Four Things: Solo Road Trips

I just got back from a solo road trip. I spent 15 hours behind the wheel to get myself to the Apostle Islands (more on that trip on Friday). So here are four things about solo road trips.

  1. Passing Time People recommend audio books, which would probably be nice. Unfortunately, I forgot to download one before I left. Fortunately, it turns out I’m pretty content to have some one-on-one time with my brain, letting it clear out the clutter. I recommend it. But in the wee hours, when your lids a drooping, a road trip play list consisting of songs you can sing along to will help you stay awake and focused.
  2. Navigation  Without a copilot to navigate, you’ll want to be prepared before you start the car. In the old days you’d bust out a map and study the roads. Now, with GPS, you don’t need to familiarize yourself with the route—but you should anyway. Don’t wait until you’re on the road to determine your route. Compare maps to the directions your GPS recommends, and make sure it’s directing you the way you actually want to go.
  3. Arm’s Reach Keep important stuff in arm’s reach. By “important stuff” I mean food. Pulling over to dig it out of the trunk or spend money on gas station junk food just keeps you on the road longer. Other important things are water, Kleenex, and your phone.
  4. Making Stops  Is a road trip about the journey, or the destination? Only you can decide. Me, I don’t like to stop. I want to get where I’m going. That means bypassing spontaneous stops that could turn out to be awesome—quaint diners, antique shops, roadside oddities, etc. I do recommend, at the very least, limiting pit stops. I like to go at least four hours between, because stopping every couple hours starts to take a mental toll, making it feel like you’re never get there.

2 thoughts on “Four Things: Solo Road Trips

  1. Re: the first point, I’ve found long solo drives are a really good time to catch up on podcasts, most of which you can stream now with the right apps (assuming you can listen to an iPod/iPhone/etc. in your car). I drive back and forth to Traverse City about once a month during the summer, and it’s a great chance to catch up on all of the winter episodes of This American Life, Radiolab, etc.

  2. Here here on the podcast front. Also, if you’re an audiobook junkie, I can’t recommend an Audible subscription enough. It’s basically an audiobook a month for $20 (a steal, given how much the physical books-on-CDs cost.) Plus, if you’re able to join up via some podcasts co-sponsorship, the first one’s free (like any glorious addiction). Good way to structure your time. Plus, if you need something a little less beefy than a 13 hour book, there’s always books that are a little more segment-y that get the job done (People’s History of the United States, anything by Chuck Klosterman, The Power of Myth, anything by a correspondent of The Daily Show, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing)

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