Last year, I spent 12 hours every weekend in May behind the wheel of my beat up old Nissan (his name is Oliver, if you were wondering) driving between Columbia, Missouri and Muskogee, Oklahoma. While this doesn’t immediately make me a road trip expert, I’ve certainly learned some ways to survive an especially long drive.
I’ve talked about the importance of snacks in a previous post, but it totally bears mentioning again. Having the right snacks can totally improve your mood when you’re stuck in a piece of machinery hurtling down the highway for 4+ hours.
Ideally, you can have someone with you on your excursion. However, not just anyone will do. Before last year, I thought of myself as an easy-going road trip companion who could travel with nearly anyone. Unfortunately, you have to consider that you’re going to be stuck in a confined space with your buddy for the entirety of the trip. Your ideal travel buddy is going to be someone you can hold conversations with (intellectual or purely silly), someone who has at least a passing similarity in music tastes, someone with a comparable bladder size, and someone who can take the wheel if you find yourself unable to drive. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck for 3 hours with only the soundtrack of your least favorite musical and someone who has to stop more than twice the rate of your need. Of course, having a four-legged companion is a great alternative to travelling alone.
The absolute best travel buddy will engage in the same crazy car games as you. My sister and I love to play the license plate game, wherein a certain state (and perhaps one or two in the area) is considered common but all others spotted result in a smack- similar to slug bug or punch buggy. The tradition for the trip from Kansas City to any Southern faire for my friend Lora and I was bingo.
A submission from Twitter from my friend Marie recounts the time she and her best friend drove from Tulsa to Chicago- they counted churches along the way. Then there’s the classic billboard game where you have to go from A to Z. Whatever your game is, just remember to have fun with it and the time will pass much quicker than before.
The Right Playlist… or Book… or Podcast
Growing up, we were always subject to my dad’s preferences in the car- and that meant country radio stations or Meatloaf cassette tapes. Nowadays, there are so many options to keep your ears occupied. Recently, I’ve been listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks again. I’ve got Welcome to Night Vale downloaded for my next trip. Of course, this is before you even consider my countless hours of piratical music on my phone’s memory card. If you take a few to prepare yourself when you have signal, you won’t be at the whims of the local radio towers and should be able to enjoy your trip.
Plan Your Stops
Knowing when you’re planning on stopping can help, especially if you have more than one person in the car. It’s especially important so you don’t get yourself caught on a turnpike needing to pull off- that’s just a pain. That being said, be flexible about your stops. If something looks interesting, don’t miss it… especially if you have the time to make an extended stop.You never know what you might find.