Do you feel uneasy about flying? We don't blame you. The cost and availability of future air travel remain uncertain, and environmental concerns remain as pressing as ever.
Now, long-distance road trips may seem more enticing than ever before.
But before you set off, we've put together a list of 5 things you should take into account when planning such a long trip this year.
1. Replacing Your Tyres
Driving for hundreds of miles takes its toll on your car tyres - all the more if they've already been around the block a few times. Michelin understood this when they created their travel guides and famous restaurant star system. The idea was to encourage drivers to spend more time on the road heading to fine restaurants and therefore wear their tyres down faster. Smart, if a little sneaky.
The point stands that a fresh set of tyres is a good investment before you set off on a long trip. It'll be harder to find appropriate replacements if you're in a country where you don't speak the language, so make sure you've got the perfect new tyres for your vehicle before you hit the road and avoid any setbacks.
2. Updating Your Insurance
Some car insurance companies offer cover abroad as part of their package. Does yours? It's worth leafing through your policy and getting in touch with your insurance provider to ensure you've got the right level of coverage for every country you plan to travel through. Remember: it doesn't matter where your destination is. Accidents can happen anywhere along the way.
You'll probably can purchase foreign cover as an add-on - most insurers offer this. However, if you're close to renewal anyway, and you think you might like to drive abroad more regularly, you could check out the best insurance companies for European coverage.
3. Getting a Full M.O.T.
It should go without saying that the more recent your M.O.T., the better condition your vehicle will be in for a long road trip. It's not always possible to schedule your holiday on the right side of an M.O.T., but if possible, try to book the holiday within 6 months of your most recent check-up.
Of course, you'll probably have a good idea whether your vehicle could pass an M.O.T. If the answer's probably not, it may not be the best idea to set off on a thousand-mile round trip!
4. Checking What the M.O.T. Doesn't Cover
Remember that an M.O.T. doesn't check your engine, gearbox, or clutch. These are all pretty terrible things to have problems with if you can't speak the local language, so take your car to a good mechanic before you set off and make sure everything's in good working order. The sound of a Ford Galaxy's cam belt giving up the ghost halfway up a mountain in Spain will not be a fond memory, no matter how nice the view might be.
Bonus tip: bring someone along with a working knowledge of the local language if possible, for example, a younger sister with a Spanish A-level. Trust us. It helps.
5. Learning to Drive on “the Other Side”
It's not so tricky once you get the hang of it. However, if you're still uncomfortable driving on the right (wrong)-hand side of the road, mark out a suburb or village near where you'll arrive on the continent. Make a beeline for it as soon as you get off the ferry or Eurostar, and practice doing a few laps before you try navigating any major cities.
The Carefully Planned Romance of the Road
Long road trips are unforgettable, wonderful experiences. They're romantic and let you see so much that you miss when you travel by air. Still, they're always most enjoyable when you know your car is in the optimal state.
Make your preparations, keep these tips in mind, and get ready for the journey of a lifetime.
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