Long Distance Driving

Tips and Tricks For Your Continued Survival

If you’re driving long distances, alone or with friends and family, your survival could very well depend on this specific blog post, or how annoying your friends and family are. Either way, we at AA Driving Academy thought we could perhaps aid in your goals not to shuffle yourself loose from the mortal coil. Long distance driving is actually exhausting, despite being seated and moving very little. After a while, the lines on the road will start to blur and you’ll be reminded of how ass-numbingly dull driving can be. So we have compiled a list to help you on your way down Route 66 (the famous one, not the crappy one that we all hate in Northern VA).

1. Planning

Knowing where you are going is just as important as knowing where to NOT go.

Reliance on a GPS system is so 21st century. However, the GPS doesn’t actually know where you should stop to eat, sleep or see the sights, nor does it know specifically where you should not do those things. You’ll have to let the GPS know where you want to stop for the night and where you’d like to be just passing through.

Planning ahead actually gives you miniature and achievable goals while on a road trip. Going from Virginia to Texas is a long way, but if you’re stopping in Tennessee then Oklahoma, you can take the trip in smaller, more digestible chunks. I don’t actually know what there is to see on the way to Texas because ‘why would I ever leave Virginia,’ but I’m sure there’s something of interest and value that you should definitely stop for.

If you plan this out ahead of time, knowing exactly where you’re going to stop for the night and what routes you’re going to take to see the giant ball of yarn (or whatever exists in Oklahoma), you have shorter destination goals to achieve. Feeling a sense of achievement may well curb the sense of annoyance you have with your siblings, parents or assorted friends that you’ve been stuck in a car with for over 8 hours. If you’re the lucky solo traveler, you’ll still feel a sense of achievement and have the added bonus of not being forced into a room at the Bates Motel because you didn’t bother booking a nicer place ahead of time. No one wants to meet the real life Norman Bates, planning ahead is a sure-fire way to prevent such dangerous encounters.

2. Snacks

Have you ever driven hungry? We don’t recommend it. You could accidentally eat your companions.

Snacks are an important road-trip thing, especially if you’ve got kids in the car or friends that have a proclivity for becoming ‘hangry’. Snacks can save lives. Speaking of kids though, it is a good idea to make sure you’re not giving them candy or caffeine for snacks, sticky fingers and too much energy can easily destroy your car. We recommend making a stop if you’re going to enjoy a full meal, but packing a quick bite is always a good idea.

If you have a tote bag and some plastic sandwich bags, you’re all set to go. They even make most snack items in travel sizes if you just can’t find the time to pack them up. With kids in the backseat, or even overly rambunctious adults, you may want to avoid things that leave crumbs or things that can be spilled. Have you ever tried to get blueberry Gogurt out of a floorboard carpet? It isn’t fun, you should avoid the possibility. Water bottles, especially those small ones that fit in your pocket, are always your best bet.

3. Entertainment

Keeping yourself entertained isn’t usually this painful.

The advent of smartphones and tablets has made car entertainment much easier these days. The only problem we may have to deal with is a bad service area. If you’re one of those people that can’t read a book while moving at 60mph without vomiting all over the back of your Mom’s minivan (like me), you are likely grateful for the advances in technology that the 21st century has provided for us all. There is no boredom like that of a child, and while we wouldn’t normally recommend giving them a tablet for more than a couple of hours, this is one time when it should be okay. Your non-toddler kids don’t want to play the license plate game or sing along with their parents and they are very aware that they don’t have to anymore. Don’t torture them unnecessarily or they will do all in their power to make your trip a living Hell.

However, there is always the possibility that you’re driving alone, in which case you’ll need to keep yourself aware without a device in your hand. It’s illegal in most states to drive while operating a mobile phone or tablet. If you’re going to be alone and looking for entertainment while driving, download audio books or music playlists and use that Bluetooth connection to your hearts content. Carplay is a lifesaver. Just think about how many culturally relevant things you can cram into your head while driving thousands of miles. You can listen to the whole Harry Potter series or half of the first Lord of the Rings books during a 24 hour drive. Seriously, Tolkien had way too much to say.

Spotify and other similar streaming services offer a large variety of Podcasts and playlists if you don’t have time to make these yourself. The upside of downloading your entertainment is that you won’t be using data to stream them while you travel. If you haven’t gotten onto an unlimited data plan, in which case you should get on that because we are moving toward an entirely digital existence, you will evade those overage charges by downloading everything to your devices.

We can’t exactly guarantee that any of these will make your trip a great success, but we are fairly certain that they’ll make the driver more tolerable. If you’re going with family, friends or alone, these are three easy things to think about and get sorted before heading out onto the open road. How hard could any of them be? Certainly not harder than getting blueberry Gogurt out of the floorboard carpet.