It will not have escaped your attention that the UK has been experiencing a rare heatwave of late. The record for ‘hottest day of the year’ seems to keep being broken, hosepipe bans are being considered in some areas, and there haven’t even been many rain delays at Wimbledon!
Of course, the British weather is famously unpredictable, so who knows if the good weather will continue into the kids’ summer holidays? One thing that can be relied upon when the schools break up, however, is holiday traffic. Getting stuck on the motorway for hours on end is the bane of many motorists’ lives at this time of year, and most people seem to accept getting completely stressed out as a necessary evil when it comes to reaching their holiday destinations.
However, the below tips will give you a few basic ideas that, if followed, will ensure this year’s summer holiday journey is much smoother than those you may have endured in the past.
Consider your travelling times
Our first tip is a pretty obvious one, but it is still not something that many seem to take advantage of. Take a moment to think about all of the times you’ve been stuck in traffic over the years; now, how many of those times do you remember having been at night? Unless you’ve been extremely unlucky on the road, the chances are that only a tiny proportion of the traffic jams you’ve been caught up in have occurred during the hours of, say, 9 PM – 7 AM.
With this in mind, why not put this knowledge to good use when it comes to planning your next summer staycation? It goes without saying that it is, in many ways, more convenient to travel during the main part of the day – after all, you won’t have to get up early, there will likely be more places open where you can stop off for refreshments en route, and you might need to arrive where you’re going at a sociable hour.
Nevertheless, if you can plan your trip so that you only have to travel first thing in the morning or even through the night, you will be all but guaranteed to be rewarded with much quieter roads. And, if you’re worried about being stranded if you suddenly need to fill up or visit the bathroom, don’t worry – did you know that all motorway service stations are obliged to provide fuel, toilets and refreshments 24/7?
Make the most of technology
There can be no debating the fact that the UK’s roads are now busier than they have ever been. Whilst this has inevitably led to greater congestion and longer journey times, something that is often ignored is the role that technology can play in making life easier for those who know how to use it to their advantage.
Many of the newer sat nav devices, whether ‘off the shelf’ or built into a car’s interactive dashboard, come equipped with intelligent, congestion-detecting systems that are able to alert the driver when they are heading in the direction of heavy traffic. You will be pleased to learn that many of the new and used cars available at our Exeter and Plymouth Mercedes dealerships – as well as those for sale at our Taunton and Truro locations – come equipped with state-of-the-art COMAND technology, into which live traffic updates can be integrated.
If your vehicle does not have this capability, however, you can also use your smartphone to download one of the community-based apps that rely on crowdsourced information to deliver accurate, real-time traffic and road data. Whilst there are several such platforms available, it is widely agreed that the Waze app is one of the best – if not the best – of its kind. Just remember to make sure that you only ever use the app when stationary or have one of your passengers do it on your behalf; no matter how bad the traffic jam is, it’s not worth risking your family’s safety over!
Keep the little ones entertained
If you’re a parent, you won’t need reminding that the most difficult part of any car journey is making sure your children are kept happy, whatever age they may be. Even if you’ve got a relatively clear route ahead and only a moderate distance to travel, if the kids aren’t happy for whatever reason, they’ll always let you know!
Portable technology (DVD players, tablets, smartphones etc.) is, of course, one option when it comes to keeping the little ones entertained on the road, but don’t fall into the trap of just handing them one of these devices at the outset of every trip. On the one hand, they may become so enthralled with their new toy that they don’t want to do anything else once you get to your destination whilst, on the other hand, constant exposure may mean they soon become bored, which will leave you back at square one. Instead, why not take a look at these 10 best car games for kids and try a more traditional approach to your family travel entertainment? You may be surprised at how popular the novelty of not using a screen could prove to be.
This is another scenario in which planning to travel at night could pay dividends. If you time it right, even the most energetic of your brood may end up sleeping through the whole journey!