• December 11, 2023

  • Abby Nuttall

  • Driver Articles

As we head into the last two weeks of December many of us will be driving to visit family and friends over the festive period. To help you make these trips as easy as possible we’ve got our top 10 tips for winter travel.


Winter Travel Tips

1. Check Your Tyres

Before you do any long journey you should check your tyres. We recommend checking them the day before you go, or if you’re travelling at Christmas a few days before so that if you need to get a replacement tyre you have the time to. There are three aspects of your tyres you want to check: the tread depth, the pressure and the general condition for any damage.

2. Fill Up

Before doing any long trip, you’ll want to fuel up, whether that’s at the pump or on a charger. We recommend doing it the night before you travel so you don’t add any stress to your travel day, and so you don’t end up paying the higher service station prices.

3. Have a Winter Kit in the Car

A little like your standard emergency kit, a winter car kit can be tailored to your driving area and individual needs. We’d recommend including:

  • A first aid kit
  • A warning triangle
  • A hi-vis jacket or vest
  • A torch
  • A bottle of water
  • A cereal bar or similar snack  
  • A jumper or coat to keep you warm
  • Sensible walking shoes

But obviously, you can include anything that works for you. We know drivers who include a microfibre towel, clean pair of socks and energy drinks based on their individual needs.

4. Don’t Overfill the Car

We know that you’ll often have a car full of family or gifts when you’re travelling over the next few weeks but you should be careful not to over pack.

Firstly, make sure you only carry the number of passengers your car is legally able to with each passenger having their own seat and belt. If you’re found to be driving too many passengers they you can be fined and receive points. And if you’re involved in an accident then unharnessed passengers are more likely to suffer serious injury.

Secondly, make sure you’re not carrying too much cargo. You want to make sure you don’t block visibility of the road and your surroundings. There isn’t a legal restriction on blocking the rear window provided you have two working wing mirrors but we would advise against blocking the rear window where possible. If you do need to carry a lot of cargo then we’d recommend leaving a gap to at least allowing some vision via the rear view mirror for the best possible visibility of your surroundings.

Weighing down the car too much will put extra strain on the vehicle and might cause damage, in particular to the suspension. While it might not always be possible to do two trips we recommend this if you’re only travelling a short distance, or splitting the weight between two vehicles.

5. Plan Your Playlist

The soundtrack is a key part of any journey, so to make yours a little smoother we recommend getting a playlist set up and downloaded (in case you lose mobile signal on the road) before your trip. If you’re travelling with passengers then you might want to collaborate to make sure there is something to suit everyone’s music tastes, or your passengers might prefer to put on some headphones and listen to their own music, podcasts or audiobook.

6. Check Any Cups Fit in Your Cupholders

Coffee (or tea) is the essential companion of the early morning or late night trip. Before you leave you want to make sure that any travel mug, bottle or to go cup fits into your cup holder securely – there’s nothing worse then taking a sharp turn and spill your drink over your passengers. If you’ve got a reusable travel mug or bottle then it will only take a minute out of the night before to check they fit, and if they don’t you’ve got time to arrange a different mug.

7. Clear Your Mirrors and Glass

Before you travel, we recommend making sure all of your mirrors and windows are clear and you can see out of them all. This means:

  • Clearing any excess frost or snow from the exterior windows and mirrors
  • Demisting the windows and interior mirror (you may need to wipe these or spend some time allowing the fans to clear them before driving off)
  • Ensuring mirrors are correctly positioned to give you a clear view of your surroundings
  • Making sure nothing is blocking your view out of windows or of mirrors (eg the front passenger leaning forward and blocking the left wing mirror)

8. Pack Snacks

For any long trip, we think it’s key you pack some snacks for you and your passengers. Hunger can distract you from the road and make everyone irritable. If you’re trying to do the journey with as few stops as possible or want to avoid overpriced service station charges then taking snacks with you is key. These snacks can be anything you enjoy eating. Some of our favourite car friendly snacks include:

  • Fruit (fresh and dried)
  • Nuts
  • Crisps
  • A cereal bar
  • Biscuits

If you have any snacks that would usually be stored in the fridge then you might want to keep them in an insulated lunch box with a cool pack.

When you take snacks with you, we also recommend taking a spare carrier bag that you can put the rubbish from them into.

9. Bring a Blanket

You might have included a blanket as part of your winter car kit, but if you’re travelling with passengers then we recommend putting one somewhere easy to reach. This will help you if there’s any disagreement over the temperature in the car, especially older models where there’s only one climate area so you and your rear passengers are serviced by the same vents.

10. Pack a Spare Christmas Card  

The final thing we’d advise doing is packing a blank Christmas card or two in case you run into someone you weren’t expecting to. It’s quick and easy to write a Christmas card and will save you from any potential embarrassment.

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