Tips and tricks for surviving long car trips

Guess what everyone? I’m doing another road trip! This year just seems to be full of them for me. First, I drove with my family to the bush, then I joined my dad on a road trip for his iron man race, and now we’re driving all the way from Johannesburg to Knysna and back. I’ve spent a lot of time in a car this year … Anywho, long car trips can be a great way to travel. It is cheaper than flying, you can essentially pack whatever you want, and you have more luxuries than you would on a plane, such as being able to pull over somewhere to have lunch or simply stretch your legs. Now, even though driving has all of these advantages, that doesn’t mean a long car trip doesn’t have its negatives. They can be cramped and annoying and tiresome to a point where walking sounds better. But, that doesn’t have to be the case. Long car trips don’t have to be a bad experience if you know how to avoid certain things and travel the right way. So today, given the fact that I’ve spent between two and three weeks worth of days of this year on road trips, I thought I would share some helpful tips and tricks for surviving long car trips. With these in hand, I have no doubt that your car journey will be nothing less than a pleasant experience. I hope you enjoy it!

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Be Prepared! 

 This could be my motto, and I would trademark it if I could. I don’t think there is a situation on this planet where being prepared doesn’t have a positive result. For road trips especially, being prepared is a definite way to ensuring your trip goes off without a hitch. It’s my number one rule, and it’s quite self-explanatory. Your road trip would not usually be a surprise so you should have a fair amount of time to prepare for it and I suggest you use this time wisely. Make sure that, beforehand, you do all of your general packing such as clothes. This will simply make travelling on the day a little bit easier and prevent any unnecessary stress or scrambling. Also be sure to pack anything else, such as entertainment, because there is nothing more annoying than realising halfway through a trip that you’ve forgotten something at home. 

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 Download your playlists and movies 

 Modern technology has brought us apps like Netflix, Spotify, Youtube etc. and these apps mean there is zero reason to be bored during a long car trip. If you’re a series addict, have a few movies you’ve been meaning to watch, or some YouTube episodes you need to catch up on then make sure to download them before your trip. Or, if you’re someone who has a playlist for every occasion, be sure to make and download it before hitting the road. That way, you’ve got all your entertainment ready and waiting for you whenever you need it on the drive, and you don’t have to waste data by unnecessarily streaming episodes. 

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 Charge electronics 

 The worst moment ever is when your electronic device dies on you halfway through a road trip, and you have no way to charge it. It’s as if all your preparing, like downloading episodes, has gone down the drain because your battery failed on you. So, how do you avoid this awful scenario from ruining your trip? Get all the electronics out that you plan on taking with you – I’m talking cellphones, headphones, iPads, laptops and whatever else. Put all of them on charge the day/night before so that in the morning, you can pack them all up with their chargers. Knowing that there is almost no chance they will bail on you. 

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 Comfort is key 

 As is with any sort of travelling, comfort is key! Staying comfortable, no matter what type of travelling you’re doing is the best way to ensure you have a good car ride. Space in a car can often be limited, so why cause yourself more discomfort by wearing your tightest skinny jeans or too many jerseys in the middle of summer? You may not have the legroom to stretch out, but bringing a pillow and/or a snuggly blanket will go a long way to adding new levels of comfort to your journey. You also may want to think carefully about what you wear. I always wear sweats and a loose T-shirt and pack a cosy hoodie in case my brother or boyfriend decides that the air-con will be blowing subzero air. The best clothes are soft and baggy, complete with an emergency hoodie but you could even go in your pyjamas. I promise no one will judge you if you stop at a garage in your PJs. At least you’re comfy. 

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 Stock up on entertainment and activities 

 If you’re not the driver, sitting in a car for hours and hours staring at the scenery can get quite tiresome, even boring. The journey leaves quite a bit of time for yourself, and you don’t want to be so bored you’re counting the freckles on your arm before you’ve even left the city. That’s why you need to be sure to stock up on entertainment. As I already mentioned, car trips are perfect for catching up on series episodes or watching movies, so make sure you have plenty. However, movies are not always the best choice if you suffer from motion sickness (like my younger brother) so packing a variety of entertainment is a good idea. I always bring a book or two, a selection of things to watch and my planners. Books are a great way to pass the time and so is getting ahead on your organisation. It’s something that we don’t have much time for usually, but on a road trip, you have hours and hours to organise your life so don’t be shy to pack your planners, pens, highlighters and post-it notes. The trick is just making sure that you have enough entertainment for the drive without compromising your health (for instance, people who get car sick can’t watch movies or read the entire time). 

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 Don’t forget the snacks and drinks 

 I don’t know about you, but hours of sitting still tend to give me the nibbles. What makes taking a road trip that much more fun than flying is you can pack anything you want, including food and drinks. Packing the right kind of snacks and enough drinks to keep the whole car hydrated is crucial to ensuring that rising anger and irritation is kept to a minimum. We all know how people can get when they get hangry or desperately need a beverage. Snacks and drinks help to keep everyone in a good mood and functioning just a little bit longer. Keep in mind that you want to pack snacks that aren’t too messy or difficult to eat in a car. Also, as much as we all love sugary items like chocolate or fizzy drinks, no one needs the mood that comes with a sugar crash when you’re trapped in a car. So, try to pack easy-to-eat snacks that are relatively healthy – fruits, vegetable sticks, muffins, energy bars and biltong. Try to make sure everyone has at least one favourite snacks, and that there are enough healthy options to go around. And drinks! DO NOT FORGET TO PACK PLENTY OF WATER AND OTHER DRINKS! I promise you, having the right snacks and drinks on-hand is the key to a happy car trip.

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 Plan your stops – take a break 

 One thing that tends to cause a lot of problems is when we get so focused on making it to our destination that we forget to take a break along the way. A car isn’t exactly first class, but what makes it so much better than a plane is that you can stop every now and then to stretch your legs and breathe some fresh air. A car is perfectly suitable for combatting cabin fever. If you let it. So, while it is essential to not waste too much time during the drive (so you can reach your destination in time), don’t forget that it is perfectly okay to take a ten-minute break once in a while. This gives everyone the opportunity to break free, stretch, have a walk, breathe fresh air and get some space, which can be much-needed after spending a few hours trapped in a car. If your whole holiday is a road trip then obviously that is a different approach. But, if you are simply driving to reach a far-away destination, then you might want to consider taking a break halfway to enjoy breakfast or lunch somewhere. Or, if you’re like my family and just wants to get there, schedule an occasional stop at a garage so people can use the bathroom, walk around and refresh beverages. It’s just another way to keep the peace and stop cabin fever from turning happy travellers into vicious warriors.

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 Be mindful of your fellow passengers 

 Have you ever been on a flight or other relatively confined space where someone is unbelievable inconsiderate? Like they are talking way too loud on their phone, or watching a movie at full volume without headphones or simply not taking into consideration that they have to share the space with other people. Well, a car is probably the most confined space you can be in with other people, and the best way to annoy everyone else in the car is not being mindful of your fellow passengers. My younger brother has made this mistake many times and let me tell you, there have been times when we’ve been tempted to kick him out and tell him to walk the rest of the way. So, to avoid tension such as this, try to be considerate for the others in the car. Listen to your entertainment with headphones, try not to take up unnecessary space and don’t forget to wear deodorant. It’s small things like this that can be the difference between a bad trip and a good one.

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 Remember why

Sometimes though, even if you have all the right snacks and drinks, you are cosy and comfortable and have had enough rest stops to keep cabin fever at bay, the annoyance of being stuck in a car can still get to you and make you irritable. If that happens, you just need to do one thing. Remember why you are taking the car trip in the first place. You’re driving instead of flying so that you can see the rest of your country or go somewhere that you may not be able to reach by plane. You’re on an adventure (an adventure that is substantially more economical than flying). Try not to think of the car ride as a nuisance and instead make it an opportunity to see unusual things or explore obscure locations. You’re on a road trip, and you’re on route to a holiday. You just need to enjoy the ride.

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And so there you have it! Road trips can be quite tiresome depending on the length of the journey and the people you’re travelling with, so I hope that this post has been helpful and given you some tips that you think can make your trip a more enjoyable experience. As always, thank you all so much for reading my blog post – I really hope that you all enjoyed it. If you have any tips that you’d like to share or road trip horror stories where the drive was too unbearable for words, please share them with us in the comments section! Please also don’t forget to hit that little like button if you enjoyed the post and subscribe so that you don’t miss out on future blog posts. I wish you all the best of luck for future road trips, and I will see you next week!

Lots of Love

Blondey on a Mission xxx

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