10 Tips and Tricks for Long Road Trips | Caravan Sonnet

10 Tips and Tricks for Long Road Trips

April 1, 2019

Happy Monday friends! I hope that you had a wonderful weekend! Today I am excited to talk about some tips and tricks for long road trips! 

As some of y'all know, when I was growing up we would spend the school year in the south and then spend the summer months in upstate NY. Due to growing up like this and spending 2-3 times a year traveling 40 hours (round trip) I started to acquire some tips and tricks for these types of long road trips. 

I feel like in the last 2 years they have been put into practice in new ways with the Alaskan Road Trip that we took last summer (you can read about it HERE) and the New England/New Brunswick/Prince Edward Island/Nova Scotia Road Trip we took in 2017 (you can read about it HERE). As I am in the midst of preparing and planning for another Alaskan Road Trip for this summer (I can't wait to share more with y'all soon about this!) I have been thinking through these tips and I hope that y'all will find them helpful! 

I should add that I love road trips with people- I think it is one of the most fun things and so I hope that these tips help make your next long road trip even more enjoyable! *smiles*
1. Save Gas Money Ahead of Time
One thing that I started doing years ago is putting aside $5- $10 every week specifically for gas money for our trips. Taking the time to do this easily eliminates stress about money for road trips when the time comes. Even if you don't save up all you need - you will be closer and it will help out! Another idea is to ask friends and family for Christmas for gas gift cards that you can use on your trip. Thinking and planning ahead can help save a lot of money in the long run when you are traveling! *smiles*

2. Pack Water Bottles (or whatever you drink in the car)
As a gal who drinks a lot of water everyday, purchasing water bottles at gas stations gets to be expensive. Think about how you can save by picking up water bottles (or whatever your drink of choice is) ahead of time because most drinks are triple the price in gas stations then can be found on sale at Target, SAM's, or in a local grocery store. One thing that we did for a while when we were traveling back and forth from TN to NY was to purchase extra water bottles whenever they went on sale throughout the year. Another idea (if you are taking a road trip similar to one that I mentioned above) is to stop at a Walmart or Target as you begin your trip. Last year in Alaska we did this and it saved a lot of money. 
3. Pack Snacks & Food if possible or Make these Stops "All-Inclusive"
If you like to eat snacks or food on your trip - try to pack them or make these stops "all inclusive" to keep the trip moving. Pick places that not only has food, but has a gas station nearby and a place to walk around for a bit. Keeping things at one place instead of stopping for food and then stopping 20 minutes later for gas, and then stopping another 20 minutes later to use the restroom can really save a lot of time on your trip if you are trying to cut down on time. 

4. Have "Reward" Places
Depending on where your trip is taking you, you might want to have "reward places". For the route that we traveled from TN to NY we literally crossed through the entire state of Virginia which took close to 8 hours. I love Virginia, lived there for six years, but driving through it the way we had to was very tedious. One of the things that we started doing years ago (and should have done when we were kiddos my parents said!) is to have "reward stops". Whenever we now finish a section of the trip (we break it into thirds) we do something "fun". Sometimes it is as simple as grabbing a Starbucks or other times we have visited with friends or one time my parents took my sister and I to an old-fashioned amusement park for an hour, these "reward stops" are so fun! Honestly, these simple yet fun "reward stops" can create lasting memories not only for the trip, but for years to come. (My sister and I still talk about stopping at that amusement park almost 20 years later! Don't forget that the long car trip can be just as wonderful a place to create memories as the vacation itself!)
5. Have "Car Only" Traditions
My sister is going to die laughing when she reads that I have shared this story, but one of the most fun traditions that we had as kids growing up was our "night spy game". Yes, you are now rolling your eyes and are concerned but seriously y'all, this silly game kept us entertained for hours. I am giggling as I write this but what we would do is have a "special notebook" and we would (once it got dark because somehow this added to the fun *smiles*) write down as many license plate numbers as we could get before we grew tired of this game (which didn't happen for hours). Somehow writing this out is not conveying the fun that this seriously was. *hahaha* But y'all, we laughed and giggled as cars whizzed by us and we tried to write down as many as we could get down. It was a lot of fun and we still laugh about it to this day. And the "spy part" for those who are wondering? I really have no idea. *hahaha*

A couple of friends of mine who are parents to the most adorable kiddos have a couple of DVD's that I think their kids believe only exist inside of their car on long road trips. It is great because the kiddos only see these particular DVD's a few times of the year and they love them. What a fun idea!

6. Understand and Empathize with the "mood" of your fellow Road Trippers
Let's be honest, after 20+ hours in a small car together some people might want and desire a little space from each other. Even me who loves to have people close-close (my love language is physical touch/words of affirmation/quality time, and we love the close proximity to people that we love hahaha) can empathize that my sweet family/friends might not find me as funny or delightful after being with me for every waking moment for almost 20+ hours straight. (I know, I know it is shocking! *smiles*) Some people are going to be like me and thrive on this close proximity and others may just appreciate the quiet.

So know your companions and empathize with the "mood". But honestly what is so sad to me is watching some families yell and snap at each other because they are tired and grumpy. Again, I can't stress this enough but remember that the road trip itself is an opportunity to spend time with the ones you love and cherish the memory opportunities. (If you are curious about the Love Language comment... I am referring to this book HERE. Read it friends- It is so good.) 
7. Appreciate Delays
When I was growing up my childhood pastor said something that has always stuck with me as I have traveled; "Thank God for delays because they are often blessings in disguise." I can't tell you how many times we have been frustrated to run into a delay only to see immediately or down the road that we avoided an accident and I am sure that there are so many things we have no idea we have been protected from. Don't be frustrated with delays friends- you never know what you may have been protected from.

8. Break up the "Monotony"
This tip is especially useful if you are traveling alone but even with a family it can be practical. When I traveled back and forth from the lower south to Virginia Beach for graduate school it was a good 10 hour drive. Several years later as I moved to work and live in Washington DC it was a good 12 hours from my home. These long car trips by myself could have been very tiring but as I look back now I see them as sweet times to think, process, pray, and consider upcoming decisions. 

In addition to this I found this a wonderful time to catch up with friends and family (on speaker phone for those who live in a state that is "hands free" *smiles*). One thing I did to help pass the time was to "break up" the monotony. For example for an hour I might chat on the phone and catch up with a dear friend and then the next hour spend time just thinking and praying and then the next hour listen to music and in another hour I would call another friend. After this I would sometimes listen to an hour of a book on tape or spend more time praying or listening to music. By constantly breaking the hours up in the car the time went by much more quickly.

It can also be really fun to pick up a book on audio that you & the person you are traveling with want to listen to and haven't read. Save it for a trip and listen to it together. It creates a fun memory and something to definitely chat about. Or grab a question book and ask each other questions. Or even better... just enjoy the company of that person.

This same concept can be great with kiddos also! A great idea that my mama had when we were younger was that she would collect "special and surprise" items for several months prior to a road trip and keep them in a secret bag. To us kiddos it was like she became Mary Poppins on the trip! I am not kidding y'all, she would pull out (slowly!) over the hours different surprises. They were all wonderful and nothing cost a lot of money but it was always fun to see what was coming out of mama's "Mary Poppins bag"! [hahaha! And when we headed out to California for treatment my sweet mama surprised me with a book to keep me entertained! So if you are thinking that this idea won't work with older kiddos you are wrong! I loved it! hahaha!]

9. Eye Covers are Your Friend 
I mentioned this in a post about tips for sleeping better, but eye covers can truly be your friend in the car. I love me some eye covers. I tried a ton before I found one that I loved. I tried some that were extremely cheap and some that were more expensive before I found my favorite one. If you don't have one I would definitely recommend trying one. This can truly help you get some much needed rest on a long car trip! [This is my current favorite one HERE.]

10. Take Time to Enjoy the Moments and Places Along the Way. 
Often times with a trip that is long you can start trying to figure out the quickest and easiest way to get to the destination. In doing so though we can sometimes miss out on some adventures along the way. Many years ago as I was driving from Georgia up to our cabin in upstate New York I decided to go an 3 hours out of the way to go over to the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. At the time the Memorial wasn't even completed but I felt burdened as a history teacher and an American that this was important to see. 

As I stepped out of my car and walked around the fence there was only a few of us there and one of those that happened to be there was a family member of one of the heroes of 9/11. Having the opportunity to chat with them and hear their story was incredibly profound and humbling. It is a memory that I never forgot and it was the best use of an extra 3 hours of driving. I can't say enough how much I would encourage you to take the time to enjoy the moments and the places along your road trip!
Another favorite detour of mine was on the New England/New Brunswick/Prince Edward Island/Nova Scotia Road Trip I saw a lake in a distance and pulled off to explore it. It was so beautiful! Or on our recent Alaskan Road Trip we headed over to Hatcher Pass. Y'all if you have been reading the blog for a while than you know that I fell in love with this area and it's beauty (you can read about it HERE or see a video HERE). There are so many other examples I could share, but take the time to enjoy the places and moments along the way- it will make your trip that much richer and better!

Thanks so much for reading today friends! I hope that you have a wonderful day! 

*all of the pictures from the post are from the Alaskan Road Trip in 2018*

12 comments

  1. I love your idea to have dedicated car dvds...makes them extra special and extra attentive!

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    1. Isn't that a great idea that my friends had? I love it too!! :)

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  2. These are all so great & *almost* made me want to take a long road trip!! :) I love what you said about appreciating the delays. And I totally did that surprise bag thing with my kids on our few road trips- it's so fun! Thank you so much for linking up with us!!

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    1. Hahaha! :) I TOTALLY get the *almost* part! :) Thanks so much for hosting this monthly link up! I love reading what everyone writes and I feel that I always get the most practical ideas and advice (like with your "staycation" post)!! Thank you again!!
      Blessings, Rebecca :)

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  3. I love the idea of saving up gas money! And also packing water and snacks. I do that, even for long work trips, and it's so much cheaper and healthier than stopping on the road!

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    1. Laura, Thank you so much for your sweet comment! I love the idea of packing those things for long work trips!! That is a great idea!! It is so true that many times it is so much cheaper and healthier then stopping on the road! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!! I hope you have a wonderful day today!
      Blessings,
      Rebecca :)

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  4. Rebecca, I love this! Each point is so true and so helpful - for so many stages of life! As a fellow road-tripper I loved "Don't forget that the long car trip can be just as wonderful a place to create memories as the vacation itself!" There are times it's hard to remember, but I truly agree and love the time on the road. Thank you for joining in the link up - I truly love this community sharing their tips and tricks!

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    1. Aww thank you so much for your sweet words Ashley and for hosting this link up! :) I also love the community of sharing tips and tricks!! :) Thank you again for taking the time to leave a comment! I hope that you are having a wonderful week!
      Blessings, Rebecca :)

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  5. Amazing article, fully loaded with lots of practical advices!I am glad you shared this blog, I am going on a san francisco road trip with my friends and I'm sure your ideas will work. Thanks! Stay Happy and safe travels.

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  6. I like the idea of "reward" places. Driving through some places for hours can really be depressing. But knowing that you're going to get to stop and do something fun really can break up the monotony. I don't think you necessarily have to go to an amusement park every time, but the principle is great. Thanks for sharing! http://www.thecaravancompany.com.au

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  7. These are some great tips, and I appreciate your advice to enjoy moments and places on the way when going on a road trip. All my kids are out of the house, and my husband is about to retire, so we want to get a caravan and travel all over the place. Since we won't really have anything pressing or making us hurry, we'll be sure to take it slow and enjoy things along the way. Thanks for the great post! http://www.arrowcaravans.com.au

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    1. Lillian, I apologize that I am just seeing your comment now! Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment! I love your plan of traveling all over the place - enjoying the slow and steady pace of life and everything to see!

      Thanks again for your stopping by and taking the time to comment!
      Blessings,
      Rebecca
      PS I would have loved to have emailed you back directly but unfortunately you are a "no reply blogger" I hope to connect with you more in the future!

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