How to drive long distances: hints, tips and preparations

Driving on highways can be a lot of fun and can create a lot of memories. Make sure it’s safe too.

By :
HT automatic desk

Updated on:
January 24, 2022, 12:14

File photo used for representative purposes.
File photo used for representative purposes.

With the Covid-19 pandemic disrupting flight and train schedules, many are opting to drive to their next travel destination. And while it’s common to visit the nearest hill station or famous beaches near major metropolitan cities, many destinations can be beyond a few hours’ drive. A long road trip can be subjective: a few hours may be normal for many but arduous for others. Either way, it is imperative that one keep a few basics in mind before stepping on the gas and off.

There are two absolutely crucial aspects of hitting the road: you, the driver, and the car itself. While it may seem obvious, it is important to stress that both the driver and the vehicle must be in good condition to ensure that the road trip is as fun as it should be.

File photo used for representative purposes.

File photo used for representative purposes.

Here are some quick tips and checks to ensure a road trip is about the sights, sounds and experience rather than a fountain of memories best forgotten:

check your car

  • Make sure the chosen vehicle is free of all existing and potential trouble spots. If the vehicle needs to be serviced, now would be the best time to ask the friendly service manager to ensure a more detailed inspection than usual. Things like motor oil, brake oil, and coolant may need a top-up or change. Have the brake pads closely inspected as well and although shops would recommend a change if they are found to be worn, it is best to ask once if not replaced. Also have all the lights on the vehicle double checked.
  • Have the windshield wiper blades checked and, if necessary, replaced. This is crucial even if your travel plans aren’t exactly for the rainy season because you never know what kind of debris or dirt might decide to land and stick to your windshield. And while you’re at it, top up the flushing liquid as well.
  • Another check that isn’t eureka is making sure the tire pressure is at its ideal level. This is for the spare wheel as well. If the vehicle is installed with tubeless tires, carry a tire inflator that can be powered by the vehicle’s 12V outlet. This is an even better option than carrying a puncture repair kit, as it will likely save you time and energy in the event of an emergency.
  • It is always good that no one weighs your luggage before putting it in your vehicle. But while it can be tempting to bring your whole house on the road trip, because, well, why not, make sure every passenger in the vehicle is comfortable. Also remember that the heavier the load, the greater the impact on mileage.
  • Fuel is perhaps the most important aspect of a road trip and make sure your tank is full before you start. If the trip extends over several hundred kilometers, the general rule is to start looking for a gas station when the indicator is below half way. And in case you travel to quite remote places, a jerry can full of fuel could prove its worth in gold.

Check your plan

  • Plan your route carefully, and while GPS is likely to be your best friend at all times, remember that technology can also have its limitations. The shortest route suggested may save you some time, but it may not be ideal in terms of road conditions, roadside facilities, or it may even be unsafe. It’s best to stick to national highways or state highways, regardless of how long it takes.
  • Get a good quality magnetic phone holder. This is much better, and safer, than juggling your phone while driving. And in that regard, clip-on phone mounts may not be as effective, especially on less-than-perfect roads.
  • If your budget allows, a dashcam could be a great investment as it could keep a visual record of the entire trip.
  • Whenever possible, avoid driving after dark and sleep comfortably if the journey stops midway. Normally, it is not advisable to drive for more than eight to ten hours a day. If there is another person in the vehicle who can drive, it may be okay to take a break and change seats. But even then, a vehicle would also require some rest time.

These suggestions are only indicative and a guide to help you make sure your next road trip is fun and safe.

First publication date: January 24, 2022, 12:02 p.m. IST

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