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Surviving a road trip

Long rides in a car can be dreadful at times, but the experience and stories created are undoubtedly well worth it.

There’s nothing better than waking up at 5 a.m. just to pack a car full of luggage, operating on six hours of sleep and you’re on the go with no breakfast, the day is set up for a disaster, surrounded by bags, you just wanna sleep, luckily you don’t have to leave the car for another 800 kilometers.

 Throughout my years of road tripping around Canada and America I’ve come to find ways to deal with situations to help benefit your traveling experience. There’s something about a road trip that allows you to capture every moment, the exploring and spontaneous decisions allows for a time that you will likely remember until your old.

When I was 5 years old my parents took me on a road trip to Calgary and Drumheller, Alberta. Being very young, I wasn’t quite sure why we were driving for so long but eventually we reached a tourist spot: the Hoodoos — large rock formations that took over millions of years to form into strange shapes that 5-year-old me found them fascinating. Since then, the Hoodoos have been implanted in my memory.

As I got older, our road trips became more elaborate and longer, so I made adjustments in order for the ride to be comfortable. The first thing I recognized is that pillows are a must need inside the vehicle. Usually there are one to three pillows on board now to allow for immense comfort and avoid neck pains. A cooler filled with drinks and food is a necessity if you’re going to sit in a car for any length of time. You are going to be craving food not just for hunger but also to keep you entertained. 

If the road trip is going to be over eight hours long, you may be tempted to kill your time by sleeping. But don’t overdo it. One thing I’ve done in the past that has been detrimental for allowing me to enjoy the trip was staying awake all night, getting no sleep, then in the morning sleeping in the car for most of the ride. If you’ve done any preparation for this trip, you are going to and find good stops along the way to take breaks at and do some sight-seeing. It’s hard to enjoy all of that if you are sleeping through it or waking up groggy the whole time.

A road trip taken anywhere on earth must be set with the best fit car. Not everyone has the luxury of choosing between types of vehicles, but if you can, it can make a big difference. When I was younger, my family would focus on us having a large family SUV for trips because younger kids tend to need more space when traveling and storage was a lot easier. But as my siblings and I got older cars became much more versatile, they were less large and comfy, but more for the city and highway travel, this has negatively changed road tripping comfort wise since, while positively affecting travel making it easier to commerce through tight cities, unless my family rents a car we must take a sports sedan on hour upon hour long drives. But there is an upside to having a faster, smaller car. While on a trip to Portland, Oregon a couple years ago we got there in much better time than predicted by Google Maps and I believe the car made that possible, there was nothing unsettling about the drive besides the fact it took 5 hours and the only eye candy available was a grey repetitive highway. Even though the trip is what you make it, the car can change everything. In the summer of 2019 my family rented a huge Ford SUV when we took off to Nelson, British Columbia. This car was a luxurious eight-seater. I was stuck in the back seat as usual, but it was still better than a regular car seat, and it made the long journey seem short and relaxing. The stops along the way were spectacular: waterfalls, lakes and mountains. Being able to sit back and enjoy a comfy seat made it much more fitting. 

The end destination can normally make or break the entire trip and it better be well worth the drive, even when you’re just visiting family members who live elsewhere in the country. I’ve had to drive with my dad on countless dry highways to visit relatives with virtually nothing interesting happening along the way and horrible roadside food stops. Luckily my dad is quite entertaining himself and kept me alive. Even on trips like these you can still appreciate who you are with.

At the end of the day, the classic road trip is more than a vacation or getaway, it’s about being in the moment with the people around you, experiencing the now and leaving the stress and work behind you, exploring is a part of human nature and we should all as human get outside and do more of it.

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