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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar. 22, 2005
    Where it is perpetually winter

    Default Long drives alone

    As some of you know, I go to school in Minnesota and am originally from New York. In about 2 weeks, I'm driving home for the summer - a 22 hour drive (don't worry, I'm doing it over 2 days). I've done some long driving by myself before, but never more than 8 hours in one direction. This is my first time going to/from school alone. Just wondering if anyone could give tips/do's/don'ts. Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun. 7, 2006


    Quote Originally Posted by supershorty628 View Post
    As some of you know, I go to school in Minnesota and am originally from New York. In about 2 weeks, I'm driving home for the summer - a 22 hour drive (don't worry, I'm doing it over 2 days). I've done some long driving by myself before, but never more than 8 hours in one direction. This is my first time going to/from school alone. Just wondering if anyone could give tips/do's/don'ts. Thanks in advance!
    Get some good sleep, not only the night before but in the several nights leading up.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec. 21, 2005
    Colorado Springs, CO


    I used to drive Minneapolis to West Palm Beach a lot. I actually did the trip straight through once, but that is not something I ever plan to attempt again. It required a lot of caffeine and speeding.

    Even though it will require a few more "pit stops", be sure to keep yourself hydrated so you don't get fatigued. Gatorade has always been my friend on long trips. A good pair of polarized sunglasses will reduce eye strains.

    Have fun! Make sure your car is road worthy and you are equipped for emergencies, and try to avoid Chicago at rush hour. Make sure you have change for toll roads too.
    "Is it ignorance or apathy? Hey, I don't know and I don't care." ~Jimmy Buffett

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007


    When in my early 20's in Europe, flying was not common, I used to do that 22 hour drive, once or twice a year, all in one day.
    If I didn't want to drive, I took the train, that was also a 22 hour trip and you could sleep there.

    I think that today I would fly.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar. 28, 2006


    When I am travelling alone, I am sure to stock up on snacks that can be eaten "bit by bit" -- ie trail mix, M&Ms -- stuff like that. Because if I'm feeling sleepy, that is a great cure!
    Family Partners Welsh Ponies - Home of Section B Welsh stallion *Wedderlie Mardi Gras LOM/AOE
    Click here to buy: A Guide To In Hand Showing of Your Welsh Pony

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul. 4, 2006
    New Hampshire


    I agree with getting good sleep. This year I drove from NH to Aiken and back by myself (about 20 hours). The drive down was absolutely brutal because I was working on very little sleep. Coming home, while long, was MUCH easier because I was well-rested. Any other advice is hard to say because it's going to vary with the personality. I'm the type who likes to just keep going (I like to feel that I'm getting somewhere). Other people might advise to make some stops. I will say that cruise control is your friend. I also wish I had had some books on tape (CD) for the drive. If I do it again next year, I'll have to remember that.
    -Debbie / NH

    My Blog:

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec. 5, 2004
    Lexington, KY


    Be sure to find a nice hotel ahead of time using trip advisor or AAA. Nothing worse than getting tired and realizing you are in the middle of nowhere with only scary motels around

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct. 27, 2010


    Take three days and make it a mini-vacation, stop and enjoy things along the way. Take music....road music.....stuff you can sing along with and that has some rythym and is fun. Stay hydrated. Treat yourself like you would treat your horse....pit stops, get out, walk around, have a snack every couple of hours and make the stop more than just a few minutes. Take a camera to record your trip (another reason for taking an extra day...find little treasures that are off the main road). Loose comfy clothing...nothing more irritating that jeans with a really snug waistband about 6 hours into sitting. Second the road worthiness of your care and emergency kit. Practice changing a tire (I hate those little itty bitty hydrolic jacks that raise a car all of 6 inches!). I forgot that there are toll roads back there so second the change! Make sure your cellphone is charged.
    Colored Cowhorse Ranch
    Northern NV

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb. 26, 2011
    Its not nowhere, but you can see it from here


    Stay hydrated. Obviously you know to have your car gone over by your mechanic. Get one of those battery jumper/air compressors from Walmart. As you cross each state line, jot down the State Police number that is usually on a big green highway sign. AND call your mom, dad, sis or bff as you cross into each state. God forbid something happen, at least they will know your state. When my sister and I were doing cross country trip as teenagers, that was our MO.
    From AliCat518 "Seriously, why would you NOT put fried chicken in your purse?!"

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec. 30, 2007


    I do a lot of long trips alone, usually pulling a horse trailer. Books on CD help those hours fly by. Tune into talk radio stations that are discussing controversial topics. That always gets my adrenaline flowing and then I don't get sleepy.

    Have Triple A, US Rider, or some other road side service so you don't have to worry about flat tires or strange engine noises. Just knowing help is a phone call away makes me much less anxious on long trips.

    Travel during the day, sleep at night. It's much safer even if there's more traffic.

    When you stop for gas, walk around the perimeter of the gas station, or jog if you prefer. It makes you much more alert once you get back on the road.

    Good luck.
    The Willows Welsh Mountain Ponies

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec. 22, 2005
    Chicago. Again.


    Books on tape are life savers, and if you're like me you'll discover a whole new hobby sometimes i look forward to a drive because of them. If you haven't already done Girl with the Dragon Tattoo the audio is about as long as your trip. It was like a whole other person in the car when we drove around the entirety of Lake Michigan this summer.

    I also recommend starting early. The roads move very fast before everyone else wakes up, and there's something about having 5 hours under your belt by 10 am that just seems to make the whole thing easier.
    Now promoting sale horses from North Carolina to the Netherlands. Follow us on Facebook.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb. 28, 2006
    The rocky part of KY


    I drove from SF to Lexington KY by myself and was given advice by some coworkers who'd done the drive alone. They told me to start early and find my hotel before dark, and get a hotel with an attached or nearby restaurant.
    I took a cooler filled with grapes and other fruit and lots of water. I used truck stops for gas and settled on the Pilots because until you get here to KY they all have Subways and that was the other thing I ate.
    I set the cruise for about four miles over the speed limit in each state and that kept me up with the crowd without going too fast. Car was freshly serviced before I left.

    I stopped ahead of major metro areas and left real early to miss the rush hour, I did get lost at St Louis because it's hard to be your own navigator and that was one of the places I hadn't printed out a map for, figuring there'd be good signage on the interstate, Hah!, so take a map book or a gps or something.

    You could probably do it in two days without any trouble as long as the weather cooperates.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb. 16, 2003
    MI USA


    Despite what others do, have done, driving for long distances can be dangerous. Commercial truck drivers are only allowed to drive 10 hours without time off.

    You get fatigued and your body is not always cooperative about staying awake. It wants to sleep when body feels it needs sleep!! Caffine and other "tricks" may or may not work well for you to stay alert enough to drive SAFELY.

    Sleep deprivation is becoming the cause in many accidents. It is as bad or worse than driving drunk. You can't stop from falling asleep if you are NEEDING that sleep. The body just shuts down.

    While it will take longer, you may want to drive for shorter distances, break up your trip in smaller driving sessions. Get out, walk around outside, or maybe take a nap in the car, before resuming your trip. Take 3 days to drive the distance, in more manageable distances. Don't try doing 6-8 hour sessions before taking a break.

    Getting home FAST is NOT WORTH an accident of dying over. Sleep deprivation is SERIOUS, uncontrollable except by stopping and getting some sleep. They have developed machines to measure your eye fatigue, ticketing truckers who are lying on their log books. The new saying of "the eyes don't lie" is a fact in measuring fatigue with the machine.

    Lots of stories of folks who went XX hours driving, no sleep, covering thousands of miles and MADE it to their destination. MANY other folks trying to do the same thing, DID NOT arrive safely. Fatigue, road hypnoisis, are not jokes, and caffine won't prevent your falling asleep.

    Please plan a longer drive time, with MANY more breaks to rest and get off the road to refresh yourself. Visit some local sites on your break time along the way. Get more hours sleeping on your overnight stops, so you are fully rested for leaving each day. I am sure your folks will be happier that you arrived a bit later, but SAFELY, than the wishing you hadn't chosen to try coming faster.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May. 12, 2000
    NE TN, USA


    Ditto the talk radio and books on tape. They'll keep you awake.

    I prefer a cooler with small bottles of water rather than soft drinks. Lemon drops help too.

    If you can borrow a CB radio, put it on the seat next to you and keep it on channel 19 if there's any question about road conditions. The language is frequently "salty", but it's also often entertaining, and when conditions are bad, the truckers get serious in a hurry. A short antenna with a magnetic base to slap on the roof is all you'll need.
    “There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.”
    John Adams

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar. 9, 2006


    A few times I found myself being shadowed by another driver. Ususally it was just one of those innocent things where you end up travelling the same speed as someone else, and you drive each other crazy constantly passing each other. A few times, though, I had a bored young male playing games with me. In both situations I would simply get off at an exit and then get right back on the highway. It took about 30 seconds, and it would put enough distance between me and the other driver that we were no longer part of the same traffic pattern.

    Check your spare tire, and know how to put it on. (Surprising how many people don't know how to change a tire these days.) Know how to check your fluid levels and where to add more if you're low. If your oil and fluids need changing, do it a couple of days before you leave. Sometimes the garage guys don't tighten everything up properly afterwards. It's better to discover this when you are still near the mechanic and not 400 miles down the highway with a slagged engine.

    Peanut M&Ms were my favorite long drive snack food. Sugar to perk me up, a little protein and fat for when the sugar wore off, and trace amounts of caffeine that I could convince myself were actually doing something. (Yay for placebo effect!) I'm one of those people who gets thrashing headaches if I don't eat, so I made sure to stop for more substantial food every few hours.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan. 9, 2006
    the land of sky-blue waters


    I just did this last month (GA to MN) and will do it again in August (MN to ME). Lots of snacks, plenty to drink, rest stops when you need them (I found that gas stops came just often enough to allow me to walk around a bit to loosen up and get more alert). I have a mid-sized SUV and couldn't really afford a hotel stay, so I threw a couple of featherbeds, a pillow, and a sleeping bag in the back of my car-- folding the seats down made an almost full-size bed. I was careful to sleep at truck stops with security cameras, parked right under a light, double-checked to make sure the doors were all locked, and had pepper spray and my cell phone close at hand.
    Don't travel over the weekend if you can avoid it-- I broke down outside of Cedar Rapids, IA on a Saturday, and was very lucky that there was ONE mechanic open and my problem was easy to fix.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan. 1, 2011


    In 09 i drove from my home to Yuma AZ, to pick up my brother from the Marines, he was getting out. I drove like a trucker in the sense of I didn't stop going there other than for food and fuel. I made the trip in roughly two and a half days of driving, granted the first full day of driving I stopped early to keep me away from the Mexican border after dark. The drug barons were seriously fighting the government at that time. On the way back, we took a different route and stopped at the AQHA headquarter.

    As far as your body is concerned being awake for 20 hours is the same as a .08 blood if you are doing nothing. Driving will take it out of you allot faster than that, 10 to 12 hours is a long time to be behind the wheel.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar. 15, 2009
    On a WhisperStream


    If you stop at a rest area or make any stops be very careful. Don't look like a victim.

    Have your registration, license and insurance card handy along with your Motor Club Card.

    Make sure that your spare tire is inflated.

    Bring your cell charger.

    Bring maps (I use a truckers atlas) just in case your GPS doesn't work if you have one.

    Make sure that you can see our of all your windows. There is nothing more annoying on a long trip than an obstructed view.

    Bring fruit. It will keep you awake.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec. 20, 2003
    N. Augusta, SC (but forever a BUCKEYE!)


    I have traveled a lot between Ohio and Utah, Ohio and Georgia and Georgia to Colorado. The longest trips, obviously were the 24 hour ones to Colorado and Utah.

    I always start 4:00 a.m. early. I try to be off the road before nightfall. I get a little creeped out when traveling by myself and have to get gas, get my stuff put into a hotel room, etc. when it's nighttime.

    Also, by starting that early on the first day, I have a much shorter drive on day #2. Because I'm leaving from home, there's no need for me to stop and get gas when it's still dark outside.

    Although we live in the age of GPS...plan your trip and carry a road atlas. I know, I know...SO old school, but two years after the outerbelt around my town was extended, it still doesn't show up on GPS and everyone still gets lost getting to my house. GPS isn't always a 100% fail-safe.

    If you're going to be traveling a lot, have a roadside assistance program (like AAA). It'll save you a lot of money if you break down.

    Books on tape or downloaded onto an I-pod really do make the hours go by.

    I find when driving for a long time, my shoulders get tired from holding onto the wheel. I plop a pillow in my lap so that my elbows can rest on it and reduce fatigue.

    I have three travel companions in my pups. They pretty much go wherever I go. If you're traveling with a pet, I HIGHLY recommend they wear a doggy seatbelt or travel in a crate that is securely tied down. Lots of accidents happen when dogs are climbing around in a car, and if you're ever in an accident and your dog is loose, they'll be an instant projectile through the window.

    When you stop, ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings. If you're getting gas, make sure the other doors to the car are locked so that no one can get into your car, steal your belongings, etc. from the opposite side of the car. Always lock all doors whenever you run into a building. Have your keys ready to go when you're ready to get back in...don't waste time fumbling in your purse or your pocket for keys. Don't talk on your cell phone while traveling from the car to a're distracted and may not see any weirdos approaching.
    Random horse pics
    Talk to me about fitness or nutrition (I'm an A.C.E. Certified Personal Trainer)!
    My blog!

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr. 28, 2008


    I haven't read all the posts but I often do long drives alone and I find it is easier to stay awake with an entertaining book tape. You can download one on an ipod or other device from Get something froofy that you think will be interesting, and preferably unabridged so it will take longer (might need two for that distance, as many novels are 10-12 hours unabridged). It gives you something to pay closer attention to than music which lets my mind wander too much. A story plot is just the thing for me.

    GPS is also nice if you are going somewhere you don't know well, so I can pay loose attention to the book and road and not so much have to care about missing a turn. Three things is too many for me personally unless it is a familiar route.

    I would go novel or fun/rollicking biography, though -- dry books do not work. My husband got some book called "Intelligence in War" once and it was the driest, worst book tape ever. I'm sure it was a wonderful BOOK, but it made for terrible listening. If a book goes into too much detail about how many of each different size cannon are on each hill, you will wreck for sure.

    I also get a caffeinated, fizzy beverage, some candy and some crunchy food.

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