Our firs long drive happened in 2007, when we drove home for Christmas. It was just nightmare, which we never repeated since, but it gave us insight of good and bad of the long journey.
We had a couple of drinks the day before, hence headaches for few hours; we set of too early for the afternoon ferry from Dover (5 hours wait in there, visit in museum, overall, you just get tired waiting); annoying passenger (got lost on the ferry so we waisted over an hour looking for him till the ferry crew kicked us out, and he is waiting on the landing outside blaming us for whole situation); annoying passenger part 2 (claimed knows all routes in Europe so we took ‘’shortcut’’ in the middle of the night in Germany, that took us 3 hours longer than originally planned, got lost – motorway just ended – so tried to find a route back with traditional map, again we got blamed for whole situation); driving tired in snowy conditions etc. The whole journey took us 36 hours, far too long (way back took us 27). Never mind, it was a learning course. Since then we changed the way we drive, so these are my hints that makes it much more enjoyable.
Brake journey into shorter sections
As mentioned, we changed the way we travel. Firstly, we decided to shorten the drive. There are two options to do it. Take an overnight ferry or stop halfway. If you travel to Poland or East in general, you can take a ferry from Hull instead of travelling via Dover or Folkestone. Seems silly considering that Hull is a city North East of England. However, it is an overnight ferry that take you to Rotterdam. The down sight is the price, it cost much more than any other option. On the other side you can have a dinner, breakfast some entertainment and what is most important sleep comfortably and rest before next part of the journey. The ferry lands in Rotterdam 7.30/8.00 am so you have a whole day for a drive. Tip no 1 is trying to break your journey to make it more enjoyable.
Keep your fuel tank on stress free level
Seems simple but try not to get stressed about amount of fuel you have left. On the long journey I never take any chances, and always have at least halve a tank left. Various countries have a different service system. You never know how many miles/kilometres you have till next service. If you leave it for too long, you will get stressed about your tank, especially when you hit the traffic, and some of them go for miles and miles of drive. I try to keep my head as comfortable as possible, so never let my fuel level to drop below half. In addition, you can use this as an extra break to make sure your and your passengers’ bladders (unlike the cars tank) are kept empty. Tip no 2 make sure you will not run out of fuel.
Right choice of music
Surprisingly, I do not like listen to music I really enjoy while driving (maybe apart from Pendulum). Short journeys different matter, long travels definitely not. The reason is simple – if my mind is too concentrated on music it cannot focus on the road. I know I am stating obvious, however I am not on my own in the car. As a driver I am totally responsible for my passengers. During our travels we usually play local radio, which sometimes is rather interesting, especially when you listen to BBC Cymru for example. This choice will provide you with some background noise. It is important when children start arguing or you hear that famous phrase: are we there yet? You can simply tell children how many hours are still left and either switch off or pretend you really enjoy fine local music.
Our absolutely favourite radio station that we come across on our travels is Nostalgie. It is a French station that we always listen to while diving to or through France. Sometimes we listen to this in home via internet. What is different in comparison with UKs channels Nostalgie plays not only native music, but also from all over Europe and other parts of the world. Tip no 3 is correct choice of background noise that will not affect your focus on the road.
Build a partnership with your pilot and trust their judgement
While driving for two days you really need to talk about something. If you do not get along with your partner or have completely different interest and not many common topics, than the road might be quite challenging. Kids will get bored, so it will only add stress to already stressful journey. We like talking about different stuff while driving. Occasionally we repeat conversations we already had some time ago, it makes it easier, when you can have an interesting conversation.
In addition, sometimes my cars sat nav show different way than my wife’s. Sometimes we follow mine, sometimes hers. On the couple occasions we had to decide which one to follow on the spot, with very little time to explore which route is better, we drove through random country sides to avoid traffic. I learnt that my wife is very good navigator, and if she wants me to follow her route I will. I am not going to disagree or argue with her just for the sake of it. Even if we have some quiet moments, I know I can trust her and her judgement that she will find the route that is most beneficial, instead of leading us somewhere just to start blaming game. Tip no 4 build the partnership with your partner that is based on trust and mutual respect.
So, these are my tips for long drive. They are not mysterious, innovative, or new, in fact they quite simple and work for me. We travel as often as we can so we had to find a way that works for us and make long journeys as enjoyable as they can. It takes years of try, fail, and try again. That what make it interesting, swapping changing and trying something new. Sometimes is not about the goal and destination, it is about the journey.
Please check the tips of mentioned “navigator” here.
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