It’s that time of year again … as summer rolls around, our thoughts turn to family holidays – more specifically, driving while on holiday.
Ireland has some of the most picturesque countryside, mountains, beaches and holiday destinations, there really is no need to travel abroad, except maybe for guaranteed weather. But isn’t that part of the fun?
However, loading the car with holiday gear, children, pets and an irritable partner can sometimes lead to anxious times, but a lot of the stress can be removed with a few well thought out solutions.
You’re not going to be the only ones looking to take a break, this often leads to major traffic jams and hold-ups on Irish road network, and the last thing you need is for your car to add to the woes by leaving you stranded on the hard-shoulder.
Of course, you can never be 100% certain that you won’t have any mechanical problems, but you can certainly minimise that risk.
Before setting out on your holiday, you should check the coolant level of your engine – it’s highly probable that you’re going to be sitting in traffic for at least some of your journey, give yourself the best chance of keeping cool and avoid overheating issues.
In a similar vein, you should ensure that the oil level of your car is topped up to its maximum. Not only will this help with cooling, but the engine oil is the life-blood of the engine – if this runs out or gets too low, you’re looking at a terminal engine failure.
Ideally, you should check your tyre pressures on a regular basis, but this is even more important when the car is fully-loaded with passengers and holiday essentials – you could even find that the manufacturer recommends a higher tyre pressure while fully loaded.
Keeping your tyres correctly inflated will help with the overall ride quality and fuel consumption is essential maintenance.
Good plan with stops and breaks
Of course, just jumping in the car and heading for the sunset at a moment’s notice sounds fabulous, but if you’re travelling with children or pets, you need to consider them also.
If the weather is going to be hot, you need to think about keeping cool – dogs in particular can suffer on long, hot journeys – plan your route (or time!) for comfort breaks and to avoid the heat, or at least minimise it.
Timing isn’t just important to avoid the midday heat, more often than not, travelling very early will avoid much of the traffic, and surely, getting up at daybreak adds to the excitement and adventure for the children? It always feels special when you’re loading the kids (and their toys) into the back of the car for what is going to be the best holiday adventure ever.
In car entertainment
There are so many games of ‘I Spy’ you can play before tedium sets in, and in today’s connected world, there are a myriad of gadgets and toys to keep the kids entertained on those long, hot travels.
One of our favourite essentials is a tablet that’s connected to the internet. Not only can they play games, stream media and movies, chat with their friends and photograph everything (and we do mean everything), but they can also research the area you’re going to find out what’s on and virtually explore the surroundings before you even arrive – meaning that you won’t have to try and find things to keep them entertained whilst on holiday – they can tell exactly where or what they want to do.
If you don’t have a tablet, portable DVD players can be purchased for very little money, and with some headphones, you’re almost assured peace & quiet on your drive.
Enjoyable family holidays
Family holidays are the time that memories are made, whether you choose to go hiking in Glendalough or decide to explore other famous spots with your nearest and dearest, these are the times that your children will always remember.
With a little planning and forethought, you can ensure that your children remember the holiday for all the right reasons, rather than the long journey back on the back of a rescue truck (although that in itself can be an adventure).
Being spontaneous has its place, but in all honesty, that place isn’t arranging the family holiday. Travelling by car with the kids, animals and sweet wrappers can be enormous fun, but it doesn’t take much for that to change.
Spend that extra day or so just planning your route, timing and stops to give you and the kids the best start to the holiday – it’s well worth the effort and you’ll be glad that you did it.