Over the Thanksgiving season I had the chance to take a few days off, enjoy the holiday, see my family and drive an insane amount to get there. Literally from the top of the USA to the bottom, Michigan to Texas. Having made this journey only a few times and now getting used to it, this time I got the chance to take it easy-ish and notice some things.
1. Sleep when you need it, drive when you don’t.
I think this the most variable thing for people but an interesting one. Some people know they can drive for long times, some know they can’t. Then there is some of us who just don’t know. I found on my way down I got tired after driving only about 12 hours. Add on that some of that was spent eating and stopping at one or two too many rest stops. You would figure I would be more energized right? Nope. Yet on the way back, after not much sleep and prolonging eating until about hour 10 I was able to stay awake, alert and light from the Texas border where I was and Fort Wayne…that is a LOT of driving, with less than before but better results?!
2. Food is refreshing, but not too much.
That last part about eating is actually my new standard. It’s tempting to stop at all the good roadside diners you can see from the highways but in reality if you are driving a long way you should be able to focus on eating when you are actually there. Snacks are good but one small but solid meal(Chicken sandwich FTW) can get you a lot better shot of energy than becoming over-stuffed before trying to battle 18-wheelers and holiday traffic.
3. Plan your media ahead of time.
This is one I fail on almost constantly. Have either a playlist ready or a set of Netflix movie to listen to while driving will save you time but also cut out the task of searching radio or sitting in long stretches of silence. Not saying those are bad but it’s not every day you get the chance to turn the tunes up and watch the scenery pass by with a soundtrack.
4. Caffeine is your friend.
Drink coffee, an energy drink, a 5-hour thing, just do something to get a bit more focused that you usually are. Nothing like being to casual on the roads with everyone rushing around these days! Just get something, enough said.
5. Leave early, always.
Planning to leave at noon? Leave at 10 instead. This is for two reasons. The first is that if something is delayed, pushed back or something urgent pops up you have a better chance of taking care of it before your initial noon departure. Second is if you DO get on the road a bit early you could see less traffic, as most people probably thought to leave at noon as well. You beat the crowd!
6. Focus on the next ‘waypoint’.
Long trips always seem long. Sounds dumb to point out but a lot of passengers say it don’t they? Thinking of the whole trip as a large thing is good but if you break it up into basically looking for the next exit/turn/whatever with a reference you can consider each little section as a checkpoint. It just feels faster in my head as I figure “Oh, only 3 more checkpoints” instead of “600 miles is crazy”.
7. Take tons of images.
Take your phone out and shoot. Even if you have a nice camera, leave it put away. You won’t regret it when you finally get to your destination. Telling friends and family about your journey is nice but showing is even better. You know the old saying so I won’t even go there.
8. Just have fun.
Altogether though, just have some fun. Road trips can be stressful but if you planned even a little and made sure to stock up on what you need it can be pretty relaxed. Even if you are the driver! It’s especially important that drivers on long trips get breaks and all that good stuff. Safety is a big part of having fun I think, as when you don’t have to worry you can feel free to get into situations. Treat the driver well! Likely you are going to a vacation, to see family or gathering for holidays so do all the legwork beforehand to make sure to get the most of it!