The open road has long been an icon of freedom. Despite that, spending 13 hours in a car can feel more like torture than liberation. The perfect road trip is an art form, and you don’t always have the luxury of stopping every few hours to stretch your legs and take in the sights.
What, then, is the best way to make the miles pass as smoothly as possible? Everyone has their preference, but there are some time-tested methods that might do you good if you’ve never tried them before.
Plan Your Meals
Are you a picky eater? It’s probably a good idea to pack some of the foods you like to eat during the drive, then. Of course, this topic can be turned 180-degrees if you have the time to stop at your favorite restaurants. More the snacking type? Driving is the perfect excuse to live on Bugles and Chex Mix. Don’t forget to stay hydrated, either — but don’t overdo it on the coffee. You don’t want to spend all your time at gas station restrooms.
Part of this is just selecting the right vehicle. A long-wheelbase car with enough room to stretch out is our recommendation. Think Crown Victoria if your budget doesn’t swing that Mercedes S-Class or BMW 7. Get that seat right, too. If you’re someone who suffers from back pain, copy a trucker and make sure you bring enough support. You could even consider using a massager or heating pad.
Things to Do
Ah, now here’s a juicy topic. The history of American road tripping is rife with good games and ways to kill time on a long drive. It’s also a great opportunity to discover some new music, thanks to all the wonderful apps out there today. Perhaps you’d prefer a stand-up comedy routine or an interesting discussion instead. Long-form podcasts typically run between one and two hours and make a great way to pass the time.
If you know you’re going to be traveling for a time with someone you’re close to, why not use the opportunity to have a truly in-depth conversation. Uncover the mysteries of life, explore the metaphysical, or just have that argument about how “Game of Thrones” really should have ended. It might be more rewarding than playing slug-bug.
The Little Things
Before you settle in for the gallivant, there are a few more things to consider. The things that, thanks to us, you won’t be kicking yourself over five hours in. Those are:
- Sunglasses: Did you bring them? Not the ones covered in scratches, but a truly road-trip worthy set of shades. Optimally, they should be polarized, to keep your eyes comfy while you eat up all those miles.
- Pillows and blankets: If you’ve never seen how much more comfortable these can make the back seat of a pickup truck, you’re only hurting yourself. There’s no shame.
- Comfy shoes and socks: Your feet might swell up after a long day of sitting. Think ahead and avoid wafting the entire car in foot funk. Remember the rule of going shoeless — it has to happen early or not at all!
Finally, get organized before you go. Know what time you need to leave. If you’re picking people up, make a plan for when they should be ready. Have your things stashed by the door or already in your car. Remove all possibility of forgetting your phone charger or favorite pillow.
Make the trip idiot-proof. We’re not saying you’re an idiot, but when it comes to rolling out of bed at 5 a.m. only to pound an espresso and hurl yourself forth on the open highway, things can go wrong. Not today, though — not for you. That’s because you’re prepared.
Scott Huntington is a writer and car fanatic from Harrisburg, PA.