As some of you may know we travel up to Wales quite frequently to visit my boyfriend’s family (you can read about a previous trip here). The journey can range between 5 hours on a good trip and 7 hours on a bad trip. Up until recently we had started breaking the journey in two by staying the night in a hotel half way through the journey. However, with saving money being our top priority at the moment we decided to just do the drive in one go.
As someone who suffers with severe anxiety I thought I would share my top tips with you as to how I tackle a long journey.
Leave early/late to avoid traffic
We leave between 3/4am to avoid rush hour traffic on the roads. It’s horrible waking up so early and the lack of sleep can have a negative impact on my anxiety. However, I find that I would rather lose some sleep and avoid rush hour traffic.
If you don’t want to wake up so early then why not leave in the evening, once the night-time rush hour dies down?
We have done the journey late at night once, as I was in university during the day. It was actually a really nice drive, however once we were off of the motorway and onto the country lanes we found that everything was shut.
Try to sleep on the journey
Luckily, I’m not the one who does the driving to Wales. I have offered in the past but my boyfriend would prefer to do it all. He’s been going up to Wales for most of his life and so I’m happy for him to drive as he knows the roads so well.
This also means that I can try and catch up on my lost sleep.
In order to sleep in the car I bring a whole lot of home comforts. I ensure I’m wearing comfy clothes, I bring my pillows, a blanket and sometimes even my hot water bottle. For me this creates the perfect environment to encourage sleep. Lately I only sleep with earplugs in and so I will be bringing these along too – alternatively you could pop your earphones in.
Keep checking the traffic
One of the things that makes me anxious is the idea of being stuck in traffic and unable to move. I keep checking the traffic on my phone to ensure that the roads ahead are clear. We also use toll roads when available as they’re often emptier and there’s less chance of being stuck in a severe traffic jam.
If you’re an anxious person then I think the best thing to do is to make a plan. A few days before we’re due to leave I will start making lists of what we need to bring with us and ensure that I’m starting my packing nice and early.
This means that the stress of packing is lessened.
I pack everything we could possibly need (and more). Packing for every eventuality is my way of coping with the nerves and thankfully we travel by car so a few extra bags doesn’t make too much difference.
I pack snacks for the journey for a number of different reasons.
The first reason is that being gluten free and vegetarian my food options are greatly limited. I therefore pack some food and snacks so that I know I will be able to eat and it’s one less thing for me to worry about. In addition to this I find that when I wake up early in the morning a couple of hours later I will begin to feel sick because I’m so hungry. I therefore pack food that I can nibble on until the sicky feeling has dissipated and I can enjoy a proper breakfast.
I pack things such as; breakfast bars, crisps, popcorn, jam tarts, biscuits, etc… (not the healthiest but it’s all easy to snack on and we have lunch when we arrive)
Planning things to do during the journey can help. A week before I start scrolling through Youtube and add things to my ‘watch later’ playlist so that I can kill some time on the journey. Podcasts can also be a great way of passing some time and distracting yourself. I also make playlists for us to listen to during the journey – everyone loves a little sing-song on a road trip.
Towards the end of the journey I sometimes do my make up to distract myself and make myself feel a little more put together for when we arrive. This isn’t something I always do, it depends on my mood and whether I want something to further distract myself. It’s also a fun game of can-we-go-round-this-corner-without-me-stabbing-myself-in-the-eye-with-my-mascara-wand?
Plan where you’re going to stop and break your journey into chunks. We have our usual stopping points on the journey up to Wales and it’s helpful for me to break the journey up. I can think to myself that it’s only 20 minutes until we stop and stretch our legs. We also have some nice places to stop such as a farm shop, this is another aspect of the journey that I look forward to. Make sure your stopping places have loos and somewhere you can get some food. It may be a little bit annoying having to do some research on your route and potential stopping places but it’s worth it on the day!
What are your top tips for a long car journey?