Top 10 Tips for Surviving Long Car Journeys

blurry light trails outside the SSE Hydro

Hooray! Summer holidays (well, the holidays in Scotland at least) have finally begun! I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been this ready for a seven week break of freedom following perhaps some of the busiest weeks of my life.

Anyway, one of the most popular things to do in summer is travel, whether to your Gran’s house down the road or to the opposite side of the world. Personally I love visiting different places, but the journey to get there can be a bit of a pain. Tonight I’ve got a 6 hour road trip with my mum, brother and granny down to my aunt and uncle’s house for a family party at the weekend. So with this pending and the summer holidays finally here, I thought it’d be a pretty appropriate time to share some of my top tips for surviving long car journeys!


Sort your music

My favourite way to pass time when you’re stuck in a car is definitely listening to music. I tend to either do a bit of listening with my headphones (major tip: don’t forget your headphones especially if you’re using public transport or don’t like everyone else’s taste in music!) or a little singing very loudly and very badly to the radio or my playlist when we play it through the speakers! 

Before going on a long journey, make sure you have downloaded all of the songs you like and may want to listen to onto your phone to save wasting mobile data (providing you even have internet connection) on this. Downloading songs beforehand can also help to save your battery as your phone isn’t constantly trying to download them whilst you are travelling. When downloading you may also want to consider choosing radio edits (particularly when being played for the young and old generations!)!


Pack well

This can take a bit of planning, but trust me it’s totally worth it. When you arrive at your destination it means you know where everything is in your bags so you can just grab your toothbrush and pyjamas and go straight to bed after your tiring journey without much hassle trying to find them! 

Knowing where everything is in your bags can also be really useful when you’re on the road or having a break at a service station. This brings me to another key point: pack the bags into your car well too, so that you can easily access all of the essentials that you need. I tend to have a food bag with me in the car so I can eat at any point in the journey. I also keep a backpack filled with anything I think I might want to use (e.g.. phone, laptop, headphones, cosy jumper etc.), which saves a lot of hassle having to stop to grab something out of the boot of the car.

boxes of food and snacks for the long car journey ahead

Plan your food

Food really does come down to your personal preferences. Being vegan, I tend to make sure I have all the food I may need (including full meals) so that I don’t need to rely on service stations. This is partly due to a bad experience I had where there were hardly any shops at the services and all those that were there had very little food (and no vegan options whatsoever)! This was a complete nightmare but I did manage to find stuff at the next service station, it just ended up delaying our journey a little!

Probably the main thing is to have plenty of snacks with you to keep you going on the journey. It’s up to you how healthy these are or how many you have, but I find it’s always best to have excess food with you just in case. I’ve never really been much of a chewing gum person but I know this appeals to many. Obviously you can buy all sorts of food at service stations, from burgers to salads to ice cream to pizzas. Just make sure to be aware if you’re travelling late at night as some of the shops close earlier or may have run out of food. Also be careful when travelling at peak times (particularly bank holidays) as service stations can be absolutely packed and you can be stuck queuing for half an hour just to buy a coffee.


Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is really important on a daily basis anyway but it can be a little more tricky when you’re on a long car journey. The lack of easily accessible toilets makes it more complicated to plan how much you drink so that you can try and avoid having to stop at service stations every half an hour. If you have a really strong bladder then lucky you!

I drink absolutely loads of diluted squash at home but end up drinking a lot less on car journeys. I do make an effort to stay well hydrated though as I end up with splitting headaches if I don’t. How much you drink when you’re travelling is up to you as everyone is different, it’s just something I’d advise you bear in mind!



One of the most painful things about long car journeys is the boredom, so I’d recommend having plenty of things you can do when you’re in the car. Whether that’s listening to music, watching a movie or reading a book (sadly I feel a bit sick if I do this!), any form of entertainment makes car journeys so much more bearable!

sources of entertainment for travel - Gone With the Wind, journal and laptop

Have chargers for technology

I’m sure we’ve all had that heartbreaking experience attempting to make that 10% of our phone battery last the next 3 hours. So, when you’re in the car I’d suggest having chargers with you for any devices you think you may need to charge up at some point. You can often get USB adaptors to plug into your car, or you can buy a portable charger so there are fewer trailing cables. However you do it, just make sure you have a way of recharging your phone etc. as it can get really boring otherwise!


Play games and be sociable?

If you’re travelling with other people it can be pretty fun to be sociable (although I do admit, escaping into your music through headphones is equally enjoyable!)! Conversations with people in the car can end up being some of the best ever as they can get pretty random at times! Playing stupid games (such as I spy, alphabet categories, guess the song etc.) can also be a good time filler and often end up rather hilarious! Everyone has different games they like to play (or not play) in the car, so this one is pretty much down to personal preference.


Wear comfy clothes

Long car journeys are really not the time to wear those brand new 6-inch heels with a bodycon dress and freshly styled hair! Instead, I’d recommend opting for a more relaxed, comfortable outfit choice. Remember, you’re hardly going to see anyone you know whilst you’re on your car journey so it really doesn’t matter how you look whatsoever!

Joggies or leggings with a cosy hoodie and a messy bun are always a favourite of mine for travel as I hate sitting in jeans for a long period of time. Basically I’d just suggest choosing comfort over fashion as you’re going to be trapped on a journey for a fair amount of time!


Keep fresh and cool

Everyone deals with long car journeys differently but I find that I can end up feeling a little rubbishy, even though I’ve only ever been properly car sick once. To try and prevent feeling at all unwell in the car, I prefer to be on the cooler side instead of too warm as this stops me from feeling all clammy. Air conditioning is a great way of keeping the car cool and the little vents at the side of the car also help me to feel fresh!

Staring out of a window can also help me to feel less queasy (plus it’s a chance to admire the lovely motorway view too!). Everyone has different sorts of triggers that make them feel a unwell in the car, so I’d just suggest trying to avoid these as much as humanly possible while you’re travelling.



Sleeping is very dependent on what your job is in the car. If you’re driving, I’m sure you’ll agree that sleeping on the wheel probably isn’t the best idea (safety etc)! In this situation, probably the best thing to think about is to make sure you’re well rested, particularly if you’re driving at night.

For passengers though, I find that sleep can be an excellent way to help make the journey pass by more quickly. The advice for passengers then is probably the opposite - if you know you can sleep in the car then it might actually be best to tire yourself out a little beforehand so that you’re more able to sleep on the journey!


So, all in all how you deal with a long car journey depends on you! I can't really think of anyone who'd choose to be stuck in a car for hours, but we all deal with it at some point, and it can actually be a lot more enjoyable than expected! I've shared some of the things that I do to make long car journeys a little more bearable and I'd love to hear any tips of your own too! I hope you found this helpful!


Do you have any top tips for surviving long car journeys?