I learned that it's freaking impossible.
I'm a fan of the road trip. I love driving long stretches of highway, listening to podcasts and ruining my voice singing along to "Love On Top." It feels meditative in a way, and challenging, and satisfying. I've done a few 13-hour road trips in the past, but this trip - driving from California to New York - was the longest I've ever done. I drove 42 hours in six days. I thought my previous long-distance driving experience had prepared me for this adventure, but when you spend that amount of time in a car - by yourself - there are just some rules of life that begin to change. For instance, sometimes looking grungy, dirty, and like you've been in a car for 7 hours (when you actually have been in a car for 7 hours) is the best way to say, "Hello world! I don't give a shit about my appearance because I'm seeing the country from a window and you can't see me back!" No... I meant, "Hello world! Every man I saw at a gas station had coffee stains on his shirt, so why should I clean myself up?" But really, "Hello world! I'm living in the real world where everything isn't Instagram-worthy, especially not me, and I feel great."
If you are a woman of class and elegance, and you DO choose to put effort into your appearance on such a grueling, unaccompanied trip, than you are honestly trying WAY too hard and I don't want your life. NO no... I'm just kidding. I respect your ability to take pride in your appearance and feel good by dressing any way you choose. I just WISH we could all agree to look like garbage on road trips. I'm willing to start that trend if I must. Who's with me?
So here are some things I learned on the highway, as well as a short account of my experience:
1) Stay hydrated. But not too hydrated or you'll have to pee twice as often, have to stop more to find restrooms, and the whole trip will take you twice as long. So, actually dehydrate yourself a bit and let your forehead break out a little.
2) Experience what the interstates have to offer food-wise. You know, like Sonic, Pizza Hut, and beef jerky from gas stations. Honestly, it tastes like real food!
3) When you finally start feeling the effects of your terrible eating habits along the way, seek out an actual health food store. Raid it. Buy things that smell good. Drink tea. Snack on avocados. Buy healthier snacks like hummus, carrots and apple sauce. I think this is probably common sense to most people but it took me half this trip to realize I hadn't eaten a vegetable in DAYS.
4) Deodorant and chap stick.
5) Don't bother brushing your hair. You are in the privacy of your car. Relish in it. (Right: see hair)
6) Stock your car with some quartz and rose quartz to absorb road rage, negative thought patterns, and stagnant energy. Really.
7) Meditate. Meditating on this trip was extremely helpful for me. It kept me awake and energized, and yet calmed my mind. When you have lots of long hours to yourself, you eventually have the time to think about everything in your life, both positive and negative. It's fun to visualize all the exciting things ahead, but I would also find myself getting stressed about things that were out of my control at the immediate moment. So having a tool at the beginning and end of each day that kept me present was invaluable.
8) Listen to podcasts. Just gonna name my faves: This American Life, RadioLab, Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, Fresh Air, All Songs Considered, The Moth, The Savage Lovecast, The Dear Mattie Show. They kept me SANE.
9) Find hidden gems. In an effort to get home as quickly as possible, I mostly stayed on the interstates. But when I did have time to venture, I was lucky to find interesting places in weird towns, and visit some not-so-small towns as well. In another post, I'm going to show you some amazing vintage pieces I got at a vintage store in Kansas City, MO called Wonderland. Finding it was probably the best part of my trip. It's probably not a hidden gem in Kansas City, but I'm so happy I stumbled upon it. In the meantime, I ate some BBQ at Tucumcari Ranch Supply. Sure did, sure did.
BELOW: Day 1. Clean and excited for the road ahead. Clearly too busy driving to smile. // Day 5. FRIED.
Drive safe, feel good, and remember that sometimes style is about letting go of perfection. Live in the moment.