If there’s one thing I’m an expert on at this point, it’s LONG road trips. I just recently took a 12 hour drive alone from Atlanta, GA to Fort Worth, TX for the 150th time. I am not a fan, especially all those hours driving alone, but it’s the most economic and time sensitive way of going, on a budget.
The big problem with long drives is getting droopy eyed. Whether you leave very early or very late, the lull of continuous road can easily take a toll. I’ve done the long drives in many different ways… all at once, broken up into 2 or 3 days, leaving insanely early, leaving quite late, leaving stupid late on a whim, having a full night sleep, going on less than 3 hours, packing 1 bag, bringing half my house. You name it, I’ve made all attempts to up my road trip game. What better way to use the knowledge than share?
So, here’s a list of ways to survive a long road trip!
Leave Ungodly Early
Get on the road as early as possible! Gauge your time, plan for arrival in the time zone of where you’re headed. My last trip, for example:
I left at 5am EST, expecting to arrive around 4pm CST. My soul’s GPS said it would take me 13.5 hours. I got there in about 11.5, a record! Previous record was several years back, 11 hours 45 minutes. When I do this alone, I always go straight through and typically only stop 2x for gas/restroom break. This trip, I only got out of the car for 2x about 10 minutes each, once in Mississippi and once just after crossing the Texas border.
If you break up the trip, you don’t need to leave TOO early but one thing to keep in mind: sunset. If it’s a super long drive, like I mentioned, you’ll want to leave while it’s still dark because you should be most awake. That can minimize the time you drive after sunset. The darker it is, the sleepier you will get. I once left for a 13 hour trip only a couple of hours before sunset, believing naively that I could take it. I can only be grateful that trip was NOT solo because we had to keep switching drivers from not being able to keep our eyes open. Driving THAT long mostly in the dark is like driving in a tunnel all night. It’s depressing and most of the time there aren’t lights on the highway. That trip took 18 hours!!!! So many stops, so many caffeinated beverages, so many needed restroom breaks, so much sleepy.
Speaking of sleepy, you will inevitably still have to stave off the yawns. A fun trick is to snack on something that will put a little pep in your step, per se. Try salty as opposed to sweet so carrots, nuts, rice cakes, pretzels. If you ran short of time, grab something along the way that takes concentration.
I’ve done a long drive with someone who played music the entire time. Loudly. Over time, even loud BEAT PUMPING jams will lull you to sleep. Sleep is obviously your enemy on a long trip! LOL So, you’ll want to diversify your listening. I usually start with the local radio morning show until it cuts out. Then I’ll do some music on a playlist. Try to download music to your phone because it’s likely you’ll hit many no reception spots and will lose the signal to play more. I then move onto audio books and podcasts. Make sure both of the later are subjects you’re super (not just kind of) interested in. I was listening to an audio book of something I had *some* interest in and like 14 hours of loud music, it didn’t help keep me awake. Find something suspenseful, exciting!
This is especially if you have someone in the car with you. A little competition keeps you going! A few examples:
Song Quiz – a mobile game, I ask Google to play
I Spy – especially good for kids
Pop Culture Trivia – also can be found on mobile
Weird Al It – make a mock song out of a song you know
Guess The Movie – describe a movie in as generic terms until title is picked
Here are a few things that you will likely be glad you didn’t involve yourself with. 1st I’d say avoid soda and/or energy drinks. You might be thinking, “But caffeine!” Sounds logical but really it will cause you to bloat and use the restroom more, which means more stops and discomfort. You’re going to be SITTING a long time, take my word for it. Next, avoid bean related food and snacks. That includes dairy if it causes you stomach issues. ‘Nuff said. Don’t get too warm, too much warm and cozy leads to brain wanting to shut down. Try to not gulp beverage. Do drink water in sips to stretch out your resources and potty breaks. In addition to crunchy, bring other salty and sweet snacks. Try protein, something chewy, and hard candy, which all comes in handy at different times.
Well, there you have it! Long drives are extremely tiresome, draining, and I want to shower as soon as I arrive at my destination. Therefore, I go out of my way to make them as enjoyable as possible. The takeaways here to make it go as best as possible: try to find a friend to go with you, leave before sunrise, stay hydrated, bring a variety of snacks, plan ahead for road worthy entertainment, and avoid Taco Bell.