We've driven a lot, to serve at state conventions across the country. Now that the country has been opening back up and warmer weather is approaching, here are some strategies for long trips:
- Eating: no junk food, nothing with white processed sugar, it gives you a brief sugar high followed by a drowsy sugar low. You may find you stay awake better if you limit your eating, and mostly make the trip on water and a health drink such as the juice from Young Living made of Ningxia Berries (contact us if you want to know about that). If virtually fasting while you’re driving doesn’t work for you, you may want to have baby carrots, apples -- things that don't have high sugar content. Setting those near you for frequent snacking may help keep you alert—and perhaps a few PB&J sandwiches so you don't have to make a long stop for a restaurant. You may find yourself in a circumstance when you’ll need to torque caffeine—just do it with artificial ingredients, high fructose corn syrup and other components that are not real food. The crucial thing is to stay alert and awake. The principle is that when we eat heavy-duty, it pulls the blood toward the stomach and not so much to the brain, and it makes us drowsy.
- Play some sound to engage you and motivate you: praise music, an interesting teaching, maybe a classical music station if your car still has a radio and you're near a populated area, or listen to an audio CD. No headseat; you have to be able to hear changes in the sounds of the vehicle, the road, the vehicles around you, and emergency vehicles and police.
- Prayer: (but not when the sounds are playing) This can be one of your most blessed stretches for uninterrupted prayer. You may like to do mental games, like thinking of biblical meanings and associations...or work on memory verses. One can also pray for the people in the towns you pass, and people in the cars you pass or that pass you, and of course pray for people involved in any accidents you may run across.
- Scripture meditation: See how many passages you can pull in to your remembrance, and chew them thoroughly as you digest and meditate on them. (By the way, re: launching a good way to do Proverbs, should you want to sometime: since it is 31 chapters, some people read the proverb of the day for each day of the month ; i.e., on the 1st of the month, hear and maybe work on memorizing Proverbs chapter 1 , the next day chapter two, and so on. Romans chapter 8 is a good meaty one to memorize. Decades ago, each of us in our family learned it, and said it sometimes on our road trips.
- Water (in and out): It's a good to stay hydrated (have some of those 19-oz water bottles that fit in a cup holder) but not so much that you have to stop often to pee. (Depending on your vehicle and who else is in it, you may want to keep a jar or some other closed-lid container at arm's reach in a stable place on the floor for when you have to pee; it saves time over finding a toilet somewhere and is apt to be more hygienic than a public toilet; just pull into a safe area off the road. It’s much more sanitary than many road trip filling stations that are filthy. A lot of people waste too much time (and money) at gas travel stations along the way, and on finding restaurants.
- Sanitation: We always bring a glove for the right hand, for handling the gas nozzle and also for opening doors in public places; otherwise you're putting the filth from that handle onto your steering wheel and then you're holding your apple or carrot with that and ingesting those germs.
- At the least sign of drowsiness -- if you're finding you just then had to jerk your head back up, crank the windows down enough to get some startling fresh cold air, and look for a safe place to pull off (off of the highway -- sometimes at a rest stop, or at an off/on ramp of the highway) and get a doze. Sleep drowsiness acts just like being drunk...many fall asleep at the wheel and don't know that they are falling asleep until it is too late.
- Blood flow in your legs etc.: And, at least once every two hours, switch drivers if that’s an option for you. Stop the car in such a place and get out, walk around the car, kick the tires to get a sense of the air pressure being okay, do some stretches, get the blood flowing before resuming your driving. Some people find the exercise of rising slightly up while still driving and tightening the buttocks helps with the blood flow on long trips of lots of sitting.
- If you’re driving alone, you may want to restrict your driving to 8 hours max. You may already know about Priceline.com for booking a hotel room. Sometimes we've sat in a fast food restaurant where there's wi-fi and have booked that night's room in that town, using PriceLine.
- We like having a small pillow in the small of our back for support for all those hours. And, especially in our van, we like having a small cushion to sit on.
- Sunglasses -- especially in the afternoons, driving west. If the sun is ever directly in your eyes and you can't see the road (i.e. the visor becomes worthless for that angle, lift up a folded map or stiff paper and block the sun with it with one hand and steer with your other hand and you'll be able to see the road beneath it. If even that doesn't help...roll down your window and look directly at the road out that window until that sun goes out of view around a bend or whatever.
- Car fluids: Has your oil been changed in the last # of thousands of miles? Brake fluid, transmission fluid, coolant, windshield wiper reservoir all full? Are the wipers good? (gotta have a clear windshield-- and tires at the right pressure)
- Gas: Keep your gas tank at least 1/3 full for the duration. You could use the gasbuddy.com app by location to know prices ahead of time to get the best price and save time.
- Spare car key: Bring all your spares; and if you think you might end up selling your vehicle on the trip, bring the car title (in a safe place!). (We keep a key on our car, that only opens the door(s), for the times when we lock the keys in the car by accident.)
Keep items that you need while driving within easy reach on the passenger seat. Perhaps put an open box there to hold your necessary things. For family humor, download our eBook of Family Road Trips Humor.