Written by Graham Cutbill-White
Every year, thousands of motorists up and down the country embark on the long journey home for Christmas.
Whether it’s half an hour down the road or a cross-country trip to visit long lost relatives, these journeys are an important part of our festive plans and mean we get to spend quality time with those closest to us at Christmas.
Naturally, you’re going to be focused on the destination rather than the journey itself but at what is already an expensive time of year, these long journeys home could end up costing you far more than it needs to.
Don’t dip into your present or Christmas food budget this year by saving money while driving home for Christmas. We’ve put together a range of helpful tips to help you keep the costs down this winter.
Unfortunately, Christmas 2017 could see the cost of fuel increase by as much as 3p a litre thanks to a major North Sea pipeline shutting down after an explosion. Unleaded prices are expected to jump to around 123.76p a litre which would the high prices drivers have seen at the pumps since November 2014.
It’s now more important than ever to try and cut the price of fuel. Many supermarkets offer petrol vouchers when you spend a certain amount in store. These vouchers can be for as much as 5p or 10p off a litre.
Be sure to keep an eye out for these offers as switching your weekly shop from one major supermarket to another for a week could help you save a lot when you go to fill up.
Another way to save more on petrol and cut the cost of your journey overall is to ensure you drive economically. Lowering your overall speed, reducing the number of times you brake suddenly and maintaining a constant speed in a high gear can all reduce your fuel consumption and save you money.
You can also cut the cost of fuel by lightening the load you carry with you (make sure you remember the presents though); this includes any roof or bike racks you may have attached.
Driving economically is not only safer (less speeding, less sudden breaking) but can really add up to cut the cost of travelling on long trips and even day to day driving.
It’s always important to check your car is running smoothly but especially important during the colder, winter months. Nobody wants to be stuck on the side of the road in freezing conditions because they didn’t check their car properly.
While you should try and have your car serviced before the weather turns too cold, obviously accidents can happen, and you can never prepare for every eventuality but there are some things you can check before heading off on a long journey.
Lights – Ensure you have a full, working battery and that your lights are clear and working properly. With the dark evenings well and truly here, proper working headlights could help keep you safe on long journeys in less than favourable conditions.
Windscreen and wiper blades – Having a clean and clear windscreen will make driving in dangerous conditions a lot easier. To help this, check that your screen is clear from any frost or debris and that your wiper blades don’t leave any smears.
Be wary of your wiper blades freezing overnight by lifting them up slightly when you’re not driving.
Tyres – Checking your tyres in winter is incredibly important as not having the correct tyre tread and pressure can be incredibly risky in wet and icy conditions. To be safe in adverse weather you should have a tread depth of at least 3mm.
Getting the correct pressure in your tyres is the best way to get maximum grip on the road. Underinflated tyres can cause poor handling and an increased chance of an accident. Having the correct tyre pressure will also save you money as It helps maintain optimum fuel efficiency.
Fluid levels – Try and keep your fluid levels topped up at all times. From anti-freeze to screen wash and especially your oil and petrol, keeping these fluids topped up can help reduce the risk of any breakdowns and help improve the performance of your vehicle.
Long trips can often be pretty boring and many us tend to snack to relieve some of that boredom. This could mean you end up stopping more than you need to pick up snacks and drinks which will not only cost you far more than you’d expect but will also slow you down massively.
Anyone who has ever bought food or drink from a petrol station knows just how ludicrously expensive they can be and if you want to save money on your journey home for Christmas they should be avoided at all costs.
Packing a few snacks from home is a sure-fire way to save money on a long trip and will also help your waistline before the inevitable overindulgence over the holidays.
One of the best ways to save money on long journeys over Christmas is by only paying for the insurance you actually need.
While most of us have our own annual insurance for our cars, if you are one of the many drivers who’s borrowing a car or wants to share the driving duties on a long trip home, you could save time and money with temporary car insurance.
For any situation where you would need to borrow a car, have someone drive your vehicle at short notice or use a vehicle that you’re not already insured on, temporary insurance is the ideal option.
If you’re using another car, driving without the right insurance is illegal and you could face fines, driving penalty points and could even see the vehicle destroyed. This is something no one wants to happen but especially not at Christmas.
To ensure you’re properly insured you could purchase an annual policy to use their vehicle or become a named driver on their policy.
Both of these scenarios have big downsides. Purchasing annual cover when you only want one or two days of insurance can be a huge waste of money and becoming a named driver could a huge impact on the vehicle owner’s policy, especially if you were to have an accident.
A temporary insurance policy, on the other hand, is flexible to suit your situation. You can get a policy from just one hour up to 28 days at a time so whatever your holiday plans you can get a temporary policy to fit your needs.
Temporary cover will also protect the No Claims Discount of the vehicle owner while you’re behind the wheel. Unlike being a named driver on an existing policy, short term insurance is separate, standalone cover which has no impact on the existing cover.
This could save the vehicle owner hundreds of pounds on their future premiums as they won’t lose their No Claims Bonus if you have to make a claim.
Short term cover is the fast and flexible way to get temporary insurance for Christmas. Get a quote in minutes online or on your phone at Tempcover.com and find out how much you could save with temporary cover.