It’s summer now, which means millions of Americans should be leaving their hometowns and escaping to amazing places all over the country for their annual vacations. However, this year is a little different. With a worldwide pandemic going on, many people are cautious to hop aboard a cramped airplane with poor air circulation. Many summer vacationers may forgo airline travel completely in favor of more isolated methods of travel. Know what that means? Yes, the classic American road trip is officially back in style.
As I write this, I’m sitting in the sand on a beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean. My 2010 Subaru Outback is parked 100 yards away. This is the fourth time it’s been driven from Indiana to the West Coast. The odometer sits at just a tick over 253k miles. I bought it twenty months ago with 190k miles and in that short time period, I’ve driven it 53k miles around the United States. When most people hear this spiel from me, they are a bit speechless and have a ton of questions on how I’ve accumulated so many miles.
I repeatedly get similar questions and direct messages on social media with people talking about how they would love to do what I do and road-trip across the country, but they have a disdain for driving or don’t think they would be able to pull it off. Driving is not a natural human skill; you have to train and prepare your body and brain to do it. But with a simple list of things to do before and while you’re driving, driving long distances can be fun and enjoyable whether you’re behind the wheel for leisure, business, or anything in between.
Road Trip Do’s and Don’ts
There’s an art to driving long distances. Not to toot my own horn, but I consider myself an artist in this domain. So, if you are planning on driving cross-country anytime soon, you’re in luck because this post is all about how to perfect the craft of driving. I hope this advice will take you from having to take breaks every 100 miles to arriving before Google Maps says you will.
Driving long distances is not very active, obviously, but you have to be in good health to drive for long periods of time. Think of it as prepping for a marathon. Get lots of rest, eat a healthy meal, and stretch before getting into the car. Fatigue behind the wheel is a real and dangerous thing. Prepping just like you would before your workout will increase your alertness on the road. When your body feels good, your brain feels good, which is crucial when you’re hauling cross-country.
Keeping your brain occupied as you drive across miles and miles of monotonous farmland helps pass time and keeps your brain alert. I’m a heavy over-thinker, so I can spend hours behind the wheel and keep myself entertained. I’ve also found that playing brain games like trying to name all 50 states is a great way to pass time. Doing simple math and staying up-to-date with how far you have until you reach a certain city or waypoint is also a fun distraction. It helps break the drive into smaller segments and makes it seem shorter. When you have one goal of 1,500 miles, your drive will seem like a never-ending slogfest, similar to doing a circuit workout. Just no fun. My advice? Break it up!
Fuel Your Body
Putting the right types of foods and drinks in your body while driving long distances will exponentially increase your endurance on the road. My go-to road snacks used to be a bottle of coke and a pair of Twix bars. This was horrible for my driving performance. The high sugar and fat content would give me a strong initial boost but after an hour, I would find myself struggling to stay awake behind the wheel after the sugar crash hit. Recently I’ve really refined my on-the-road food diet over the past couple of trips. Foods that are high in protein and carbs are great options because they will keep your energy up for a long period of time and have a much more positive impact on your driving than junk food. I make a nice homemade trail mix that has a nut mix and dried cherries. When it comes to healthy beverages, Red Leaf Energizer has totally revolutionized my driving routine.
I’ll mix up a bottle before I start driving and sip on it while on the road. This keeps me energized for at least 300 miles and I don’t have to worry about a sugar crash because it has zero grams of sugar. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about traveling with Red Leaf, it’s that it is so versatile. I’ve used Red Leaf Pre-Workout on this trip for stuff I never would have imagined.
Those are just a couple of the skills and routines I have figured out that work for me while I’m driving. In today’s world, almost everyone encounters a time where they have a long road trip in their future, whether it is moving cross-country or road tripping to beautiful national parks with friends. Even things like commuting to work in miles of stop-and-go traffic can be made better if you take a little bit of time to find out what works for you. Not only will it make your driving experiences better, it will make them safer.
Take 10% off of Red Leaf Pre-Workout Energizer with code “alexpaul” at checkout while prepping for your next road trip adventure.
Blog by Red Leaf ambassador, Alex Paul