Smart survival: 30 essential items you can’t live without on the road this summer

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Travelling abroad by road offers many exciting opportunities to motorists, but it’s important not the let the haze of excitement affect what and how you pack. Packing light is always the way forward – with limited space and repeated stops to re-fuel you’re almost forced to pack light and pack smart on any road trip.

Start by asking yourself how the space in your car can work for your family and/or friends. We suggest clearing out your car a week in advance, removing anything you won’t need, as well as jotting down an itinerary so you can plan exactly which items will come in handy for your trip. Another great tip is to hire a car that’s already mess-free – this is a sure winner if you’re looking for a stress-free start to your journey.

Plan which essentials you’ll need right now. To help you out, we’ve put together 30 of the most important things you’ll need on the road…

Mobile This one’s a given, but let’s start with safety. If you’re stranded, without fuel or simply want to get in touch with friends, a mobile phone will certainly come in handy.

But that’s not all, your smartphone is the ideal place to store information, itineraries and entertainment that would have otherwise cost you vital space in your car. From handy apps to maps and of course a camera, your mobile has it covered.

Chargeable phone case – Taking selfies on your hilltop trek? Using a chargeable phone case allows you to never lose battery.

Power devices For all your other tech, you’ll need to think ahead about the best way to get power on the move.

Walkie TalkiesIf you’re using up data fast, another alternative way to communicate is by using Walkie Talkies. These are so fun, especially with kids and allow you to save your mobile just for emergencies.

SatnavGetting from A to B abroad is tough when you don’t know where you’re heading. Satnavs are so handy – they can inform you of accidents and speed restrictions that you wouldn’t otherwise have know about.

Our tip to you is to not solely rely on your navigator for information like this, instead do your research and get keyed up on EU roads and their quirky laws before you set off.

MapWhen all else fails, go back to basics. Make sure you keep a road map handy for times when your technology lets you down. The great thing is, a road map will take up minimal space in your car.

In-car entertainmentCue road trip playlists! We recommend you make at least 20 playlists on your ipod to ensure you don’t drive on repeat. Audiobooks are another great option depending on whether your passengers have similar taste. In situations like this, we advise using headphones.

Ear plugs – These are an essential, perfect for drowning out sounds that are simply driving you crazy in the car.

JournalAside from taking photos, a cool way to document your experience is to take pen to paper – write and draw along the way so you have something to re-visit when you’re back home.

If this isn’t your style then setting up a Pinterest board for your road trip is the perfect way of compiling all your holiday snapshots.

Driver’s license – This one’s a must for obvious reasons, so make a note not to forget!

Spare keys – Without them, you won’t be going far. Your keys are probably the single most important item you’ll need on the road, so having a spare set won’t hurt. In some countries it’s essential!

Auto essentialsDon’t sacrifice your spare tyre in the boot for more space. Be sensible and think about the health of your car along the road, regularly monitoring and topping up water, oil and coolant levels.

Folding shovel – You may think having a shovel in your car is a step too far but think not! This essential allows you to dig both you and your car out of tricky situations – then fold it away neatly when you’re done.

Tent If you do find yourself struggling for space in your car, a pitched tent acts as a instant extension.

We say instant, but we all know from experience that putting up a tent can take up a lot of time and effort, so make sure you buy one that’s easy to put up and takes up minimal space in your vehicle. Don’t forget to trial out a practice run before you set out.

Lilo Fancy a nap? Aside from the obvious poolside accessory, a lilo is the perfect bed. Slot it into your tent or alternatively over your back seats for the greatest DIY nap zone – perfect for catching those zZzZzs.

Cushions and cars are a great mix. Without them the journey has the potential to be an uncomfortable experience. If you’re travelling with children, building a cushion fort is really good fun and a great distraction for them on long journeys – try it!

Torch – This is one in-car essential vital all year round, not just on your summer road trip!

Warm clothes We’re guessing no one told you that even abroad things can get a little chilly at night. When the sun goes down, make sure you’re prepared.

When it comes to packing clothes there are a few key things to remember: choose quick-drying clothes and wear darker colours to minimize the sight of any stains, plan all outfits ahead and use the ‘roll and pack’ method to save as much space as possible.

Bin bags are very versatile. Whether they’re used for rubbish, motion sickness or even makeshift raincoats, make sure they’re on your list of essentials.

Sensible shoesSometimes flip-flops just don’t cut it. In Spain, it’s illegal to drive in flip-flops, high heels, barefoot or backless and open-toe shoes. Make sure everyone is equipped with hard-wearing shoes, already broken in to avoid blisters.

Bandanna – Whether or not you think they’re ‘cool’ in a fashion sense, bandannas are certainly a cool way of keeping the heat off your head. Embrace it and pick one with a jazzy pattern!

First-aid kit – Of course this is a must. Grazed knee? Having emergency essentials on you at all times can avoid on-the-spot-reaction situations where you use your bandanna as a makeshift plaster. Being prepared is a much better option.

Water – Keeping hydrated is also an important factor of being on the road. At times it can be dusty, sweaty and humid so all the more reason to drink regularly.

Cool spray – Okay, so we’ve established it’s hot on the open road. For this very reason water-based facial mists are the way forward when it comes to keeping you and your passengers cool and calm.

Travel mugWhilst it’s good to have enough cups to go round, having a travel mug acts as the perfect, secret, safety box in your car. It’s not obvious and if you lock it away in your glove box then the chances of it ending up in the wrong hands are minimal.

Non-messy foods – Did we mention it can get hot out on the open road in the summer? Ice-lollies and chocolate bars are definitely a no-go when it comes to road tripping – think more along the lines of foods that won’t melt and you’ll be fine.

Hand sanitizer – Purely for all those moments when you ignore the above.

Sunglasses – Where there’s heat, there’s the sun and UV rays! Make sure you don’t forget your sunglasses or else you’ll be making a purchase-based pitstop along the way.

Great companyRoad trips can be loooooong, so choose your company wisely. Your friends and family are the people who will make any long journey worth it. It’s time to start making memories!

Plan B – No matter how much time you spend planning your road trip there’s always a chance things won’t go to plan. Make sure your A team is equipped with a plan B before you leave.

So what are you waiting for? Get planning, get packing and get on the road. The sooner you do, the sooner you can start enjoying the good times. The key thing to remember when planning your essential items, is that no two packing lists should look the same – keep it real to you and your trip.

Happy road trip from Airparks!

Holiday hire: 9 advantages of renting a vehicle for your holiday

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From freedom to finances, there are so many reasons why hiring a car for your foreign getaway is a great idea. Say goodbye to the inconvenience of flagging down a taxi on the side of the road and say hello to the novelty of renting a fresh, new, reliable ride.

If you’re planning a road trip in peak times like July and August, car rental prices can be higher than usual and certain cars may be in short supply. One way to avoid disappointment is to book your car hire well in advance. Quick sellers often tend to be 4x4s which are great for family road trips, or smaller cars perfect for couples and nipping around narrow winding roads.

Our tip to you is to match a motor that works for you and your surroundings. If you’ve never rented a car for your holiday, here are 9 reasons why you should consider it:

Drive in disguise:

Want to hide your tourist-like qualities? Hiring a foreign vehicle allows you to fit in with ease. Your fresh, clean rental will not only get you respect on the roads but it can often prove to be the safer option as foreign number plates tend to run the risk of theft or break-ins.

Another great way to ensure you keep a low profile on your road trip is to hire a car with a Satnav. Not only will you know where you’re heading without having to stop and ask for directions, but you’ll get access to updated maps which will save your mobile data and roaming charges too.

Forget the taxi:

If you plan on using a taxi to get from A to B abroad, the costs can quickly mount up.. The downside to jumping in a taxi on holiday is unfortunately looking like a tourist can cost you. If you’ve fallen victim to being driven the long way around or even being charged twice as much for the same route as a local, you’ll probably be looking into hiring a car for your next getaway.

Even ordering a taxi over the phone can be a hassle, thanks to location and communication barriers…it’s just not simple. All these issues can be solved by renting a holiday hire.

Freedom to explore:

Here’s your chance to take advantage of your new found freedom. Having a car abroad allows you to explore remote places more freely. Rocky mountain restaurants, hilltop landmarks and stunning waterfalls are all places that would be harder to reach by bus or taxi.

Hiring for your holiday can take you to places your own car can only dream of. If you want to pull over to admire the fantastic scenery, guess what – you can! You’re the boss and you’re in the driving seat!

Save, save, save £££’s:

The amount you spend renting a ride can be saved elsewhere by booking a hotel that’s further afield, out of inner towns and cities. The chances are you’ll have way more fun exploring at your own pace. You’ll avoid the traffic, plus it’ll raise your chances of stumbling upon stunning scenery that you just wouldn’t have spotted otherwise.

Through our preferred partner Holiday Extras, you can book car hire for as little as £7!

Experience the novelty factor:

Escapism – there’s no thrill quite like it. Sit back, relax and enjoy the novelty of exploring a new country in the comfort of your own hired car. Push the boat out and choose a car that really suits your personality. Have fun with it!

Trial out an extended test drive:

Switch it up! Depending on the license you have, if you drive a manual car at home use this opportunity to experience an automatic or vice versa. Holidays are all about new experiences so embrace it!

In the market for a new car but don’t quite know if your choice is the right one? Renting a ride for a few days acts as the perfect extended test drive to find out first-hand if the car you’re renting fits your long term needs.

Fall in love with getting lost:

Things haven’t gone quite to plan? That’s the fun of it! Hiring a car abroad gives you the opportunity to see a country for what it has to offer and there’s plenty of fun to be had along the way!

Although deciphering European road signs isn’t quite what you had in mind, it’s these experiences that can make a holiday one to remember (for the right reasons). When it comes to planning your road trip, make it a team effort and get the whole family involved.

Choose a green car to save you money:

Did you know a lot of cities offer blue zone, free parking to hybrid and electric model cars? Reduce the costs of parking abroad by simply going green this summer.

Witness fuel savings:

Have you noticed that your own car has the tendency to be a bit of a gas guzzler? A great advantage of hiring a car abroad is that the vehicle you’ll be driving is likely to be newer, more reliable and therefore a more sustainable model that holds great gas mileage.

So what are you waiting for? Isn’t it about time you experience the open road in style? A driving holiday offers escapism, freedom and more importantly that feel-good factor! Hit the road and hire your motor to discover the experience of a lifetime.

Are we nearly there yet​? Airparks’ Family Road Trip Survival Tips

Aside from “I’m hungry” and “I’m bored”, “Are we nearly there yet?” has to be the most­common phrase heard by parents on a long car journey. Luckily for you, we’ve put together our own Airparks’ family road trip survival guide just in time for half­term! Get the low­down on the best apps to entertain, top solutions for curbing car sickness and fun ways to plan perfectly and get the whole family involved.

So, whether you’re driving abroad or planning a trip in the UK, these useful tips and tricks will definitely come in handy… all you’ll need is a car, a family, a week off and a long road ahead!

Where are you heading this half-­term? Tweet us your road trip snapshots @Airparks.

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What’s your couple ID? Our guide to planning the ultimate, romantic road trip

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Are you on the highway to love? Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and what better way to say those three little words than by planning the ultimate romantic road trip? We’ve picked six of the most-iconic, scenic settings across the globe, set to tempt you to jet off, jump in the car and pop that playlist on repeat as you drive into the dusk.

The key thing to remember when planning a successful romantic getaway is to customise it to your own relationship. One thing that’s often overlooked is that one person’s impression of romance can be very different to someone else’s. Think about how you like to spend time together. Go back to basics – think about the characteristics you hold as a couple. What kind of couple are you?

The Adventurous Couple:

Lots of couples share a similar thirst for adrenaline and adventure – if your first date was a trip to Alton Towers, you definitely fall under this category. This type of couple is much more open to double dating because they’re so carefree. Together, you live life on the edge and life-goals like marriage and offspring just aren’t on your radar at the moment because you’re too busy ticking off your bucket list and planning your next fix of fun.

Road Match:

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Great Ocean Road stretches from the Twelve Apostles to Apollo Bay and is undoubtedly one of Australia’s most-iconic coastal drives.

Surfs up! This region is a particular favourite for the world’s professionals. The Rip Curl Pro event, held at Bells Beach, makes this stretch of water very well known. There’s plenty to offer when it comes to satisfying the needs of the adventurous. Stop off along your way to admire breathtaking waterfalls or if you really want to push the boat out, (not literally), go shark cage diving – it’s a sure way of seeing your adrenaline levels soar!

 

The Long Distance Relationship (LDR) Couple:

Although many view this as a partnership destined for downfall, don’t be so sure. Think about it, you’ve mastered independence and you’ve got communication down to a fine art. You certainly know what you want from life. Sometimes, LDRs do suck, but that’s why it’s so important to make an effort all year round, not just Valentine’s Day.

Road Match:

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Next stop, Japan! After all, you should be used to long distances by now.

What’s more romantic than a road named the Nihon Romantic Highway? The route from Chugushi to the 120 road split is renowned for its incredible turns, corners and twists that impress even the most-experienced of drivers. This is a drive sure to turn up the heat in your relationship: when you’ve had enough of the relentless sharp bends, take a pitstop at some of Japan’s best hot springs and volcanoes.

It’s called the 120 road split for a reason – whether you choose to go your separate ways again at the end is entirely up to you!

 

The Young at Heart Couple:

As the saying goes: you’re only as old as you feel! It’s just a state of mind. There are so many couples out there who are grabbing life by the horns right now…tooting them constantly as they drive down the street! If you’re a couple who’s got a few miles on the clock, but are just as fun loving as when you first met, this is the greatest road match for you:

Road Match:

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3, 2, 1, GO! The U.S. Route 129 offers 318 turns of the steering wheel, making this infamous stretch a real-life racetrack in itself.

The road earned its name from its curves being said to resemble a dragon’s tail. Some of its sharpest curves are named Copperhead Corner, Hog Pen Bend, Wheelie Hell, Shade Tree Corner, Mud Corner, Sunset Corner, Gravity Cavity, Beginner’s End, and Brake Or Bust Bend purely for the fun factor! It really is one for the light hearted but be warned as its dangers offer a challenge that isn’t for the faint hearted!

 

The Mismatched Couple:

You love playing tennis, your other half doesn’t. Your partner likes Italian food, but you’re not so keen. You like beach holidays and your spouse enjoys skiing. It’s said that opposites attract, but is it possible to be so far apart on the spectrum that you’re literally on the road to nowhere?

Road Match:

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New Zealand’s Karamea Highway is just that. Its physical dead-end status is guaranteed to see you backtracking sooner or later. However, it’s all about keeping things exciting and this road is rich with scenery and quaint towns to enjoy along the way.

This road offers sub-tropical rainforests and coastal views of the Tasman Sea. So, whether you’re in it for the long run or just here to enjoy the ride while it lasts, one thing’s for sure: this long stretch will leave you with epic memories!

 

The Crazy in Love Couple:

If you’re single this Valentine’s Day, it can seem that this type of couple is plastered all over your social feeds. In fact, you’ve probably already started thinking about which could be the key contenders this year – #unfollow

Love struck? Head over heels? The crazy in love couple (also known as the inseparables) hold a partnership made in heaven. This is a pairing that seems to stem major couple envy! You live in each other’s pockets and the love just keeps growing. It’s the kind of relationship most aspire to or take years searching for a connection as deep.

Road Match:

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This journey shouldn’t be entered into lightly. Overall, It leaves little disappointment. Lakes, trees, mountains and more. Drive the L126 through the southern part of Germany’s Black Forest to witness scenery that will quite literally take your breath away and set your pulses racing.

 

The Power Couple:

They’re the couple that made it ten years ago while you were still trying to claw your way to the top. The house, the car, the family – they have it all. There’s nothing wrong with them and they’re perfectly nice people, but there’s just something about them that makes you look at your life in a different way. The thing is, anyone can aspire to be a power couple…

Road Match:

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If you’re in search of a full throttle power-trip, this is the road for you and your partner.

The first 20 miles of this mountainous road offers obstacles in the form of tight corners and reverse camber bends, but it’s the final section that will really put you to the test! The WOW factor consists of 27 consecutive bends and a drop of nearly 1,000 metres before finishing off with an impressive tunnel that turns 340 degrees before emerging in the small town of Lysebotn, making this scenic stretch like none other.

These are just a few suggestions for your not so middle-of-the-road getaway this Valentine’s Day. If your lover has been driving you crazy lately, this could be the perfect opportunity to re-charge your batteries and take solace. Who knows, you may even get to know your other half a little better because of it! Depending on your relationship, this could be either a good or bad thing, we would like to think you’ll see sparks flying but if it all backfires, don’t blame us!

 

Share your #romanticroadtrip selfies with us @Airparks (make sure your engines turned off before you do so obviously) we’d love to see them!

New Year’s Driving Resolutions

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It’s that time of year again! We say it every year, this is the year that we’ll keep our resolutions, but we never do! Let us help you with that. We have put together 10 quick and easy motoring resolutions you can actually stick to over the next 12 months…

Give your car a health check

If you’re suffering with a hefty hangover after your New Year’s Eve celebrations, one way to shake it off is to keep your fluids up!

Same goes for your car – make sure you check your car’s fluid levels: think engine oil, water, brake fluid, radiator coolant and remember to top up your screen wash too.

It’s important you don’t forget your lights, wiper blades, car battery and tyres if you want to conduct a full winter health check. After all, your car was good to you last year!

Tip: You could always get your local garage to take a look for you.

Give it a wash

Make 2016 the year to shine!

No more feelings of guilt every time you catch sight of your dirty motor! It’s a fresh start with a fresh ride! Promise yourself you’ll reach for the soapsuds every few weeks to ensure your car doesn’t get neglected.

Go on a road trip

The world’s your oyster! What better way to explore than by car? This year, plan a road trip! Whether you’re hitting the gas in Europe or considering an awesome motorcycling road trip, be sure to make it one to remember…

Tips:

  • Research quirky driving laws abroad so you’re clued up before you’ve even turned the ignition on. Road signs, speed limits and correct sides of the road can all get a little confusing!
  • Think about car hire – make sure you match a motor that does the job, fits your finances and suits your style too!
  • Remember the simple stuff. Think about the tips and tricks that can make your life that little bit easier when hitting the open road – especially with the kiddies!

Be a more fuel-efficient driver

Leave your bad habits in 2015! If your style of driving is more need-for-speed than letting-others-lead, it may be time to slow down. Unsurprisingly, aggressive driving can increase your fuel consumption by as much as 35% and of course, that can all mount up.

Dos and Don’ts:

Do drive smoothly, accelerating and decelerating gently, looking to the road ahead to avoid the need to brake suddenly.

Don’t coast down hills in neutral – you won’t be in full control, risking “brake fade”.

Do stick to speed limits! Driving at 70mph uses up to 9% more fuel than at 60mph, and up to 15% more than at 50mph!

Don’t labour the engine. Instead change gear earlier – most modern vehicles are fitted with an intelligent gear shift indicator to let you know when to make the shift.

Trade it in

Make the leap! If you’ve been promising yourself a new ride, make 2016 the year to do it. Think about what your car says about you – it’s a statement that reflects your personality. More importantly, think about what you want from your motor…

If you’re planning on clocking up the miles, a more fuel-efficient car is a must. Perhaps you’re looking for style and sophistication, or simply a ride perfect for getting from A to B. If you’re really looking to create a buzz, why not opt for an electric car? Whatever your style, we wish you a happy new car – may it be a healthy and reliable one!

Learn to change a tyre

When put to the test, how many people could successfully change a tyre on the side of the road? It’s one of those situations that most dread, some boast and others just wouldn’t have a clue.

One thing’s certain, everyone can learn. Be sure to make the pledge in 2016!

Don’t drive on red

No matter how resourceful you’re trying to be this year, letting your fuel get too low is a no-no. Ultimately, It’ll do more harm than good. There’s a whole load of gunk and sediment at the bottom of your fuel tank that could cause a blockage, so fuel up before it’s too late.

Driving on empty is an even worse idea in bad weather. The last thing you want to do is run out of fuel when road conditions or accidents exceed your expected travel time.

Check your tyre pressure

If you’ve entered the new year feeling a little deflated, here’s just the thing…

Give your wheels the once over! Having the correct tyre pressure is important to your road safety. If they’re under-inflated, this can result in unpredictable or erratic behaviour from your vehicle, which can be dangerous when driving at high speed. Tyres set to the wrong pressure wear out way more quickly, which can also affect your fuel consumption!

Tip: To benefit from longer tyre life, make sure you check your pressure at least once a month or before a long journey!   

Decode your dashboard

We know it’s a chore but reading your car manual can equip you with new found power and knowledge! You’ll get to know your car and even become a better driver! Ultimately, it’s a device you use every day and you never know when you’ll be faced with an emergency, need-to-know situation!

Go on more Sunday afternoon drives

Whatever happened to driving for driving’s sake? Fall in love with driving all over again and give a whole new meaning to Sunday afternoon drives. No longer will they be associated with car sickness, backseat squabbling or echos of are we there yet?” – may they be new, cool, fun and spontaneous!

Make sure you vow to see more of the world by car this year and to take on a “you only live once” attitude to afternoon drives much more often.

Finally, the most important thing when considering your new year’s resolution is to remember to stick to it; even if you just consider one of these resolutions, your car will be a lot, lot happier for it. Happy new year from Airparks!

12 Tips of Christmas Driving

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The Holidays are coming! This can only mean one of three things: bad weather, family feuds and traffic chaos – bah humbug! Try to spend more time around the tree than on the road this Christmas, but if you do have to brave the cold, here’s 12 tips to see you driving safely into the new year…

1: Plan your route

This is vital and can ultimately make for a less-stressful, more-enjoyable drive. If you’re visiting an unfamiliar spot, make sure you know where you’re heading – think about things like traffic and weather conditions too!

Remember to give yourself more time. Getting from A to B can take a lot longer this time of year. If you’re worried about the harsh conditions, check out the Met Office and give them a follow @metoffice – that way, you can keep updated on the road should the weather take a turn for the worse!

Tip: In situations where the weather is exceptionally bad, ask yourself if the drive is worth the risk.

2: Make a list (check it once, check it twice)

We know this time of year is all about making lists… card lists, present lists, festive food lists, to-do lists, Santa’s naughty list and the list goes on…

This year, when sitting down to write your Christmas cards, it may be worth considering the most crucial list of all…

Before getting behind the wheel this winter, make an emergency car checklist. Prepare for every eventuality!

There’s a few things to consider bringing…

  • Ice scraper
  • Snow shovel
  • Warm clothes and footwear (like wellies!)
  • Bottled water and energy bars
  • Torch and spare batteries – although wind-up torches do the job just as well!
  • Mobile phone and portable charger
  • Blanket or sleeping bag
  • First aid kit
  • Tow rope
  • A hazard-warning triangle
  • De-icing equipment
  • Jump leads
  • High-visibility jacket
  • Sand or cat litter – sprinkle some underneath your tyres to build traction, should you get stuck in the snow!

3: Remember the 2-second rule

Behind the wheel, if you notice your hands turning blue, you may not feel the need to remind yourself it’s winter, but you’d be silly not to. No matter how long or short your journey this Christmas, be more vigilant on the roads.

Remind yourself of the 2-second rule between you and the car in front, and drive more slowly so you can keep a look out for obstacles along the way. Be extra alert for icy roads – it is winter after all.

4: Fuel up this festive season

Don’t be ‘fuel’ish. Just like you, your car will need extra fuel this festive season. Keep your tank topped up above a quarter and make regular petrol pit stops! You never know when your journey could take longer than expected as road closures can crop up anywhere this time of year, leaving you to take the long way round…

Tip: Download a petrol-finder app like WhatGas or go one step further and track your expenses with an app like Fuel Monitor.

For members of the AA, their app offers breakdown recovery requests and fuel price comparisons for Silver and Gold members!

Tip: No matter how handy the latest apps are, make sure not to use them while you’re at the wheel. A nasty crash could really ruin your Christmas.

5: Be a de-icing pro!

Just follow our tips to keep your car ready for action:

  1. Never use hot water to melt the ice on your car – a cracked windscreen isn’t a good look!
  2. Never use metal to scrape away at the surface of your car. Instead, turn your defrosting settings up and wipe away the ice with a soft-haired brush.
  3. Never take a naked flame to your lock if it’s frozen over, instead, spray a little WD40 over the area, avoiding your paintwork!
  4. Finish up by removing the snow from the roof of your car. This will stop you having an avalanche five minutes down the road.

6: Learn your dashboard lights

In snowy settings, traction control stops your rear wheels leaving you in a spin. Make sure you look up in your car manual your ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) or traction-control lights so you know what they look like if they were to flash up on your dashboard.

Most modern cars are filled with sensors to monitor both how your vehicle is behaving. If a warning light comes on and stays on you should stop as soon as possible in a safe place.

Many warning lights are specific to your car so look them up in your vehicle handbook for a detailed explanation of their meaning and the appropriate action to take.

7: Consider winter tyres

Whether you choose to wear winter tyres or not this season, make sure they have a tread of at least 3mm all the way round.

If you do swap your tyres, here’s two things to keep in mind:

1) They should always be fitted as a set of four, otherwise the stability of the car could be off.
2) Some insurers need to be informed of the change in tyre so double check your insurance policy.

8: Stop, look, listen!

The Highway Code states that fog lights must be used when visibility is less than 100 metres. This is typically in heavy-fog conditions. Knowing where your fog lights are before you set off is a good idea. Don’t make the mistake of confusing fog lights with your full beam either!

Tip: If visibility is reduced, wind down your window at junctions to listen out for traffic. If visibility is really reduced, consider pulling over in a safe place until the fog has lifted.

9: Re-charge your batteries

Nothing beats warming yourself by the fire this time of year. Just remember that your car suffers from the cold too…

With battery problems the biggest reason for breaking down, it’s essential to make sure yours remains in tip-top condition. Things like running heaters and lights for long periods of time can all have an effect on a battery’s longevity. Colder temperatures can affect the output of your battery and, more importantly, its ability to accept charge.

Here are 3 ways you can avoid a flat battery this winter:

  1. Test your battery regularly to see when you’re running low
  2. Ask yourself how old your battery is. They rarely last longer than 5 years!
  3. Short journeys your thing? Invest in an intelligent charger to keep your battery topped up without overcharging it.

10: Look forward to the new year

Weather, this time of year, can bring with it a whole load of grit and grime. If you can’t see the road ahead, it probably means it’s time to clean your windscreen.

When de-icing your car in the morning, don’t rush! If you do a bad job, it’ll mean your windscreen will be streaky for the rest of the day.

Did you know? Driving with your visibility obscured is a finable offence!

Tip: Don’t forget to clean the inside of your windscreen too!

11: Screenwash is essential

If you’re jetting off this Christmas, you’ll need to make sure your early morning airport run is as stress-free as possible. Here’s where screenwash comes in…

We all know it can be a life-saver this time of year. Normally a 50/50 (half water, half screen wash) mix will do the job to ensure you can see what’s ahead. During the winter, you can also buy pre-mixed fluid, which has anti-freeze blended in.

Check the instructions before filling up, as you may need to clear your fluid reservoir before adding it.

Tip: Keep some extra screenwash in the car when travelling for those emergency, need-to-see moments!

12: In the snow? Go with the flow…

If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, remember that the reality of driving is always a bit different…

Stopping distances are 10 times longer when driving in ice and snow!

If you do find yourself in a sticky, snowy, situation remember these key points:

  • If you feel like you’re starting to glide, steer into the slide. Remember to keep steering until you’ve straightened up!
  • Slow and steady – especially when you’re on a hill and stopping and starting just isn’t an option.
  • Pull away in second gear to get more grip. If you’re driving an automatic, check your handbook for changing your car’s mode to suit your conditions.
  • Finally, don’t put your foot in it! Apply the brakes gently and, if the car starts to slide, take your foot off the brake immediately.

Well, there it is! We hope this advice helps and you have a safe and secure Christmas. Keep up to date with @Airparks on Twitter for more tips and our latest Airport Parking news and offers!

Hitting The Road: 10 Top Tips for an Awesome Motorcycle Road Trip

Biking-Top-Tips-Link

The weather here sucks! With gale force winds, torrential rain and the whole of the UK feeling dark; forgive us for looking West to the hot, open roads of the US. We’re longing for the wind in our hair, but not from Abigail, Barney or Clodagh but Harley, Victory or Honda.

As we daydream of ourselves in leathers, denim and bandanas riding the open road, (we know, we should know better!), we decided to compile a TOP 10 list of things that could help make your two wheeled road trip go from bore-some to awesome!

So, whether you’re an experienced biker or a novice on the road, take a look at our list below and let us know what your top biking tips are via our social channels.

No. 1 – Double Up

No one likes travelling alone. Why not grab a group of mates, a couple of bikes and double up on your saddle. Being in a group is more fun and having a passenger on your back not only means having someone to share the driving but also someone to share the experience with! It’s key that everyone is clued up, tooled up and educated just as safely as the driver and not to muck about!

No. 2 – Watch the Weather

Not that we’re obsessed with the weather but on a bike you’ll feel it more. Even though you’re unlikely to get rain in the deserts of Route 66, there’s still plenty to take into account when riding on two wheels. Before a day of driving it’s worth breaking out your weather app and checking both the weather where you are and where you’re heading. That way you’re prepared for whatever the day throws at you – if it does change or become too much to handle, you can always pull over and wait it out.

No. 3 – Protect Your Feet

Picking the right shoes is not just about avoiding any fashion faux paus. The right shoes are vital for a safe ride. This may seem like an obvious one, but avoid open toed shoes such as sandals or flip flops and go for something a lot more robust like boots. No matter how hot it looks outside, your feet play a vital role in changing gears and stabilising the bike, so flip flops just won’t cut it.

No. 4 – Cosy Fingers

You’d be surprised how cold your hands can get when riding a bike. After all, they are the first thing breaking the wind on the open road and riding a motorcycle with cold hands sucks! Oh and not to mention that you need your hands to fully function so you can hit the breaks.

So if your gloves aren’t quite doing the job, a quick fix is to pick up a pair of latex gloves – wear these under your leathers for an extra layer. These will act as a windbreaker within your glove and also protect you from the majority of rainwater that could seep through to your gloves.

No. 5 – Sound Proofing

Ever put your head out the car window when moving? Was it quiet? No. Didn’t think so. Now imagine that feeling for your whole journey! This is where ear plugs can become the saviour of your biking trip. We know they may not be the coolest thing to wear and may even feel a little odd to begin with but thank us later when you can actually hear your mates in the bar afterwards.

No. 6 – Bin bag couture

Bin bags aren’t exactly the height of fashion we’ll admit but you’ll thank us for this one. Losing temperature when the weather suddenly changes or as the night draws in isn’t much fun. Pop some holes in a big bag, get your head and arms through and chuck your jacket on over the top. This will create a budget layer of insulation that should keep you toasty – just remember to take it off when the sun comes out, hog roast anyone? *ba dum tiss

No. 7 – Smooth Ridin’

Roads are full of hazards. Much like in bad weather, bikes are a lot more sensitive to hazards on the road. Potholes, puddles and small bumps may all seem like common things but could cause a lot more damage to you and your bike. So this tip is simple, if you see them coming, avoid them. If you can’t, then just make sure you’re going slow enough that it won’t cause you any problems.

No. 8 – Read All About It

Caught in a storm? (Seriously, we’re not obsessed with weather) No one wants to have squelching shoes, whether on a bike or not. Most petrol stations will have newspapers and newsprint that is remarkably absorbent. Use balled-up pieces of paper inside the boots to dry out your boots overnight if you’re on the road for a few days. To be extra sure that the boots get dried as much as possible, change the papers a couple times.

No 9 – Strike A Pose

Looking good on a bike is all about posture and posture is a lot more than just looking cool. Getting in the right position can be the difference between a relaxing road trip or a hefty chiropractors bill at the end of it. If the bike you choose has a backrest, use it. If it doesn’t, try and source one before you head off. Make sure you get some highway pegs for longer journeys and adjust your handlebars so they feel as comfortable as possible. You don’t want to be stretching for the bars nor scrunched up with the bars on top of you. Get comfortable, you could be in the saddle for a while.

No 10 – Getting the Bike Right

You’re going on a motorcycle road trip, so obviously getting the right bike should be priority. There are so many awesome bikes to choose from, so we’re not going to limit your options but it’s always worth considering the power of the bike. Even for experienced bikers, performance on new bikes can feel overpowering so make sure you pick something you can handle and even give it a little test drive before you begin.

TOP TIP:

Besides all the tips mentioned here. Before setting off on any trip make sure you inspect your bike. Walk around it, check the brakes, lights, horn. Just like you would a car, make sure everything is working so you can be seen, heard and drive safely on the road. With bikes it is also worth looking over the chain and giving tyres some special attention for wear, tear and pressure.

And that’s it. If you’re planning a winter road trip we hope our TOP 10 will help you stay safe on the road and help you have an awesome time. As for us, it’s time to stop daydreaming and to check the weather one more time… (Ok, maybe we’re a little obsessed with UK weather).

Instahack: The Best Hacks for Roadtrippers

The secret to a great road trip is knowing that comfort, organisation and preparation can go a long, long way. Knowing a few helpful hacks before hitting the road can set you up for your trip – and could quell a few arguments and headaches along the way!

Most good hacks involve everyday items and household finds which can be invaluable on a long car journey. Here are the top ten hacks to keep you and your passengers happy, safe and entertained on the road…

Shoe Organiser
The humble shoe organiser on the back of the front passenger seat can do wonders for organising your car on a road trip. Filled with snacks, things to entertain the kids, maps and first aid items, have everything in one neat place and save yourself rummaging through the car mid-journey.

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Shoe Drinks Holder
Shoes themselves can also come in handy on the road. Grabbed a drink on the go and have nowhere to put it? Stick it in a shoe for a make-shift drinks holder. Rolls of gaffa or masking tape can also double as budget drinks holders.

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Money Sharing App
Get techy on the road and download a money exchange app like Square Cash, Venmo or Google Wallet to easily split costs between friends on items such as petrol, tolls and food along the way.

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Screenshot
Save on roaming charges and phone battery by taking a screenshot of directions on your phone once you’ve found what you need. If you’re travelling with a friend and your phone is running low, text it to them for backup.

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Pin Parking
Another techy tip is to drop a pin on your map app when you park your car in an unfamiliar area. There’s nothing like losing your car in a strange city as it starts to get dark to spoil a perfect day!

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Snow Day
If your vehicle gets stuck in snow or mud, use your car floor mats for traction before attempting to push it out of trouble.

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Emergency Kit
Every road trip should be equipped with one of these to be prepared for almost every eventuality. Fill a box with a torch, a basic first aid kit, wet wipes, gloves, a reflective triangle, plastic poncho, screwdriver, duct tape, swiss army knife, cable ties, batteries, bottled water, energy bars and a warm blanket. Hopefully you won’t ever have to use it but you’ll be thankful you packed it if you do.

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Cereal Container Bin
Is there anything worse than a long car journey when you’re ankle deep in road trip rubbish? Use a plastic cereal container filled with a plastic bag for a spill proof makeshift bin. The lid will also contain bad smells too.

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Tissue Box Storage
Keep an empty tissues box full of plastic carrier bags in the car at all times. These can be used for rubbish, wet clothes, nappies and avoiding the 5p bag charge if you’re in the UK.

Bagged-It

Dryer Sheets
For you own sanity, keep an open box of dryer sheets in your car to keep your ride smelling good. These will keep the inside of your car laundry fresh and will ward off fast food and shoe stink. Trust us, after several days in the car you’ll be thankful you have them!

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Do you have any top road trip hacks? Tweet us and let us know at @Airparks

Motor Match – The Best from the West

Bond

When it comes to choosing a car, or even renting a vehicle abroad, you can often be spoilt for choice. Thankfully, we’re here to help you out! We’ve matched the iconic cars to their home countries in our very own motor match.

So whether you’re hitting Route 66 on a Harley, seeing the British countryside via Mini or cruising through Rome in a Ferrari, we’re here to help you make the best decision for your destination.

United Kingdom

Named “the best British car of all time” by readers of Autocar magazine last year, there is no denying that there something really special about the Mini.

The star of The Italian Job, The Bourne Identity and of course the Monte Carlo Rally, the classic Mini has long been a beloved symbol of Britishness, adored by pop culture and car lovers alike.

“It comes as little surprise that the original Mini has topped the list of all-time British greats,” said Chas Hallett, Autocar brand editor. “It’s such an iconic vehicle and represents a lot more than the British car industry; the Mini is associated with Great Britain around the world and, in many ways, it was ahead of its time.”

Perfect for zipping around the British Isles, the humble mini is undoubtedly proof that great things sometimes do come in small packages.

What’s the alternative?

If your style is more Bond than Bourne, the Aston Martin might be your car of choice. This elegant and downright suave car is as Bond as the Martini.

Aston Martin first became associated with luxury grand touring cars in the 1950s and 1960s, especially after the appearance of the DB5 model in the 1964 film Goldfinger. The DB5 has since become the iconic Bond car – and a highly desirable vehicle for fans of both James Bond and luxury cars alike.

Why not hit the roads of Great Britain in this truly luxurious ride and take in the stunning countryside, metropolitan cities and heritage sites Bond-style.

United States

The United States has long had a love affair with large vehicles. As they say, everything’s bigger in Texas and the not-so-humble American pickup truck is no exception.

Immortalised in the lyrics of Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’; the Chevy led truck design into a new era in 1967. The ’67s were more durable than ever and designed to appeal to the growing number of consumers seeking comfortable and capable trucks for recreational use or personal transportation, rather than for utilitarian reasons.

By 1990 less than 15% of pickup owners reported using the pickup for it’s primary purpose and today the pickup is mostly used as a passenger vehicle. So regardless of whether you actually need the cargo bed, the Chevy pick-up is a pretty awesome way to see America by road.

What’s the alternative?

If a car or a truck doesn’t suit your fancy for the great open roads of North America, a Harley Davidson might be the vehicle you’re looking for.

The Harley has become an iconic American vehicle, favoured by seasoned bikers and rebellious teenagers everywhere looking for more of an ‘Easy Rider’ experience.

Whether you’re hitting the road in the East Coast, cruising down Route 66 to the West or heading to the Deep South, the Harley Davidson can provide the means for a truly thrilling American road trip.

Germany

The VW camper van has become an iconic vehicle, associated with hippies, freedom and flower power. It is therefore ironic that Volkswagen was launched under the rule of Adolf Hitler.

Meaning “the people’s car” in German, Volkswagen was created in 1937 by the German Labour Front. At the time the German auto industry was still largely composed of luxury models and the average German could rarely afford anything more than a motorcycle. In his opening address at the German International Motor Show in Berlin, Hitler called for a car to be developed for the masses, requiring a basic vehicle capable of transporting two adults and three children at 100 kph.

A few decades later and the VW camper van was adopted by hippies and flower children of the 60s and 70s, becoming a symbol of the era. Today the camper van is still cherished and highly sought after vehicles.

Taking a trip to Germany? Hop in a VW – just try to avoid the autobahn, this vehicle wasn’t built for speed!

What’s the alternative?

Laid-back camper van not your cup of tea? Why not go green with BMW’s i3 electric car?

Electric cars may be new to the scene, but they haven’t failed to impress. The BMW i3 comes highly recommended by Top Gear and is considered one of the best vehicles of it’s kind. Dubbed “the most revolutionary mainstream electric car yet” by topgear.com, the i3 is BMW’s first zero emissions mass-produced vehicle due to its electric powertrain.

Not only is it a visually appealing green machine, the German five-door urban electric car carries a powerful motor, allowing the all-electric vehicle to do 0-62mph in just 7.2 seconds. This is certainly one German automobile which is ready for the autobahn.

France

Taking the family away to France? The Citroen ZX will have you set for a smooth ride through the rolling hills and vineyards and beautiful villages of the French countryside.

This small family car produced by the French manufacturer Citroën between 1991 and 1998, is solidly built, reliable and provided lots of desirable features for buyers – including the Parisian police!

This particular Citroen model reached pop culture fame when it was used by the police to chase Jason Bourne through Paris in the unforgettable ‘The Bourne Identity’.

“While you knew no car was going to catch Bourne,” says complex.com, “the ZXs in the film did a pretty good job of keeping up. We’d say that makes it really and truly cool.”

Ideally you won’t need the car for the same reasons, but there is no doubt this little car is a trooper!

What’s the alternative?

If you want something with a bit more speed, look no further than the effortlessly stylish Bugatti.

During the early 20th century, Bugatti was synonymous with performance. Frenchman Ettore Bugatti founded the company in 1909 and built some of the most legendary performance the auto industry had ever seen. Unfortunately in 1952, changes in markets forced the company to shut down in 1952.

Since the 50s, Bugatti has been resurrected twice – most recently in 1998 by Volkswagen. Starting in 2001, they decided to make the fastest car in the world in a bespoke factory in Molsheim, France.

For your trip to the vineyards in the south of France – or if you’re brave enough to attempt a drive through Paris – the Bugatti is the way to do it in serious style.

Italy

Italy’s Fiat 500, a quirky looking ride which is known for undercutting rivals on price, is considered one of the safest city cars around. This four-seater, three-door hatchback supermini not only handles well, but is also a nimble vehicle perfect for inner city driving.

According to autoexpress.co.uk, one of the key reasons for the success of the 500 is Fiat’s extensive customisation option offers, allowing owners to personalise their cars with some individual styling features, full body wrappings, smaller decals and bold colour combinations.  

An elegant yet reliable car with a nod towards retro, what more could you want when hitting the roads of the former roman empire?

What’s the alternative?

For something a little more glamorous, we recommend the legendary Ferrari. An incredibly sophisticated and elegant car, the Ferrari has captured the hearts and wallets of car enthusiasts the world over.

Largely associated with speed, wealth and luxury, the Ferrari is largely known for its participation in Formula One, having produced the highest number of winning drivers.

The company’s road cars have also won over the motor world, putting it amongst the most desired cars on the planet. Off the track, the Ferrari is an incredibly stylish way to get around. It’s “Race Red” exterior make this vehicle instantly recognisable – and what better way to stand out in one of the world’s most stylish countries?

Enjoyed Motor Match? Tweet us at @Airparks and look out for our run down of the best cars in the East – coming soon!