4 Simple Ways To Reduce Your Travel Day Stress


travel day

Driving into the city can be stressful. Photo by P. Dent

4 Simple Ways To Reduce Your Travel Day Stress

Travel day can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. These are a few simple things you can do to reduce stress before you get on the road again.

1. Plan ahead and prepare easy-to-assemble meals

At the end of a stressful travel day, many folks like to go out for dinner.  After all who wants to drive for hours, set-up their rig at a new location, then get stuck in the galley cooking dinner.  Maybe I’m just using travel days as an excuse to dine out, but I’m not alone, I’ve talked to many other full-timers who do the same thing.

But sometimes we can’t go out or it just isn’t worth the hassle.  On the first night of our journey across the country to buy our new motorhome, we camped at Emigrant Springs in Oregon. It’s a historic campground that dates back to the days of the Oregon Trail pioneers, but it’s on the top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere. The nearest towns are 30 minutes away. 

Since it was already dusk when we set up, the idea of driving that far through the mountains in the dark was not appealing.

sunset over Palm Desert

Driving at night may increase your stress. Photo by Peggy Dent

On another occasion, on this same trip, we arrived at a campsite in Tennessee about an hour after a freak windstorm had torn through the area devastating locals and travelers alike.  There were tree branches and debris on the RVs in the campground. Power lines were down, streetlights were out, and several RVs were on their sides on both sides of the freeway, snarling up traffic in both directions.  

It was a mess!  But we were determined to go out for dinner, so we spent three hours trying to drive 5 miles. When we finally got to the street on which all the restaurants were located, we discovered that the locals were also going out for dinner, because most of the homes in this community were without power.

The restaurant waiting lines were over an hour long, and by then we were starving. We finally waited about 20 minutes in a DQ drive-through, and I assure you, it wasn’t worth the time or the hassle.

Now, to reduce the stress of travel days, I prepare easy to assemble dinner options and have fresh fruit and bread on hand.  I make a salad, boil some eggs, and cook up a few boneless chicken breasts, so when we arrive at a nightly stopover, we can quickly make a chicken or egg salad sandwich or combine a few ingredients for a quick taco salad. Fresh fruit completes any dinner and it can all be prepared and cleaned up in minutes.

2. Shorten the distance for each travel day

When we were weekend warriors there were many travel days that involved 10 or 12 hours behind the wheel. We often couldn’t get off work until 3 or 4 and by then rush-hour traffic had turned every road out of town into a parking lot.

On many occasions, we left Portland, OR in the late afternoon and drove north to the Canadian border and we wouldn’t stop until we reached the last rest stop south of the border. Those were long stressful workdays, followed by long stressful travel nights.

Of course, we were younger, and in some cases, necessity dictated that we drive those long distances, but now I manage travel day stress by shortening the distance I try to cover in any one stretch, which gives me the option to drive a little slower and to take travel breaks to reduce physical and mental fatigue.

We have found RV Trip Wizard to be very useful in planning out how far we should drive on each leg of the trip. We can set up three different radii for our preferred driving distances to appear on the map. For example, if we want to drive a max of 200 miles in one day, we can set that as the Outer Radius. But if we would rather find a campground that is within 100 miles, we’ll set that as the Inner Radius. This gives us a better idea of what is in the area and about how long it’s going to take to reach these places.

travel day

Use RV Trip Wizard to plan out your driving distance

Remember, many of us are driving extremely large RVs. Some are driving trucks pulling monstrous fifth wheels, or we’re driving a larger-than-life Class A motorhome with a dingy. The overall length of these rigs may exceed 60 feet and they can weigh upwards of 30,000 pounds. Driving a rig like this requires our full attention and it can be exhausting. Throw in unknown roads, a little bad weather, and an uncertain destination, and we have a formula for a very stressful day.

Now, I shorten the distance, take my time, arrive at my nightly campsite well before dusk, and I don’t string too many travel days together in a row.  We travel for a few days, then stop for a couple of days, until we arrive at a place where we’re comfortable hanging out.

As an example, we had been steadily making our way west from Florida, crossing the southern US when we arrived in Palm Desert for a four-day stopover. We instantly fell in love with the Coachella Valley so we decided to hang out, and what do you know, we stayed for almost three months.  Oh, the beauty of this lifestyle!

3. Get chores done before travel day

When we know we have a travel day coming up we try to get all our chores done early.  We break down as much of the campsite as possible, get our tow car washed and gassed up, wash the RV windshield, do the laundry, and get the deep cleaning done the day before, so a quick once-over will take care of the inside cleaning on the travel day.

During the prep day, we also do the extra cooking so when travel day arrives we can quickly break down and get on the road early.  Starting early also reduces stress because we don’t feel rushed.

travel day

Driving in the rain. Photo by Robert Couse-Baker

4. Finally, watch the weather

My final tip to reduce travel day stress is to carefully watch the weather. We check the road and pass conditions and the wind forecast for the area through which we’ll be traveling.  On our trip East to Florida, we had to push hard through Wyoming because there were 60 MPH winds behind us moving East.

All along the highway, we saw signs that read “highway subject to closure due to high winds” and we knew those 60 MPH winds were on our heels. We finally arrived in Nebraska and stopped for three days in a private campground where we rested, de-stressed, and let the winds blow on by.

In summary, we can reduce travel day stress with just a bit of planning, shortening the travel distance, and being aware of road and weather conditions ahead of us. Be prepared for your next travel day by planning out your route on RV Trip Wizard and with the RV LIFE With GPS.

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