Long gone are the days when our entire family lived within 30 miles of one another. Back then it was easy to travel to Grandma’s house for Christmas. Now? Our family is scattered all over the country and it’s been several Christmases since we all gathered together in one place at the same time. This year, however, we have some family coming to us via their motorhome. Their time off is limited, but a 1400+ mile trip is not to be taken lightly – nor perhaps all in one day. They are younger, and both adults will trade off driving, but still… I have some tips for them (and for YOU, if you’ll be driving a long distance for the holidays).
Here are my RV tips for the “long haul” – at Christmas, or any time:
- Be sure all drivers know the preplanned route. This means you’ve decided on the roadways to take, detailed any potential “trouble spots” and checked for road closures and/or detours you may need to make.
- Timing is everything. If you prefer not to drive through metropolitan areas during rush hour, it’s important to time your trip to allow for that. If you leave a bit earlier or a little later, can you avoid congestion? Probably. You’ll also want to consider the days you’ll travel. Christmas Eve may be busier than, say, Christmas Day. Perhaps by adjusting travel days you can arrive for Christmas dinner without the nerve-wracking, white-knuckle driving amid hordes of other travelers.
- Keeping sharp behind the wheel is key. Tired and/or distracted drivers account for many preventable accidents. If possible, get some rest while your travel buddy drives. Consider listening to your favorite podcasts or check out an audiobook from your local library. Listening to such recordings can help keep you attentive and alert when driving a long distance.
- Watch what you eat and drink. While fast food or rest stop grub may tempt you, it’s really better to pack along or purchase healthier meal choices. Think: fresh fruit like apples, cheese sticks, or roasted nuts. Your gut will thank you for opting out of that gas station hot dog as you travel on toward your destination. Water is your best bet for hydration, although a little coffee or tea is OK in moderation.
- Stop regularly to keep going. In order to “make good time,” folks sometimes limit their number of stops when driving a long distance. This can backfire and result in leg cramps, headaches, and stiff back and neck muscles. If you stop to stretch and exercise or take restroom breaks every few hours your body will be refreshed, and you can ultimately arrive at your destination in a much better state of body and mind. Get your heart rate up by a brisk walk or jog around the parking lot. It will increase blood flow to your brain and stimulate your focus and reaction times.
- Take a quick nap if you’re tired. A quick 20-minute nap can do wonders to revive your ability to drive safely. Set your phone timer and catch a few winks before continuing on your journey.
- Introduce fresh air. Open a window, run the outside vent fan, or turn on the air conditioner to cool the vehicle’s interior and bring fresh air inside. The cooler temperature can perk up a mind that’s drifting.
- Avoid medications that make you sleepy. If certain prescription drugs cause drowsiness, ask your doctor if you can take the meds before bed rather than first thing in the morning when you’ll be driving a long distance.
- Keep your eyes moving. Be aware of your surroundings. That means checking your rearview mirrors, looking to the right and left, as well as focusing both far and near. By moving your focus to different points, you’ll avoid staring straight ahead, or tunnel-visioning.
- Choose snappy snacks. No, I’m not talking Cheetos. Think more about celery or carrots to get that crunch. Pretzels and rice cakes can also work as mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks.
What’s most important?
That you and yours safely arrive at your destination. Use these travel tips so that you can enjoy this special season with family and friends.