There are two kinds of road trips.
1) Those where you enjoy the ride and have no particular timetable.
2) Those where you have a long way to go and not a lot of time to get there.
As much as I enjoy the first kind, holiday travel almost always falls under the second category. When I’m in that kind of travel mode my primary focus (besides traveling safely) is to stay focused and simply keep moving.
Here’s a few tips to ensure your holiday road trip is a success.
Pack the Gifts in Advance
Traveling with little ones? Do yourself a favor and pack the gifts into the car well in advance of the kids. Also, if at all possible, keep those little fingers from temptation by making sure the gifts are hidden from view and not accessible from where they are sitting.
Embrace the Night
If you’re looking to make the best time, and can safely manage it, travel at night. There is less traffic and the bladders of the smaller passengers (kids, dogs, cats, etc) are already conditioned to “hold it” overnight. Limit stops as much as possible. As cool as the world’s largest ball of string my sound, you’re in making-good-time mode, and that means you have to keep moving. The less stops the better, so limit stops to refueling (and coffee).
Check the Weather
This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people wait until they are on the road to check the forecast. During the winter, and especially at higher altitudes, not knowing the weather could cause delays. Enter a city for every leg of your trip so you’ll have an idea of where you might bump into trouble. If you need to change your route, doing it before you leave will give you the best chance for an uneventful trip.
Eat in the Car
There are not a lot of healthy food options available when you’re on the road, so I try to pack some healthy snacks and a sandwich to eat in the car. Packing your own food is cheaper and saves time. A healthy turkey sandwich and apple are going to make you feel far less sluggish behind the wheel than a fast-food “gut bomb.”
Work in Shifts
If at all possible, travel with a co-pilot and agree to manageable shifts behind the wheel. It’s great to travel with a partner, but you should work out important details early in the trip. For example, who gets to control the radio and thermostat. Decide ahead of time if co-pilot is allowed to nap or stay awake to keep the driver company.
Know the Way
Most people today have access to a GPS, which has made traveling much easier. Still, electronics can fail or the GPS maps could be out of date. If I’m traveling to a place I’ve never been, I bring a hard copy of directions with me.
Lay Off the Liquids
Long-distance car trips are the only time I avoid staying well-hydrated. I won’t go into details about why. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t drink at all. I’m just saying you should limit your fluid intake enough to be able to stay alert and not be uncomfortable. Having a couple of pieces of hard candy in the car can go a long way to keeping you from feeling thirsty.
Set the Cruise
Being pulled over by the local police to discuss the speed you were traveling can really slow you down. I would NEVER counsel anyone to drive above the speed limit, but I have heard about an urban legend that most traffic police officers won’t pull over a highway traveler at the posted limit +9 mph. Whatever safe speed you choose, using your cruise control will keep that lead foot of yours honest and keep you from driving any faster. Remember, the time you saved by speeding is all lost by being pulled over.
What are your best tips for road tripping during the holidays?