A road trip survival guide

Road trips are an emblematic part of American culture. They can be stressful and exhausting, but they can also be an economical way to travel and a great way to sightsee. I’ve put on many miles both as a passenger and driver, and have seen the good, bad and ugly parts of automotive travel. Here is a list of the most important things I’ve learned along the way to make for the healthiest, most efficient road trips.

1. Snacks are your friend… but choose wisely!

When it’s 3 in the morning and you still have a few hours left on the road, there’s nothing better to keep you going than a nice spike in blood sugar levels. Although it’s tempting to stock up on candy bars and energy drinks, keeping options on hand that are also nutritious is a crucial part of feeling your best.

2. Print directions or buy a map.

In a technologically-dependent world, we often rely on our phones for everything, including directions. However, when you’re traveling through sparsely populated areas or across international borders, navigational cell phone apps may not work. Printing out directions or buying an atlas can help keep you on the right path, even when you’re off the grid.

3. Have toll money handy

If you’re traveling in the eastern part of the country, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have to pay tolls. Keeping a jar of change and single bills nearby will increase your efficiency and prevent you from provoking the rage of a line of cars while you fish in your wallet for the right amount of money.

4. Know your limits

Driving is wearing, both physically and mentally. Falling asleep at the wheel is a common cause of potentially fatal accidents. Having someone awake in the passenger seat or listening to music can be a good way to fight off fatigue, but if you’re feeling drowsy, take a break. Nothing is worth risking your safety, no matter how eager you may be to get to your destination.

Photo by Christian Zimonick