Driving home for Christmas: What to do if you break down far from home

Many of us will be driving home for Christmas again this year, and whether you’re a regular road-tripper in the run-up to Christmas or you’re keen to avoid packed public transport over the holidays, it’s smart to be prepared in case you break down far from home.

Breakdowns are often overlooked – we’ve all seen stories about Santa’s sleigh insurance, the miles he covers on Christmas Eve and the speed he has to drive at, yet the risk of breaking down is almost never mentioned.

It’s even more important to make preparations at this time of year, when weather conditions are more likely to cause problems and you could find yourself in greater need of certain supplies if you do break down.

Planning and preparation

First and foremost, keep Ontime Automotive’s emergency number in your phone book in case you need to call us for a breakdown recovery anywhere in Europe. You might also want to keep it written down in case your phone runs out of battery and you need to call us from a landline.

If possible, plan your route in advance and let a friend or family member know where you will be and what time you will arrive, so they can raise the alarm if you don’t show up – especially if you’ll be driving through remote locations with poor mobile phone coverage.

Have an emergency kit in your car for such eventualities. This can include snacks and drinks, spare clothing and warm blankets, and even a spare mobile phone battery or solar charger.

Remote Christmas road trip routes

If you want to get away this winter, a road trip through Finnish Lapland is one of the most festive routes you can choose.

Route 970

Route 970 from the village of Utsjoki to Karigasniemi is one of northern Finland’s most beautiful drives, following the course of the Teno River for a 100 km, 90-minute excursion.

Route 81

Further south, Route 81 joins the outskirts of Rovaniemi with Finland’s answer to the Grand Canyon, the spectacular Korouoma river gorge. Again, the two are separated by about 100 km and a driving time of 80-90 minutes.

Route 955

For one of the most remote journeys, take Route 955 north towards Inari. From Kotakumpu at the southern end of Route 9552, it’s a distance of 190 km and about 2.5 hours through some truly epic Lapland tundra.

Don’t panic

If you do find yourself at the side of the road in a remote location, try to stay calm. It’s quite unusual to be very far from a phone signal these days, so call Ontime if you can and we can arrange recovery and repatriation of your vehicle.

More often than not, it’s better to stay with your vehicle than head out on foot to look for help. If you do decide to leave your car, take warm clothes and water with you, and leave it as safe and secure as possible.

The golden rules are to always tell someone where you will be, and when you will arrive, so if you’re out of contact, they can send out a search party.

It only takes an instant to break down, and it can happen to anyone, especially on a potentially quite challenging route through remote countryside, wilderness or tundra.

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