Passing your driving test opens up a whole world of freedom, not least because it allows you to make long trips for work or leisure without having to worry about public transport. There are lots of resources that can help you get to grips with driving (for instance the mock theory tests at toptests.co.uk) and understand how to drive safely and comfortably. Of course, what many of the resources available to learners don’t give advice on are the practicalities of actually making a long trip.
Many people choose to do some additional driving lessons focused on motorway driving after their test, and this is advisable if you want to feel confident. However, planning the trip can be as important a part of making it an enjoyable experience as the actual driving. Planning your route using something like Google maps and being comfortable using the GPS system you’ll be relying on are key (or having comprehensive maps if you are going old school and not using a GPS system or app).
The Importance of Rest Stops
When you are planning, you should not only think about getting from door to door, however – you need to also think about places where you may want to stop. Driving long distance is tiring for anyone and can be even more so if it’s new to you. Taking regular breaks is therefore important, because driving when you are tired, stressed, or nervous is dangerous. Of course, when you get onto the motorway you can’t just stop wherever you feel like it (unless there is an emergency), so you should plan into your route some stops at motorway services or other appropriate places where you can take a breather, use the bathroom, refuel your car, and make use of other facilities like coffee shops or restaurants.
Tips for Planning Your Stops
It is a good idea to plan more stops on your route than you think you will actually need. This means if you get stressed out from driving on the motorway for the first time, you will at least know where you have the option to stop and take a break. You may also find that if traffic is bad you will want to make extra comfort stops after spending longer than expected in your car.
Look at the facilities available at different services in advance. Most UK services are well equipped and will have just about everything you might need, but some smaller ones that are essentially just petrol with extra facilities may not have some things you like a cash machine or a place to give your kids or dog a break if they are travelling with you.
Don’t underestimate how much you will value having a chance to stop and take a break on your first long distance drive, even if you are aiming to reach your destination fast. Planning comfort breaks is a sensible part of plotting out your journey.