Long road trips can be a blast — or they can be boring, exhausting endeavours. Here’s how, with a bit of preparation, you can make sure you survive your trip with your sanity intact.
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Quora user Jon Mixon offers some advice for travelling alone, with your significant other, and with coworkers.
When You’re Travelling Alone
- Set a limit to how many hours that you will drive that day and stick to it.I will only drive 10-12 hours a day maximum during winter and 12-14 during summer (as there’s more daylight). I don’t care for driving alone at night. Even if I make better time than expected, I will not drive any farther in a single day.
- Choose the music that you want to listen to before you leave. If you don’t want to hear it, don’t bring it (or create your playlist ahead of time), as it will distract you while you are driving.
- Stop at truck stops, not rest areas. Most truck stops have bathrooms, food, drinks, medicine, a place to eat, petrol, auto supplies, a restaurant (or at least fast food) etc. Rest stops have… bathrooms. Also, rest stops are often isolated, which might feel less safe if you are a lone traveller.
- Buy an extra phone car charger and keep it in your glove box. Trust me, you are eventually going to forget your charger and having one that is always available can (literally) be a lifesaver.
- Stretch every time that you stop. Riding in most cars for hours isn’t comfortable, so every time that you stop, stretch your legs, arms, and back. They will thank you for it.
- Drive with comfortable, hard-soled shoes or boots on. Seriously. Whether or not bare feet or thongs are “more comfortable”. if you are in an accident, your feet will be lacerated and possibly even amputated without adequate protection. Also, if your vehicle breaks down and you have to walk, having shoes on will make walking much easier.
- Take three flashlights of varying sizes and batteries for all three.While I don’t recommend that you drive at night if you don’t have to, it’s better to have several lighting options for a host of reasons rather than just your car.
- Take at least 2-3 days worth of food (dried or easy open cans) and a case of water with you, in addition to your normal road trip food.This will easily fit into your trunk or rear storage area and it may prove to be a lifesaver to you if you find yourself in an unexpected situation. High-energy foods (proteins and carbs) are the best. Don’t worry about your diet; this could potentially be a matter of survival that trumps any diet that you are on.
When You’re Travelling As A Couple
If you’re travelling with a significant other, the above tips still come into play, along with the following:
- If you are angry before your trip, work it out before you go. Being angry will distract one or both of you, which will make the drive truly awful (not to mention distractions while driving can be fatal).
- Bring music/audiobooks/podcasts/etc. that either you both like or that you can at least tolerate. Nothing ruins a trip (and distracts you) like arguing over what you are going to listen to while on a long drive. The idea is to have a fun, safe trip and get where you are going in one piece.
- No shortcuts. I know that they are tempting, but shortcuts can easily turn into “long-cuts” or they can cause arguments which may distract you while driving. Unless your “shortcut” is a well-lit highway, just stick to major roads.
- Stop when one of you wants to. It’s foolish to get angry that one person wants or needs to stop more than you do. Unless they want to see everything along the way (which is something that you should work out before you make the trip), if they ask or hint that a stop is good, then stop.
- Decide on who is going to drive where before you leave. Unless your partner cannot drive, it makes no sense for a single person to drive the entirety of a lengthy trip. Split it up evenly ahead of time and you’ll both have time to relax.
- Keep your driving “advice” to yourself. Nagging or correcting someone who is driving isn’t helpful, and it only gets more annoying on a long trip. Of course, if you are scared of the person’s driving abilities, perhaps travelling by bus, train or aeroplane is a better option.
- If there’s a subject that usually provokes disputes, avoid it. Do you really want to be stuck in a vehicle for hours with a person who you are angry with or who is angry with you?
- If your companion is ill or tired, stop. You are going to arrive at your destination when you get there. No sooner. No later. No point in potentially ruining a nice trip by pushing things too much. Stop either for a while or for the night and continue on again later.
- Make your reservations before you leave.You have a rough idea (barring issues with your vehicle, illness and the weather) of how long it will take to get your destination. Call ahead, have the motel/hotel reserve a room for you and then you’ll be able to rest (and not argue) when you get your destination. Never assume that there will “some place” that has rooms. That usually does not work in your favour.
- Stay in the nicest place that you can afford.You aren’t saving money if you stay in a place where people are partying, where your car gets broken into, where you are concerned about walking out to your car at night or where the police can be found outside questioning someone. If that means you have to part with a few extra dollars, then so be it.
When You’re Travelling with Coworkers
Lastly, when you’re travelling with colleagues, include all of the above tips as well as:
- Decide on who’s going to drive before you leave. It’s a pretty damn silly argument to have a dispute about who is going to drive. Why have it?
- Decide on your route beforehand. As with other things, it’s always better to plan things than wait to see what happens.
- Keep the conversation relatively light.Work talk is OK. Work talk that provokes arguments or that will cause hard feelings is not. If it is controversial, either leave it alone or change the subject.
- If you are the boss and you are in the vehicle, tone down the “boss role”.Giving orders and playing management games in a vehicle while travelling is a really bad idea. If you don’t think that you are capable of doing this, then travel alone or simply use the trip to catch up on your sleep. Also, if your subordinates want to play their music or listen to a certain radio station, don’t pull rank.
- If you are the “jokester”, keep it to yourself. Your usual sense of humour may not be appreciated and if the trip is stressful already, it won’t be helpful. If you don’t think that’s something you can do, see if you can travel alone or bring something to read/listen to/watch so that you won’t be tempted.
- If someone needs to stop…then stop. The whole “we need to make time” BS is simply you, the driver or boss, trying to control the situation. Do you really want someone to be carsick or have a preventable bathroom accident while you are driving simply to “save” an hour or two?
- Personal calls on stops only (unless it is an emergency). Nobody wants to hear your family drama or what kind of a stud you are. Keep your phone calls short if they come in while you’re driving. And, obviously, no texting and driving.
- If someone chooses to read, listen to music, sleep, play games, etc. rather than interact…let them. While it isn’t social, how they deal with long rides is how they do it. You really can’t make them do what you want them to do.
- Personal grooming is important. If you have hygiene issues, address them BEFORE the drive to be considerate to your colleagues.
- Watch what you eat before the trip.You fellow travellers will appreciate it if your digestive system is not in revolt when you are travelling. If this is a dietary problem, then you may consider travelling alone.
- Be cool. Even if being a whiner is your normal state, get it under control for a few hours. You have a long trip ahead of you and you should be able to tone things down for the duration. If you cannot, consider travelling alone to the destination, if possible.
What are some hacks to surviving long road trips in a car? originally appeared onQuora. You can follow Quora onTwitter, Facebook andGoogle+.