By: Meghan K.

Spring break and summer vacation are coming up, and of course, that means travel. And with travel comes hours and hours of sitting still while you get to wherever you’re going. Speaking from four years’ experience with sixteen-hour car rides (not non-stop, thank goodness) and two little sisters, travel can be frustrating and exhausting sometimes, especially if it’s a really long trip.
Now, you probably don’t have sixteen hours of car to look forward to (and if you do, good luck and bon voyage), but if you’re traveling more than a state line or two away, you’re going to be in the car (or plane, bus, etc.) for a while. And after about two to four hours, you’re probably going to be wondering, “Will this ever end?”
The good news is that yes, it will end eventually, but really long trips, whether they’re by plane or by car, can feel… well, really long. So when you’re going to be sitting in a car for more than five hours, you’re going to need something to make those hours go by a little faster. So, without further ado, here are my ten tips for surviving a long trip:

1. Bring something to do. Sitting in a car or a plane for hours on end with nothing to do can be exceptionally boring, so make sure you bring something. Bring a few books (if you get carsick, this may not be a good option). Find an audiobook or two and listen to it either in the car or on your iPod. Bring along a sketchbook and draw things. Keep a chart of how often you see cows. As long as you’re doing something.

2. Don’t totally ignore your fellow passengers. Remember, they’re on this trip with you. Maybe you can play some games with them: card games, Would You Rather, the Alphabet Game, etc. Or you could find a bunch of really strange town names on the exit signs (drive long enough and you will find some strange town names). But all the same, don’t get into a fight with them either. I think you can probably guess why.

3. Don’t keep sitting the same way over and over. You know that cement boot feeling you get when you get out of a car after sitting for three hours straight? Well, you can take the edge off it by not sitting the same way all the time. Put your feet up somewhere. Sit criss-cross. You don’t have to twist around and take off your seatbelt (in fact, I wouldn’t recommend it); just keep changing positions every hour or two.

4. Listen to some music. If your sanity is running out, jamming out to some tunes might help you get your mind off the miles (and the people in the car). Bring along some of your favorite songs or maybe some new ones that you’ve never heard before, or listen to the radio. Some of the coolest stations may be from out of town. I would also suggest bringing along a set of headphones, just in case your fellow passengers don’t like your taste in music.

5. Bring some snacks. It’s no fun to travel hungry, so make sure you bring along some food for the trip. Chips, dried fruit, vegetables (especially those mini tomatoes), Goldfish crackers, and juice all make good traveling snacks. NOTE: Certain foods (and most drinks) cannot be brought through airport security, so be informed!

6. Dress comfortably. Make sure you dress comfortably; a road trip or plane trip doesn’t mean you have to break out a runway-ready outfit. In fact, leggings or shorts, a comfortable t-shirt, and slip-on shoes are probably your best friends. Also, bring a comfy sweater in case it gets cold.

7. Play ALL the games. My family likes to print out maps of the U.S. and for each state’s license plate, we color in that state. We’ve never gotten all 50 states, but we did find Mexico once. Bring along some travel-sized games. Play license plate bingo. Create a story, one sentence at a time. Play I Spy. Even if they can be really, really corny sometimes, playing games is a lot better than being bored.

8. If you’re bringing your phone or any other gadgets, make sure they’re charged. There is nothing less fun than being six hours away from your destination (or the next hotel) and having your phone/tablet/iPod die right when you were using it. If you don’t have time to charge it fully at home, use it sparingly. For example, only pulling it out after you’ve been on the highway for more than half an hour. Or bring along a car charger (or two). NOTE: Car chargers are not strong enough to charge iPads!

9. Do something crafty. If you can knit or crochet, bring along a work in progress. If you like making friendship bracelets (even making just one is great for eating time on sixteen-hour car rides), bring along some string and make a few. If you’re traveling on a plane, I would advise pre-cutting the string because you can’t take scissors past security, but if you’re crafty, and if the craft doesn’t need glue, it’s definitely worth taking!

10. Find a few cool stops along the way. Pretty much every city has a few local candy stores, all of which tend to be pretty cool, and every little town has its treasures. On a recent trip, my Girl Scout troop stopped at a place with a pig-shaped barbecue, and a few other girls in our troop found just about everything that could possibly be shaped like a peanut! Look up some cool stops before you leave and try to visit at least two of them. A few stops can make even the dullest road trip more interesting.

I hope these tips help keep you occupied on your trip. Bon voyage and safe travels!

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