Automotive

Published on June 3rd, 2016 | by Guest Contributor

How to Survive That Epic Road Trip.

You’ve probably booked your summer vacation time by now, and chances are that some driving will be involved. If you’re going to cover long distances by car, here are some tips to help you deal with all that time spent behind the wheel.

Prep your car
This doesn’t really apply if you’re driving a rental, but if you’re bringing your own wheels, make sure all fluids are topped off and check your tire pressure. You don’t want to run out of windshield washer fluid in the middle of a messy snowstorm, and underinflated tires are unsafe on top of being bad for your fuel economy.

Load up on tunes
Music takes your mind off the monotony of the road and it can forge lasting memories of that memorable trip. One of my earliest childhood memories is that of a family road trip to Lake George, NY, windows rolled down, Kenny Rogers playing on the ol’ 8-track tape deck. To this day, I associate Kenny Rogers to driving down to the US. Good times.

In my experience, full albums that you know well work best. You end up looking forward to the next songs and time flies by a lot faster.

Avoid looking at the clock
Speaking of which, one of the worst things you can do while on a long drive is to constantly look at the clock and work out the math in your head as you drive along. Time is going to crawl to a stop and you’ll make yourself miserable constantly asking your inner 8-year-old self “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? How about now?”

Bring (healthy) snacks
Forget about coffee, potato chips and sweets. They’re only going to make your energy levels crash every couple hours. Bring some carrots, nuts, cereal bars and other natural sources of energy. I once drove from San Francisco to Las Vegas, in one sitting, with nothing but water and a box of granola bars. It works.

Use your cruise control
Modern cars can comfortably roll along at speeds that are quite a bit north of most North American speed limits, so it’s easy to absent-mindedly work your way up to a massive speeding ticket (ask me how I know.) Note that a lot of car speedometers are inaccurate, so setting your cruise control to an even 100km/h may not be optimal. If you have a smartphone, using an app like Waze can show you a better approximation of your speed, using GPS signals. You can then adjust your cruise control accordingly. (Start the app before you start driving, of course, and mount the phone to your dash so that you don’t need to take your eyes off the road.)

Play some games
This mostly applies if you’ve got passengers in tow, although I suppose you could play the yellow car game by yourself. I don’t judge. Now one of my esteemed colleagues recently covered this topic, so head on over there  to learn all about the best road trip games.

Take breaks
When you can’t take it anymore, stop. Take the next exit and pull over at a gas station or a local eatery. You may not need gas or food, but the simple act of getting out of the car and walking around for a couple minutes will be immensely refreshing. And as a wise man once sang, “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away…”

Hitting the open road soon? Plan your customized road trip from rest stops to routes and what to find along the way with a Trip Tik. If getting lost along the way isn’t on your itinerary, download detailed CAA maps online before you go.

by Mathieu Rainville

 


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