Driving home for Christmas? Follow these tips for a smooth journey

Driving in the Christmas period can be stressful, roads are busier and everyone wants to get somewhere in a hurry. But it's doesn't need to be difficult. Source: Beth Leverich/Instagram

“DRIVING home for Christmas, top to toe in tailbacks, red lights all around” – the words of Chris Rea will be a familiar sight for millions who are traveling through this festive period. Rescue services are warning drivers not to tackle the roads this Friday because of the predicted mayhem – for some, though, traveling isn’t an option but a necessity.

Here are some top tips for turning a potentially chaotic journey into a smooth and perhaps even fun trip.

Know the best times to travel

The first step in planning a perfect journey is to know the best times to travel. According to data from the trip-planning platform Waze the absolute worst day to travel is Friday, December 22.

Choosing non-peak travel times will significantly reduce the risk of you becoming stuck in a jam and yelling at other stand-still drivers. Waze suggests the best times to travel over the Christmas period are in the early afternoon on most days, except from Saturday 23 and Sunday 30, when traveling in the evening is recommended.

Check, check and check again

There are few things more frustrating than getting halfway to your destination, thinking “did I pack all the presents and did I lock all the windows?” and having to pull over and check – or even head home to just to see that, yes, you did lock everything.

A way to avoid this dreaded feeling is to pack up the night before and take pictures of you locking windows and turning off plugs, for example. So when those pangs of worry threaten to ruin your Christmas, you can glance at the pictures of you turning off the oven and double locking the front door for peace of mind.

Oil, gas and tire pressure

Throughout the year, you get used to driving alone, you know how far a tank of gas will get you and how often you will need to pump up the tires. But this Christmas you will have a few more people in the car, a trunk full of Christmas presents and maybe even a turkey.

It is best practice to fill up with gas, test your tire pressures and check your oil, water, and screen wash levels the day before you leave. If your car is happy then you have a far better chance of delivering happy passengers too.

Get a groovy playlist and turn a traffic jam into a karaoke club

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Some see traffic congestion as a frustration and a delaying nuisance, but it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s all about positive thinking, belting out Christmas classics and pretending you are Mariah Carey for a short while.

The key to a great playlist is including songs you haven’t heard in a while, as well as ones you know you will never get bored hearing. If you have little ones in the car, encourage them to sing along. Even if they don’t know the words, they’re probably more likely to hit the high notes than you are.

Song trivia is a brilliant way to while away the time spent bumper to bumper. Try guessing song titles, who wrote them and release years. Alternatively, or as well as, depending on how long your journey is, play the lyric game. Start singing a song lyric and then someone else has to sing another lyric from a different song, but it has to make sense. For example, “I kissed a girl and I…” “…Really, really, really like you…” “…Doing that thing you do, breaking my heart into a million…”

Our playlist suggestions

  1. Driving Home For Christmas – Chris Rea
  2. Last Christmas – Wham
  3. All I Want For Christmas – Mariah Carey
  4. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee
  5. It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas – Johnny Mathis
  6. Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire – Nat King Cole
  7. Stop The Cavalry – Jona Lewie
  8. I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday – Wizard
  9. Sleigh Ride – Ronettes
  10. Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt