Introducing Lara Wilde owner of www.wildedrive.com and soon to be published author of 'Shopping for the perfect Car" the first in her series of books to be published. Lara has been professionally writing and presenting for more than 20 years in a variety of publications as a freelancer while working full time as a CEO and manager for a number of not-for-profit organisations.
Like you Lara Wilde has been in a car more than once or twice in her life. Unlike you Lara has made cars her life. Lara has organised car events, promoted race teams and race tracks, bought and sold new cars and used cars, restored cars and won car shows with her own cars. An authority on road trips, Lara has circumnavigated Australia on multiple occasions and driven coast to coast in America more than once.
Lara's definition of heaven is looking through a windscreen and she leaps at every opportunity to take an adventure on the road. With more than 20 years of driving experience, Lara has learnt a lot of lessons behind the wheel. Regardless of if you are crossing a country or driving your daily commute to work, Lara can offer you safe, simple stylish advice on the road.
Question: What do you love about cars and driving?
Lara Wilde: For many people a car is simply to get from A to B. Growing up on a farm nearly an hour from town, a car for me was far more than to get from A to B. A car was my freedom, my independence and my power. If you have a car you have choices. Need food, drive to a shop and get some. Miss your friends, drive over and say hello. Bored at home, drive out on an adventure. You have so many choices if you have a car. I love cars and driving because they make me feel independent, powerful and capable of taking on the world.
Question: How can busy women make the most of their time, when on the road?
Lara Wilde: I am a busy woman with a business, a full time job, a part time job and the hope of one day having a life. I spend at least 3 hours every day commuting to and from work and on my days off I love to head out on the highway for a long road trip. I make the most of my drive with a few simple tools.
My phone is setup with great podcasts to listen to while I cruise. The playlist on the way to work is all about waking me up and getting me motivated for the day ahead. The playlist on the way home helps me relax, unwind and debrief from a big day. You can also use this time to listen to an audio book, learn a new language or tune into lectures to learn a new skill. If you have a lot of documents to read such as university papers or work papers to read there are plenty of apps that will read PDF documents to you.
Meditation is often thought of as sitting cross legged and chanting but for me it is very much about being still and in the moment. When I get in the car and prepare to clear my mind I put my phone on airplane mode and turn the stereo off. I focus on my driving and practice not thinking about any particular thought. As you focus on the drive you free your mind of your to do list and gain the benefits of mediation.
In my cars with good blue tooth hands free devices, I will make use of my drive to make phone calls. On the commute home in particular I will follow up work related calls from the day and on long drives I will catch up on phone calls to friends that I haven't spoken to in ages. Just make sure you have a hands free option and you are not distracted by the conversation. Staying safe on your drive is your priority.
Often when we are driving along we have brilliant ideas and we need to get them down before we forget them. I use the voice recorder on my phone to record story ideas or long winded notes. If it is just a quick list I use a Wilde Drive marker to write the notes down on my window. The marker will wipe off easily with a soft cloth and a bit of glass cleaner. Just be careful you don't lose your notes when you go through the Drive Through Coffee shop.
Question: And, how can we stay mentally alert and fit whilst driving long distances?
Lara Wilde: Driving a car is not to be taken for granted. Regardless of if you are ducking down to the shops or cruising across a continent you are in charge of more than half a tonne of steel flying at extreme speed. The key to a safe trip home every time is to stay mentally alert and fit behind the wheel. Here are my top tips.
Snacks: If you keep some snacks within easy reach you will stay more alert. If like me, you don't aspire to one day have the physique of a long distance truck driver, avoid leaving bags of chips and deep fried delicacies in the centre console. My go to snacks in the car are a bag of carrots, muesli bars, boiled eggs, jerky or dried fruit. Carrots are great because they don't need peeling or refrigerating and they don't bruise like an apple. Try to pick items that won't be too fiddly or fall down between the seats. You don't want a snack that dribbles or needs refrigeration.
Frequent breaks: At least once an hour get out and stretch your legs. Have a pee break, stroll around the car (use the time to check on the vehicle and notice any damage or wear and tear), take a photo at a look out, or strike some yoga poses in the car park. The fresh air and jolt to your circulation will give you added focus and clarity.
Fresh air: Leaving your air conditioning on recirculation might maintain the temperature but it also recycles the air in your car and depletes the oxygen levels. Put your air conditioning onto fresh air or wind down a window to blast O2 through the car and instantly improve your alertness and concentration.
Water: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Don't fill up on energy drinks and sugary beverages… they might give you a short term boost but in the long run they will leave you sluggish. I keep a bottle of lemon juice in my car to add a refreshing squirt to my water. If I feel particularly adventurous I splurge on some sparkling water. The added benefit of drinking lots of water is the urge to pee, forcing you to pull over and stretch your legs regularly.
Question: What advice do you have for turning our cars into an office space?
Lara Wilde: Driving can be exceptionally boring and a complete waste of time. If you are a busy woman with lots to do you need to make the most of your drive and let your car work for you. The first thing to do if you want to use your vehicle as a professional office tool is to make it look good.
Would you trust a financial advisor who turned up in a rusty old wreck? Would you relax with a beautician whose car was filthy dirty? Would you let your children get in the car of a babysitter who has a bumper sticker that reads "If it's rockin' don't come knockin'"? No of course not.
Arriving at an appointment with a filthy dirty car splattered in witty bumper stickers is not a good look. Keep your car clean, don't leave half eaten food inside and for the record… bumper stickers are never witty. If you get a flat tyre, don't drive around for months on the spare. Make sure that your car looks like your resume. Professional, clean and inspires clients to hire you.
Use your car door as a go to touch up zone. What do you need at hand to make a best impression as you step out? Deodorant or perfume, breath mints, lip balm, make up for a quick touch up and a nail file are all in my car door ready for me to step out of the car and into work action. By keeping them in the door they will be out of sight and kept slightly cooler than leaving them in the centre console.
When I get back to the car after an appointment I like to take notes while they are fresh in my mind and check my messages on my phone or my laptop. Digital devices can go flat quickly so make sure you have chargers at the ready. If you are using a lap top you can get an inverter to plug your laptop in via the 12-volt auxiliary socket. Your phone and tablets can be charged via a USB charger or you can pack a battery pack to charge multiple items quickly.
In my cars with good blue tooth hands free devices, I will make use of my car to make phone calls. Use your time behind the wheel to follow up phone calls, confirm appointments or check in with the office for messages. Just make sure you have a hands free option and you are not distracted by the conversation. Staying safe on your drive is your priority.
Often when we are driving along we have brilliant ideas and we need to get them down before we forget them. I use the voice recorder on my phone to record story ideas or long winded notes that I need to put down. If it is just a quick list, I use a Wilde Drive marker to write the notes down on my window. The marker will wipe off easily with a soft cloth and a bit of glass cleaner. Just be careful you don't lose your notes when you go through the Drive Through Coffee shop.
Question: Can you share your top three apps for long drives?
Lara Wilde: A long drive can be dull and boring without the right apps. Apps on the road should be simple, easy to use without distracting you and accessible without Wi-Fi or phone reception. Here are my top 3 apps to keep you safe on the road.
A camera app. This may not seem to make sense at first but your camera is a very useful tip on the road especially if you upload the photos to social media as soon as you can. I have always made a practice of telling someone when I am leaving, which route I am taking and when to expect my arrival. That way if they have not heard from me within a reasonable timeframe they can send a search party. With photos on social media it is easy for friends and family to track my travels and know that I am safe.
I also use the camera to take photos of vehicles near me on my travels, the petrol bowser when I fuel up, the odometer for logbook purposes and the scenery when I stop to stretch my legs. If you break down or are involved in or see an accident the camera is also a useful tool to record the scene and provide evidence for insurance companies later. Just make sure you are always safe and pulled over when the camera comes out. Using a camera while you are driving can be very dangerous. An app to play audio books, podcasts or music is essential while you drive. You can bop along to your favourite tunes, hear a riveting tale or tune into a fascinating conversation. Use your time behind the wheel to learn a new language, master a new skill, or have a rib cracking chuckle to your favourite comedian. You can download plenty of options for free before you depart and easily change the playlist to suit your mood.
A mapping or trip planner app. Apart from telling you the best route and keeping you up to date with directions, a good app can also provide road condition reports and the nearest resources such as petrol stations, public toilets and restaurants. Finding out a road is flooded before you get there or locating an ATM before you need it can make or break a quality road trip.
Question: Where is your favourite road to drive and why?
Lara Wilde: For years I have heard tales about the legendary Great Ocean Road. A mythical ribbon of flawless bitumen embracing the water's edge. The views were breath taking and exotic sports cars could be given free rein to run rampant with wild abandon. Absolute bloody codswallop.
I set out from the western end with high hopes only to arrive in Melbourne dismayed, exhausted and greatly disappointed. I didn't have an exotic sports car, just a dirty 12 year old V8 Ford ute, and even she chomped at the bit and floundered in the heavy going for most of the way. For years I have mocked Victorian drivers for their poor driving skill, but if the Great Ocean Road is the best road they have to boast about in the state, it is little wonder they struggle to reach the speed limit anywhere else.
The first half of the road was more the Great Tree Road than the Great Ocean Road. There were brief glimpses of wet stuff through the branches but mostly I saw giant trees. The second half of the road had plenty of ocean views and plenty of time to take them in. In my humble opinion though, the Great Ocean Road should be renamed the 'Great Potholes, Lumpy Bits, Rough as Buggery, Non Stop Roadworks, With Nowhere to Overtake" Road.
I'll admit I didn't go all the way to the end of the Great Ocean Road. I was bored, depressed and edging towards suicide so I took the first exit that promised a direct route to the big smoke with triple figure speed limits. In Melbourne, Great Ocean Road enthusiasts asked me what I thought of their glorious road and I could see the pride in their little eyes as they waited for me to praise it. Luckily I was still jaded enough that I did not hold back in crushing their hopes and dreams with a clear and accurate description of my utter disgust. Before the locals could light fires at the foot of my stake I limped my poor battered Ford to the ferry and crossed the ditch to Tasmania.
Now here is a state that knows how to make a driver happy. As I left the ferry I hooked a right turn and followed the Northern Coastline to the West. Every twenty kilometres or so a small coastal village popped up offering fresh coffee and an assortment of pastries. The houses were neat and tidy with people walking their dogs and smiling warmly. I was left with the distinct impression that these were the kind of people who wore underpants on a very regular if not daily basis.
There were no potholes, no lumpy bits and no road works. There were two lanes, 110km per hour zones, and only one grey nomad in sight who was easily cruised past in the second lane. A never ending glorious stretch of perfect unblemished tar. Options to take a more scenic route were clearly signed but even these detours were blessed by road gods. There were no nasty speed bumps for us to bump our diff on and the fuel was just as cheap if not cheaper than the mainland. Bugger the Great Ocean Road, Tasmania is where the coastal driving nirvana is to be found.
Question: Can our cars also be a promotional tool?
Lara Wilde: I try my best to be an enlightened person. I do not care what colour your skin is, what God you worship, what gender your significant other is or if you have an apple or an android phone. I will judge you by your car.
Just as you can tell a lot about a person by the clothes they wear, the condition the clothes are in or if they are even wearing shoes; the choice of accessories, the cleanliness of the car and the things that need fixing can make a first impression long before you open your mouth.
The type of car you have tells me a lot about the type of person you are and your lifestyle. Far more telling than the type and features is how you have made your mark on your ride and how you look after it. I realise that our budget dictates what we can afford to spend on our car but that is no excuse for basic maintenance, cleaning and the accessories you have paid to add.
Did you put a bumper sticker on that reads "No Fear"? Are those black and white cowhide seat covers? Is this the 6th week since your flat tyre and you are still using the spare because you haven't fixed the flat yet? Did someone have the chance to write "wash me" in the dirt on your back window?
So next time you meet a blind date, or a potential business associate, or trust your loved ones with a lift from a friend; look at their car and judge them harshly. If you want to make a good impression, give your car a bath, tidy up what you can and make sure everything about that car tells people who you are.
Question: Can you tell us about your book, Shopping for the Perfect Car?
Lara Wilde: I love shopping for cars.
I shop for cars the same way other women shop for shoes. As I drive along I see them beside the road and I fall in love. When I am stressed I shop online. When I am bored I prepare lists of cars to buy. I plan modifications and accessories. I plot out epic road trips specific to each vehicle.
The reason I love car shopping so much is because I have practiced. I no longer care if the sales guy thinks I am a bimbo. I will test drive 100 cars just to find the one I love. I am willing to ask the dumb questions and learn new things. Over the years I have bought and sold a lot of cars and learnt a lot of lessons the hard way.
Few people consider the financial investment to purchase a car to be frivolous. When you are spending thousands if not tens of thousands of your hard earned dollars on one vehicle, you want to be very sure that you are not being ripped off. It is important to get value for money and not bring home a bomb that will be unreliable, be unsafe or require many more dollars to be spent on it.
This is the vehicle you trust to safely transport you and your family. This is the vehicle that will be an expression of yourself and will give you the confidence to explore new adventures on the open road. This is the vehicle that will give you the ability to earn an income and have a thriving social life. The process can be scary, it can be challenging and it can be invigorating.
Car shopping can be quite stressful and intimidating if you don't have some basic advice to turn to. I have bought and sold many cars over the years. Many car salesmen are ethical and give great advice however as in all industries some are less ethical and you need to be careful.
I have filled this book with all of the lessons relating to buying the perfect car that I have learnt, so that you too can learn to love car shopping. After you read my book you will feel confident to haggle with the salesman and score a deal you love.
Interview by Brooke Hunter