Making Driving Enjoyable (Or At Least Less Unenjoyable)

If you've ever lived in Texas, you've probably heard the joke: "you can drive in any direction for 8 hours and you'll still be in Texas!" While cliche, it is true: to get between any worthwhile city (Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio), it takes a fair amount of driving. Even getting somewhere within those cities can take a while due to gross congestion. Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio are the 9th, 7th, and 4th largest cities in the U.S.

Driving is a necessary evil (unless you're driving a really fun car, then it's an optional luxury!) in the U.S., so why not try to make it as enjoyable as possible? (Of course, it is a luxury to us at all times—having to rely on public transport here is the true evil.)


Time and Stress

The average American's commute time is 26 minutes (label "Mean travel time to work (minutes)"), giving a grand total of:

\[\text{total driving} = 52 \, \text{min/day} \times 250 \, \text{day/year} = 13000 \, \text{min/year} = 215 \, \text{hr/year}\]

And this is just commuting time! It doesn't include time spent driving to grocery shopping, social gathering, etc., which adds a significant amount of hours to the commute total (by my personal experience and estimation, it would be 50+, or 1 hour per week).

Further, driving—especially commuting—is generally a stressful activity as shown in the literature (there are many more examples than the two below):

But why is driving so stressful? I see a few reasons:


Below are some practices that can improve or replace (for the better) the driving experience.


Podcasts are now both extremely popular and accessible. They provide stories, knowledge, laughs, and a host of other content, virtually guaranteeing there's something for everyone. A few podcast recommendations:

Audiobooks are another listening option. A few options:


Two options exist for socializing while driving:


Surprisingly, forcing a positive mindset towards driving has made me enjoy driving more. I tell myself before long trips "this trip will feel short and I will enjoy the time spent driving [whether listening to podcasts/music/books or talking to friends]" and somehow it ends up being a still-negative-but-much-more-enjoyable trip.

See Also