This week LITERALLY flew by in the blink of an eye – did that happen for anyone else? Since it was Labor Day on Monday, I went up to my family’s cabin last weekend to get a little vacay in. And by vacation, I mean – I wanted to go to a remote area where no one could bother me so I could get as much work done as possible.

I left at the end of last week and ended up coming home midweek for the opening of Primal Kitchen in Culver City. I’m not really an “event” kind of person, but that was one event I would not miss. I’ve been waiting desperately for the Primal Kitchen opening for almost a year, and it did not disappoint!

Anyways, our cabin is about a 7-8 hour drive (depends on traffic) from L.A. It’s only a few hours from where I grew up in the Bay, so it’s much easier for my family to make the trip. Since moving down here, though, I hardly ever get to go up! Whenever I get the chance to go, I savor it. It’s not worth it to make the drive unless I can stay longer than a weekend. It’s truly in the middle of nowhere, and there’s really nothing to do besides be in nature, spend time with the people around you, sleep, and eat. We usually watch a lot of movies, cook a ton of food, hang out on the deck, and play weird board games.

Recently, I’ve felt really claustrophobic in L.A. I feel very overstimulated and like I can’t get anything done because I’m being pulled in too many directions. I have a lot to do, but I can’t focus because there are too many distractions. Something always comes up. I know a lot of people can relate to that. I really needed to get away, especially to an area with no cell service. It’s funny how when people know you’re going out of town, they finally give you a chance to breathe. When you’re not on “vacation,” though, you’re expected to be available constantly whenever anyone else needs something.

Basically, I had to disguise the fact that I was going to my cabin to do a lot of work by saying that I was going on a vacation, because I knew that people would only respect the fact that I needed space if they thought I was on “vacation.”

I was as productive as I could’ve been. If you follow me on Instagram, I’m sure you saw the ridiculous amount of recipe testing that went down. I wanted to take advantage of having a big group to cook for, because that allows me to get as many opinions on the food as possible! You’re going to freak out over what’s coming this fall – just wait. We had a ton of delicious food all weekend long, so I was on cloud nine. Our family friend brought fresh fish from his recent boating trip in Alaska, and the wild salmon was heaven. Besides that, I did a ton of studying, recorded some podcasts, worked on some blog posts, and went on a quite a few walks in nature. There is nothing that makes me happier than a walk outside. I do wish that I had completely cut myself off from the Internet in addition to having no cell service during the trip, but I needed the Internet for a few things for work. Next time, though, I might have to do a full detox.

Back to the point – it’s a long drive up, but I’ve got it down to a science. Everyone was shocked when I mentioned I only made one stop. Because of that, I want to share some of my go-to road trip tips and how I organize myself for a long drive!

My Packing Routine

First of all, let’s talk packing. This really depends on where I’m going. For the cabin, I literally only needed one outfit because no one would see me. Usually, I would pack more. When I know I’m going away for the weekend, I start a packing list at the beginning of the week on Notes on my phone. Whenever I think of something during the week that I need to remember to pack, I write it on the list, since I have it with me at all times! As I add things, I try to keep them in categories to make it a little easier come packing time – clothes, food items, electronics, toiletries, miscellaneous. When it’s time to actually pack, I have my list all ready to go! It makes the packing process a lot easier for someone like me, who is extremely indecisive.

When I’m packing more clothes, I generally try to bring pieces that I know will go with everything, which is what most of my wardrobe consists of, anyways. I don’t plan specific outfits because then I get stressed about choosing outfits beforehand and figuring out how hot/cold I’ll be and what I’ll feel like wearing. Instead, I stick to neutrals and unpatterned clothes. Things that will all go together and can mix and match. A pair of leggings, dark jeans, shorts, a jean jacket, a black jacket, a plain white t-shirt, plain black t-shirt, plain white tank, plain black tank, workout outfit, plain black dress. A pair of sandals, converse, and running shoes. Sometimes a pair of booties or nicer sandals, too, depending on the destination. Those are my go-to’s. If I’m going somewhere exciting, I’ll throw in one or two “special pieces,” like a patterned romper or a cute maxi dress so I have options if we go out to eat at a nice restaurant.

This time, though, just one outfit. And all of my laundry.

On road trips, I also always pack food, which my fellow wellness junkies / protocol-followers can relate to. I packed way more food than usual this time because I was planning on doing a ton of recipe testing. Beause of that, I had to plan out all of my recipes beforehand and make sure I had every potential ingredient that I might need. I also had to pack more this time because you’re basically stuck with whatever you bring to the cabin. There’s only one grocery store anywhere near us, and it definitely does not have healthy baking products. It’s more of a Doritos and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! kinda store. I had my long list of ingredients ready to go, and then I packed it all into insulated, sturdy bags. From Milk & Eggs, to be exact. Don’t throw away those bags!

There are a few things that I bring with me pretty much everywhere I go, if I’m staying somewhere where I’ll be cooking.

Food-related items I always pack:

Food-related items I packed because I would be staying in a remote area for a long amount of time and cooking a lot (wanted to make sure I covered all of my bases, and I was driving, anyways):

Those are my basics in terms of cooking, and my mom brought up pretty much everything else I needed. Since she had a shorter drive, she bought the vegetables and meats and brought them up in a cooler. Meanwhile I brought up about five bags of paleo baking ingredients. Welcome to my life.

This trip was definitely a trip where lists come in handy. Because I was recipe testing, I had to remember a lot. Not just the ingredients, but also photo backgrounds, camera equipment, props, attractive looking mugs/baking dishes/plates… all of those things that normal people don’t have to remember. Typical.

I always pack the night before, and I pack everything except for my toiletries, my pajamas, and whatever I’m going to wear the next day. I always travel in a workout outfit, which means one less thing to pack. Plus, that means I’m comfortable while I travel. The night before a road trip, I also put everything except for my clothes into my car. On this trip, for example, my car was loaded with the dishes I was bringing up, my laundry, my podcast equipment, and all of the baking/cooking supplies I needed that didn’t require any refrigeration. I also keep extra water bottles in my car for the drive.

I also try to get my food all packed up for the next day if there is anything left in my fridge. I try as hard as I can to use up everything in my fridge, and I’ve gotten pretty good at it. (My Clean Out the Fridge Veggie Green Sauce helps a lot with that!)

When I take a long road trip, I like to leave directly after breakfast. That way, I only have to pack one meal to eat in the car – lunch. If it’s an eight hour drive, for example, I would be there in time for dinner. Since I’m fat adapted, I don’t need any snacks to keep me going through my car ride – just a lunch for mid day.

I usually pack my lunch the night before so I know exactly what food I’ll have left for breakfast the next morning. I use a half-used container of greens as my tupperware, and I usually make a salad in that. I basically just throw in any leftover veggies and meat I have, and I’m done. If I’m out of protein, I just use a can of sardines, salmon, or tuna. I put it in the fridge overnight and put dressing on top the next morning, because it will get soggy overnight if I add dressing the night before! I also pack a fork and napkin in my purse at the same time so I don’t forget them. I make sure I have enough food for breakfast, and if there is anything else leftover, I freeze what I can, and condense anything I can’t freeze. I end up just bringing anything I can’t freeze with me. I also put some water bottles in the freezer overnight – I use those as ice packs to keep food cold in the car.

The night before, I also take out my toiletry case and makeup case. Anything I use that night or the next morning, I put directly into the toiletry case. That way, I know I have everything I’ll need. I do the same in terms of makeup. Whenever I pick up a product to use it, I put it directly into my makeup case.

I make sure I have a plan for the next morning the night before I go to sleep. When I get up, I immediately unplug my phone and throw my phone charger into my suitcase, because that is the last thing I want to forget. I then get around to whatever I need to do in the morning – usually showering and getting dressed. If I have enough time, I go for a walk to get some movement in before my long drive.

That morning, I drink a ton of water. Way more than usual, because I don’t want to drink as much in the car. I usually drink about 1.5 liters of water before lunch, but I try to get that much in before breakfast on travel days. A lot, I know. But if I drink all of that water early on, I won’t really want to drink much in the car, and if I don’t drink much, I won’t have to stop to use the bathroom.

I also make sure I have podcasts, audio books, and music downloaded on my phone to listen to on the car ride. I would cry if I forgot my podcasts. (Are you caught up on Actually Adultish and Straight Up Paleo yet?!)

As I get dressed, I throw my PJs, makeup case, and toiletry case in my bag, and slowly it all gets packed up. Once my suitcase is done, I close it up!

When it comes to breakfast, I always make sure to eat a large, substantial meal (like every other day). I don’t drink smoothies very often in general, but I definitely do not have a smoothie the morning of a long road trip. I only do a smoothie if I’m running late, have to eat breakfast in the car, and have a relatively short drive. Smoothies for breakfast are an absolute disaster for me on a long car ride, because when I drink a smoothie for breakfast, I have to pee constantly for the rest of the day. That does not work for a long car ride where taking minimal stops is key to making good time.

As I cook breakfast, I try to tie up any loose ends. I change my garbage bag and get the old garbage bag ready to be taken out to the trash so I don’t leave any trash in my apartment while I’m gone. Gross.

I also take a lot of supplements, but I am not usually the type to sit down and put them into a smaller, organized container. I do that for short trips or if I’m flying, but if I’m driving and it’s a longer trip, I can’t be bothered. I have a separate “pill bag,” for all of my supps. As I take my pills in the morning, I toss them all directly into the bag. As I’m taking them, I double check to see how many are left. If I’m running low, I throw in an extra container (I keep backups on hand 98% of the time). After that, I dress my salad, put it in a bag with any other food I didn’t finish that week and want to bring with me, and put my frozen water bottles in the bag to keep things cold.

At this point, pretty much everything is ready to go. I finish my breakfast, wash my dishes, and then I take everything out to my car. I take out the trash, use the bathroom one last time, make sure all of my lights are turned off and windows are closed, and then I head out!

Once I’m ready to go, I immediately go to the gas station and fill up my tank. I always start my trips with a full tank of gas, and I take my car as far as I can on that tank and only stop when it’s almost empty. While I’m filling up my gas tank, I set up my GPS. I also clean my windows, because my car is usually really dirty. I’m always too lazy to wash it, and I need to make sure I can see out my windows as I drive!

After my tank is filled, it’s time to finally go. Pretty much a straight shot from there. I mostly listen to podcasts to pass the time, or I play some throwbacks and think about life. Like I said, I wait until my first tank of gas is empty before I make a stop. People don’t realize how much time stopping takes up on road trips! So I’m all about minimal stopping. Even though I have my water bottle with me, I try not to drink any water until I’m at least halfway through my tank of gas. The longer I put off drinking, the longer I can put off peeing. Those of you with small bladders will understand.

I always eat my lunch around the same time that I stop for gas. I take my pills in the car right before I’m about to stop, and I time it so that I take my pills with my last bit of water.

I am currently realizing that I probably sounds super crazy with all of this. I am extremely routine-oriented and have it all planned out for max efficiency, though!

Anyways, I take my pills, have my last bit of water out of my water bottle, and at this point, I have to pee really badly. And my gas is about to run out. I pull over to a gas station, fill up my tank, and then I go to the bathroom. First and only pee/gas stop. At this point, my legs are usually pretty restless and my butt hurts from sitting for so long, so I try to move my legs as much as I can. I’ll walk a few quick loops around the gas station parking lot to get my blood flowing, and I check any texts / calls at the same time. I give myself 5-10 minutes of this, and it makes a huge difference. Sitting is the new smoking, so gotta get movement in whenever I can!

After my gas tank is filled up, I’ve used the bathroom, and I moved my legs for a few minutes, it’s back on the road. I get out my lunch and my fork, and I get it all set up to eat while driving. It’s not ideal, but I don’t have time to sit down and eat while I’m stopped. I refuse to eat in a rush – horrible for digestion. I would rather chew slowly and take my time but eat while driving than try to scarf down food during my 5-minute gas station stop. I also make sure I have another water bottle ready to go, but I hold off on drinking water again for as long as I can so that I don’t have to pee again.

From there, it’s pretty much smooth sailing. I don’t usually need to make another stop because I don’t have to pee if I’m not drinking more water, and the gas in my tank will last me a long time. After I finish my lunch, I can just put it on the seat next to me and toss out the container whenever I reach my destination.

Driving Hacks

I also have a few tricks I use for driving. Driving on the 5 for 8 hours can be long and boring. Good driving strategy can save me a lot of driving time, while bad strategy can make the trip way longer than necessary. These tips probably wouldn’t work for me if I was driving in a different type of area, but pretty much every road trip I take is a straight shot on the freeway for hours on end.

This might seem counterintuitive, but I rarely use cruise control. I always make really good driving time because I speed up and pass people any chance I get (when it’s safe to do, and obviously within a safe speed limit). When you use cruise control, you’re just locking yourself into that one speed for a long time, obviously, which can be a total waste. Going a few miles an hour faster here and there, and passing people who are slow, saves a ton of time in the end.

Another hack I use is to actually drive in the “slow” right lane whenever it’s empty. I just stay in that lane until eventually someone comes up in front of me, then I switch into the left lane, and back into the right lane. Since everyone thinks the right lane is slow, they stay in the left. Then the left gets clogged, so it ends up being slower.

I also always make sure there is someone in front of me and behind me who is going faster than me. That way, if a cop wants to give someone a ticket, it’s gonna be one of them, and definitely not me. I call it the speed sandwich.

Another thing about sitting in the car – I like to roll up a shirt or jacket and place it on my lower back. I push my tailbone into the back edge of the seat, and the little shirt/jacket/towel is right above it. Then my shoulders go back. This helps with my posture so that I don’t feel like a twisted pretzel when I get out of my car after a long drive.

As I get closer to my destination, I get thirsty again and drink more water. By the time I get there, the first thing I want to do is use the bathroom. So that’s what I do! Then I unpack, and I always try to get a walk in sometime after the drive to move my legs as much as I can. Sitting in the car all day is definitely not ideal, so moving my body makes me feel way better, and it will help me sleep that night! If I’m in an area where I need to grocery shop, that’s the first thing I do after I reach my destination. That way I can get any food I need, and I don’t have to worry about it later. I’ll look for a walking-distance grocery store if possible to try to get my walk in at the same time as grocery shopping! But if it’s too far, I’ll just drive.

That’s my exact road trip routine. I might sound like a crazy person, but it’s what works for me. Very streamlined, and I always make excellent time! Do you have any tips for road tripping? I would love to hear!

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