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Atlanta offers so much to residents and visitors alike — mild weather (minus 2014’s Icemageddon), internationally renowned corporations, beautiful landscapes and a vibrant culture. It’s the film/hip hop mecca of the South, and don’t forget totchos (okay, that last one might be more specific to me). No wonder thousands of people flock here each year. But with all those people come cars. So. Many. Cars.

Our roadways and transit system can’t keep up with the mass of people clogging the highways and all the jokes of ITP vs. OTP (for you Atlanta newbies or those who don’t live in the metro region, that’s the imaginary line of I-285 that divides those in the city from those in the surrounding suburbs, i.e. inside and outside the perimeter) aren’t so funny when you’re ready to drive your car off a cliff a la Thelma & Louise just to spare your eyeballs the sight of any more red brake lights.

Don’t worry, loyal StyleBlueprint readers — you will overcome this transit hell with our handy dandy Atlanta traffic survival guide. After following our advice, Spaghetti Junction will feel like a stroll through the park, “rush hour” will be “relax hour,” and you’ll be banging your head to the sweet sounds of smooth jazz instead of against your steering wheel. (Sorry, we can’t do much about all the Peachtree street names.)

Spaghetti Junction

The only thing better than lanes and lanes of traffic are layers and layers of lanes and lanes of traffic (that’s a caption full o’ sarcasm by the way!). Image: AJC

Atlanta Traffic Survival Guide

Step One: Preparation

It’s all about preparation when trying to survive Atlanta traffic — and we’re not talking flares, spare tires and flashlights. Drivers, you need some proven resources when it comes to taking on the blinding brake lights and the inevitable highway hypnosis that kicks in upon staring at the same dotted line when merging on the Connector. I won’t waste your time with standard bullet points like a full gas tank, charged cell phone and an extra set of keys.

Here are five items you NEED to pack when trying to survive Atlanta traffic:

  • All-ages coloring book and colored pencils: Since you’re officially not moving while sitting in the parking lot on Georgia 400, unlock your creative side. Note that we recommend colored pencils, not pens, in case you run out of ink and the stress sends you into a road rage flare-up.
  • Ibuprofen: The stop-and-start movement and sea of red lights will definitely trigger a migraine.
  • Pillow: This one is especially important when traveling with the fam — use your pillow to muffle any obscenities that fly out of your mouth, so as to not scare the kiddos in the backseat.
  • Hoverboard: Sure, it might start a fire in your trunk, but isn’t the risk worth it when it comes to a potential secondary means of escaping traffic and abandoning your car?!
  • Chamomile tea: You might be thinking, “Hey Melanie, where’s the caffeine on this list?” Well we assume you’re stuck at a standstill right now, and there’s no need to make those white knuckles jitter. Enjoy a mug of chamomile tea (suck on a tea bag if you don’t have hot water) and let this stress-relieving herb do its thing.
Atlanta Traffic Survival Guide

If you want to survive in Atlanta, you need to first survive Atlanta traffic.

Step Two: Acceptance

You’re approaching hour two of your 12-mile commute and have lost all connections to sanity. (Is this an episode of “Lost?” Is this some alternate reality where cars never escape the merge lane?!) After you’ve made proper preparations and used up your Advil rations, it’s time to cope and mentally escape to your happy place as you approach your destination.

Here are five ways to cope with your current (parking) lot in life:

  • Pretend that you’re sitting in an ejection seat and can escape your mobile prison with the push of a button.
  • Start an “air band” with the other unfortunate souls in your car. Pick a name (my crew has already claimed Zero Movement), grab your “instruments” and lip sync to whatever’s on the radio.
  • Hide under your desk, inside your pantry or under the bed during the hours of 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and NEVER get close to the roads during this time frame.
  • Pray to the traffic gods for green lights, no construction zones and accurate Waze maps.
  • Bike? MARTA? Walk?!
Atlanta traffic in the rain

If rain starts falling during rush hour, Atlanta traffic goes from slow to negative motion.

Surviving Atlanta’s traffic is no easy feat — and speaking of that, your feet will thank you the second they touch solid ground upon reaching your final destination. Respect the rules of the road, be patient and, most importantly, have a bottle of wine awaiting your return (always in that order)!

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