Getting away on holiday can be great fun, but it can also be a very stressful time, especially with children. Have a look at the following tips to make sure you’re ready to go.

Preparing Your Car

You might feel up to the journey, but is your car?  A few simple steps will help you.

You don’t want to peer though a sticky mess of squashed flies.  Make sure your washer fluid is always topped up, and give the windscreen and headlamps a wash when you stop for fuel.

  • Check all of your lights are working, and that your tyres have enough tread, aren’t damaged, and have the right pressure
  • Treat your car to a spring clean. All that salt from winter roads causes rust so visit a car wash that specialises in under-car cleaning to get rid of it
  • Replace your car’s pollen filter at the appropriate service interval. Doing this, and keeping the air-con well-maintained, will help hayfever sufferers
  • Old wiper blades squeak and scratch the windscreen, so replace them regularly.

Keep it Clean

Summer can be a stressful time for car-proud drivers. The following tips will help you keep your pride and joy clean and shiny all season.

clean the car before a long trip

Avoid parking under telephone wires, poles or trees.

  • Keep the washer fluid topped up and give the windscreen and headlamps a wash when you stop for fuel
  • Clean the windscreen regularly
  • Modern car paint is easily damaged by bird droppings – clean them off as quickly as possible
  • Hardened tree sap is difficult to remove once hardened, so get rid of it as soon as possible using hot water and a sponge
  • There are loads of bug removers, but make sure yours is suitable for car paint – most household cleaning pads will ruin car paintwork.

Planning Long Journeys

Avoid driving at the most dangerous times for feeling sleepy – before dawn, and after lunch.

  • Include regular rest stops and plan your petrol stops
  • If you feel tired, stop.  Have a coffee, and a 20 minute nap. If there’s a long way to go, stop for a proper sleep
  • Pack a picnic and avoid motorway service area food prices. You can still use their facilities
  • Keep kids occupied by inventing games that reward quiet behaviour without needing the driver’s direct involvement
  • Portable games consoles or in-car DVD players will keep kids occupied for hours. But add some headphones – the soundtracks can be just as distracting as the kids
  • Share the driving
  • Get as much sleep as possible the night before a long journey.

Avoiding Breakdowns

In traffic don’t sit with the engine off, and the aircon running. You risk flattening the battery.

  • Check the oil, water, brake and steering fluid – and make sure your tyres are in good condition and properly inflated
  • Make sure you have enough fuel. You may think you have enough for your journey, but will it last if you’re stuck in traffic?
  • Check your electric cooling fan is working properly or you risk overheating
  • All modern engines need antifreeze all year round to prevent engine corrosion
  • Check the clutch because it may show no signs of trouble until you set off with a fully loaded car.


  • Before you move off, check your seat, mirrors and headrest are properly adjusted
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothes
  • Always pack the car so that the driver has room to move and access the controls
  • If you suffer from hayfever, replace your car’s pollen filter annually, and keep your air-con well maintained. Keep your windows shut and turn the air-con on if you’re too hot.
  • Remember some antihistamines will cause drowsiness.

Packing the Car

Getting away on holidayWhen you’re packing your car with enough to last you, it’s tempting to throw the last few small items in loose. But bad packing can be dangerous and you could be prosecuted if your baggage looks unsecure.

  •  Pack securely – loose objects can be distracting and if the driver needs to brake sharply, unsecured items could fly forward and hit those sitting in front
  • Pack heavy items in the boot
  • Loads should be made as small as possible and positioned for a clear view
  • Keep heavy items low down
  • A full car uses more fuel, so keep an eye on the fuel gauge
  • Tyres on a full and heavy car usually require higher pressures.

Packing the Kids

driving with kidsBickering, fighting and tears are all part of getting away. Make sure you have plenty with you to keep the kids distracted – instead of them distracting you.

Never put a rear-facing baby seat in the front if there is a live airbag.

  • Isofix seat mounts are the safest way to secure a baby or child seat in your car, and  are common in cars and on child restraints.Once the seat is in place, try rocking it – if it is fitted properly, the car should move and not the car seat
  • Children under three should travel in the back and must be secured in a child restraint
  • Children under 12 (or under 135cm tall) must use a child restraint
  • If the only appropriate restraint or seat belt is in the front, a child aged three to 11 years old must use that
  • Children aged 14 or over must always use an adult seatbelt.