Best Time to Start a Long Drive | Carpooling & Vehicle Pooling | spAIRseat

best time to start driving

Road trips can range from incredibly fun and mind-blowing to extremely miserable and exhausting. On one hand, you get the opportunity to truly plot your own course and decide exactly where you want to go, down to the little nooks and crannies of state parks, public land, and dirt roads. However, if you don’t properly prepare and think ahead, a road trip can quickly turn exhausting and draining, which will leave you muttering, “are we there yet?” Ultimately, when you leave for a long drive can make or break your trip. Although there is no one best time to start a long drive, there are many different factors to think about when deciding the best time to start a long drive.

In this article, we’ll share some of the factors you should think about before giving pros and cons to starting in the morning, midday, and evening.

best time to start a long drive

Factors to Consider When Starting a Long Drive

When deciding the best time to start a long drive, there should be a bunch of things that you consider.

Some of these factors may be more obvious than the rest, but all can make a big impact on your decision of when to start driving.


Traffic can truly be a make-or-break factor to consider. If you fail to think about traffic and live in a major city like Los Angeles, for example, you could end up leaving at rush hour and adding 2 or 3 hours onto your total road trip time.

We strongly recommend starting a long drive when there’s no traffic in your town- times like early morning, lunch-time, or the evening after rush hour tend to be best for this.


You should definitely consider weather conditions along your route.

Say, for example, you’re trying to decide when to drive to Denver, Colorado from Salt Lake City, Utah. This drive will require you to drive through mountains, and if you’re driving in the winter, snowstorms can seriously impact your route.

If you check the weather and see that snow is in the forecast, you should adjust your departure time accordingly so that you can hopefully avoid bad and dangerous weather.

Length of Drive

The length of your drive is also a critical thing that determines the best time to start a long drive.

If your road trip is just a short 3-hour drive, you could probably get away with leaving in the afternoon or even after rush hour.

However, if you have a 12-hour drive ahead of you, you might want to consider leaving in the early morning, especially if you don’t like driving at night.

Your Energy Levels

Studies have shown that drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving.

You should plan your departure time around when you think you’ll have enough energy- for this reason, leaving late at night isn’t really a good idea.

On the flip side, this may also mean that you won’t want to leave early in the morning, especially if you have a hard time falling asleep the night before.

Ultimately, you want to make sure you have the proper energy and focus for your long drive.

Desired Arrival Time

One easy way to think about the best time to start a long drive is to decide what time you’d like to arrive at your destination.

If you know you want to arrive by dinnertime and have an 8-hour drive, you can easily work backward to figure out when you should leave.

Don’t forget to add in extra time for gas, food, and other breaks along the way!

morning long drive

Leaving in the Morning: Pros and Cons

Many different websites and people will say that leaving in the early morning is definitely the best time to start a long drive.

There are many different reasons for this, but two of the biggest benefits are that you’ll beat rush hour and be able to make headway while the roads are still clear.

There’s nothing worse than sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic while knowing you have 10 more hours of driving ahead of you.

Another benefit of leaving in the early morning is that you’ll be rested from your night’s sleep.

Additionally, you’ll have the entire day to do your driving, which is really nice if you’re going on a longer road trip. This is especially beneficial if you don’t want to drive through the night, which is a lot more dangerous.

However, if you’re not a morning person, leaving in the early morning may be difficult. Additionally, if you’ve got a shorter road trip planned, you might not need to leave early. Lastly, leaving in the early morning might not work, say, for example, if you have children who need to attend school that day.

Another thing to consider with leaving in the early morning is that you’ll likely need to pack up the evening before.

Leaving in the Afternoon: Pros and Cons

Leaving in the afternoon before rush hour can be another good time to start a long drive.

If you time it right, you’ll also be able to bypass most, if not all, of the dreaded rush hour traffic.

Additionally, this gives you a lot more flexibility to pack the day of and/or sleep in so that you’re well-rested.

Leaving in the afternoon might not be best if it means you’ll have to drive through the night.

Additionally, there’s still a risk that you can run into traffic on your way out.

midday long drive

Leaving in the Evening: Pros and Cons

Leaving in the evening is not as popular, but can work. If you leave after rush hour, you won’t have to deal with traffic, however, this will mean you’ll either have to take the risk of driving in the night, or you’ll have to plan out a hotel or campground to spend the night at along your way.

Additionally, this might be the only option, especially if you’re working or have kids in school.

The obvious downside of this is that you don’t have much daylight to work with.

This can be ok, especially if you’re doing a shorter road trip, but you’ll also tend to have less energy, which can be dangerous.

Carpooling With spAIRseat

spAIRseat is the perfect way to carpool with others that have long trips ahead of them.

spAIRseat is a community for drivers of all vehicles to offer seats to help cut down on expenses.

Here’s how it works:

Simply sign up, make a profile, and then connect with riders or drivers for specific journeys.

If you’d like to read more about us, click here.

Sign up for free today!