You are sitting with friends sipping on a drink discussing the upcoming long weekend, and someone starts a conversation about a vacation destination and driving to that location. It sounds exciting, and a few of you decide to attempt it together. You realize that the drive may be 6-10 hours, possibly more if everyone is up for more exploring. Question really is how are you and your family, including your kids, going to survive the strenuous road trip. The answer is going to annoy - by planning it well, obviously.
Driving gives you much flexibility. You can afford to take breaks, even sudden ones, and you can stop to enjoy vistas that just catch your fancy, and take pictures along the way. Problem is sitting for long hours becomes highly uncomfortable, not to mention boring. And if you have younger kids along, the constant 'Are we there yet?' gets annoying soon. Today, we have gathered some experience, tips and ideas to help you to not only withstand the rigors of a road trip, albeit make your next one a sure-shot success!
1. Plan out your exhaustion.
What? Hang on, hear us out. It is important to think before you start your trip about how tired you are going to be by the end of it. Plan out your exhaustion on these two points-
#1. Energy conservation
- It is absolutely important to have a good eight hours of sleep the night before you begin your drive to your vacation destination. Two nights of good sleep would be even better. This way, you build up good energy reserves.
- Start driving early in the morning versus right after work. Pulling a red-eye/ overnighter can be difficult, worse even dangerous, especially if you are drowsy after a carb-heavy dinner.
#2. Divide the load
- Figure out how many hours you could drive continuously without needing rest. Share the responsibility with another driver. That way, the load gets distributed, and nobody feels the pinch.
- Regularly, take short breaks, this will help you stay fresh and alert. You will also get a chance to stretch your arms, legs and back, and give it some time to recover from sitting in one position. They will thank you for it later.
2. Plan out your apparel.
This is crazy! No, it's not. Two things to consider here -
We cannot stress how important it is to wear comfortable and loose fitting clothes when starting on a drive. If you are going to be sitting for long hours in the same position without much possibility of movement, you need to be comfortable. Let the seatbelt be the one and only item restricting you, definitely not your clothes.
Many times, drivers find wearing flip-flops, sandals or even driving bare-feet a more comfortable option. This is one point we disagree with, and recommend wearing hard-soled shoes or boots. Pessimism aside, your foot needs to be protected, in case you find yourself in an accident. Let's imagine a bit more simpler situation. Say, your car breaks down, and you have to walk a couple miles to the first available gas station, or the next several blocks; you will be happy and grateful for those shoes. Passengers can wear comfortable shoes or slip-ons, but drivers should not compromise safety for comfort.
3. Plan out how to stay awake and pass the drive time.
There are two points to consider here -
- Play your favorite playlist, or audiobook. You could also subscribe to Spotify or Pandora. Play faster numbers instead of slower ones, this will be exhilarating, thus keep you awake and singing along.
- Play a game, debate on a topic with your passengers. Make sure to not make things sensitive enough to lead to anger and resentment. Enjoy the conversation. Brainstorm some ideas, new movies to watch, plans to start college, or even future plans…. You get the idea.
* Snacks, Lunch / Dinner from home or order out
This is a must when there are kids in the vehicle with you. Even otherwise, it not only helps take care of that little hunger in between meals, it also keeps you alert for the road. For healthier and cheaper options, make finger foods or bite-size, fun and a variety of sandwiches to cater to everyone's likes. Of course, if this is work or you are short on time, keep fruits like sliced apples or strawberries with chocolate, edamame, cheese, baked chips, trail mix, pretzels, lunchables and protein bars. You could also stop and order whatever other snacks everyone is interested in.
If you plan to drive for as long as possible so as to cover more ground, without taking breaks, then carrying lunch or dinner from home is a better option. You could also take shorter breaks by ordering take-outs, and just eat in the car while you continue to drive. To order some healthier options, try the Chipotle bowl or Subway footlongs. You could plan for one meal while driving, and another when you reach your destination.
* Water/ Drinks
Make sure to stay hydrated at all times. Load a cooler with drinks, and keep taking sips of water, juices and soda to keep you awake.
We will leave you with a few extra, yet crucial tips -
1. Don't forget to check the weather, and conditions of your drive - the time, the area, the roads, any construction, snowstorm etc. For example, you might need to install chains on your tires, if you know you would be driving in icy conditions.
2. Check your vehicle, make sure the servicing is done, and fill the tank. This ensures it is functioning at its best. Do not forget to carry the vehicle's registration and insurance, we are assuming you have your driver's license with you at all times. And most importantly, clean that car.
3. Keep some cash, extra cell phone chargers and power banks, and jump-start equipment.
4. Do not start on a trip angry. Take the time to resolve whatever differences you and your fellow passengers have, or at least call in a temporary truce. Your state of mind is crucial, you need to be relaxed, comfortable and ready to roll.
5. Avoid shortcuts... period! Use navigation at all times, so you can be re-routed if you mess up.
6. Stop whenever any one in the car wants to.
7. Avoid giving driving advice unless asked for.
8. Remember, road trips are an opportunity for sight-seeing, and enjoying fun, quality time with friends or family.
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