I have traveled to 44 of the 50 states and to 9 of the Canadian provinces by personal vehicle. From my base in New England I have driven as far as Florida to the south, Arizona and Idaho to the West and Alaska to the north. I have driven from New England across the Trans-Canadian highway to the Alaska highway to Delta Junction, Alaska and on to the end of the road in Homer. Our family takes as many road trips as possible every year and to us the journey is every bit a part of travel as the destination.
What is our method of long distance road tripping and how do we handle the long hours of driving? There are two keys that are most important. First is to not waste time, every minute you spend packing up or looking for something misplaced is a minute you are not on the road. The second thing is to make sure you take frequent breaks and plan at least one activity or sight during the day.
Leaving early each morning is critical. Whether leaving from home or from a hotel pack the night before and be ready to leave as soon as possible in the morning. Have sandwiches or breakfast ready to go that can be eaten in the car. If necessary stop for fast food on the fly. Have car snacks available to be munched on during the day and nibble through lunch or get something on the go.
When first leaving in the morning I will drive for four hours without stopping. After four hours you should plan on stopping at an attraction for about an hour. Research the night before something of interest in the general direction you are heading. It could be a small museum, a roadside attraction, a National or State Park site or a scenic area. By all means get off the main highway and take whatever detour necessary.
If you have a way point destination that you want to spend more time at I plan to arrive not later than 1:00 PM and will stay the night in the area. If you are going to drive through plan on stopping every two hours to stretch your legs and get the circulation flowing. I will start to look for accommodation between 4:00 and 5:00. This allows time to have a nice meal, explore the local area or just relax and read or research the next day’s travel itinerary. If you need additional travel time to get to a certain place add it on by leaving earlier in the morning, never try to push it later in the evening.
Whenever possible we get by with nibbling our way through breakfast and lunch with the occasional fast food stop to supplement. We try to have a good meal at the end of the day to get some good nutrition but also to get a flavor of the local scene where you are staying for the night. I have included a list of some of the items we bring for road trips. We pack before we leave by doing a big grocery shop the night before and supplement supplies as we go.
Road Trip Car Snacks
- Jerky (beef or turkey as per your preference)
- Frozen bottles of water
- Bottled water
- Trail Mix – We make two types from scratch one sweet and one savory obviously make your own combination to your liking
- Sweet (M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces, Milk Chocolate Chips, White Chocolate Chips, Dried fruit pieces)
- Savory (Cashews, Corn Nuts, Soy Nuts, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Macadamia Nuts, Walnuts)
- Granola Bars (energy bars can be added or substituted)
- Hard rolls that will last for several days
- Cold cuts and sliced deli cheese
- String cheese
- Meat sticks (pepperoni, Slim Jims, etc.)
- Hard block cheese for slicing
- Salty snacks (Pringles and Potato sticks work well because of the rigid containers)
- Olive and pickled pepper medley (most supermarkets have olive bars these days) We carry a sturdy plastic Tupperware container to transfer from the flimsy store plastic package. If you do not switch containers the oily olives will get into everything.