Road Trip Survival Guide

I think I'm just going to call this month Flashback February because all of my posts this month have been a look back at past adventures.  Guess that means it's time for some new ones!

Over the holidays I took a long road trip through the southwest that included a 15 hour long haul, a shorter 6 hour jaunt, then finally a 10 stretch home.  That's a lot of driving!  I've gotten pretty good a long drives over the last few years with several NorCal to LA trips (both solo and with others with me), plus the fact that everything in California seems to be an hour or two away.

My road trip survival gear: comfy hoodie, coffee, reading material, headphones, and good music. (excuse the poor quality phone image)

My road trip survival gear: comfy hoodie, coffee, reading material, headphones, and good music. (excuse the poor quality phone image)

Being in the car that long is tough: you can't get up and stretch as often like a flight, you get to use gas station bathrooms instead of plane bathrooms (is that even better?), no in flight service but no security to deal with, and you can bring all the liquids you want.  But to get anywhere it takes about five times longer than if you were to fly.  So here are my strategies for surviving the long haul and hopefully will keep you from running away screaming when you stop for gas.

Photo credit Katherine Sawyer

Photo credit Katherine Sawyer

  1. PREPARE  Make sure to bring enough books, movies, podcasts, work, whatever you need to pass by the hours.  If you think staring out the window will be good enough YOU'RE WRONG.  You will get bored.  Bring extra.  It's better to have too much to do than run out and be left trying to play the licence plate game or I Spy for 15 hours.
  2. SEATING  If you're not driving, clam the biggest seat as soon as possible.  Call dibs, bribe necessary parties, get up extra early to get in the car first, do whatever you need to do.  If there's a bench seat you can have to yourself, take it!  It's he best for laying down to sleep away part of the drive.
  3. HEADPHONES  If you need time for yourself, headphones are key.  Just plug them in, zone out, take a nap, do what you need to keep your sanity.
  4. COMFORT  If you can sit all day in stiff jeans, great.  If not, pull out those comfy pants!  If you're sitting in a car all day no one is going to judge you for spilling out at a gas station in sweat/yoga pants.  If they do they are cruel, terrible people.
  5. PILLOW  Bring one. I don't care if you think you can ball up your sweatshirt to use leaned against the window.  You can't.  Using a pillow will be infinitely more comfortable and you will actually stand a chance at getting some sleep. (The same goes on planes.  Yes you may look dumb, but who'll be laughing when you get some shut eye and the pillow-less get off the flight exhausted and unhappy?)
  6. DON'T COUNT DOWN  No matter what you do don't start watching the clock or counting down til you reach your destination because it will only make time go by more slowly.  I can't count the number of times I've tried not staring at the clock for a long time and then looking expecting and hoping to see it's been hours when it's only been 20 minutes.  Don't think about it.  You'll get there when you get there, just enjoy that book you're powering through!
  7. CHOSE YOUR COMPANIONS CAREFULLY   If you have a hard time being around someone do not take them on a road trip.  Good candidates can hold a conversation with you for hours on end if need be, or if you just enjoy their company that works, too.  Also know you are going to be annoyed with each other at some point.  It's inevitable so be prepared and know how you're going to deal with it, whether it's taking over driving or plugging in those headphones.
  8. DRIVERS   Make sure you have more than one person willing to drive.  When one driver gets tired or needs a break a simple switch is all you need.  Even if one person is comfortable and willing to drive the whole time, if they do get drowsy you don't want to have to put the trip on pause because you only have one driver.  It also makes the drive a lot better when everyone can switch positions and activities every few hours.

Follow these tips and you should be good to go with your road trip adventures.  

Have any advice to add or a story you want to share?  Tell me about it!