When some people think vacation, they think of laying on a beach somewhere, soaking up sun, sipping on a piña colada out of a coconut. Vacation means total rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation! Though I treasure these kinds of vacations, most often when I get some time off, I look for adventure. I see it as an opportunity to see things I have never seen and do things I have not yet done. These types of adventure vacations, however thrilling, can come with a bit of stress.
For instance, when you are headed to Glacier National Park instead of a warm sunny beach, you have mother nature to deal with. Today Stephanie and I were supposed to be driving the “Going-to-the-Sun Road” through the park, but we had a little hiccup. Most of the park is closed because of snow. I was really upset at first, thinking maybe we should just bag Glacier all together, but eventually took a deep breath and said, no matter what we are going to have a marvelous time! It is difficult to stay grounded on these kinds of long trips when things start to go awry. But freaking out or getting upset is a waste of energy that you should be expending on enjoying the opportunist you DO have in front of you.
In light of my current situation, I’d like to state that road tripping can be one of the most stressful types of vacations. When you are road tripping there are extensive periods of time sitting in a car, dealing with other drivers on the road and getting stuck in traffic. Because you are most likely hitting quite a few locations on your trip, and you know you have these long spans of time on the road in between, you are usually under some type of time constraint. A lot to see with little time. You are living out of a suitcase and in close quarters with the same person for an extended period of time. Maybe you are camping, or roughing in some way, in less then ideal conditions, let alone the possibility of getting lost or having car trouble. Patience can draw thin, people can get agitated, things can seem like they are spinning out of control your checklist may feel like its not being checked off exactly how you like. With so many more things to do, many more things can go wrong.
So here are my tips for staying sane on a road trip:
- Take the trip with someone you have lived with or traveled with before. You need to know that if shit goes down you can rely on them and also be reasonable with each other. Its one of those things where becoming room mates can ruin a friendship, same thing with roadtripping, but if the two of you have a mutual understanding of each other’s wants and needs, and are open to discussion and suggestion when it comes about, things will stay a lot calmer.
- Plan ahead and prioritize. I’m talking about your lodging, traffic reports, weather reports, average temperatures, map out routes, always keep track of rest stops, make sure there is enough food and water in the car, enough air in the tires, enough gas in the tank, etc. The more informed and prepared you are the less likely something unexpected comes up, and the more likely that if something unavoidable comes up, you know how to handle it. And plan out what are your priorities in each place you are visiting, so you go to those first and don’t get disappointed. Always give yourself time on long rides to get out and stretch your legs and get fresh air so you don’t go stir crazy in the car. Your mind and body will thank you!
- Allow yourself some alone time. Whether it is with family or friends, sometimes people will get on your nerves. Maybe so much is going on you just need a second to yourself to let it all settle. Maybe you need to journal or go get a workout in or watch something on TV for a second. If you are like me, if I don’t get my alone time to reflect, I get anxious.
- Stay hydrated and when you get the chance, eat healthy food. Always have water on hand or in the car. If you happen to be pressed for time or strolling around the city, stop in a market and get some fresh fruit or veg for a quick snack, a green smoothy if you can find it. There is nothing worse to dampen your mood and create a lack of energy then being nutrient deficient or dehydrated. Even if it small, keep some carrot sticks and apples in a cooler behind the seat, putting nutrients in your body will help you feel energized and keep your body functioning properly so you can really enjoy the time you have in your destinations.
- Breath and let go when things do not go as planned. Accept it and move on. If you didn’t get to do something you wanted to, that’s okay. Focus on what you did get to experience. If something unexpected happens or unavoidable goes wrong, breath, take a moment to think about how the best way to handle it is. If you have car trouble or traffic is so bad you get to a destination much later then intended, it is okay. You can be upset, but move on, do not let it dampen your spirit and ruin the rest on your trip.