Hey y’all! It’s Hannah again, Teri’s assistant here at A Foodie Stays Fit. I’ve really enjoyed writing these guest posts, and this topic is especially fun because it’s about something I do often: drive long distances. I’m a rising senior at Samford University in Birmingham, AL which is an 8 hour trek home in the car. My first year there, I flew home twice since it felt the most time-conscious. But, I quickly realized that it took about 6 hours total to fly home (with time driving to the airports, connections, etc.) and that felt silly since it costs 3 times as much to fly!
After doing the math, I realized that I would spend MUCH less money buying gas instead of a plane ticket and actually enjoy the freedom of driving. Now, I drive home 3ish times a semester and don’t bat an eye. I’ve actually grown to enjoy it, if you can believe that.
I’ve had my fair share of bad experiences (fender benders, flat tires, and ATL traffic), but in general, I enjoy the alone time and the freedom to travel when I want to.
Tips for Driving Long Distances
Leave early in the morning
This is my trick to making long drives feel much shorter. Since Birmingham is about 8 hours from home, I leave my dorm room around 4:00AM (crazy, I know) when I come home for the weekend. If I’m going to make a long trip for a weekend, I want to have the entire weekend free instead of spending a big chunk of it in the car.
When you drive in the wee hours of the morning you get to see the sunrise, stop for coffee, and arrive in the morning at your destination. There’s nothing more annoying to me than driving all day, just to arrive by the evening and go to bed.
If you’re leaving at the crack of dawn, you’ll need to remember to go to sleep at a decent hour. Use a sleep mask, ear plugs, whatever you need, but GET TO SLEEP. We do not need sleepy drivers on the roads.
Pack your car the night before
This makes the start of your drive so much more pleasant! I don’t pack my laptop or camera equipment until I’m leaving in the morning, but other than those items, I put everything in the car. It takes some planning (like packing before the very last minute you need to leave ;)), but you’ll thank me later.
I always fill my car up with gas the day before as well. Like I said, it takes some planning, but it’s worth it so I can get up and hit the road right away.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE gas station snacks and a good Chick-fil-a stop (healthy food is NOT my default!), but it’s wise to have a few things packed ahead of time. You’ll also be thankful you don’t have to stop a million times. It’s also a much healthier option to have a few snacks packed. I like to go grab a few things from Trader Joes the day before my trip and leave them in my front seat for the morning. This includes filling up my water bottles!
Plan your pit stops
If you make the same drive often, you’ll know the places that make the best stops. But if you’re driving somewhere new, you’ll want to plan how many times you need to stop so that you can make your drive more productive. If you have a 6 hour drive, I would stop 1 time if possible, but 2 is great too. You generally add about 15/20 minutes to your ETA when you stop, so just keep that in mind! I should probably stop more for the sake of stretching, but I usually make the 8-hour drive with 1 or 2 stops (for gas and a snack).
The beauty of driving a long distance over flying is that you’re in control! You can choose when and where to stop and when to leave. If you’d rather take your time on the roadtrip, then enjoy every stop and don’t worry about making it a quick drive.
Get gas every time you stop
I’m bad about following this rule, but my mom said this on a long trip together and it’s a good idea. Even if you know that your half tank will get you to your destination, you never know if you could hit traffic! It’s always smart to top off your tank at every stop just in case something unforeseen happens.
Download a great audiobook or podcast
Long drives are some of the only time that I get to read for fun since during the school year. I love Audible and save books for my drives so that I have something to look forward too. I’ll even make myself wait until I’m driving to listen as a “treat” haha. My favorite podcasts are American History Teller, Slow Burn, and The Thing About Pam.
Call your family and friends
On speaker phone or bluetooth, course! I like to call my grandmother and friends that I haven’t talked too in a while. It makes the drive fly by when you’re having a conversation with someone.
I have a Popsocket on my phone, so I use this holder that clips into my air vent. You can find all sorts of phone holders on Amazon. It completely changed the game for me!! I love not having to hold my phone to see my GPS.
Most people already have a phone charger in their car, but if you don’t you’ll need one for a road trip.
Trashcan or Trashbag
I hate when my car gets dirty, so I keep some form of trash bag/can in my car. Sometimes It’s a plastic bag, but I’ve found some car-specific ones on Amazon lately that I love.
In Car Sauce Holder for Dipping
I am ordering this right now. A GAME CHANGER. It clips on your airvent and holds your Chick-fil-a sauce. I mean…wow.
Yes, I feel silly and look pretty dumb when I wear these, but they actually work. They cut the glare when driving in the rain and even help at night.
If you don’t have bluetooth capability in your car, this is amazing. My boyfriend has used one for years and still loves his. It works with your radio.
This is for the neat freaks out there like me. It’s GREAT to use after a long drive – I hate the feeling of crumbs in my car. This one uses your charging port!
I hope these tips and products help make your next drive more enjoyable. Like I said, I’ve truly grown to love spending time alone in the car. As a productivity driven person, having some time where I literally can’t get anything done is really good for me.