Right Driver

Preparing for a road trip: checklist

Summer holidays are coming and it’s time for road trips through the English countryside. Here are things that you should remember to prepare and pack.

Getting your car ready

  1. Book a service (or do it yourself): you might need to change the oil and oil filter, check the brakes and all the fluids (oil, washer bottle, brake fluid, radiator), and check the lights
  2. Check your tyre pressures and put more air in them if you will be carrying a heavy load
  3. If preparing for a winter road trip rather than a summer road trip you’ll need blankets, a snow shovel, snow chains, a window scraper and deicer.
  4. An old towel or blanket – something you can wrap wet, dirty shoes and clothes in
  5. Emergency kit – basic first aid, a reflective warning triangle, jack and hi-vis jacket
  6. Basic tools – a multi-function knife is useful. Unless you’re driving an older car, there’s not much point in taking many tools as modern cars are very difficult to work on if they go wrong
  7. Cargo barrier – if you’re driving an estate or hatchback and the luggage will come above the height of the rear seat, it’s safest to have a cargo barrier so that if you brake heavily your rear seat passengers won’t be hit in the back of the head
  8. If you’re towing a caravan or trailer, make sure it’s roadworthy and everything is secured. Read our tips for towing a caravan.
  9. Fill up with fuel before you go

The driver and passengers

  1. Food, cutlery and plates – take healthy snacks because fatty, salty or sugary snacks make you more tired when driving
  2. Pillows for children in rear seats can help them go to sleep more quickly
  3. Entertainment – books, magazines, music and podcasts
  4. Toys – keep the kids occupied
  5. Electronics – tablets, phones and games machines, plus the cables to charge them
  6. Cleaning – wet wipes, tissues, a couple of plastic bags for rubbish
  7. Pen and notepad
  8. Binoculars and camera
  9. Sunglasses
  10. Car sickness pills
  11. Water, or your preferred form of hydration (but water is best)
  12. Cash – coins for toll booths and parking meters

Travel time and rest breaks

  1. Directions – have a written list of your directions rather than completely relying on your GPS, just in case you lose the signal
  2. Traffic warnings – check them before you set off. Using a navigation system such as Google Maps will help you avoid traffic. Find out other tips for navigation.
  3. Know where you’re going to stop for breaks and sightseeing
  4. Pack an overnight back for a one-night stop on the way so that you don’t have to unload the whole car (although, you may want to unload the whole car if you’re worried about it being broken into)
  5. If you’re camping, check all your gear before you go, especially the integrity of your tent, and that you have all the pegs.
  6. Share the driving or take rest breaks every two hours of at least 10 minutes to get the blood circulating and wake yourself up

Setting off

  1. Make sure someone knows where you are going if you are travelling alone
  2. Make sure all your luggage is packed
  3. Double check that you have tickets (e.g. ferry tickets)
  4. Clean your windscreen – you don’t want to be looking through a dirty windscreen if you’re driving toward the sun or you’ll get sun dazzle.
  5. Leave the house looking like someone is home, and arrange with a neighbour to clear your mailbox if you’ll be away more than a couple of days
  6. Turn off unnecessary power switches
  7. Lock the shed and any gates
  8. Close your windows, set your alarm and lock your doors.

Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.

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