Just back from a trip (by car) to Las Cruces, New Mexico, I realized how much I like long driving trips. Wasn’t so true a few years ago, but I figured out some ways to make the trip more comfortable. I thought I’d share.
1.Bring your own water, in a cooler. Fill two or three of your own drinking bottles at home, then pack a gallon of filtered water to refill the bottles. Less waste, and your drinking bottles are larger then those little skimpy bottles, anyway. A gallon of drinking water is a lot less expensive than eight, 16-oz bottles. And buying water at convenience stores is just that, convenient. It’s expensive.
2. Pack easy-to-eat snacks that are healthy and yummy. Long drives keep you sitting, and lots of candy and cookies makes you groggy or sugar-rushed. Grapes are easy to carry and eat, as are satsumas (seedless madarin oranges, often sold in small crates). Also good for you and tasty are fancy mixed nuts, pepitas (sunflower seeds already out of the shell), and trail mix. Check the trail mix with the weather, so you aren’t carrying chocolate that melts. Many of the protein bars are packed with sugars, so check the labels before buying those.
3. If you are driving in the desert, keep your gas tank half full. On the East Coast, there are gas stations every few miles. Here in the desert, when I drive past a sign that says, “Next service 118 miles” they mean it. Gas prices vary, and if you fill up half a tank, a gas station that’s more expensive doesn’t make you grind your teeth.
4. In mild weather, pack a lunch and pull over at a rest stop to eat. I started doing this about three months ago, and will never roll through a drive-through window again. Is a lunch hard to pack? Not at all. I buy a bag of pre-washed Romaine lettuce, some sliced turkey, some sliced cheese, and I’m done. Wrap a Romaine leaf (or two) around a slice of turkey and cheese and you have a low-calorie, inexpensive lunch. Add a thermos of coffee or iced tea, and life is good.
5. Many diets tell you not to eat until you are really hungry. I’ve found that my doctor’s suggestion never to let yourself get really hungry works much better. When I’m hungry, I made dumb food choices. Nibbling on almonds keeps me from getting hungry. Yes, they have fat in them, but it’s good fat. I also pack the nuts in a pre-measured bag, so I don’t mindlessly eat a tree worth of nuts.
6. Some easy-to-pack conveniences are wet-wipes, napkins, hand cream, lip balm and artificial tears (your eyes get tired staring at the road). I travel with an inexpensive knife, fork and spoon, so I can cut apples and apply peanut butter to celery. The lip balm and small hand cream go in one of the front cup holders to keep them handy.
7. Carry shampoo and conditioner in smaller bottles to easy packing. Put a rubber band around the conditioner, so you can tell which bottle it is without your glasses.
8. Chanel makes a lipstick that actually doesn’t wear off for 8 hours. Nor does it print off on your water bottle. I apply it in the morning, then add sun-block lip gloss to refresh the look all day.
9. Take a hat if you are driving. If the sun visor just misses covering the sun, you can tilt your hat to keep the sun out of your eyes. And on bright sunny, or windy days, it can keep you comfortable.
10. On long drives, I listen to audio books. The library has a big choice (for free) and I always check out more than I need, in case one of the books isn’t to my liking.
Enjoy your travels and may your trips bring you new friends and unite you with old ones!
—Quinn McDonald is looking forward to new classes taught in new places.