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Long Road Trips: How to Survive
What is the Longest Road Trip (Total Driving Hours) You've Ever Made?
Why Drive in the First Place?
These days long road trips seem to be a dying art. Critics ask questions like, "Why drive when you can fly?" or "Have you seen gas prices lately?" or "Don't you get bored?" All legitimate concerns. However, there are wonderful advantages that driving a car for 10 (12, 14...) hours a day offers that using other modes of transport cannot. Of course, you must know how to use certain strategies in order to get the full benefit of these advantages. Take a look at some of the helpful tips offered below for how to survive long road trips.
Tip #1: Know Your Personnel
One of the most tremendous advantages of long road trips can also be one of it's most horrendous disadvantages if you don't know the personnel with whom you travel. That's right, I'm talking about quality time. If you're travelling with a family of children under the age of 8, attention spans are limited. Bring multiple games, toys, etc. to keep their interest. Investing in a source of portable, digital entertainment for them could also give you a lucrative return of peace and quiet for hours (okay, maybe just lots of minutes...). You must be able to read your children. If they are older children who would rather just plug into their ipod or read a book and zone out, that's okay! Let them. Show them that you love and care for them by waiting to engage with them until they are ready to reciprocate without feeling bugged or annoyed.
Tip #2: Know Where You're Going
Long road trips north can quickly turn into long road trips south with just one wrong move. When you make a wrong turn (notice I said "when" not "if"), the least you can do is be aware of it! Always check your source of navigation every time you take an exit or make a turn. A good tip I've found helpful is this: generally, streets that end in an odd number run north-south and those that end in an even number run east-west. In addition to checking your past steps, you should also anticipate your next steps. Always know your next move. Know what to look for and have a general idea of how far away it is (even if it's hundreds of miles), and your chances of missing it will reduce drastically. Don't make your long road trips any longer than they have to be!
Tip #3: Stay Awake
Sounds simple. But it's getting late, it's been a long day, your passengers are asleep, there's no cars on the road... before you know it, you've taken a detour to snoozeville. You may even slip into the state of half-consciousness that has come to be known as "highway hypnosis". Some good strategies to stay awake as a driver (or navigator) are 1) chew gum (especially minty or spicy), 2) rub ice on your face 3) work on some sunflower seeds, 4) sing to some music, 5) have a buddy stay awake with you to talk, or 6) Get a nice, cold drink to shock the system! At least one of these strategies is sure to cure your driving dozes. Don't turn long road trips to Disneyland into long road trips to the hospital. Stay alert, and keep those eyes on the road!
What is the Longest You've Driven Without Stopping to Sleep?
Tip #4: Take Breaks
Even if you really just want to make it 45 more miles until you have to stop for gas... Seriously. Your long road trips will go down a lot more smoothly if you break each of them down - even with quick 5 minute stops - into many small road trips. It is imperative to get outside of that closed-in space at least once every hour and a half. That is a good rule-of-thumb that keeps the trip enjoyable without sacrificing too much time lost. I know all you efficiency-minded drivers only want to stop for gas and have cups inside as portable urinals, but just listen. Your passengers will thank you, your joints will thank you, and your sanity will thank you. This will also help you stay awake! (see tip #3)