Road Warrior

Not my car!  Really!

Earlier this week I drove 1050 kilometers (that’s about 650 miles) over two days.  I had done the drive before as a passenger (most recently five years ago), but it was my first time behind the wheel.  The route was quite mountainous, with a few very steep, twisting mountain passes and a lot of huge trucks going slowly up the hills then barreling down the other side like a maniac.  Around the nine hundred and ninety-five kilometer mark I got lost and had a slight panic attack, but other than that it was more a feeling of mild anxiety rather than outright distress for most of the trip.  However, now that I’m a Road Trip Expert I have some tips for anyone doing a long drive this summer.

Prepare Your Vehicle

It’s not enough just to fill the gas tank.  Clean up your car so that you don’t have empty (water!) bottles rolling around in your back seat each time you turn a corner.  Clean all of your windows before you depart so that your view is unobstructed.  Make sure you have your essentials on hand, too.  I kept a water bottle in the drink holder and a box of tissues on the passenger seat.  Both were within easy reach.

Prepare Your Playlist

Distracted driving is not only illegal, but also stupid.  When you’ve got a 15,000-pound semi truck changing lanes right in front of you, the last thing you want to be doing is looking away and fiddling with your iPod to switch between Thrift Shop and Blurred Lines.  Prep your playlist beforehand and invest in a charger that plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter (as it’s not like you’re using it anyways!).

Pack Smart

As I broke up the drive into two days I had to stay overnight in a hotel.  Separate from my huge suitcase I packed a tiny tote with overnight essentials: a quick change of clothes, a swimsuit for the hotel pool, a mini beauty kit and my iPad.  When I arrived at the hotel I didn’t even have to open my trunk- I just grabbed the tote from the backseat and was ready to go.

Care For Yourself

A typical car windshield provides very little protection from the sun’s damaging UV rays.  If you’re driving in a mild climate make sure to cover your legs and arms as much as possible before applying sunscreen to the uncovered skin on your face, neck, ears and hands.  If the mercury is rising and you need to wear a tank top and shorts, make sure you cover everything with sunscreen and consider re-applying mid-day.  Don’t forget your lip balm with SPF too!  Air conditioning can be dehydrating so drink water regularly (when safe), and stop for healthy, hydrating meals with lots of fruits and vegetables.

* Edit: That is not my car!  You would have to be a much braver woman than me to drive that car 1000+ kilometers through some of the highest mountains on the continent!

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