Mr ESLT and I are heading to Iceland in November. We made the decision early in the planning stage that we wanted to see more than just Reykjavik. So in order to do this we plan to hire a car and explore as much of the island as possible. As I have never driven abroad before I’m equal parts excited/nervous. Luckily, I love driving and can’t wait for our roadtrip. Roadtrips are fun but it’s always important to remember certain things before embarking on one. Therefore, when Giles Kirkland got in touch offering his great pre-journey tips for travelling by car I felt that it was information worth sharing as like me, I’m sure many of you will benefit from it too.
Giles Kirkland is a professional mechanic with a passion for travelling and exploring. Fortunately, a well maintained vehicle lets him do that and he enjoys sharing his knowledge with others, to help them get the most out of their travel opportunities
Travelling by car is one of the best ways to explore. If you have a family to take with you, or simply have a lot of luggage, a vehicle gives you an easy way to take all of this with you. Likewise, it’s also much easier to get around and the extra freedom offered by a car is certainly welcome.
That said, like any well-planned journey, there are few things you should do before you head off. Whether it’s making sure you have the right car tyres, fluids and maintenance, or just considering the local laws and environment of your destination in mind.
If you’re staying within the same country, this isn’t a problem. However if you’re venturing somewhere new, you should understand the local laws of that country. Even in Europe, there are different driving laws and equipment regulations that you should be aware of. This includes what you need to have in the car at all times and – yes – which side of the road you should be driving on.
Additionally, some countries have additional laws on safety, such as when it comes to seat belt usage or children’s seats. It’s always better to look these up before you go, rather than having the local police spot you when you’re there.
Is The Car In Working Order?
If you know you’re going away soon, it’s best to get the car in working condition now, rather than having to find a garage during the middle of your holiday. This doesn’t need to be a full service, but there are a few checks you can do.
Check your car brakes are working and, if you can, try and look at the discs to ensure they aren’t too worn down. You never know what might happen on your holidays, from heavy traffic to stray wildlife running across the road.
Likewise, ensure you have plenty of various fluids, such as oil, screen wash, coolant and even anti-freeze, if you’re going somewhere cold. It’s also recommended that you check the wiper blades work, just to ensure you’re safe if it starts to rain.
Is your car comfortable to sit in while driving? If you’re planning on spending a few hours in it, you should hope it is! As part of your checks, push down on one of the corners of the car (such as the bonnet ). If the car wobbles in one particular corner, then you should ask a mechanic to fix or balance the suspension.
Otherwise, that corner will dip and vibrate frequently on your journey. Similarly, check your tyre pressure to ensure even, well balanced support. A bumpy car ride puts nobody in the adventuring mood and it will definitely keep smaller children awake and grumpy!
Similarly, are you visiting somewhere with a different environment to your home? If so, perhaps you should adjust your car to perform in these new situations better. If you’re going off-road for instance, tyres with better grip might be useful, especially if you’re use to inner-city driving most of the time.
If you’re going somewhere cold, make sure you stock up on anti-freeze and have a working air conditioner as well. This latter fact will likely require a good car battery, so make sure yours has plenty of life left in it.
Finally, one more tip that might be worth mentioning – the weight of your car with a full load. While your car will likely be fine, since load factors are designed to take this into account, you might struggle with steep inclines. Performing a quick test is always preferable but, if you find your vehicle can’t make a certain incline, you will need to either loosen the load or find an alternative route.