Travel Features

Preparing your car for a self-drive holiday

While there’s many ways to travel, none offer the freedom of a self-drive holiday. Journeying to your destination by car will not only allow you to leave when you want and stop at your convenience, but also means you can explore your destination without having to worry about sticking to the local bus or train timetable.

If you’re planning on setting off on a self-drive holiday any time soon, you should make sure to prepare your car for the trip to make sure you’re ready for any eventuality. Follow these steps and your self-drive holiday is sure to go as smoothly as possible.

Perform your pre-trip tests

To make sure your car is fit to make the trip, you should perform a few pre-trip tests in the lead up to your holiday. In a video for Money Super Market, Simon Stratford from Green Flag shared a handy acronym you can use to make sure your car is ready for a long trip — F.L.O.W.E.R:

  • F stands for ‘fuel’: make sure you have a full tank so you don’t run out on the motorway.
  • L stands for ‘lights’: enlist the help of a friend to check that all of your lights are working — front beams, rear beams, and every indicator. If any of your lights need replacing, it’s a fix you can do yourself in a few minutes following the advice in DriveDen’s car light bulb fitting guide.
  • O stands for ‘oil’: check your oil level on a flat surface when your car’s engine is cold — it should be between the maximum and minimum marks on your dipstick. If it’s too low, fill it up before the trip.
  • W stands for ‘water’: while you’re checking your oil levels, check that there’s enough water in your car’s coolant system as well. If not, top it up.
  • E stands for ‘electrics’: if you have an older car, you might want to test its battery, although this isn’t a concern for most modern cars. If you’ve got an RV you might want to make sure yours is healthy. Read this handy article on the best RV battery.
  • R stands for ‘rubber’: check that there is no visible damage to tyres and replace them if there is. You should also perform the 20p test to check your tyres’ tread depth — find out how on the Tyre Safe website. If your tyres fail the test, their tread will be under the legal depth, and they should be replaced before you set off for your trip.

Pack an emergency kit

A car emergency kit is the kind of thing every driver knows they should have but never gets around to putting together. However, if you end up stranded by the side of the road in a foreign country without one, it could ruin your trip.

Here’s what you should include in the emergency kit you put together for your trip:

  • Sunglasses to protect you from glare from the sun.
  • An in-car mobile phone charger.
  • An LED torch and a basic toolkit to make small roadside repairs.
  • A first-aid kit including any essential medication.
  • Energy bars with a long shelf life and plenty of bottled water.
  • Jump leads, in case you or another motorist requires a jump start.

Invest in breakdown cover

If you’re relying on your car to enjoy your holiday, then suffering a breakdown during the trip could spoil your plans. While paying a bit extra for breakdown cover won’t prevent your vehicle from breaking down in the first place, it will help you get back up and running as quickly as possible. Take out a policy with MB&G Direct and you’ll have access to a 24/7 emergency repair helpline throughout Europe — this will ensure any car troubles have as small an impact on your holiday as possible.

Follow these steps before you set off on your next self-drive holiday and it’s sure to go as smoothly as possible, allowing you to focus on enjoying the sites of your destination.

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