Long Distance Road-Trips: How to Stay Sane

Earlier this year we and did a road-trip across the South Island of New Zealand. Starting in Christchurch, we drove inland to Arthur’s Pass, backtracked down to Mount Cook, saw Lake Tekapo, Lake Wanaka, hiked up a mountain, saw Milford Sound, and camped at some damn nice campsites along the way.

Over the course of 11 days, we drove a total of 1,855kms.

Over the weekend however, we drove from Sydney to Melbourne, and back. In two days we drove 1,705kms.

One-thousand, seven-hundred and five freakin’ kilometres.

That’s the distance from one end of Ireland to the other, multiplied by three and a half.

I guess that’s the beauty of living in Australia. We get to hop in the car and drive for hours, passing sleepy wombats on the side of the road (mate, why would you sleep there — it’s dangerous), through mountains, across barren deserts, occasionally with no other cars in the rear-vision mirror.

So, how do you keen sane on these lengthy road trips? Here are a few handy tips that keep us awake — and entertained — while driving long distances.

  • Put together a playlist of super old-school sing-along songs — This one seems obvious, but I cannot tell you how many times I’ve hopped in the car with someone who says “The next song is great, I promise.” Only to be followed by, “Darn haven’t updated this playlist in years. These songs are so old.” Maybe the issue is that their 2015 One Direction album isn’t old enough. What about Def Leppard’s 1980’s Hysteria album, or Starship’s 1985 ‘We Built This City’. Sometimes, you need to stop trying to keep up with the times, and go back to the music that will literally never get old — and guarantee an ear-splitting sing-along. [One day if I have children I’ll still be arguing this case]
  • Buy a pack of trivia cards. Mum actually gave us these for Christmas right before we went to New Zealand, and I almost left without them, but figured, “Why not.” After going through 3 packs of these quiz cards, we wished we had more.
  • Make a stop every 2 hours. This one isn’t as easy if you’re leaving in the early hours of the morning when it’s still dark, or if you’re driving through the night — but just like the ads say, you need to take a rest every now and again. And what’s the point of doing a road-trip if you don’t make a few stops along the way? We stopped at-least 5 times on the way down to Melbourne, stopping off at the Ned Kelly museum, Yass, Holbrook, a petrol station and the side of the road. Breaking up a 9 hour drive is really important.
  • Share stories with each other. Not gossip. Not complaints. Stories. Ask each other questions about your childhood, or chat to the family before you leave, and get them to tell you an interesting (probably long winded) story that you can pass on.
  • Play eye-spy. This game actually isn’t the best to play when you’re driving on a flat road past gum-trees and rolling green hills. It’s easier if you drive through towns, but get creative, it’ll make time fly.

Have you got any handy road-trip sanity tips?

Like what you read? Give Milly McGrath a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.