Tips for Driving During Long Trips
I'm heading to Myrtle Beach and Chincoteague Island in August. Now's a good time for me to dust off my journal and reread my "Tips for Driving During Long Trips" section. Here's my advice:
- Have a positive attitude. Nothing can sustain you like looking forward to your destination. Even if you hate where you're going, think about your destination's positive during your drive. Make up a positive and fool yourself. You can hate it when you're there.
- Don't get too excited! Your need to sustain your mental energy and your physical energy. Using too much of either over a short period of time hinders your endurance.
- Don't count the miles. Don't count the exits. Don't count anything. Unless you're obsessive-compulsive, regardless of your direction, don't count. Counting is a waste of mental resources that are better spent tending to the white and yellow lines.
- If you or a passenger has to go, stop! If you or your passenger is hungry or needs to use the bathroom, visit the next acceptable pit stop location. Your body will appreciate the break and the opportunity to stretch.
- Smoke cigarettes or consume caffeine regularly. Or, do both! But, whatever your stimulant of choice, ensure that it enters your body moderately and steadily.
- Stay awake! Cold air and melodic music may help. Music to which you can sing along is especially helpful. But, if nothing's keeping your eyes open…
- If you're too tired to keep driving, find a place to sleep. I can't stress this enough. Driving when mentally and physically fatigued is worse than driving drunk. At least when you're drunk, the sober voice in the back of your head can guide you. The one time I became fatigued when driving, it hit me before I was fully aware of its presence. I couldn't turn my head and my eyes were so blurry that I could barely tell color from gray. I could have killed someone easily.
- People do strange things out there. Don't lose your cool. During one trip, a van followed me and matched my speed throughout most of Virginia. It freaked me out a little! After speeding up and slowing down a few times, I figured that he was more than likely grifting off of me (following behind me so that I'd be the one to receive the speeding ticket). I finally ended his pursuit by changing to an empty lane and slamming on my brakes. To my relief, he passed me and found someone else to follow.
- If a lane is closing and there's a long back up, change to the lane that is closing and keep speed with the car that was previously in front of you. This move will prevent all those assholes behind you from clogging-up the point at which the lane closes and will significantly decrease your wait time. The absolute last thing you want to have happen during an already long trip is to sit in traffic for an extra hour or two or three.
- Plan ahead as much as possible. Fun surprises like a birthday cake and a phone call from old friends are good. Anxious-producing surprises like a "Check Engine" notice and a mysterious squeal are bad.
- Finally, stock-up on snack and drinks. For dinner or a late-night meal, stop at Cracker Barrel – their meatloaf and mashed potatoes meal is great!