Many of us don’t fully prepare for driving long distances - which is understandable when looking ahead to meeting friends or relatives at the other end, or planning fun activities.

But for a problem-free trip, it's worth spending time ensuring your vehicle is ready, and you have everything you need for a comfortable, safe journey.

Family in car on long road tripHere are some key long distance driving tips:

Car maintenance ahead of a long drive

When it comes to how to prepare for a long road trip, ensuring your vehicle is ready is critical.

Ideally, this should be done in the days before so you can remedy any issues - but checking just before you leave is the next best thing.

Man checking car tyre treadThings to check before a long drive

Ensure your tyres are sufficiently pressurised, and examine them for bulges or other damage.

It’s a good idea to check the tread depth too - it should be 1.6mm on the central three-quarters of breadth, and around the entire circumference.

Get someone else to walk around the vehicle as you sit in the driver's seat and turn on all the lights.

Test your brakes are working well.

Clean your car

Everyone knows the sense of calm that comes from being in a clean and tidy room. The same is true of your car.

Tidy up inside and consider cleaning the exterior, too.

You and your passengers will have a more pleasant trip, and your vehicle will look more presentable when you arrive!

Family packing car boot ahead of long drivePacking: What to take on a long road trip

If you take everything you need you'll have a more enjoyable trip - and you won’t have to make pit stops for things you forgot.

Items you will/might need for your long drive include:

  • Water and snacks
  • Travel cups
  • Medications (anti-hayfever tablets, prescription drugs etc)
  • Extra layers of clothing
  • Travel pillows and eye masks
  • Sunglasses
  • Mobile phone and charger (compatible with car socket)
  • First aid kit
  • Traffic warning triangle


Documents and maintenance items you might need on a long drive

  • Driver’s licence
  • Car registration and insurance information
  • Car manual
  • Extra car key (on a different keyring)
  • Roadside assistance contact details (e.g.
  • Spare tyre if feasible
  • Torch (ideally water resistant)
  • Pen and paper if you need to exchange details with another drive after a collision
  • Extra oil
  • Bottle of coolant or water
  • Wiper fluid

Additional items may be required in winter, including

  • Ice scraper
  • Shovel
  • Extra warm clothes

Refuse and hygiene

  • Bag for rubbish
  • Toilet roll
  • Hand sanitiser

Cash in case you can’t find an ATM, and for toll roads.


Young girl watching film on table in car on long drive

What to do on a long car ride: music, movies and games

Road trips are fun - but they can also get tiresome.

Ensure you have access to all the music you want to listen to, whether it's Spotify, Apple Music or even good old-fashioned CDs. Ensure everyone has a say in the music choice.

If you're travelling with kids, consider packing games and toys to keep them occupied - it could save everyone a lot of stress in the long run!

Prepare movies and cartoons to watch on your phone or tablet. Don't forget the headphones!

You might also think about planning simpler games such as i-spy, hangman and twenty questions.

Here are five fun-packed games that you can download and print for your next long car journey with the kids – guaranteed to make any long drive fly by!

Plan your route and stops

It's important to have a general idea of where you're going and how you'll get there. It gives both driver and passengers some peace of mind.

Planning your route is doubly important if you're travelling in two or more vehicles; identify points where you might get split up (and account for slower/more cautious drivers in the group).

Agree when and where you'll stop for breaks and book any accommodation ahead of time.

Use a service like Google Maps to plan your journey, or your satnav.

Try to avoid leaving or arriving during rush hour.

Leave enough time for regular breaks - being tired behind the wheel is dangerous.

Invest in a holder for your phone if using it to navigate. Remember that using your phone while driving is highly risky - and illegal.

Bring along a paper map in case you lose phone access due to flat battery or connectivity issues.


Best cars for long distance driving?

You're unlikely to buy a car especially for a road trip, but it’s worth thinking about the kinds of vehicles best suited to long distance drives. 

If you’re lucky enough to have a choice of two vehicles, for example, pick the one that performs best at motorway speeds, has good fuel economy, has plenty of luggage space, and is comfortable to drive and ride in.

For future reference, the best cars for long distance driving include:

  • Skoda Superb: saloon or estate versions available with lots of space; affordable purchase price and good fuel economy.
  • Lexus RX-L: seven seats, lots of space, quiet ride and good fuel economy thanks to its hybrid system.
  • Ford Focus estate: ideal for dog lovers and/or children, lots of cubby holes and smooth wipe-clean surfaces; great steering and suspension; frugal engines to choose from.