So, you’re about to spend a couple hours, or more behind the steering wheel?
We’re about to make your drive a whole lot less miserable.
Technology Is Your Friend
If your vehicle doesn’t have a built-in navigation system, you have a few options available to you at various price points. You can purchase a third-party navigation system from well-known manufacturers such as TomTom and Garmin that come preloaded with the maps you’ll need. These third-party navigation systems nearly always come with window and/or dashboard mounts and charging cables that fit into your car’s cigarette lighter or USB port. Before you begin your journey, take ten minutes to familiarize yourself with the features and functionality of the GPS. Pre-program your destination and customize settings, such as the distance in miles of the verbal alert for your next step. If you’re a nervous nelly and you like a lot of prior warning, increasing the distance of the verbal alert from one mile to two miles will relieve a lot of your stress.
If the price of a third-party navigation system is unsettling, your smartphone provides a lot of the same functionality. Apps such as Google Maps, Waze and Apple Maps will handily direct you to your destination; however, please be aware of a few limitations of relying on your smartphone on a long road trip. Your smartphone map apps typically require a data connection. Not only is this expensive, but if you’re driving through strange and far-away places, you might not always have access to mobile data, and your map will display a whole lot of nothing as you enter data dead zones. With Google Maps you can download the maps for offline use. Do take the time to download the map along your route before you leave home in case you lose access to mobile data. Unless your car stereo has an auxiliary input or built-in Bluetooth, your smartphone will be rather quiet compared to a third-party navigation system or built-in navigation system. You won’t be able to play music over the radio and hear the smartphone calling out instructions.
Familiarize Yourself With Cruise Control
Cruise control can be a saviour on long journeys. It gives your driving foot a rest, removes some strain of the drive, allowing you to focus more attention on the road and ensures you’re never speeding accidentally when you drive past speed traps and highway patrols. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the features and functionality of your cruise control. Some modern cruise controls can slow down the car if it senses the distance closing between you and the vehicle in front of you. Imagine how much you’ll kick yourself after driving 1000 miles and being unaware of the futuristic, smart feature already built-in to your ride!
Preempt Grumbly Tummies
Getting thirsty or hungry is an inevitability, and you might not be in a position to pull over every time. Pack coffee, water and snacks, and consider your ability to drink and eat while you drive. If you’re packing a plastic water bottle, take the time to twist open the lid before you hit the road. It’s rather difficult to grip and twist with one hand. Road snacks should also be opened prior to heading off. Again, consider the difficulty of opening a bag of chips, or peeling the wrapper off of a muffin with one hand. Always be safe, and be aware of local laws. Eating could lead to a charge of distracted driving in some jurisdictions.
Many of us now rely on our smartphones for entertainment in the car. We use music streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify to DJ our journey. Take the time to put together a road trip playlist prior to hitting the road. Do not fidget with your phone while driving! If you’re riding solo, always pull over before using your phone. If you have passengers, they should be the only ones handling phones while underway. On a longer journey, you might tire of music. An audiobook, Podcast or comedy routine are great ways to break the monotony.
If you’re driving in the United States, you’ll inevitably traverse toll roads. Before you leave home, gather up a pile of dollar bills and store them in an easily-accessible location like your centre console or glovebox. It’ll save you valuable time fidgeting and fumbling for change as you approach the tollbooth.
Bring a small pillow for extra lumbar support or padding for your butt.
If you’re driving at night on roads that aren’t lit by street lamps, joining a convoy of vehicles is an excellent idea. Choose another vehicle, (which will likely be a truck if you’re driving on the freeway at night), and match its speed at a safe distance. The headlights from the vehicle in front of you will extend your vision and the tail lights will help guide you safely along the road.
If you’re driving with passengers, they’ll inevitably whine one-too-many times about their pressing need to pee. Set the rules and expectations early in your journey. If you pull over to stop for lunch, everyone must visit the restroom. Let your passengers know that you will not stop, unless there’s extenuating circumstances, with any frequency less than 100 miles traveled.
Ritzy Restrooms (Or Lack-thereof)
Gas stations are wonderful for fuelling up, but as far as restroom facilities go, we’ve never come across a sparkling toilet at a gas station. Fast food restaurants, and purpose-built rest stop facilities are better bets for cleanliness and comfort..