When I hear those two words, my first thoughts are ‘must get the car ready’. Time to fill up on petrol. Pump up the tyres. And stock up on snacks. Snacks, mustn’t forget the snacks.
But you know what?
I hardly ever drive on long road trips. And when I do, there’s usually enough time to get my ducks in a row.
However, I do use my car every week, almost everyday. But this is where I’ve been caught out. I once drove to work wearing my slippers, only I didn’t realise until I was getting out of the car.
It was one of those manic Monday situations.
Excessive alarm-snoozing. Mad dash out of the house.
Jumped in the car. And drove to work on maximum adrenaline.
So I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when I looked down and noticed my inappropriate footwear. Fortunately, I had a spare pair of shoes in the car. That was pure coincidence. Or good fortune. It wasn’t the result of considered planning.
Ever since then I’ve realised a little dose of advance car planning can really help with daily driving. Not only for one-off road trips.
Want to know what’s worked?
Read on to discover ten tips that will infuse more calm into your car journeys.
1. Park Facing Your Direction of Exit
Whenever you’re parking your car, make sure the car is facing the direction you’ll exit. If that means reversing into a parking spot, do it. It’s easy to think ‘nah, I can reverse out when I’m leaving’, but you never know. Another driver could block your path or you end up in a rush and that extra manouvere slows you down. You’ll thank your organised self for being able to hop in the driving seat and zoom off.
2. The Tank Is Always Half-full
Make a point of keeping your petrol tank topped up. There’s nothing as annoying as a flashing empty petrol tank warning light on your dashboard when you start the engine and have precisely zero minutes to fill up en route to an urgent appointment. Never let the petrol-meter needle fall below the half-way mark.
This one probably needs no explanation. Blow your nose, blow your kids’ nose, wipe your hands, wipe a spill. Like I said. No explanation needed. Stock up and keep stocked up.
There will be times where tissues won’t work – smears, fluff, not enough tissues for the job. Then you can turn to a cloth discretely stored out of the way in the glove compartment or under the car seats.. Choose something that is lint-free and highly absorbent. Then it’s multi-purpose. Success.
Snacks, kids and car journeys. Those words make up a complete sentence. However, you don’t need little ones to justify keeping edibles on hand in your car. Sometimes, hunger rapidly deteriorates to hanger. Don’t go there. A well-timed snack can be essential. Especially when you’re stuck in a car. Long journeys and unexpected traffic delays may mean you miss a meal. Keep hunger at bay with a quick eat. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
6. Water Bottle
Food requires drink. So stock up on water. Use a BPA-free bottle, like this one by Chilly (I’ve got my eye on this one). Go for a BPA-free bottle, that ensures no leaching of nasty chemicals over time. A full water bottle also means you can wash your hands, top up your car radiator or screenwash and even eradicate traces of bird poo on the car roof, if that happens.
Sat-Nav devices and google map apps are a great addition to modern life, however devices fail, batteries die and you’ll end up lost, unless you have a back up solution. When it comes to finding your way, a map is essential. They’re compact enough to slip into any available space in your car. You may not use it for ages, but you’ll be glad you had one if technology ever lets you down.
8. Phone charger
Stay one step ahead of technology and keep a spare phone charger in your car. However, I will admit, I was once caught out. The connector from my phone charger to cigarette lighter wouldn’t work and needed a mechanic to fix it. However, that’s unusual. And it has’t happened again. So a spare charger is a must-have.
Change in seasons is guaranteed, however I am yet to receive a memo or text message stating exactly when summer will start. This usually means that one day, I’ll be happily driving along, and then boom, a blast of sunshine transforms me into Little Miss Squinty Eyes as I try to navigate traffic with bright sunlight hampering my view. I am now a veritable Little Miss Prepared as I keep a second pair of sunglasses in the car and whip them out whenever I meet unexpected rays.
A spare pair of shoes saved my working day once and I’ll happily experience that again. There’s always room for a thin pair of flats in your car boot or even under one of the car seats. Have you been out and about wearing heels, that hurt like crazy? Head back to your car and you can swap them for your comfy flats.
Here’s a handy free printable PDF sheet to help you brainstorm ideas to make your car preparation complete. The free printable planner pages complement the full range of printable planners available in my shop.
Have I missed any useful driving habits or car contents? Let me know in the comments below. Here’s to happy driving.