Driving home for Christmas How to make the journey less stressful
Long drives can be stressful at the best of times, let alone at Christmas. The roads are chock-a-block with people, it's usually either raining or snowing, and the kids are getting bored and ratty. There are ways to take some of this stress out of the journey.
We asked our followers on Twitter and Facebook to tell us how they ensure they're not clutching the wheel with rage during long troublesome drives. Here's what they said:
Prepare for your drive...and don't rush!
Our first suggestion comes from MyCarGossip, who advises you to leave sufficient time so that you aren't driving in a rush. They make a good point too; we're usually at our most flustered when we haven't left enough time to do something and are forced to hurry. If you promised you would be at your mother's by five, then make sure you give yourself at least an extra 15 minutes to arrive on time. It is far better to be early than late, plus you won't have to face an argument with said mother when you get there!
Moreover, driving in a rush is dangerous, especially if the roads are icy or wet. If the twins were acting up and you really couldn't get out before half past three, drive carefully. It's better to be late than to never arrive at all.
Take regular breaks
MyCarGossip made another good point: you should always take regular breaks when driving for long periods of time. Driving can make us tired and due to the short winter days, it's possible you could be driving in low light or the dark. If you don't take breaks, it's going to seem really tempting to shut those eyes for just a couple of moments.
To conquer this, mrjaydeeem recommends taking the occasional nap on the straight stretches - pulling over somewhere safe, of course. After you've had your forty winks, grab yourself a coffee and something to eat, and get back on that motorway. The AA recommends stopping every two hours to take a 15 minute break.
If you can help it, don't drive during bad weather
It's Christmas Eve and you promised the kids that you'd all be staying at Nanny's for the holidays. However, all that dreaming of a White Christmas means there's several inches of the cold white stuff outside. The roads are jammed and it's going to take twice as long to get there - if the car doesn't give up the ghost first. Is it really worth going?
MotorMistress says no; you should only drive if it's absolutely "110 per cent necessary". Even if it is Christmas, Nanny will understand, and your family can have just as nice a time at home. Wait and see if the weather's a little better on Boxing Day, perhaps.
Create a rocking Christmas playlist
Jack Hitchings on Facebook says Christmas music is a must during long journeys. 'Tis the season, after all! What better excuse is there for singing along to all your festive favourites? Alex Robertson adds it's a good idea to create a playlist beforehand; otherwise fights might break out among your passengers regarding what can and can't be played during the trip. You may want to include some non-Christmas music to keep any Scrooges happy. Alternative Christmas tracks are sometimes a favourite among this crowd too. Try Nightwish's 'Walking in the Air', for example.
If you have a stubborn teenager who is protesting against your every single choice for the Christmas playlist, let them take their MP3 and headphones instead. Unfortunately, contrary to Mr Hitchings's suggestion, you're not allowed to leave the kids at home, so it's best to keep them as quiet and happy as possible.
Give the kids something to play with
Both Suzie Millard and Heather Clark on Facebook said it's a good idea to give the kids something to play with during the journey. Suzie recommends bringing along a couple of iPads and, if possible, setting up a mobile Wi-Fi network. The big kids can stream episodes of 'Game of Thrones' (so long as whatever's on-screen isn't likely to distract you), whilst the little ones can play a few rounds of 'Candy Crush' - we recommend password protecting your account first so they don't 'accidentally' buy 20 extra hearts, mind.
If you don't want the kids to be glued to a screen for the whole journey, Heather suggests trying some traditional games instead. Of course, the likes of 'I-spy' are only going to be enjoyed by the little ones, but it's a nice way to ensure they're not hooked to a games console or TV screen for four hours straight.
With a little bit of preparation and creativity, long journeys needn't be stressful or boring. Hopefully the above tips will go some way to making your long Christmas drive a little bit easier. Though perhaps we should all try to be a bit more like MonkeydubCar, who doesn't get stressed at all when behind the wheel. A model driver right there.