With spring breaks happening and summer coming on, the possibilities of road trips loom ever present. I love driving. In fact, starting in May, I will be driving from Chicago to Port Augusta, Washington to Memphis to Cleveland and back to Chicago - nearly 6000 miles. Like I said, I love road trips. If you have to or have the desire to take a road trip, here are five steps to help make those endless miles productive miles. The first thing I do is break my trip into 120 mile segments. This is a "must do" for me because I need to get out of the car and stretch and eat every two hours (I have a great metabolism balancing weight loss program I am on, www.foodloversonline.com that requires it). During the break in driving I stretch, write in my journal (see sections below), check and return email, make phone calls, grab a bite to eat, nap if the least bit groggy, visit the little driver's room and prep for the next two hour drive. I have five activities I do to fill a 10 hour day of driving. Between each stop, I do these five activities to remain productive and stay alert.
1. Audio books to grow - hours 1 and 2
I grab a selection of audio books to pass the time. For this portion of the trip, I choose non-fiction titles that will add to my personal and professional growth. I know I learn best in the morning, so I start my drive with the audio books. If there is anything that catches my attention while listening that I want to remember, I jot it down in my journal at the next stop.
2. Brainstorming to create - hours 3 and 4
This is quite time. I start this part of the drive with a project or set of projects in mind to mull over. For my trip out to Washington, I will probably be going over my workshops. I use this time to create ideas, solutions and strategic plans. No radio. No audio books. Just me and my thoughts. If going over an idea or presentation, I will often talk out loud. Hopefully the passing drivers will just think I am singing along to the radio. At the stopping point, I jot down any ideas.
3. Music to invigorate - hours 5 and 6
The next two hours is my music time. This is usually right after my lunch stop, so the music helps revitalize me during that after-lunch lull. I use Spotify, pick an artist, and let it introduce me to new music. I am often traveling though areas where the limited reception offers the choices of either conservative talk stations, country or gospel (nothing wrong with any of those - just not my cup of tea for two hours). Spotify, or any of its cousins, Pandora, Shazam, iTunes Radio, will offer variety with familiarity. If anything caught my ear during the drive, I note it in my journal at the stopping point.
4. Enjoy the scenery to reboot - hours 7 and 8
This is the second non-radio time. I just focus on the beauty around me. It is almost meditative. If I can plot a route off of the interstate for the next two hours, I will take the detour. I have seen some wonderful sights taking these detours. the driving is slower, but very rewarding. Getting lost is sometimes the best way to find yourself. Deep, huh? I allow myself two 15-minute stops at interesting places, if I find them. Antique stores, quaint coffee shops, bookstore and war monuments on small courthouse lawns all have become tourist attractions to me. One of my discoveries was a drive through Cairo, Illinois - a hauntingly beautiful ghost town.
5. Audio books to wind down - hours 9 and 10 or earlier, if I get tired
Now I put in a fiction audio book for the last two hours. I find having to follow a plot (which is not present in personal growth books) keeps me alert and focused at the end of the day. Then I stop for the night. If I get tired before the 10 hour mark, I stop. I always allow plenty of time so I never have to push myself beyond my safe driving limit. I never drive more than 10 hours per day.
You can create a plan that works for you, but by having a structure, my day flies by. I look forward to each new two hour "project". I also become very unaware of the miles fading away because I am actively doing something.
Maybe I will see you on the road this year. Watch my website for my current locations and, if I am driving near you, I would love to make you one of my stops for a cup of joe and a chat.
Drive safe, have fun, enjoy life.