Long road trips can really wear out anyone! After driving coast to coast and North to South across the US in just six months, we are the experts at passing the hours joyfully and skipping the haggard days of hauling. Here are four go-to tricks we use on EVERY road trip.
4. Eat fresh, real foods
It might be very tempting to constantly eat fast food when on a long road trip. However, we guarantee that this will make you feel sluggish and tired on any long road trip.￼ Finding a restaurant for a nice meal or quickly preparing something will make a huge difference in the long run. Honestly, our stops at a fast food style restaurant end up being nearly the same amount of time for a nice meal. And, we always walk away feeling so much better.
This is some frozen chicken soup that we prepare in advance. Whenever we make a large pot for dinner, a family size serving goes in a container in the freezer for our next road trip. You can take this out in the morning, and it will be mostly thawed by lunchtime. Then all you have to do is heat it up for a meal. We have used a microwave at a gas station, but it is obviously more ideal if you can heat it yourself! Of course, we are traveling with our RV, so Candace just heats it up on the stove top without opening the slide. As you can imagine, this also saves major dollars. Food costs can really add up when traveling! Eating at a restaurant is also better to decompress a bit. It’s not too rushed, and everyone gets food they want. Fast food will leave you sluggish and feeling hurried. You’re on vacation, and the drive is part of that!
3. Stretch your legs – not just metaphorically!
You might feel a little silly at first, but we do some leg exercises and stretches really quickly every time we stop! When you travel for long periods, you can really irritate your legs and back especially. We promise this will have you feeling much better as the hours go by. We do a running matrix of lunges, which sounds technical but is extremely easy! This one below is for runners, but you get the idea. It is really just four different leg exercises. It is good for basic conditioning for runners, but it really gets you moving and stretching after a time in the car. Yes, we literally do this in parking lots. I would definitely recommend shortening it if you aren’t accustomed to the exercises. You don’t want to be sore on your road trip!
2. Count away the hours with a game!
We were worried that our boys would lose their Christmas spirit with a long car ride, so Candace decided to make a bit of a game on Christmas morning in the truck. We all opened one present every hour! Everyone really looked forward to ticking away the hours with this game. Some of the gifts were small and meant specifically for the long ride, but others were boots, wool socks, and other travel items for our time in NYC. One popular item was a children’s cookbook. The boys picked recipes, made groceries, and planned to make the items once returning home. This one easily took up the whole hour until the next gift was going to be opened. This gave us the idea to keep the tradition going in the future! We plan to make small little gifts and fun items for the long haul every time. Even the adults will get in on the fun!
1. Listen to an audio book!
Even those who don’t love reading as much as Clay and Candace, an audiobook will really pass the time! We did two great ones on our NYC trip for New Years! After looking into some options, we decided on the free trial that Audible offers. It is an Amazon company, so it is easy to get it set up, and, hey, it is free for a month!
First, it was Call of the Wild by Jack London. Everyone loved this short three hour book. Candace knew everyone would like it, and the film is coming out. It is about a strong and beautiful family dog that is stolen and sold to become a sled dog. He searches for a way to survive his new life. A perfect choice!
Second, we did Deep, Deep Snow! We decided to go for something longer this time, and this 14 hour thriller was just the thing to tick away the hours. It is about a young woman trying to solve the disappearance of a local boy who has gone missing without a trace. The mystery affects the entire town.
If the family doesn’t all want to do the same book, you can try these ear buds on sale on Amazon! They are a similar style as the Apple model, and Candace has had no issues with them! She also uses them for running. After a couple of hours, your ears generally need a break, but they work well and are a great price.
I think our longest day this trip was 800 miles on New Year’s Day through the mountains, and we pretty tired that night! What is your advice for surviving those long road days?