So You’re Going On a Road Trip? Here are Some Dos and Don’ts for that Long Drive
By Vanessa Palencia
If you’ve ever thought about taking a roadtrip for the adventure or the romanticized appeal to it (think long drives with your partner as you gaze into the sunset and watch the first sprinkling of stars appear), then make sure you are adequately prepared and informed about what really goes into a road trip.
Road trips are fun, but if you’re not prepared for what’s to come, it can be extremely uncomfortable. If you are in a rush to get to your next destination, then be sure to plan out how you guys will take turns taking the wheel. If you have a party of at least 3 or more, then planning rest and driving times will be a lot easier and more doable. Ideally, road trips should be done leisurely to lessen the stress on your body and the car, but whether your next road trip is time sensitive or not, here are a few things you should and shouldn’t do.
Make sure your vehicle is in good condition. Obviously. You don’t want to be driving a deadbeat car that’ll likely have you stranded in the middle of nowhere. That’s never fun, so be sure to make sure everything is up to date with your car before you start heading anywhere.
Sleep. If you don’t get enough rest, then driving can become really dangerous. Make sure to plan out the schedule for driving and sleep time. If needed, pull over so that you guys can rest. There are a lot of rest areas on US highways where you can pull over, so take advantage of them.
Wear comfortable clothing. This is a given. Think yoga pants or workout attire. Anything that will allow your body free range of motion because you’ll want to be able to bend your legs or rest your feet on the dashboard after sitting on your bum for hours on end.
Pack energizing snacks. You’ll already be exhausting your body by driving for hours, so make sure you give your body the nutrition it needs to stay awake. This means fruit, nuts, granola bars, and water. Of course, make sure to plan for actual meals as well.
Stretch. Whenever you do stop for gas or to replenish snack items, make sure to stretch. This will relieve some of the pressure that builds up in your muscles and joints from all that sitting and prevent you from being stiff at the end of the trip.
Bring blankets or pillows. You want to be as comfortable as possible when you’re sleeping in the car to get some good quality sleep. Otherwise, you’ll be sleep deprived when it’s your turn to drive.
Bring car chargers for your phones. The last thing you want is to have your phone die when you need it the most.
A change of clothes. Depending on how long your road trip is, you may want to change out your clothes if you’ve been in them for more than 24 hours.
Enjoy the ride. Take time to stop and take pictures, surf the stores lined up on the highways, and enjoy the scenery. When you’re out in the open, you can really see the stars at night and the sunrises and sunsets are breathtakingly beautiful. It’s also the perfect opportunity to spend time with the person/people you’re driving with.
Don’t push your limits. If you feel yourself getting tired, then ask someone else to take over. If there’s only two of you and you’re both tired, then pull over (ideally at a rest area) and get some rest.
Don’t hold your pee. It’s best to try to use the restroom every chance you get because the next rest area or gas station may not be for another 20 miles and holding your pee in can get really painful and distract you from driving.
Don’t be annoying. You’re going to be locked up in a car with your partner, friends, and/or family for a number of hours, so be mindful of those around you. Otherwise, things can get tense and people can get bitter, which takes the fun out of everything.
Don’t get into an accident. Be a cautious and defensive driver.
Don’t overpack. If you pack too high, you can block the rear window, making it harder to see and drive. Plus, a lighter car is easier to maneuver and is less costly on gas.
Don’t assume there’s a gas station over the next hill. If you know you’re running low on gas, stop at the next gas station as soon as possible. Don’t test your car by waiting until the last minute to get gas. Sometimes the next gas station is an hour away, and that’s if you’re lucky.
Don’t eat junk. It’s already hard on your body to be sitting in the position you’re in for long periods of time, the last thing you want to do is harm your body even more with non-nutritious food, like chips, candy, and soda. You won’t be getting the proper energy you need.
Don’t rely on coffee or 5-hour energy drinks. An occasional coffee is fine, but don’t drink one cup after another just to keep yourself awake during a road trip. You’ll dehydrate yourself and weaken your body. Instead, give your body some rest and sleep.