Making Road Trips More Comfortable

Ah, the Road Trip, we’ve all done it. In a tribute to Jack Kerouac, we’ve all piled six people in a five seater in an attempt to see the country. As the lyrics to Willie Nelson’s City of New Orleans blare on the stereo and old Willie asks, “Good Morning America, How are you?” we’ve all restrained ourselves from answering. With the smell of spearmint gum and cigarettes masking the aroma of the pine tree air-freshener and the fast food wrapper that – before the trip is over – will serve as toilet paper resting against a pair of Birkenstocks, we’ve all embarked on a road trip, a rite of passage, a tribute to freedom, and perhaps one of the most uncomfortable journeys ever invented.

Cars, as a mode of transportation, aren’t meant to be comfortable. They are typically compact, stuffy, and a meeting place for body odor. Yet, road trips are still a favorite pastime of the American culture. For those of us who can’t afford to road trip in a limo, or an RV, there are a few tricks of the trade to make road tripping more comfortable.

Know Your Rest Stops

There are stretches of the American highway system where not a single toilet exists. While some people may see a tree and think, “toilet,” most others see a tree and think, “tree.” Because of this, it’s important to know where rest stops are located and, more importantly, know where they aren’t located. If you’re about to embark on a road trip, map out rest stop locations beforehand. This way you will know if you can drink a liter of coffee, or if that liter, should be more like a cup.

Bring a Pillow

We’ve all gotten one: a window print on our forehead. This ultimately results from sleeping with your head against the window, getting a neck cramp and letting passengers in passing cars look up your nostrils. Though a car isn’t exactly the best place in the world to sleep, it’s certainly not a latex or memory foam mattress, bringing a pillow can alleviate the discomfort. Propping a pillow up against the window will be much more comfortable than sleeping against the window itself. Of course, pillows and sleeping should both be avoided altogether for the person actually doing the driving.

Go on Walks

Road trips are a breeding ground for leg cramps, a place where aches and pains get together to attack joints and muscles. Because you’re stuffed in a car for hours at a time, leg cramps have no problem developing. The best way to avert their development is to stop every couple of hours. Whether you stop at a rest stop, or simply pull over on the side of the road, get out of the car, stretch your legs, and walk around. Even do jumping jacks and calisthenics, we promise the cars passing on the highway won’t stare.

Bring Your Own Music

We all remember being children and road tripping with our parents. As we were stuffed into the back seat among our brothers and sisters, forced to listen to our parents sing a duet to Sonny and Cher’s I Got You Babe, we longed to change the radio station to something we wanted, something like totally cool. Good music is the key to a good road trip. But, keep in mind, even if you are traveling with people your own age, there may still be some discrepancy of what constitutes good music. Instead of fighting over the stereo, simply bring a Discman and listen to whatever you want. Yes, even Bette Midler.

Road trips are fun. But, they aren’t always the most comfortable thing in the world. They get long, they grow boring, and there’s only so many times you can play rounds of travel games before you start to annoy even yourself. But, with these few tips, road tripping can be a little easier, a little more comfortable, and a little less likely to make you want to stick your head through the windshield.