‘Tis the season of traffic jams, backseat drivers and minor collisions. In the coming days, roads around the world will be stuffed tighter than a turkey, with family and friends alike packing up and heading home for the holidays.
But, before you load up your car with presents and parcels, then buckle up and buckle down on the motorways, we’ve pulled together a guide on how to survive this seasonal slog. So listen up, fill up and follow these tips to ensure you don’t get your tinsel in a tangle.
Listen to tunes while you’re top to toe in tailbacks
Be it those first few notes of Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You or Bing whistling his way through White Christmas, we all love a well-curated Christmas playlist. But a lengthy car journey throws up a problem. Being subjected to seasonal songs for upwards of five or six hours, often alone, can feel less like a festive personal pilgrimage and more like tinsel-bound torture.
The best way to combat this icy issue is to sprinkle a liberal selection of seasonal tunes into your normal playlist. This way, when Frank or Dean start crooning at you, it’ll be a welcome reminder of Christmas rather than having your eardrums assaulted with festive track after festive track. In moderation, sleigh bells bring joy — in excess, migraines.
Keep your car full of fuel this festive season
Keeping your car happy is one of the first rules of the long journey home. Get it right, and you’ll be laughing all the way. Get it wrong, and you’ll have a blue Christmas. Check your tyre pressure, throw a can of de-icer in the footwell and top up your windscreen washer fluid to be safe.
And, most importantly, fuel up. Fill your tank all the way, and never let that needle dip below half-full. You may think that everything’s going your way when you’re flying along the motorway — but the moment you hit those red lights Chris Rea warned you about, your consumption will sky-rocket. And nothing is less festive than trudging along the side of the A134 with just a jerry can for company.
Grab yourself a Christmas coffee for caffeine
You’ve fuelled your car, so now fuel yourself. Short days and dark nights will likely make you sleepier than you are post-Christmas dinner, so it pays to stay caffeinated. And, as chains from Starbucks to Costa have jumped on the red-cup train of late, you’ll be able to find some genuinely tasty festive flavours.
Our picks this year — to help you speed up your service station stops — are Starbucks’ Eggnog Latte, Costa Coffee’s Hazelnut Praline & Cream Latte and Caffe Nero’s Caramelised Almond Latte. Stock up, drink up and perk up.
Stock up on seasonal snacks
And, for your final festive flourish on this late-December road trip, we come to snacks. As we all know, Christmas is mostly about eating anyway, and if you can find an opportunity to cram in some extra food, then you should jump at the chance.
But the car’s not the dinner table. Mince pies and festive crisps may seem like a great idea, but once you’re dusting icing sugar off your upholstery and picking crumbs off the dashboard, you’ll soon rue the decision. Instead, go for bitesize baked goods. We’re talking cookies, biscotti and that spicy Christmassy holy grail: gingerbread.