Planning on doing some long distance driving? These long road trips tips can help you get there safely and comfortably.
If you’re taking a long road trip, you need to plan in advance. And we’re not just talking about packing. “Highway hypnosis” is quite common when travelers haven’t prepared for the endurance demands of an extended haul. In fact, more than 60 percent of drivers say they’ve gotten behind the wheel while drowsy, according to a survey by mattress retailer Sleepy’s.
With that statistic in mind, you should take steps to prepare for long drives before you get behind the wheel—and to stay alert and energized throughout your trip. These tips for long drives will help you down the road.
1. Stock your sleep time
Think about exhaustion before you begin your journey, not after. Get at least seven hours of sleep for two consecutive nights before the road trip to build up your energy reserves. “Also, try to avoid driving between 1 and 3 p.m., when the body’s temperature is lower and people are naturally drowsy,” says Dr. Michael Breus, a.k.a. “The Sleep Doctor.”
2. Fuel up
This time, we mean fuel for you, not your car. Carrying along a variety of vitamin-packed, healthy foods will allow you to get by on smaller snacks throughout the long drive, while skipping the fast-food stops. “To stay alert, carrots and almonds are my favorite,” says blogger and travel expert Gretchen Breuner from TheRoadScholarz.com.
3. Stay hydrated
Keep the water supply well-stocked for maximum energy. “A possible downside of this, of course, is that you’ll need to make more bathroom stops,” says Breuner, who traveled to 19 states with her family in an RV in three months. To learn more about items to stock your car with, check out this list of 5 must-have emergency items.
4. Plan your stops
One of the most crucial tips for long road trips is to get out of your car and stretch your legs every two hours or so, our experts suggest. Plan these stops into your long distance drive, whether they fall at mealtimes or can be timed to let you view interesting places.
5. Chew gum
The repetitive process increases circulation and alertness. “You don’t need the sugary kind to get the desired effect,” says Breus, who is a fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and author of Good Night: The Sleep Doctor’s 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health.
6. Use good scents
During long distance driving, Breus also recommends keeping a source of peppermint scent nearby. When you feel you need a boost, take a sniff. “It’s a pleasant, all-natural pick-me-up that has been shown to reduce fatigue and increase alertness,” he says.
7. Sit up straight
Make sure your seat is adjusted properly for your body, tilted for maximum blood flow. If you feel a driving “trance” coming on, sit up. “Take a deep breath and scan your body for tension,” says yoga teacher and wellness specialist Elaine Masters, of DrivetimeYoga.com. “If your right hip is feeling sore, for example, lean to the other side.”
8. Keep passengers entertained
Long drives—especially with kids—can often lead to bickering. That kind of aggravation leads to driver fatigue. So make sure children are entertained with books, puzzles and other time-killing diversions. On the flip side, games such as “find the license plate” are great for keeping everyone engaged with one another.
9. Treat yourself to some sounds
Books on tape help keep the brain active, without creating a dangerous distraction. Breus recommends listening to humorous books or even comedy CDs. “Laughing,” he says, “will keep you awake.”
These tips for long drives can help keep you and your car protected on the road. For more defensive driving tips, check out these 9 safe driving habits you should know.