choose will doubtless be influenced by multiple factors. For most people, cost – or lack of it – is the priority. But there are other things to consider that could save you money in the long term.
Although every geography student knows Dover-Calais is the shortest route across the channel, Calais isn’t actually that convenient for accessing much of France. So what you save in cheap ferry fares you might pay for in fuel and tolls because of the longer land journey. Throw in that Calais can become jammed up through grieving French workers or migrants and it might be worth looking at alternative ways of crossing the channel. Here’s your choice.