Over the past two weekends, I’ve done 18-20 drives over two days, and I have another one coming up this weekend. It’s not fun and to be totally honest, I’m getting a bit sick of driving.
When you first take off on a long road trip, especially on a journey of full-time travel, it’s actually kind of exciting to be in the car for several hours alone. The rest of the time is spent meeting a lot of new people and having a lot of adventures, so the downtime was something I appreciated in the beginning.
Now, though, it’s starting to drive me a little crazy. I’m glad I got through the last two long drives, but I’m not looking forward to the last one I have coming up this weekend.
That said, I thought I’d let guys know some tips I have for surviving a long road trip alone:
1. Front load the drive time
When doing a 20-hour drive over two days, it might make sense to try to drive 10 hours each day. Nope. In my experience, this is a terrible idea. By the time you’re done with the first day, it feels so long that you’re dreading the second day. Instead, front load the drive time by driving just a bit more the first day than the second. It doesn’t have to be a lot: an hour or two is fine. But this way, when you go into the second day, you think to yourself “Oh, I only have to do X hours instead of the X I did yesterday.” It’s more psychological than anything – but it works.
2. Don’t rely on music alone – choose a long audiobook or podcast.
At first, I used to love the uninterrupted hours in my car to listen to a mix of NPR and Justin Biebe…I mean The Beatles for as long as I wanted. Then I quickly realized that all Top 40 radio stations are the same and the news starts to get depressing. I still listen to NPR and music, but now I only sprinkle those in while listening to a long audiobook or podcast. An audiobook that would cover the entire trip is ideal because it keeps you engaged with the same characters the entire time, instead of having to start and stop a story.
3. Stop before you think you need a break.
I’ve often had moments where I’ve thought to myself “Oh, I could keep going for another hour or hour and a half before I really need to get out.” At the beginning of the trip, I tried to make it these distances, but now I realize I should stop as soon as I have that thought. It’s a lot more mentally exhausting to let your body get totally drained before you stop. Instead, stay fresh by taking breaks before you think you need them.
4. Don’t drink too much coffee
Coffee is my bestie. That said, it has a nasty reputation for bringing you all the way up just to have you crash. I never really had a problem with that before, but the more coffee I drank, the more it became a thing. I still do one cup of coffee in the morning, and occasionally I’ll do another cup in the afternoon, but I don’t rely on it to keep me awake for long drives. Instead, I hydrate and choose snacks that will energize me.
5. Find something to look forward to.
And it can’t be the end goal. Sure, it will be exciting to get wherever you get, but find something – or a few somethings – in the middle to excite you. Maybe it’s a good meal at a restaurant in a town you’re driving through or some weird roadside attraction but focus on something that will get you just through the next short leg of the journey. It’ll make the entire journey feel a lot shorter.
There you have it – my tips for surviving a long road trip. I only hope I survive my next one!