While road trips never reach the disastrous level of Chevy Chase taking his family to Wally World, there is always the boredom that makes the ride terrible. The car becomes cramped and stuffy once your phone dies. Though you never planned on going to the gym or cleaning out the closet, the options you ignore at home are wonderful compared to two more hours in the car. Whether it’s with friends or family, we’ve all experienced a bumpy holiday road.
It’s time to think realistically, not ideally. You may be fine doing nothing on your daily commute, but with hours ahead in the car, road trips are their own list of driving habits. Think about past problems so you don’t repeat those mistakes.
You’ll talk on the road, but there will be breaks in the conversation. Someone will search for strange signs while another counts farms passed. When those moments come, you don’t want to be flipping through radio stations trying to find something you haven’t heard on a loop all day. For your own sanity, create a playlist. Don’t overanalyze the song choice, just push play and pass the playlist around so everyone can act as DJ. The beauty of your voices and the responding howls of passing dog co-pilots will fill the silence.
You may not eat on normal drives, but when you have people commenting on what they want for lunch, the snacks flow. Don’t take a snack break courtesy of the gas station menu. Plan ahead for what you’ll reach for on your road trip. Pack up those go-to snacks like baked chips or trail mix for when you need to munch. Put yogurt with overnight oats in the cooler for a second breakfast you will inevitably want, along with any foods you fear will melt in the sunlight.
Plan out what you want so you don’t overeat at the rest stop vending machine. Otherwise, you might decide to walk to your destination. Who needs a gym when you can walk hundreds of miles for free?
Food and silence are bigger issues when spending a day in the car, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the small irritations of past road trips. With nothing else to think about, that’s all you focus on. Like that slight thirst that becomes all you notice, if the A/C is perfect for everyone but you or the sun is causing you to squint for 20 minutes, your mood reflects it. Don’t pretend you’ll tough it out. Grab a hoodie and sunglasses for the ride. It makes a difference for everyone.
Now that you’re prepared for the ride– and in a better mood because of it– experience local adventures that you pass. Along with meeting distant cousins, research tours you can see along your route. Visit dairy farms for a chance to see the cows and try delicious treats. These unexpected adventures might be the best part of vacation!
When preparing your car for the adventure ahead, remember that vacations are fun, not frustrating. Don’t lose your temper, especially to the level of Griswold infamy. You can’t control the weather or last-minute stops, but you’ll have the misery of the car beat. Now you can do something crazy, like use the ride to enjoy time together and the adventures along the way!