Long drives are an opportunity to experience the country first-hand while bonding with those closest to you. However, they can also be taxing. From drowsiness to hunger to the never-ending “are we there yet?” questions, without proper preparation, you might find your road trip to be a little less fun than you intended.
To help you avoid this unfortunate turn of events, we’ve put together a list of 5 of the best tips for long drives in the car. Using this advice, your trip will be enjoyable, comfortable, and safe.
1. Don’t Start Tired
A good road trip requires careful planning, which should start well in advance of your trip. But our first tip is for two nights before.
You should never get behind the wheel of a vehicle if you’re drowsy. Long car trips can make anyone sleepy, and if you’re already tired, the risks are even greater.
To ensure that you’re well-rested when your trip begins, get at least two nights of 7 to 9 hours of good quality sleep before you get into the driver’s seat.
If at all possible, begin your road trip at the beginning of a new day, not after you get home from work or school. And to minimize the risk of becoming dangerously drowsy on the road, stop to stretch your legs every two hours or so.
It’s also a good idea to plan for a longer break between 1 and 3 pm. This is when most people experience the highest levels of sleepiness. Stop at an interesting roadside attraction or walk around a shopping center for a couple of hours.
2. Bring Plenty of Drinks and Snacks
Yes, you should stop every couple of hours, but that doesn’t mean you should be filling up with junk food all day. Greasy fast food will only make you feel sluggish and sleepy. Instead of stopping at a drive-thru, bring plenty of healthy drinks and snacks to enjoy on the road.
You can, of course, bring a few treats along, but try to stick to nutrient-dense foods with as few ingredients as possible for the bulk of your snacks. Some snack options that are both healthy and tasty include berries, popcorn, almonds, and veggies with hummus.
It helps if you bring a cooler in the car. That way, you won’t be limited by pantry foods. You can pack some refrigerated options as well!
In addition to snacks, don’t forget to pack water. Remember, you should be stopping regularly, so staying hydrated shouldn’t be a problem. If you’re dehydrated, water can give you a bigger energy boost than any food.
Pro tip: freeze some water bottles the night before! You’ll have cold water all day and they’ll double as ice for your cooler.
3. Maintain Good Posture
One of the best tips for long drives we can give you is to maintain good posture. When you’re focused on driving, it’s common to absent-mindedly begin to slouch forward. However, this is horrible for your back and neck and can lead to you feeling uncomfortable on your trip.
Don’t allow yourself to slip into a driving trance. Stay focused on keeping your back comfortable by taking a deep breath and relaxing any part of your body that’s beginning to feel tense.
Try to keep your spine in alignment at all times. This means keeping your hips at a 90-degree angle, your back straight, and your ears in line with your shoulders.
4. Provide Entertainment for Your Passengers
Happy, occupied passengers will make for a more stress-free trip, especially if the majority of your passengers are children. Entertain your passengers with an assortment of movies, games, books, and puzzles.
You know your family best. Bring items that will most effectively occupy each person. If your youngest loves to color, for example, be sure to bring a few coloring books and plenty of crayons. Older children might enjoy a tablet or portable gaming device.
In moments of discontent, break out the road trip games! Playing 20 questions, license plate bingo, and name that character can keep everyone occupied. It also provides a bonding opportunity, as everyone in the car can play together.
5. Enjoy Music and Audiobooks
When your passengers are amusing themselves with books or video games, you can occupy yourself (and stay alert) with music and audiobooks! You don’t want anything that’s going to take your eyes off the road, which is why activities that only require your ears are so great for road trips.
Don’t put in an audiobook or play an album that’s going to put you to sleep. Visit your local library or download an audiobook app before your trip and pick out a couple of funny or exciting books.
You should also make a road trip playlist instead of picking songs individually as you drive. Again, keep your attention on the road at all times. The person in the passenger seat can act as a DJ, but you don’t want to be left without music if they choose to take a nap or occupy themselves with a different activity.
Make Long Drives a Breeze with These Tips
Remember, the key to long drives is to plan for your adventure in advance. Failure to do so will result in discomfort and chaos, not to mention it could put your family at risk.
Keep your and your family’s specific needs in mind while preparing for your trip and do what you can to pack solutions for all of the typical road trip problems. Try not to stress too much – you’re going to have a great time!
Looking for more travel tips and tricks? Check out our blog!