To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.
If you spend six hours in your car at motorway speeds you could conceivably be almost anywhere in the country. That’s an exciting thought and something Americans and Australians find almost impossible to get their head around.
You probably do too, given how crowded our roads are and how frequent traffic jams are these days; six hours in a car doesn’t necessarily mean an adventure, it can simply mean an average journey gone bad…
Here is our guide to surviving a day shut in a small metal cube:
Spending six hours sitting down will take its toll, so wear loose clothing and put the emphasis on comfort rather than fashion.
Sit up straight too, especially when you’re driving. It won’t just make you a safer driver, it will also minimise the wear and tear that a long journey can wreak on your body.
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Make a mix tape
I say ‘mix tape’ but most of us now make a playlist on our phone or iPod. The trick is to do two or three different mixes: I like one we can both sing along to to raise flagging spirits; one with old favourites that make us happy by reviving old memories; and one with fast, upbeat music to keep us going when we’re feeling fed-up.
Or, ask friends and family to suggest someone new for you to try before you leave on your drive - it's a great way of discovering new bands and singers.
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Keep a bag of sweets handy
I know they’re bad for you, but rummaging through the glovebox and discovering a long-lost bag of sweets is a real spirit raiser, while minty chewing gum keeps your breath smelling good, which is almost as effective as a quick wash and brush up in making you feel fresher after hours of sitting in the same place.
Which reminds me: always keep a grab bag in the car with you that contains glasses, medicine, water, and anything else you’re going to need on the journey itself.
Nothing is more infuriating than a passenger who wants you to pull into the next services because they’ve left their magazine in the boot.
It’s amazing how a five-minute break can change the atmosphere in a car. So if you find yourself snapping at the one person in the world you love the most, it’s probably time to pull into a service station before holding their hand while you’re buying them an apology coffee!
If you find yourself yawning, stretching, or realise you’ve just driven the last mile without being conscious of it, then it’s also time to take a break.
Even a quick stretch and a stroll in the fresh air will rejuvenate you, so aim for no more than two hours behind the wheel without taking a break.
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Turn on traffic news
Most radios have the facility to turn on local traffic reports, and modern sat-nav systems will detect upcoming traffic problems. Both will warn you of holdups ahead, giving you time to divert to a different route, which is where an old-fashioned road atlas can pay dividends.
Your passenger should learn how to use the ‘Detour’ mode on your car’s sat-nav too, so when you next hear of a traffic jam on your route you can detour round it seamlessly.
It’s also worth learning how to find a POI, or Point of Interest, which will show you the nearest places to stop for a toilet or meal break.
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Be a Zen master
Attitudes matter, so when you’re falling behind, or an idiot in a repmobile cuts you up, smile and understand that it doesn’t really matter.
You will get there, even if it takes a bit longer than you first thought.
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Bring a picnic
I’m a greedy so-and-so and nothing cheers me up like digging into a cool bag for an on-the-move snack when my wife takes the wheel.
A picnic doesn’t only cheer you up, it means one of you can eat while the other drives, saving time and money. If you’re up against it, then this one tip can save you half-an-hour or more. Wet wipes and an old carrier bag keep you and the car clean too.
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Make the journey part of the fun
Why not scout out an interesting place to stop on the way? It could be a renowned restaurant, or a landmark or visitor attraction. By doing so you’ll be taking the emphasis away from how long you’re going to be in the car and on to the fact that you’re having a mini-adventure!