The Chris Rea song brings up ideas of an idyllic drive with the family to see relatives or friends around the holiday season. Even the tempo of the music makes you relax – if only that was the reality. If you do need to travel around Christmas – whether going to see parents, siblings or other members of the family, it can actually be a very stressful affair and not something that many people take the time to plan.

The first thing to decide is when are you going to travel? Are you going a few days before Christmas and sleeping on the hideaway bed, or are you going to risk driving on Christmas Day when people are tired, the kids are overexcited and the weather is unpredictable at best?

The next thing on the tick list would be – what route are you going to take? If you know the roads you’re travelling, that makes life much easier for you; and if there are certain areas that can flood or are much more difficult to pass in bad weather you can easily avoid them. For new routes a sat nav would be the best option. However, we all know they’re not always right, so it’s worth keeping a printed version of your route too.

It may seem like a common sense thing to do but with all the excitement you’d be surprised how many people forget to check their car over before a drive. Before a long drive you should check the battery, the tyres and the fluid levels in your car. The majority of breakdowns on Christmas Day are actually caused by not having enough fuel in the car; don’t skimp on £20 worth and hope that you have enough to last you, because not every petrol station is open 365 days a year.

The British weather can be unpredictable at any point, but winter is one of the worst seasons for driving. Be sure to check the weather for the day you’re planning to travel – if it’s torrential rain it might be worth postponing or bringing it forward. To be safe it is advisable to have a winter care kit in the boot along with the presents in case you do break down.

By planning your journey you can make it a much more enjoyable experience, why don’t you try it this year?

Dermot Kelleher


November 22, 2012