6 Secrets to Less Stressful Car Travel

by Rich Finzer

Secrets to Less Stressful Car Travel photo

Vacationing is fun, but getting to that desired destination is not always pleasant. Perhaps these tips can help keep stress to a minimum during your next road trip.

Okay, who’s up for a more relaxing road trip and vacation? Are you tired of spending endless hours fighting heavy interstate traffic with drivers all too content to tailgate but too cowardly to pass? Are you fed up with crowded roadside eateries where your brave little band waits forever for some chow? Would you like time to relax or take a swim before retiring? Well, fellow road warriors, take heart because help is on the way.

I once went on an 11-day, 3,500 mile business trip where I drove an average 700+ miles on travel days. While on the road, I enjoyed almost instant service at roadside restaurants, plenty of time for a swim/soak before bedtime, and felt quite relaxed while driving what I call “golden miles.” Here’s how you can too.

1. Leave early.

When driving long distances, I like to awaken by 3:30 AM and hit the bricks pronto.

There’s significantly less traffic, temperatures are still cool (meaning no need to run the A/C), most truckers are still asleep, and road crews haven’t begun working yet.

By eight in the morning, I’ve usually pounded out a cool 300 miles.

2. Plan ahead.

If my drive calls for a midway motel stay, I book my reservations in advance. That way, I already have a place to sleep and I know precisely how many miles I need to drive to reach it.

If you plan well in advance, you may be able to leverage discounts through auto club, AARP, coupon deals, or off-season rates. The fact that you’re travelling is no excuse for not trying to stretch some additional dollars.

Too many times to count, I’ve seen harried people trying to find accommodations late in the evening only to be told there are no available rooms. I feel most for the families. Kids are tired, mom is contemplating divorce since dad didn’t plan better, and poor dad has to drive to the next major interstate exit and try again. Don’t be that guy.

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3. Leverage rest stops.

In addition to the essentials, check to see if rest area tourist/visitor desks have coupon books for discounts at restaurants along your route.

Many family dining places offer discounts for eating during off-hours or just for being senior. (See How to Find and Leverage Senior Discounts.)

4. Travel “out of synch.”

By this I mean stop for lunch about 11:00 and avoid the hungry hordes arriving promptly at noon. The food will taste about the same, but you won’t be waiting as long to be served.

Now, aren’t you glad you picked up those coupons at the rest area?

5. Don’t rely on your navigation app.

Navigation apps, such as Google Maps, are terrific, but they are not fool proof.

If you are using them real-time, they require cell service. Depending on where you’re traveling, you could find yourself in a dead zone with no cell service and no working navigation app.

If you’ll be driving through remote areas, make sure you have printed directions from your navigation app or an actual old school street map.

6. Drive to your goal and stop.

If you’ve planned ahead, reserved rooms and left very early, chances are you’ll arrive/check in during daylight hours. Gas up the car, and then take a swim or a soak in the whirlpool; after all, you’re entitled.

You need and deserve some down time and relaxation. You are ahead of the curve, can get a decent night’s rest, and will arrive at your destination ready to enjoy the vacation you’ve earned.

Reviewed November 2022

About the Author

Rich Finzer resides in upstate New York. During his 40+ years as a writer, he has published over 1,200 newspaper, magazine and Internet articles. His award-winning book Maple On Tap: Making Your Own Maple Syrup is available Amazon.

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