The global pandemic and lockdown in the UK has left many of us in a strange sort of limbo. At one point, it looked like there would be no holidays at all this year, with flights canceled and hotels closed for the foreseeable future. Thankfully, the lockdown has started to ease and it looks like there will be opportunities to have some sort of trip this year. But the message remains very much the same – you still have to be careful what you’re doing this summer.
2020 will be the year of the staycation, with many of us unable or unwilling to risk taking a flight to another country this summer. That means we will be using our cars for long journeys as we try and make the most of the British weather. So what can you do to keep you and your family safe on your summer road trips? And how can you keep your car hygienic? Here’s our guide.
This year, you really need to have a clear idea of every journey you’re taking. From the route you take, to the location of petrol stations and services, you need to know where and when you’ll be stopping on your road trip. If you don’t, you could find yourself driving around aimlessly searching for a petrol pump or somewhere to take a comfort break. While this might be okay in a normal summer, the heightened tensions of the lockdown and pandemic can make this search much more anxious.
Take a look at the route in advance and also any potential back-up options. The roads will be busy this time of year, so the chances of congestion and accidents are much higher. If you can take a quieter road or maybe even a slightly longer, less direct route, you can keep yourself moving.
You should also schedule stops on the journey. We recommend a 10-20 minute break for every 2-3 hours of driving. This gives you a chance to stretch your legs, use the bathroom, and stop for a snack. Having them scheduled will mean you know when and where you’re going to stop, giving you the information you can provide to your passengers – even the little ones!
The situation we are in at the moment can always change. The fear of the second wave of the pandemic is still a very real one, even if the world may feel like its getting back to normal. You should make the effort to tune into the news at least once a day, ideally the morning and evening bulletins. You should also check the Gov.uk website for updates and travel advice. There’s chances that local lockdowns, like the one seen in Leicester, could quickly be put into place.
The weeks spent at home mean your car insurance might have lapsed as your car remained idle on the drive or in the garage. You should check your renewal dates to ensure that you are all up to date and fully covered. You should also check to see if your provider has issued any updates on their coverage, as the circumstances could mean certain things that are normally covered in your insurance have changed.
Long road trips after your car has been inactive for a while could be a recipe for disaster. A lot of older models work best when used regularly, as it doesn’t give the gunk and dirt in the engine parts a chance to settle too much. But if you’ve been off the road for a while, then there could be an breakdown waiting to happen. So make sure your cover is up to date and gives you the service you need. You’ll want one that will either take you home or provide you with a hire car, as you don’t want to be stuck relying on local garages that may not be working as usual because of the lockdown.
If you are taking a day trip somewhere, you will need to find somewhere to park. Car parks in the summer can be very crowded places, not ideal for social distancing. So doing a little bit of research ahead of the journey can help you find car parks that will be less busy. Look for park and ride schemes, or car parks that are slightly further away from the busier locations.
You should also take a look online to see if there’s any parking spaces you can reserve in advance. While they might be a bit more expensive, having that peace of mind that you have somewhere to park ahead of your trip can be very reassuring.
A big part of being clean is feeling clean. So if you’ve neglected your car during the lockdown, it’s a good opportunity to get in and get it clean! Remove all the dust and dirt from the carpets, seats and, especially, the filters. Having the filters clean will make the air condition much more effective. It also won’t aggravate any hayfever sufferers in the vehicle when old bits of grass and pollen get recirculated. Something you will all appreciate if you end up stuck in a traffic jam.
The busy holiday destinations are going to be full of people looking to stock up on their hand gel, toilet tissue, and face masks. So if you are going to take a trip, you will be in a much better position if you have a supply of everything you might need in your car.
This is especially the case with masks. Different locations and tourist attractions will have their own rules on face masks. You don’t want to find yourself stuck outside somewhere because you don’t have masks on you. But it’s not just about access, it’s about protecting you and your family. So keep the supply close to hand.
You should also keep some snacks and drinks in your car. This is a lifesaver on most road trips anyway, but it can save you having to pop a busy supermarket looking for something to keep you all satisfied and you won’t have to worry about social distancing.