This past summer was the summer of road trips for us. Those who know me well know that I LOVE to travel but very long road trips aren’t my favourite. I’m not alone on that, am I? However, planes and trains aren’t always the best or most economical choice, so automobile it has to be. I will never turn down the opportunity to travel somewhere amazing by car if that’s the only option, so over the years, I’ve learned a few ways to make the journey almost as enjoyable as the destination. I just do a little pre-planning and use my tips for surviving long road trips to make the whole experience better. Hopefully, they will help you too!
Tips for Surviving Long Road Trips
1. Rent a Car
If your budget allows for it, rent something really different from what you regularly drive. This is one of my favourite tips for surviving long road trips because I love cars and I especially love driving new cars.
We drove from Ottawa to Boston a couple summers ago and it was a LONG drive. But we rented a vehicle that was roomy (nice!), it was new (sweet!), and it had a DVD player (bonus!) So everyone was happy. The kids especially, because they got to be passengers in a different car and they could watch movies on the drive down. They still talk about that car and trip to this day.
It was such a treat to drive the Enclave because it’s so different from my own car. It had many features that helped make our road trip easier (such as OnStar and the awesome lane departure warning). I loved every second of my time with the Enclave! Note: This post is not sponsored by Buick or GM in any way and I was under no obligation to share any of this info with you. I just chose to because I loved my experience with the Enclave!
2. You Do Most of the Driving
While driving, you’ll be busy, focused, and concentrating on something very important. It will also keep your mind off the many hours ahead. On long road trips, I do most of the driving and it works well for us. My husband prefers to take the passenger seat so he can talk, catch up on shows on his tablet, and catch some zzz’s. This works really well for us and I find that it makes the long hours go by much quicker for me. Of course, switch if you are tired and need a break.
3. Stop to Eat Somewhere You’ve Never Been Before
Research the cities and towns you’ll be passing and find somewhere fun to stop for a meal or a treat. Maybe it’s a chain that isn’t available in your city or maybe it’s a retro diner that has been around for ages that everyone talks about. Do a little digging, I’m sure you can find something interesting the whole family will love. Having a planned stop will also break up the road trip. When I travel, food is a big deal for me (I hope this doesn’t surprise you!), so this is something we try to do each time. And think of the trip memories you’ll be making!
4. Make Sure the Kids are Happy
When traveling with young kids, the key to a smooth trip is making sure they’re happy at all times. Parents, this is the time to plan activities and pack snacks that will blow their minds. If you’re lucky enough to have a DVD player in your vehicle (see tip #1), bring some new movies they’ve never seen before (borrow from friends, or buy a few). Movies are gold when doing road trips because that’s about an hour and half per movie of happy, quiet kids. Gold, I tell you! When it comes to snacks, pack things they don’t get to have often or prepare some treats that all of you can snack on.
5. Know Exactly Where You’re Going
This should go without saying, but…map that trip out! It’s easy to take a wrong turn or get lost in an unfamiliar city. These things can easily happen if you’re headed somewhere that’s larger and the roads are a little more crazy and complicated than you’re used to. Load your trip info into your GPS before you leave, or if you subscribe to a turn-by-turn service, use it. If you don’t have access to either of those things, look up the directions online and write or print them so a passenger can help you, if needed.
6. Give Yourself Lots of Time
Go with the flow! Give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going. I know this is counter-intuitive for those who don’t like being in a car for long periods of time, but pushing to get somewhere quickly for a pre-planned reservation or event is just going to stress you out. Especially if you hit traffic or if you end up having to re-route because of a wrong turn. Plan lots of time to get where you’re going and don’t forget to build in time for stops to eat and for bathroom breaks. Everyone will be happier, it will cause less stress, and it will make your trip more enjoyable.
Years ago, if someone asked me that famous question: which is more important, the journey or the destination, if I were traveling by car, my answer would have been the destination, without a thought. Since I use these tips for surviving long road trips, the journeys are now almost as good as the destination.
I said almost 😉
Tell me YOUR tips for surviving long road trips!