And not kill your significant other.
At the end of July, Max and I ventured on a 30 hour road trip to Olympic National Park. I’ll do a separate post about the park, but today I want to focus on the most asked question: How do you survive 30 hours in the car together??! When I typed in Olympic National Park in Maps I won’t lie, it was intimidating. 30+ hours in the car, with another person….. pukeee. Cross country road trips are not easy, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be done. When you master cross country road trips, you learn to love them: the sights you see, the conversations you have, and the lessons you learn by working together because in reality you are literally stuck in the vehicle. It’s sink or swim people. So with that being said, here are a few things I always keep in mind for a smooth trip.
1. Establish your timeline
What time do you need to be where? Are you on a strict timeline or do you have a little room to breathe? This trip we had a little room to breathe. We left late on Thursday evening and wanted to arrive at Olympic National Park by Saturday afternoon. We knew we wanted to stop at Roosevelt National Park and that would act as a“half way” point. Everything in-between was up for whatever.
2. Establish a sleep schedule
Who’s going to drive during the night, while the other sleeps, and vice versa? What time will you switch positions? Will you drive through the night, or will you stop at a rest stop?
Last year, for our trip to the Grand Tetons, we drove straight through without stopping. This year, we decided to stop because we had the time; and the sites we saw were life changing.
3. Take advantage of rest stops
Rest stops may not be the most glamorous, but hey, they’re free. They’re a good place to brush your teeth, take a shower, and freshen up. They’re also a good place to park when you need to catch some zzz’s. This is the first trip that we took advantage of the park and sleep situation. Max would drive as far as he could; then, he would pull in and we would sleep until about 5:30am. I would wake up and start driving. It was a good schedule and I feel we both got an equal amount of sleep.
4. Bring the essentials
A pillow and blanket are obvious essentials; but I highly recommend a sleep mask and noise cancelling headphones or earplugs. Nothing is worse than trying to fall asleep at 8pm when the sun hasn’t fully set, or being woken up because the driver turned the music up. I don’t know about you, but I’m a bear if I get woken up, so I do everything I can to help avoid that situation.
5. Always pack a cooler
For this trip, we filled the cooler with bread, peanut butter, jelly, lunch meat, trail mix, fresh fruits, fresh veggies, and water. LOTS OF WATER. Our goal on the way is to eat as healthy as possible. We know the minute we get into the park, we’ll be strapping on our packs and hiking a mountain. You’re also saving a bit of time and A LOT of money by not stopping for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
6. Always have a wide selection of music
I include music we both enjoy because, let’s be real, Max doesn’t want to drive 10 hours listening to Beyoncé, even though I would be perfectly ok with that!
Podcasts are also one of my favorite driving tools. You’re driving 30+ hours, why not retain a little knowledge while doing so?
7. Stop and take in the sights
If you see a scenic pull off, stop and take a look. 9 times out of 10 the view will be worth it. It’s also a change of scenery, and a great time to stretch your legs.
8. When you stop for gas, ALWAYS use the bathroom
Even if you don’t think you have to go, try. Nothing is worse than having to go to the bathroom when you just stopped. There’s no reason to create that unnecessary tension.
9. Bring things to do
Whether it’s a book, a magazine, a crossword, or “whatever” keeps you busy. 30 hours in the car is a long time, and your phone can only keep you busy for so long.
10. Enjoy each other
You embarked on this trip because you really enjoy each others company (at least I hope). Don’t let a road trip ruin that for you. Keep conversations light and remember why you’re taking this trip together.