How We Make Long Road Trips
Bearable as Full-Time RVers
Sitting in a vehicle for 10+ hours can either be an uncomfortable chore that you endure OR it can be a fun and enjoyable part of your journey as you travel from place to place. We don’t know about you, but we like to try our hardest to go for the second option! When we decided to take on full-time RV life, we knew that driving was part of the package, so we have worked on perfecting our long drives to make them not only bearable, but something to look forward to in our travels.
I’m not saying we always jump out of bed with a smile on our faces when it’s 4am and we have a 15 hour drive ahead of us. But even on the drives we dread, there are so many enjoyable moments that surprise us, and we always enjoy the opportunity to spend an entire day together and see what crazy topics of conversation unfold as the hours tick by.
Plus, if you think about it, long drives are almost like how everyone says ‘don’t just live for the weekend,’ because if you are always counting down the days to the weekend, you are subconsciously making the weekdays more dreadful. And you’re skipping out on more than half of your week! The same is true for driving. There are enjoyable moments to be had on a Monday morning just like there are enjoyable moments to be had when you are in a car and seeing the world. Every hour of life is valuable and something you can’t get back, so might as well make the most of it!
Here are our steps for making long drives bearable as full-time RVers:
Step 1: Plan Gas Stops
We like to plan all of our gas stops out ahead of time. Since navigating unknown areas is a little more complicated with a 33-foot trailer, we like to know that we won’t get stranded on a long stretch of highway with no gas stations. And be careful to know your vehicle’s max mileage on one tank! One time we were driving in the middle of west Texas when we checked our fuel range and realized we were not going to make it to the next planned gas stop. Fortunately, we came across a tiny gas station with outrageous gas prices and only one diesel pump, and we got to learn our lesson without having to go to drastic measures. Now, we always plan our gas stops conservatively!
Over our many road trips, we got to know a safe distance that our truck can go on a tank of gas while hauling the RV. It takes time to figure out exactly how far your vehicle can go, but we like to stay around 300 miles, maybe 250 miles if the speed limits are higher just to be safe. Planning our gas stops also helps us know that we can easily get in and out of any gas stations, although with a diesel truck, we prefer to use the truck lanes and we rarely have a problem.
Google Maps is really great for planning our stops. We like to put in point A (current location) to point C (destination) and then search for gas stations along the way as point B. Since we are able to go through the truck lanes at gas stations, we look up all of the Love’s, Pilots, Flying J’s, and other truck stops that are along our route. If you search the term ‘truck stop,’ it will show you all of the ones that you will come across as you travel from point A to point C. Then, Tyler does the math on the mileage and saves the best truck stops so we know which ones we will need to stop at to fill up our tank.
This is totally a personal preference, but we also like to set up our GPS destination to each gas stop. We like being able to see the time in smaller increments and take the long drive one bite at a time. Two hours to go looks a heck of a lot better than ten… 😆
Step 2: Pack Yummy Snacks
Snacks are a very important part of Andrea’s entertainment on the road. Who doesn’t like passing the time with yummy food? Some people might like to get food at different stops along the way, but we try to avoid this because it can get pretty expensive, not to mention there aren’t always the healthiest of options available.
Some of our absolute favorite travel snacks are:
- Epic Pork Rinds – everything Epic makes tastes amazing, and they are dedicated to using all parts of the animal, so we feel doubly good about this snack!
- Coconut Flakes – one of Tyler’s favorite snacks, coconut flakes are full of healthy fats and fiber, and they can trick you into thinking they’re sweet even with no sugar.
- Country Archer Jerky – it’s hard to find good grass-fed beef jerky without weird ingredients (that also tastes good), so Country Archer is our go-to jerky brand.
- Dried Figs – these are Andrea’s favorite sweet treat, and Sunny Fruit keeps the figs soft and delicious!
- Siete Chips – grain free, paleo, no unhealthy oils, no weird ingredients, all yummy. Lime is our favorite flavor.
- Dark Chocolate – we are dark chocolate fiends and we will eat it non-stop if we let ourselves! We always look for healthy chocolate that is 85% cacao.
- Fresh fruit – bananas and blueberries are our favorites
- Tyler’s sourdough (this is a must!) 😉
Step 3: Entertain Yourself
With this digital world we live in, there are so many ways to entertain yourself while driving. We have our entertainment pretty much down to a T and rotate between podcasts, stand-up comedy shows, movies, games, and audiobooks. (We promise they are all done safely!)
- Podcasts. We are suckers for just about anything Joe Rogan. His super deep science episodes are our favorite! We will usually download a few of his episodes before we leave and take a deep dive into the world of aliens and other fun stuff to keep our minds off of driving.
- Stand Up Comedy. We bet you can guess who’s stand up comedy we like to watch too? Yup, you guessed it… Joe Rogan! But we also like to add Tom Segura and Nikki Glaser to the mix when we are feeling a little spontaneous. We will download their shows on Netflix before we head out so we can listen while driving. Don’t worry, there is no watching while driving here. Tyler’s eyes are always on the road!
- Movies. “Just Go With It” with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Anniston has become a driving ritual, and we watch it at least every other road trip. Clarification, Andrea watches while Tyler drives and listens, and since we have seen it so many times, we know exactly what is happening without watching anyway! We can nearly quote the whole movie, and somehow it just keeps getting funnier 😂
- Games. When we start to feel burned-out from consuming content, we like to play silly games like the ‘name that song’ game and the states and capitals game. Yes, we probably just made those up, but we will explain! A few months ago when we spent a week and a half driving from Seattle, Washington to Charleston, South Carolina (which was 45 HOURS) we memorized all of the states, capitals, AND their slogans. It kept us busy and was productive! But the music game is definitely our favorite. To play the ‘name that song’ game, pick your favorite music decade, find a station or playlist from that decade on whatever music platform you use (we like Amazon Music), and see who can guess the song title and artist first! We have gotten pretty good at the early 2000s and ’90s but don’t ask us about any other time period. 😉
- Audiobooks. Audiobooks are saved for Tyler when Andrea falls asleep. They keep him awake and entertained, and Andrea sleeps right through them so it is perfect!
Step 4: Get Comfy
We would be lying if we said we didn’t get uncomfortable during long drives. Sitting in the same position for multiple hours leaves us pretty stiff. That paired with the dry air from air conditioning can make a long road trip feel even more frustrating than it needs to be. Two ways we have found to make the drive more comfortable are by using a….
- Humidifier. We found the coolest little humidifier for the truck that sits in the cupholder. It is the perfect size to tote around and doesn’t take up too much space. Our skin tends to always get really dry during our drives and our sinuses start acting up from breathing stale, recycled air. Not to mention, we are usually a little dehydrated since we refrain from drinking our usual amount of water so we don’t have to stop to use the bathroom every 20 minutes! The humidifier helps us combat the air conditioning from drying us out and making us uncomfortable. Our only tip: don’t forget to pack water to fill it up with because we do that and then always regret it. 😆
- Heating Pad. To help with the stiffness we mentioned earlier, our heating pad comes in clutch! Our truck has an AC plug which allows us to use the normal plug on the heating pad. When Tyler’s back starts acting up or Andrea’s stomach feels upset we also look to our trusty heating pad!
*What we DON’T do: pack a massive cooler*
We learned pretty quickly that we do not need to pack up loads of food before every trip. When we first started full-time RV-ing, we had one of those big blue Igloo coolers that we would pack up with everything you could imagine every time we made a drive. We soon discovered that that cooler was much too big to fit with our lifestyle, and it became way more of a hassle than anything else. When we are busy packing up the RV, the last thing we wanted to do was add another item to the to-do list. And we NEVER ate all of the food, so for us, it was totally not worth it. Now, we just pack up some of the snacks that need to stay cold like the fresh fruit in a small lunch box size cooler, and it is perfect for what we need!
There are still times where the drives make us crazy, and times when the last thing we want to do is get in the car for the second day in a row of driving. But as hard as road trips are, they definitely don’t need to be boring or (too) uncomfortable! These tips have helped us enjoy our road trips in most cases, and we hope they can help you too!
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Tyler & Andrea
We are full-time adventure seekers taking on the world in our East to West RV! We have seen so much personal growth during our first year of nomad life that we wanted a way to capture all of those moments and share them with you! Our goal is to inspire everyone to chase after their dreams and always seek adventure in whatever they do.
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