Image: The long road ahead

The August Bank Holiday weekend is almost upon us and you might be one of millions looking for a quick escape. With the roads set to be the busiest they’ve been all year, here are the five things you have to do to prepare for the long car journey.

When setting out on a long car journey, all you want is a quick, trouble free path to your destination. Especially at the Bank Holiday weekend, when you may only have a short amount of time off work and want to make the most of it. The most frustrating delays are often the most preventable. So here are the FIVE things you must do before a long car journey.


It may seem obvious, but the old Cub Scout motto is excellent advice. Instead of leaving the packing of the car until the morning, why not do it the night before? Do you have everything you need? Write down a list with all the items you need to take with you and check them off as you go. Talk with your partner or travel companion to see if they can think of anything you didn’t. This is especially important when travelling abroad – a missing passport or travel document could spell an early end to your holiday.

Did you know? It is a legal requirement to take your own breathalyser when driving through France.


How many times have you given yourself a departure time, only to overrun and delay your journey by an hour or two? This can mean the distance between finding a clear road to your destination, to getting yourself stuck in mile long tailbacks. Family holidays are stressful enough, without a traffic jam to raise the stress levels further. Set yourself an early departure time and stick to it. Arriving at the holiday destination early is much better than arriving too late. If you are not anxiously watching the clock, you are more likely to have an enjoyable drive and start the holiday well.


The rise of the GPS means drivers are relying more than ever on technology rather than their own intuition. A fully functional Sat Nav is great, you can even get Mister T to tell you the directions. But if your system is outdated, you could be heading to more than just a dead end. Before you start your journey, update your Sat Nav. This can be done by connecting it to a computer or through the device itself – it changes from product to product. If you are travelling abroad, you may need to pay for maps in other countries. Don’t skimp on the cost, upgrade! It is also a good idea to take a paper map with you too. You may think that your smartphone will do the job. Unlike a GPS, a smartphone needs a mobile signal and we all know how poor their batteries are. A paper map never loses its charge. You may never need to use it, but it’s better to have one just in case.

Creditplus had a look at some of the best budget Sat Navs here.


Again this may seem obvious, but how many journeys have you taken assuming that the oil and water are fine? One of the most common problems on long journeys is the engine overheating. In the summer heat, stuck in a long traffic jam, with the air conditioning on at full blast to keep everyone happy, it won’t take long for an engine to cook itself into a problem. By checking the oil and water, you are giving yourself peace of mind for the journey. It is also a good idea to take some more oil and water with you. Make sure you also choose the right oil for your car. You may think that it’s all the same, but different engines work better with different oils. A couple of large bottles of water will also come in handy. Just remember to wait until the engine is cool before you put any more oil or water inside. If you spill any oil on a hot engine it will smoke, stinking up the car for a long time.

Halfords has an online tool to help determine which oil your car needs.


Checking the tyre pressure of your car’s wheels is more important than you think. Low pressure will cause the tyres to overheat and affect the car handling. Especially if the weather is warm, the tyres are likely to be affected quicker than you think. If you are not confident of checking the pressure yourself, your local garage will be able to do so for you. Otherwise, you can purchase a tyre pressure gauge and attach it to the tyres yourself. The required pressure for your make and model of car will either be in the driver’s handbook or on the fuel cap. Poor tyre pressure can also lead to punctures. Make sure you keep your spare tyre well maintained, along with a jack and a tyre iron.

If you can’t find the recommended tyre pressure for your car, Kwik-fit have a useful online tool to help.

And relax…

These are the most important things you must do before any long car journey. Not only can they reduce stress, they can also save you money. By being fully prepared, you will not run into any unexpected problems or expenses, saving you time and money to spend on your holiday. And isn’t that why you braved the long journey in the first place?

More from Creditplus:

Driving abroad this summer? Then you may want to read our blog post on the new European driving laws.

Could you be wasting more fuel than you think? Here are 10 ways it could happen.

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