When I was in my early twenties, I was determined to travel cross-country on my own. Traveling from the Northwest to the West Coast was going to be a grueling, but amazing trek. Prior to the big trip, I decided that I would have to plan ahead to make sure that I enjoyed myself without being unsafe or unhealthy. Prepping for the trip, I made sure to prepare for a healthy car, a healthy body, and overall healthy driving.
My first step was to make sure my car was prepared for the long haul. I was about to put a ton of miles on my car, more than it’s ever experienced before. I made sure to get my car through an oil change, an alignment, new tires, and new brakes. I wanted my car at its peak performance. Also, to plan for the unexpected, I purchased a floor jack and learned how to change my own tires in case of a flat. I also made sure my phone was up to date so that I’d have great service and the ability to call for a tow truck in case the worst ever happened.
My next step was to make sure that my trip was planned out to allow for continuous breaks throughout the day and promised at least 8-9 hours of sleep a night. Breaking up driving would make it less likely for me to fall asleep while driving. Stops would give me a chance to stretch my legs, enjoy the views, and account for eating. Trying to drive straight through would cause more damage, and be less effective in the long run. Instead, I promised myself to always stop when I felt tired, also to stop when I needed to eat or pee.
I also promised myself to never rush. People who are constantly in a rush to get somewhere put themselves and others at risk. Traveling in new areas, I didn’t want to go any faster than the recommended speed limit. Being in unknown areas, I wasn’t going to be able to expect sharp turns or animal crossings, so I had to be safe at all times. Not rushing also allowed me to enjoy the drive, play my music and sing along as I listened to my GPS tell me what was next. I could stop at a cute little diner or pull over to look at a nice view of a mountain. I did all of this and kept myself and my family safe.
Being a healthy driver means being safe and being prepared for the first. Know where you are going, plan where you are going to stop, and don’t make yourself drive longer for what you think you can handle. Planning for the unexpected will make your trip more enjoyable, because you’ll be able to handle whatever your long trips throw at you.
My trip ended up being a huge success. I managed to travel cross country without any major bumps, but I was ready for them anyways. I had a few times where I had to stop sooner than I expected or stopped more than I planned. Because I didn’t rush, I wasn’t stressed. I still continued to enjoy my trip from beginning to end.