7 Hacks For Surviving An Excruciatingly Long Drive


I’ve done a few long drives in my day — one time I drove from Washington, DC to New Orleans in a single day, which isn’t so much a brag as it is something you might as well say when writing an article like this one. Yesterday, upon finishing the last leg of a road trip from New York City to Austin, we drove from New Orleans to East-Central Texas — a beautiful, True Detective type drive, but one that is unfortunately gifted in length. Fresh off 2,000 miles of driving, here are some ways to survive your next excruciatingly long car experience:

1. Have The Other Person Control The Music, Podcast, Etc. 

Chances are you’re traveling with a friend — someone with similar tastes and interests, but isn’t your iPod exactly. Let them control the media that’s being played, and it’ll turn into this sort of tangentially personalized radio that is (a. something you’re probably interested in, (b. something that you might not have been privy to, and can now incorporate it into your media rotation.

2. Rate The Bathrooms 

Every road trip I’ve been on, there’s always been some pretty high-engagement bladder talk. Between the water bottles consumed, coffee downed, and ability to bond over a common goal (having to pee really badly), bathrooms will always be a major highlight of any prolonged journey. Not to mention, road trip bathrooms are oftentimes gas station bathrooms, which are often amazing adventures by themselves.

3. Leave Yelp Reviews Everywhere You Go

One of the fellows I was with started doing this — leaving funny yelp reviews at rest stops, state welcome centers, etc. There’s definitively a sense of diminishing returns here, in the sense that the novelty will wear off if you’re doing this for three days in a row. But for a singular drive, certainly a nice memory preserver.

4. Have a destination to look forward to 

Pretty basic hack, but pick out a place along the way, and find a cool lunch spot. Here’s how to do this:

  • Find a major/town city you’ll be passing through
  • Google – best lunch in “X City”
  • Read Yelp reviews
  • Make sure to read a composite of Yelp reviews, because the first person on the page might still be bitter about the divorce.
  • Experience the best Po Boy of your life in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
  • Talk about it for the next 5-7 years

5. If You’re Driving, Control The Car Climate

If you’re in the car for a long period of time with other people, there’s a 67% chance you’ll begin to hate other people. And while this is bad for everyone, it’s extremely bad for the driver — who may very well take out his aggression by speeding, which may result in very bad things.

So, if you’re the driver, be the person who controls windows, AC, etc. If you’ve been driving for 8 hours straight, you’ve probably earned the right to be a bit passive-aggressive.

6. Treat Yo’Self 

In addition to this being a reference! and/or catch-phrase!, it’s also something that can be applied to road trips — use the long drive as an excuse to buy candy bars that you feel like you can’t eat on a regular basis. For example, I used this last drive as an excuse to enjoy my once every three years Milky Way Bar. One of the healthiest people I know, who is rather healthy, notes that the only time she’ll ever eat McDonalds is if she’s on some sort of road trip.

Basically, since your far away from your house, you temporarily don’t have to take care of yourself.

7. Appreciate Silence  

There’s a feeling associated with long drives that doesn’t seem to translate over to much else. It’s a sort of restlessness mixed with adrenaline mixed with a weird sort of reluctant accomplishment — you can’t stand the fact that you’re still three hours away, when you arrive you’re supremely glad you’ll never have to do that again, and all the while there’s this low-key sense of tremendous achievement.

Personally, I like when that sentiment gets bottled up and translates into road trip silence — when you’re staring out the window at all the weird signs, simultaneously thinking about the stressors of your life, and what it must be like to live in Houston. Long drives allow for so many thoughts other life situations don’t (what is the life story of that couple in the Toyota? What type of people frequent that Chili’s on the side of the road in rural Virginia? Would I be friends with my 10th grade biology teacher if we were the same age?), and it’s kinda nice to let them stew.

This article is the fourth of a series of articles and videos, documenting a trip from New York to Austin. Check out the other articles here, and related videos here.