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Living in a foreign country I’ve spent a lot of time visiting different places. Being one who fears the left side of the road, and blessed to have some good driving friends, I’m usually found in the passenger seat. It’s a luxury, yes, but as many of my passenger seat friends can probably agree, that seat can get rather boring. Road trips are meant to be exciting – there’s the music selection, the travel companion, the scenery, and the mishaps along the way.
As a kid, whenever we headed out onto the road, the vehicle was always well stocked with snacks – apple juice, Doritos, mom’s chocolate chip cookies, and more. Without even realizing it I carried this habit into adulthood. It’s easy enough really. We stop at the petrol station, I run inside to pay with the card, and there are all the classic car snacks sprawled out for the choosing. A drink for each of us, some chocolate (of course), something salty to balance out the chocolate, and some sort of ‘healthy attempt’.
Frequent trips are made to a small town about an hour and a half away from where I’m flatting. In New Zealand terms this qualifies as a road trip (it’s all relative North Americans, it’s all relative). It only took a few of these trips for me to notice what was happening. I could have a really good, well balanced week, but then we’d get in the car, the snacks would be purchased, and I would successfully be locked into a car with my worst enemy.
Boredom + car trip + food = kryptonite.
After the ninety minutes of self-control versus the need to do something I would arrive feeling bloated, defeated, sick…and just in time to be offered dinner.
I decided I was tired of fearing car trips for this reason, and needed to come up with a plan, being that I had a twelve-hour train ride in my future. I would need a game plan. Before I knew it I had a solid list done up on things that I ended up finding really helpful, it was just a matter of breaking out of how I always thought of road trips.
Here are my tips:
- Travel Companion. If possible, it’s always awesome having a travel buddy. If you’re lucky enough to have one along, think of some mutual interests you guys could chat about, or something you maybe want to learn about from them. By the end of the trip, you may know how to knit.
- Travel Journal. Using a travel journal has heaps of benefits on top of the something-to-do element. Keep track of towns visited, people you’ve met, meeting the love of your weekend, or how you learned to change a tire.
- Don’t set yourself up for failure. Only pack snacks if you’re going through the backwoods and won’t have the opportunity to stop anywhere along the way. I like to practice intuitive eating (essentially eating what your body craves/needs and only when you’re hungry) and feel like a smorgasbord of unnecessary options usually sabotages my efforts. This also gives you a chance to plan a stop in the nearest town and try some dodgy local food 🙂
- Break it up. If it’s possible to make small stops along the way it’s good to get out of the car and stretch your legs. While I was on the train, I would hop off at the longer stops and take a quick stroll. On a bit of a longer road trip recently we decided to stop off at op shops and used book stores along the way – it proved some golden finds.
- Know what makes you less anxious. I know if I have the opportunity to go for a good run, walk or hike in a day I feel a lot more confident in my decisions and feel more able to make healthy ones. Try to plan it for before you leave for the trip, during, or after whether it’s watching a movie, journaling, exercising (within reason), or just chatting with a friend about how you’re feeling.
- Make use of electronics. This is especially useful if you’re by yourself. Upload some new artists, throw on some new movies, a few good podcasts about something you’ve been meaning to learn more about and tada…your entertainment’s arranged.
- Camera. Photos. GO.
- Magazines. One of my favorite things about visiting other countries is getting to check out whatever their version of a woman’s magazine is. Though I once came across a disturbing one about vajazzling. Yikes. When I’m sticking to local spots, I always stock up on some good novels to get into for the holiday.
- Planes are a whole different ball game. So here’s a quick list of my plane activities: browse the movie selection, use that travel journal, document people’s awkward sleeping habits, read, sample the plane radio, hang out in the bathroom for a change of scenery, and then become the victim of somebody else’s sleeping documentation.
There it is, I hope you guys are able to make use of these tips during your summer travel! Bon Voyage!
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