I’ve been making road trips since I was only months old. As a baby my parents would pack me up and drive the hour or so to New York to make sure I saw family who didn’t live in the same town. Sometimes we stayed the whole weekend. Sometimes it was just for Sunday dinner. Every Palm Sunday. Every Christmas Eve.
For years I’d be willing to bet I was in the car more often than I was home.
Then I got older, went to college (in New York only minutes from the family I was always traveling to see), met a boy… and spent every other weekend traveling to West Virginia. Doh!
After we moved to Richmond together those road trips turned into 4-6 hour drives (one lucky time it was 10, but that’s a story for another day) each way just to visit family. Seven years of that and I’m pretty sure you can call me a pro now.
So today I am going to share my absolute favorite road trip tips with you! But before I do, I’d like you to know that these all came from years of traveling with my dad whose birthday is today.
Happy Birthday, Dad! I learned everything I know from you.
“Did you grab enough water?”
Unless you packed the entire case – or at least half – of water bottles, the answer is no. OK that’s an exaggeration, but my dad always grabs one for the way there and one for the way home… for each person in the car. For a one hour trip.
I used to think this was overkill until I realized that aiming to drink both bottles of water before getting home helped me to feel so much better! Dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches, and digestive problems to name a few. Not exactly how you want to feel while stuck in a car. And bonus: properly hydrating before meals can help you feel fuller longer so you might not overeat all the amazing food that’s waiting for you. How often do you forget to hydrate while you’re traveling or even just busy? Just pack the whole damn case and drink the water.
“What snacks did you pack?”
I know everyone thinks the word “hangry” was invented because of him or her, but it wasn’t. It was created after my father and me. Have you ever been hungry, stuck in the middle of the Verrazano Bridge on the way to dinner, in sideways rain, in standstill traffic, at least an hour from food? We have. It wasn’t pretty.
Now we bring snacks. Protein bars. Apples. Bananas. Nuts. Pack light and nutritious snacks that won’t keep you from enjoying all the amazing food that’s waiting for you, but will keep you from yelling like lunatics at each other because you’re hungry.
“I want to listen to The Little Mermaid!”
Way before cars had TVs built into the backs of headrests, I was a little girl who loved The Little Mermaid. I LOVED The Little Mermaid. Like, watch it on a loop all day long, loved The Little Mermaid. So before we took a trip from New Jersey to North Carolina, my father wired the VHS to the stereo to make a cassette tape (do people even know what these things are anymore?) so that I could LISTEN to my movie while we drove. It worked so well he did that for all my Disney movies.
Life is SO much easier for you now. Grab a book on tape (Audible is awesome) or make a rockin’ playlist so you don’t have to talk to anyone else in the car. (I’m kidding! But really… if you’re driving and you want everyone else to fall asleep put an AM radio broadcast of a baseball game on. ZzZzZzZz)
Sometimes traffic sucks. Sometimes the trips are longer than you want them to be. Sometimes you’re tired. Sometimes you’re mad. Sometimes in the middle of it all you wish you had just stayed home. But there’s never a better time to just catch up and chat with the people you love (or are stuck in the car with). So ask them how it’s going. Sing. Laugh. Be. And hope that when you get where you’re going there’s good food and good company.
Happy birthday, Daddy!