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The most important lesson to learn from driving 16 hours days.

We travel everywhere by car, mainly because I hate flying with a passion and will try to get out of it as much as I possibly can. Think of trying to take an animal to the vet and it trying desperately not to get put into the cage – that’s pretty much me. It’s a pretty strange reference, but at the time of writing we currently have 7 kittens in our bathroom so maybe the reference isn’t all that strange at all – maybe it’s just me.

In our time driving all over Europe, our longest drive – in terms of driving hours in the space of a 24 hour day – was 15 hours, with multiple journeys over 14 hours, many more over 12 hours and regular journeys over 10 hours in length…I am the only driver in our car.

Whether you choose to do these mammoth adventures, or whether you are forced into it by bad luck or a bad decision, then you need to know how to survive not just physically, but mentally to make sure that the holiday isn’t ruined and that you can get back at it the next day.  That’s the other thing, we drive everyday, so after driving for 16 hours (and not just on the motorway) we have to get to sleep and then back in the car the next day to do it all again.

So, whether it’s because you have a particularly old Sat Nav that has decided to screw up, or if you forgot to update the maps – or even if there was an accident on the way or you made a mistake- there is one main thing that, if you manage to do it, will make the whole situation a lot easier.

 

You must come to terms with the facts.
There is no point in thinking about what you could have done differently. Not during the situation itself anyway. Try to block out all of the self-criticisms that are going to start, especially if it’s something that you can trace back to yourself. If that is not possible then at least change some of the wording in those critiques, rather than saying that “I should have…” then replace it with “it would have been better if…”. Whipping yourself is not going to make your life any more comfortable and driving in a horrible mood definitely isn’t going to make it any safer.
If you are the sort of person who is constantly chastising themselves, and no matter what you try you cannot stop  it from happening, then ask yourself “What could I do to make this situation better?” – I do not mean how could you possibly shave hours off of the time left, but how could you make it tolerable.

If something horrible happens like a punctured tyre in a foreign country then yes, maybe you should have saved the number to the breakdown service, and yes maybe you should have got breakdown assistance in the first place – but those thoughts are not going to help if you allow them to set in (it would be better to change those to “it would have been preferable to…”). No one is saying that you shouldn’t have those thoughts, quite honestly you are going to. The key is to have them and then let them pass and move on to doing something productive as quickly as possible – namely, “What can I do to turn this situation around?”.

There is also nothing wrong with taking a quite moment to calm down and get back on track. Focusing on your breathing really does work, whether you believe it’s new age hippy **** , or not. In situations like this, where you are going to be doing extremely long hours then you are either part of the solution or you are part of the problem. If you are choosing to not do something that will help then you are part of the problem – 16 hour driving days really are about survival.

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