Over the last few years when we drove anywhere, we drove to the same places: Silver Dollar City, Eureka Springs, and Keystone, CO. We knew the roads, the miles, and the rest stops. The first two are fairly short distances between 3-4 hours. While Keystone takes about 12-14 hours depending on road conditions (blowing snow, ice, etc) and Denver traffic. We don't really need to consult a map for any of these places as our car's GPS, Regan, does a fine job . . . well, other than the time she wanted us to drive through a cow pasture to a road that we could see less than 1/4 mile away!
In other words, this human co-pilot has gotten lazy in her responsibilities.
In my hubby's words the co-pilot is responsible for keeping the driver alert, feeding him drinks and snackies, and telling him which way to drive.
Keeping the driver alert: Hubby likes driving, I don't. In the 2600 miles to and from Florida, plus all the driving in-between, I think I drove about 120 miles. So I'm usually co-pilot.
Okay, it only took me a few years to figure out that I can't read while hubby is driving. He's a talker and needs to talk to keep alert. We also bought a supply (15 in a box) of 5-Hour Energy from Sam's Club prior to this trip . . . only 5 came home with us, and we still have a second big box left!
So if I can't read, what can I do? I tried to judge contests on my computer--same issue. I need quiet to concentrate, he needs to talk. For years, I would just stare out the window, but a few years ago I started crocheting again. Not the huge full afghan, but the panels that are eventually pieced together to make a full sized afghan. This is the perfect solution for us! I can talk and keep him alert while crocheting. I don't need to concentrate as hard since I'm familiar with most of these patterns. And I can drop it in a moment's notice to refer to a map or a road sign.
So if you are co-pilot and your spouse likes to drive. Crocheting or knitting or whatever are good to take along. I wouldn't recommend anything with pointy sewing needles though. I tried cross-stitching and too many roads are bumpy and uneven to be successful without a couple of bloody fingers!
Feeding and care of the driver: We packed an ice chest full of water bottles. I also packed a variety of Crystal Light single serving flavors. The car was packed in such a way that the kidlet could reach into the back and grab whatever, but for the most part we waited until we needed a potty break to stop and get nom-noms. Water is better for hydration on the road than anything else. The flavors gave your mouth a tastebud break from the non-flavor of the water.
I kept a couple of 5-Hour Energies up front for quick access.
Snackies--if you read my post yesterday, you'll know that I made a ton of little baggies full of various snackage. We went to a new grocery store here called Fresh Market, which has rows and rows of bins with various bulk snack items. We just shoveled some into large baggies and away we went, BUT I knew if we opened a large bag of food then we would scarf it down in 3.5 seconds. Okay, I knew I would finish off the package. I have zero will power that way. So I weighed everything out. Since I had no idea of the calorie count on any of these, I decided to go with about 1 oz or 38-42 grams for each of the various trail mixes. That is what the prepackaged mixes in the stores usually quote as a 'serving'. This technique worked out really well as it was enough to satisfy without feeling full and bloated.
Navigating: posed more of an issue than it should have. I had 2 GPS's, numerous maps for the various states and 1 Triptik. I hated the triptik which was put together by AAA Auto. Their new system stinks and only prints 40-50 miles on each page, without enough information to give you any idea of the terrain. Rest areas are marked, but only generally. I would have preferred a mile marker number to be more accurate. I only wanted the triptik for the current construction markings. It did this well, but it didn't mark the parts of Alabama State Highway 70 that was converting to I-25. Some of this road wasn't on either maps or GPS.
The car's GPS needed to get the newest version installed prior to this trip. We didn't do it and Regan was lost many many times. She also wanted to add 3 hours to our trip taking us from Birmingham, AL to Nashville, TN, BEFORE going to Memphis, when there is a perfectly fine road from Memphis to Birmingham that goes through Tupelo, MS. Regan also took us on a one-lane road when we were driving from Clearwater Beach to Destin, instead of using the perfectly fine state highway about two blocks away . . . .we finally shut her up by turning her off.
My hubby's phone also has a GPS, which was very good, but some of the little side roads messed it up. I liked this GPS better than Regan for some of our tasks as it was easier to shrink down and look ahead at the road.
Maps--Always, always, always take a paper map. Jus' sayin'. The maps were life-savers. You could refer to large chunks of road and gauge distances better. You could tell the driver what type of road you would be on (a two-lane road or a divided highway). The Florida map was the best as it had all the rest areas marked in roughly 35 mile incriments on their interstate highways. Toll roads were marked. Plus it was easier to plan a route the night before a drive (we were debating which way to drive home--back the way we came or through uncharted territory of Louisiana--I lost. We went back the way we came).
Most of the times when we were driving through a city, I was on high alert. Partly because traffic bothers me and I'd rather see the craziness in progress instead of looking up and freaking out. When we were on our way home and were driving I-40 all the way through the state of Arkansas, I instructed the hubby to stay on I-40 or drive toward Ft. Smith. So of course while we were driving through Little Rock, I look in my bag for something and the hubby manages to get into the left fork of the dividing highway heading into Little Rock. I yell. He does a combat lane change--at least three lanes and the gravel-filled median to the correct highway.
Which just goes to show that he really didn't listen to me when I kept repeating, "Head toward Fort Smith." Or "Stay in I-40."
Are you the driver or the co-pilot? Do you have any trick you want to share?