If you face making a long car journey before Christmas, you should know that you won’t be alone. Last Christmas, the AA estimated that 14 million motorists took to the UK’s roads on the last Friday before the festive period, making it the busiest day for traffic in the whole of 2015.
We’ve decided to make your life a little bit easier by sharing some of our top Christmas driving tips — some will help keep you sane in heavy traffic, while others will help you get home safely. Read on to find out more.
Pay attention to the weather
Before heading out, be sure to keep track of what the weather has in store for your route home. Heavy rain or snowfall is not uncommon during December, and either can cause inconvenient tailbacks on the busiest routes.
Install a reliable weather app on your phone like this one from the Met Office — not only does it have up to date probabilities of poor weather conditions, but it will also notify you of any weather warnings in your area.
You should also make yourself familiar with the standard preparations and techniques that can help you to deal with driving in bad weather — just to make sure you reach home in one piece. Lookers have a detailed tips article that covers many of the precautions that you should take.
Plan your route
As we’ve mentioned, festive traffic can get very heavy. If your usual route is going to take you onto a road that you suspect will become busy, you could try and plan an alternative route to avoid that particular stretch.
You can also use Traffic England’s live traffic updates to check what the status of the roads on your route are before you set off. This way, you will be able to check in real time whether the path ahead is clear or not — just remember to pull over safely if you need to check when you are on the move.
Keep yourself entertained
There’s nothing much worse than being stuck in a traffic jam and having nothing to entertain yourself with. If you own a new car, chances are you have a stereo system which has a built in Bluetooth or wired USB connection for your phone, which gives you access to a whole world and online library of music through streaming services or your own album collection.
Driving an older model? There are other ways you can get around your lack of cutting-edge connectivity. Wirecutter have compiled a guide to the best Bluetooth kits on the market, many of which can get you plugged in and jamming to all of your favourite Christmas tunes on your way home.
Follow these tips and you will be sure to have a safe and relatively stress-free journey home this Christmas. Just don’t forget to load the boot with any presents you’ve bought before you set off.