Long roadtrip tips

In December ‘18 my husband and I took a long road trip from the UK to the north of Sweden and we’ve learned some things about long road trips. We have done some road trips before but nothing this long.

Here are some tips for you, that like us, decided to ditch the cheap Ryanair tickets that let you go with only a carry on and brought a boot full of Christmas presents:

Be mentally prepared: It’s a long trip. You will feel tired, you will need to stop more than you’d like to but it’s also really enjoyable if like us, you’re getting a tour around the beautiful countries of Europe. Make sure you prepare a really long Spotify playlist and possibly get Spotify Premium – you will want to pass some of the music more than once.

If travelling on a Ship (like we did from the UK to France) try to do it during the day: The trip on a Ship is an adventure on itself. Lovely to see that huge sea and the birds flying over it. It made me feel like moving to the coast!

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Bring small cushions/pillows/ blankets: This is something we did that helped us a lot. Small pillows are easy to fit behind your back or under your legs when you need to – this helps to avoid cramps, back and neck pain as it gives you support when it’s needed. After sitting down for so long, changing positions is crucial for you to keep going. The blanket helps when you want to snooze, your body temperature goes down and you can end up feeling cold. This also helps in case the car breaks down when you’re travelling on winter.

Stop to stretch: We stopped for around 5 minutes every two hours in the first 6 hours driving and then every hour after that (We drove around 9 hours a day for 3 days). We would stop for around 30 minutes twice a day for lunch/dinner but made sure to have little breaks in between. When we did that we would stretch our legs, walk in a quick pace around while stretching arms and neck. We were not experts on road trips when we did this one but I didn’t have any muscle pains when we arrived at our destination and none of us experienced swollen legs – which is a good sign. While in the car it’s good to move legs and feet (possible up and down if you’re the passenger) just to keep the blood flow going.

Be prepared for road tax: I am not sure exactly which countries you have to pay road tax but Denmark was a surprise. We paid to get in and to get out even though it only took us 5 hours to cross the country. Thankfully we brought our card with us but it’s nice if you can check any kind of additional taxes that the country you’re going through will charge you – this will help you to prepare your budget for the trip!

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Food tips: Nuts and fruits will help but won’t keep you going. If you are on a road trip for more than one day, you need to accept the fact that you will have to purchase bigger meals as you can’t prepare all of them and bring it with you without any form of refrigeration (unless you are a raw vegan that can fit a lot of stuff on your back seat).

  • Lunch and dinner: I would suggest something filling but light. Kevin and I stopped at Subway/ McDonald’s and Carl’s Jr. but got salad with chicken/meat instead of hamburgers/sandwiches. We ate their big fresh salads at least once a day and it was really good! They didn’t make us feel too full and tired to drive and gave us enough energy to get to our destination at the time we were planning to. We did end up getting one or two Subway sandwiches as they are the healthiest option that is easy to find.
  • Fruits: Choose fruits that are easy to eat and to feed the person that is driving, the ones that you can take apart without much fuss. Instead of bringing an orange that is difficult to peel, you can bring already peeled tangerines and give it to the driver piece by piece without making things dirty or having sticky hands. Grapes were our go to this trip and we had lots of it. We did bring bananas that we ended up eating on our breakfasts more than during the trip, but they are filling fruits that I would recommend bringing with you. Already chopped mangoes/pineapple/ strawberry are a good choice as well – don’t forget to bring forks.
  • Salty snacks: Crisps were good to keep up with our salt intake – they might not be the healthiest snack but after 2 days driving you need to vary as much as you can. We ended up bringing some cheese sandwiches that we indulged in between lunch and dinner. Babybel/ string cheese are a nice choice for salty snack together with salted nuts.
  • Drinks: I think it’s needless to say that you need water. Bring a big bottle, those really big ones so you won’t have to stop to fill it all the time. We got some children’s juice such as those Innocent bottles or the little boxes that come with a straw – this was very helpful specially on our breakfasts when we wanted something more than water.

Make sure your car has everything you need: Before the trip, service your car – change everything that might not make it on a long trip. Check the water and tyre pressure – our car has a tyre pump that was used a lot as we travelled to extreme low temperature. Other than that, make sure you have a first aid kit and another one with all the material you need to be safe on the road (i.e. spare tyre, triangle, night vision vest, flashlight, etc…). If you have all of this sorted, it is unlikely that your car will break down, but this will make your trip much more relaxed as if it does, you’re prepared for anything. Do not travel if something is wrong with your car.

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Bring toilet paper/wet wipes: This will help even if you don’t have a toddler with you. You might spill drinks or stop at a place that doesn’t have toilet paper available. 

Use Waze/other app for Petrol/Diesel prices: We tried to fill our tank little by little until arriving in Denmark where Diesel prices are extremely cheap. It’s crazy what an imaginary border can do. Belgium and Sweden had much higher prices.

Also use Waze/ other app to find places to stop: Here’s something that Denmark is really good at – there was a stop with food/bathroom/parking every 15 minutes on the road. It was amazing because we didn’t have to worry about it there while in Germany/Sweden they were more scarce and we had to make sure if we should stop or if we could wait 30-40 more minutes to go to the next toilet.

Stop to sleep: One of our best tips will be for you to stop to sleep. Try to stick with your routine – we stopped to sleep at 11pm and woke up at 8am to start driving at 9. Eight hours a day is ideal before being really tired. That’s when we decided to stop both for our safety and the safety of others. You might want to keep going, it’s just 2 hours until you reach the next country, right? Wrong. If you feel tired, stop and sleep. You can start fresh and safe the next day – plus the fact that you will enjoy the view much more.

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Do you have any must haves for road trips or other tips that you would like to share?

Ps: I know I have been babbling about a big change on my life/blog recently and thought it would be ready to be shared this week – turns out I will need a couple more weeks until I can share the news. I promise it’s coming.

Nadine

Too much on my plate

I’ve been married for almost 3 years and have moved three times – one of them was overseas. When you have so much on your plate in so little time it’s extremely easy to forget about yourself.

I’ve always loved to read and write, it’s something I have a passion for. I would long to come home after work just to continue the story that I had to stop the night before. I have journals – three of them – that have hundreds of scribbled pages. I used to sit down and do it, I loved to learn and to start new courses – challenging myself.

I think the fact that everything that has happened challenged me so much in every single way possible, I now tend to try to ‘escape’ it by ignoring what I’m feeling. I would think that it would be nice to start a new book but had none at home. I would want to get my favorite pen to write but next minute I would just give up. My workplace actually offered to pay me some courses to make me grow on my career but I haven’t chosen what I want to do.

I’ve noticed this was happening around a year ago but haven’t tried to change it until I could see that it was affecting my marriage. I would be extremely moody, anxious, extremely tired and not looking forward the weekends. I can’t say I had depression but I was really close.

The first thing I did was to take a deep breath, then I put things to action. Organised my house, started writing, made a blog and I am now choosing which course I want to do and planning on learn how to knit, paint and calligraphy. I feel energised and proud of what I’m doing/ who I am. I missed this feeling.

I can still get myself feeling a bit down once in a while but everybody does. I can see how much healthier my way of thinking is and how it has impacted positively on my husband. We’re in a much better place now together. I just love it.

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After a really rainy week, we’ve had sunshine today. I like to think it was just because I got the day off from work to finish some Christmas shopping and take some time to myself. My day was amazing and I forgot how much I enjoy spending some time alone – it’s like I’ve met myself all over again.

On the ups and downs of life I have thousands reasons to be thankful today and that’s all that I am.

Please notice that even though I was able to snap out of it, depression is real and can come and go. If you are struggling with your feelings – please reach for a family member, friends and/or your doctor. There’s no shame on getting a bit of help and maybe all you need is someone to turn on the lights.

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Nadine

A walk at the park + daily ramblings

I write this on a cold Saturday, the sun as a gentleman that he is has let the clouds go first and make the day extremely grey. 

Last weekend we went to see The Crimes of Grindewald with a friend at VUE in Oxford. Even though I now live in Wiltshire I’m just a drive away from Oxfordshire and truth be told I’ve missed living there for the past 2 months since I’ve moved so we get any chance we have to visit her. I can’t complain, VUE is a quite good cinema and I enjoy it every time I go there minus the bathrooms – they remind me of McDonald’s ones – So I get myself sipping my drink slowly so I don’t have to go until I get back home. 

I’ve also been looking forward Christmas a lot. The past two years we’ve spent in England we had lovely friends that invited us to spend the Holidays with them but it’s never the same as family. This year we’ll spend it with Kevin’s family in Sweden for the first time. Not only that but we will go on a (veeeeeeery long) road trip from Wiltshire to Skellefteå so needless to say we’ll be driving through France/Germany/Denmark and some other countries in between. I’m still a bit nervous about the length of the trip and how we’re going to do that as I’m normally the one to just get a plane because it’s quicker and easier but Kevin tends to differ. He loves the idea of ‘adventure’ even though it means he will have to drive for 30 hours one way.  

I still get the shivers when I think about the amount of time it will take but I’m trying to enjoy the idea of something I wouldn’t do if I wasn’t married to him – something that I know I probably won’t regret in the end.  

I am trying not to be negative and look on the bright side: I’ll be able to share the experience. Not only on the blog but to my children and grandchildren. It’s a nice thing to do when we haven’t gotten children or pets yet, just the two of us. I plan on sharing everything – from snacks we’re bringing with us to the whole Christmas experience in Sweden on several posts and maybe even a video of the trip. So stay tuned for that – I’m bringing the camera everywhere! 

We’ll spend two weeks there and then we’re coming back with Kevin’s “little” brother (he’s taller than Kevin so not THAT little) with us so he can spend a week going around England as this will be the first time he’s left Sweden. 

For now we’re trying to have laid back weekends until we go (just a bit more than 20 days left) so we don’t pack ourselves up with things to do and dread leaving on the 21st of December after work. So when going to Church last Sunday we’ve discovered that they have a big lake surrounded by forest (as big of a forest as you can have here in the UK, but well) and we’ve decided to go for a nice walk today. 

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England is truly a beautiful land. There are not many woods around here but the great planes are great indeed – Every season compliments the landscape in a way. I can’t decide my favourite but it looks amazing when Autumn while it’s still okay to be out for more than one hour and not freeze.

We weren’t that lucky as we went a bit late for red and orange trees and now it’s more like a brownish colour on the ground with naked trees all around. We still spotted some wildlife as they tend to hide when it gets colder.

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 It was a really pleasant walk – I’ve sat in a closed office all week, I just needed some time outside spotting cute little things along the way. I’ve also spotted thousands of dogs, and I was crazy to target them with my camera lens but thought the owners might find it a bit weird – or not – if you are a dog lover you probably are able to understand another dog lover. Maybe next time I’ll ask for some shots.

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Have you watched The Crimes of Grindewald movie? What did you think about it?

Do you have any road trip tips? Have you ever had one? I’d love to hear good stories about a trip you’ve done so I can feel calmer about driving across so many countries at once!

I wish you all a very lovely week ahead.

-Nadine

A cuppa

 

Tea.

Something that I’m still learning to appreciate.

Milk.

I’m quite surprised that I’m wiling to add it to the warm-herby-dark solution that is infused in the British culture.

They call it cuppa…I mean, most of them do. My Line Manager does and tends to offer me one right before our meetings. Her Line Manager does the same. It’s like a competition of who has the most stained cup.

I wasn’t sure about it in the beginning – now I tend to drink it at least 4 times a week. No sugar please.

I’m also trying to figure out the language, given that my Swedish husband is a lot better at it than I am. I’m good at grammar, but my spelling has changed tremendously since I arrived in the UK 2 years ago. I’ve learned North American English before but right now sounds ‘a bit weird’ for me.

I can see that my brain tries to reproduce British sounds as it’s so used to listen to them by now, only to make it sound like I have some kind of speech delay. Then I try the US spelling again – more frustration comes with it’s sounds.

It’s funny how mentally tiring it can be to live as a foreigner,  not only because you still have to do everything you had to do before but also because you add a new world of experiences having no idea how to deal with most of the situations that arise (oh yeah, also,  in another language).

Even though every day feels like a constant struggle, I wouldn’t change a thing. This country looks amazing and has such a rich culture! It has taken us in and been good for us. We’ve lived in London, studied in Oxford and now we’re wondering where life will take us. It’s been a pretty exciting life for a young couple that have arrived with two bags of clothes a couple of years ago. We still don’t have much but we’re building it – trying to take every day at a time (mostly failed attempts of doing so).

For now I’ve just decided to sit down and write a blog post whilst having a cuppa. As I said, I’m still learning as I am pretty sure my tea-making-skill is something to be criticized – quite weak.

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Nadine