About six weeks ago I moved about 6 hours from my hometown and 7 hours from my friends. Just because of how timing worked out what was supposed to my first weekend away from home ended up being a trip back for my former (I’m still said about this) roommate’s graduation party. The way it worked out I drove to my parents house on Saturday and then Sunday morning I drove to MA for her party then Sunday night I drove us back to her apartment in Boston and then Monday Morning I drove the 7ish hours home.
While I do love driving, 6-7 hours plus time stuck in traffic can be a lot for anyone. That being said I have some tips I’ve learned for spending hours in the car that I will be putting into practice next weekend as I go home for a birthday party for my cousins. Below are my tips for a good long drive.
Make the most out of the trip. It has less todo with spending time on the road but more to do with making the trip worth it. Plus the more excited you are about the trip the more positive you will feel about the long drive. So this weekend I was supposed to go up to MA for a party but unfortunately it got canceled but before that happened my plan was to fit as much into the trip as possible. Driving 14 hours round trip would be ridiculous for a 4 hour party so I was staying over night and going to get to spend quality time with my friend and her family. Then before I drove home on Sunday I was going to drive into Boston to grab Brunch and possible a target trip with my former roommate. I was really excited about the trip, like so excited I was okay with getting up at 5am to spend 7 hrs in my car, and I am really disappointed it got canceled. This plan was also nice because it meant I got to spend plenty of time out of my car and moving around between the two long legs of the trip.
My next tip is SNACKS and drinks! I bring my snacks that way I don’t have to stop and get anything at rest stops. I feel that they are so expensive and they take so much time to park, get inside, order, then wait for food, and get back on the road. Because of that I try to limit my trip to bathroom or gas stops. Its important to bring snacks that are easy to eat while driving, if you google road trip snack a plethora of bad ideas (in my opinion, of course) come up. I am driving alone I don’t have the hands free to eat yogurt and open complex packages. I need to to be able to open and eat with one hand so I can keep the other on the wheel. On my first trip there was almost an incident in New Jersey because my cut up strawberries were sticking together. So lessen learned I need easy. Also I need snacks that won’t go bad in my car with the sun beating on it, so things with dairy won’t survive a 7 hours trip. Also I try to find things that won’t make a mess or leave me with a bunch of trash. This takes dips or hand fruits off my list.
One of my favorites are goldfish, I love the cheesey-salty goodness. I get the cheddar ones made with whole wheat (so I feel a little better about eating them). It is easy to put the bag between my legs and grab a few at a time. I also like almonds or cashews and grapes. I like foods with a crunch because I feel like the texture and the sound keep me more alert. I tend to start my trip with a green juice or smoothie, which I will slowly drink usually over the first 1-2 hours of the trip. This helps me feel better about the lack of veggies I’m going to eat that day. I also will bring water bottles. I like flavored seltzers for trips, I’m horrible at remembering to drink water but when its flavored I do a better job. And while stopping to pee is a pain its important to stay hydrated. A 2015 study found that even mildly dehydrated drivers made frequent errors, which to stay safe I would like to avoid. I also like to be prepared incase I need a pick me up either of caffeine or mood. I keep a water bottle mixed with caffeinated crystal light and some form of chocolate on hand. I love the new caffeinated crystal light I have a strawberry pineapple flavor and I just found out there is a cherry one I have to track down and try! When it come to chocolate I find that letting it melt in my mouth tends to have a calming effect and can make even the worst traffic seem a little better. Because I worry about it melting I like to get either M&Ms or chocolate coated cashews /craisins because they seem to hold up better to the heat. While these are what works best for me you might be more talented and be able to handle more.
Stay Organized! I think this is what makes everything go smoothly, having a place for everything important and knowing where it is so you can reach for it without taking your eyes of the road. To start I like to clean out my car before I go so I’m not driving with junk I don’t need. While this depends a little on how your car is set up here is an example of what I do. I keep my phone, wallet and keys(its a push start so as long as the fob is in the car it will start) in one cup holder. This makes it easy to keep my phone plugged in so I have good tunes and bluetooth so I can talk over my car when my mom calls to make sure I haven’t died. This also makes it easy to grab everything when I do stop to use the bathroom. I also keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in a pocket on my door so I have that for dirty rest stop bathrooms. In the other cup holder I keep whatever drink I am currently drinking. Because I’m driving solo I can keep snacks, extra drinks, and tissues on the passenger seat. While convenient for reaching it can be a problem if I have to stop suddenly. I try to pack something on the floor of the front seat to block everything from falling off the seat. When I have my drink in the cup holder I keep the cap loosely on. It is enough to potentially minimize a spill but it is easy enough to get the cap off one handed. When I take the cap of I leave it in my lap while I drink so I can find it when I’m done. I also like to keep an empty plastic bag in the car for trash to keep everything as neat as possible.
Music! I think this is super important. If I have music I can deal with almost anything, it keeps me alert, it keeps me from getting bored, and it keeps me calm when I’m frustrated by the speed of traffic. Also I am a horrible singer so one of the few times I sing along is when I’m in the car by myself, so I enjoy having some good tunes to accompany me. Before each trip I either make a playlist or modify an old one. Because I’m changing states I would likely be changing stations and searching stations can be dangerous so I make a Spotify playlist download it to my phone and listen to that. If I’m not in the mode for a specific song I can switch the the next with a button on my steering wheel without looking away from the road. Lately I’ve been really into country music, it just feels like summer to me. So I made a new playlist taking my favorites from my last trip and adding some new releases I’ve found. I try to make the playlist about and hour long then the length of my trip so I have extra songs if I get picky.
Staying calm and comfortable. Face it other drivers can be jerks. Hell while I do the best I’m sure another drive thought I was a jerk. But its best to try not to think about it. We can’t control other drivers, all we can do is stay vigilant to we can get where we are going safely. That being said if someone really angers me I find that a few swears or a quick scream about it to vent helps. And before I know it the car is out of sight and out of mind. A new song, I love to sing to comes on and I am calm again. I don’t have serious road-rage issues so once I move on I’m good. If you do have stronger feelings you might want to try deep breathing, counting to ten, or other calming strategies to help.
I think part of staying calm for me has to be with being comfortable. If I’m feeling cramped, hot, sore, tired, or any other sucky feeling each little thing is going to feel so much bigger and more annoying. To combat this I try to dress as comfortable at possible,for this weekend that will mean a t-shirt and shorts but in colder months that would mean comfy pants and a top. I get car sick when I’m to hot so on long drives in the colder months I warm up my car in advance so I take of my jacket before I take off. I do always try and wear something with pockets. I have never really been a purse-girl, I normally just carry my phone, wallet, and keys, so being able to shove these items in my pockets at rest stops is helpful. I also think footwear is important, while I love flip flops more than most I do think they can be hard to drive in so I do my best to keep my feet comfy while driving because safely getting my feet to the brake or gas petal is essential. For the sake of time I try not to stop to often but when I do while I walk to and from the car I like to get in a little stretch. It help keep my muscles happy after they have been stuck in the same positions for so long. I also try to keep everything I don’t need in the back of the car so I don’t feel crowded.
These are my thoughts on making the most of my long car trips. I hope I was able to help give you some ideas to make your next road trip better! If you think I forgot anything or have some of you own ideas for an easy ride I’d love to hear them in the comments! Have fun and stay safe!