Random Thoughts: Long Car Rides

Hello Friends!

So today, I wanted to talk about long car ride/trips!


Because I have the very unfortunately event of having to return to my hometown today. It is a 5 hour drive. I think anything over 3 hours qualifies as a long car trip.

So I know everyone has their own little quarks to prep for long car rides or must haves. I wanted to share what mine were.


Before the trip:

  • Empty out car – I’m notorious for leaving random stuff in my car. Last night I cleared out three pairs of shoes, a pair of flip flops, my cowboy hat, random water bottles, my ice scraper (yes its June and I hadn’t removed it yet – in my defense we were still getting snow in April this year) and my sleeping bag which hasn’t left the back of my jeep since August 2012
  • Pack car – depending where I’m going and for how long I have one to two bags, however the expect is when I’m going to my parents. Then I pack a bursting bag full of laundry and several giant empty totes. Even though I’ve been out of college for a year, I still have to pay quarters to do my laundry! So if I can sneak a free load in, I am really not ashamed. And the empty totes – I, without fail, always come home with more than I cam with. I don’t know how it happens but it does.
  • Know where the hell I’m going – In this case, it’s no big deal. But to new locations, I study Google maps like a kid trying to pass an algebra class. And then I put the address in my gps and phone because you never know if technology will hate you and decide not to work
  • Tunes for the road – I am one of those people who need music while driving. Doesn’t matter what kind of music as long as its not heavy bleeped out rap or sad/slow songs. The last thing you want to hear is a sad/slow song at 8pm during a long drive and you still have like an hour to go. It makes that last hour longer than a painful dentist appointment.

Day of departure:

  • Fill up – this is a der, always fill up before you leave, you never know what will happen.
  • Clean windshields – depending on where I am going, depends if I give my windshield a good clean up. If I’m going up north in the summer, like to my hometown, I have to clean my windshield. The amount of bug guts that will get smeared across your windshield is not only disgusting, but makes things very difficult to see.
  • Double check where the hell I’m going – why? Because I’m paranoid, that’s why.
  • Coffee and ice tea – These are two things I must have besides music. I average 2-4 hours of sleep a night (if I’m lucky) due to my insomnia. So having caffeine on long journeys is a must because I will not risk falling asleep at the wheel. But also I’m a coffee lover I won’t say no to coffee
  • Food – If I need to pack any food for the trip, I wait until I leave to pack it so nothing goes bad.
  • Stopping – depending on how late I’m running and where I’m going, I try to stop once or not at all. During this 5 hour drive tonight, I will probably only stop once – get something to eat/drink and fuel up again. There is a gas station I always stop at that’s like my halfway point. Its a nice little break.

Now I drive by myself 90% of the time, so while I’m driving, I will sing loud and obnoxiously and jam out. If you pass me and I noticed you gawking at my awkward drive jam session, I’ll more than likely give you the “watssup” nod and go back to my tunes. I do not text and drive. Not only is that stupid but it’s highly dangerous. And in Wisconsin, the farther north you go, you have to worry about deer and bears and wolves and cows and occasionally a turkey running out in front of your car. Unless you drive a jacked up monster truck where it’ll run over anything, you need to pay attention.

If I don’t know where I’m going or if I’m in a big city (my big city driving skills suck) I have a tendency to turn down my music so I can concentrate and see the signs better. Why on earth I think there is a correlation between the music interfering with my seeing signs better is beyond me. Do you guys do that? Anyways, I will also assume the Granny position – hands tightly griping the steering wheel at 11 and 1 and sitting forward and swear like a sailor. I’m sorry, I get paranoid because I have gotten lost one too many times in Madison and Minneapolis. And its terrifying and downright frustrating.

Car Crate

I have a crate that stays in my car no matter what. It homes all my emergency stuff:

  • AAA emergency kit
  • blanket
  • flip flops
  • atlas of all 50 states
  • mini first aid kit
  • Car phone charger
  • car manual

I have used all of these. The jumper cables in the AAA kit were handy when my truck died after swim practice once, blanket for the time I left the window open and it rained, flip flops – stepped in mud, atlas – I get lost a lot, especially if my mother tries calling me and I miss my exit, and yes this happens often, mini first aid kit – split my foot open camping once, butterfly bandages were needed, car charger always need this, and car manual because I know jack about cars – just learned to change my windshield wiper blades by myself thanks to the manual #self-sufficient

Traveling in Wisconsin during the Winter

Now, during the winter, you have to be extra careful. Once it hits November, my winter car crate goes in my car right next to my normal car crate. This kit includes:

  • Jumper cables
  • Ice scraper
  • Shovel
  • Extra blankets
  • Boots with clean wool socks
  • Flares
  • Hand heaters
  • Extra gloves
  • Lil container of salt
  • Tow cables

Some may think this is a little over board, but if you are stuck in a blizzard, you want to know you can stay warm and safe during it. If you get snowed in by a snow plow, you want to know you get can to work, if you break down, you want to know if you’ll be okay and if you see someone in help, you can actually help them. I have used all these items before, mostly the ice scraper and shovel.

If you are ever caught in a God awful blizzard or snow storm, it’s okay to stop, if you must, get a hotel room for the night. All Wisconsinites have done it at one point or another. During my sophomore year in college, I was going home for Christmas and it took me around 7 hours to get home, an hour of that was me hiding out in McDonald’s because the roads weren’t plowed there yet (even with 4wheel drive I couldn’t keep traction) and it was starting to hail along with sleet and snow.


Image courtesy of the Google machine, but seriously this is how it feels to drive in winter here at night


So please, friends, if you do similar things or what to share your long trip list, comment!


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