Long Drive Tips
I find myself once again making the long commute from Billings, Montana to St. Paul, Minnesota. 11.5 long hours of driving through North Dakota. I've made this drive one way or the other at least eight times now. A lot of my friends, especially east coast friends, have been asking how I manage to drive 12 hours straight without a major break. Maybe it has to due with "East Coast Distance" being a real thing. In Montana...you can drive for hours without seeing another person. Here are my top tips for a long drive, alone.
Set limits on how much to drive.
Especially when I'm doing long trips alone, I feel less safe driving late into the night. This means that I max out at 12 hours. Maybe a little longer in the summer, but not much longer. I won't drive farther than that. I also know that I have to stop every three hours and get out of the car to stretch my legs for fifteen minutes, and probably a longer stop at six hours. Don't push it, if you can, especially if you don't need to.
Pack snacks that don't suck.
Gas station food is really shitty. No one (over the age of 10) said "Yes! All of my meals today can be twinkies!" Don't be that person. Pack decent food. Fruit and veggies, a power bar, bottles of water. I will grab a soda or a small snack, but it's nice not to have to think about it.
Plan your playlist.
Knowing my own personal limits on driving, I like to plan my audio playlist accordingly. I like to start with some upbeat songs, then settle into some podcasts, and as I get bored, I like to switch to some more upbeat stuff. I also am somewhat careful about what I listen to. Being stuck in my head with a murdernpodcast in the long road through North Dakota, even if I am a die-hard Murderino.
Get roadside assistance.
Do you know what's great? Knowing that no matter what happens, I won't be stranded outside of Terry, Montana by myself for hours. I have AAA, OnStar, and roadside assistance as part of one of my credit cards. I feel incredibly secure. I've only needed to use it once, but that little bit of security feels amazing. Even in the middle of nowhere, someone has your back.
Think hard about where you're stopping.
Rest areas never strike me as being great places to stop. They're usually out of the way, poorly maintained, and sketchy at best. I prefer to plan ahead so that I will not end up stuck at one of these rest stops. I prefer larger, more populated truck stops or the outskirts of towns. When undertaking a longer trip, this does mean planning.
That about sums it up...plan. Plan some more, plan better each time. I really don't plan that much, but I try to plan strategically. At this point, the driving has gone from incredibly unpleasant to completely manageable.
What are your road trip tips?