Road trips can be fun and exciting, but they also require many hours behind the wheel. You need to be prepared to deal with the monotony of driving for so long and implement strategies for fighting what many people call “highway hypnosis.” With the proper strategies, you can make sure you stay energized and alert throughout the drive, which lowers the risk of getting in an accident. Keeping yourself present and focused is important not just for your safety but also for other drivers on the road. Read on for seven tips to keep in mind when it comes to beating the fatigue of road trips.
1. Plan to take breaks
One of the worst things you can do when driving long distances is trying to power through it. Plan to stop and stretch your legs every two hours or so. This helps keep the blood pumping and increases overall energy while helping avoid possible side effects of sitting for too long. You can also plan out your stops to correspond with interesting places you want to see. However, don’t limit yourself to that. If you are struggling, pulling over and taking a quick walk can make all the difference.
2. Maintain your posture
When you sit for long periods, you can end up injuring your body if you are not mindful of your posture. Before you head off, adjust your seat, making sure you are as comfortable as possible. Also, always sit up as you drive. If you feel yourself slouching and falling into a trance, sitting up and focusing on your posture can renew your attention. Be sure to pay attention to your body and see if you are developing tension or pain anywhere. Adjust your body accordingly. For example, if your right hip starts to hurt, lean to the left.
3. Get rest before you drive
Driving a long distance is exhausting itself. If you are already tired before your road trip, you are setting yourself up for problems. You should ideally get decent sleep for two consecutive nights before undertaking a long drive to make sure your energy reserves are full. Set off in the morning after a refreshing sleep rather than in the evening after a whole day of work. Also, keep in mind that people naturally get drowsy between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., so avoiding driving during these times is a good idea, if possible.
4. Find engaging entertainment
You also need to keep yourself entertained, especially if you are driving alone. Everyone differs in what they like, but some great options are audiobooks and podcasts. Comedy tends to do a great job of keeping you engaged and awake.
In addition, you may want to queue up some music you enjoy singing along to, which is a great way to get your attention refocused when necessary. If you are driving with passengers, find some fun games to play, such as spotting license plates from as many states as possible.
5. Keep snacks on hand
Before you start your road trip, be sure to stock up on healthy snacks. Healthy foods packed with vitamins will keep you satiated longer than ones full of sugar, plus you will avoid the inevitable sugar crash. Access to these snacks can help avoid stops at fast-food restaurants, whose food can leave you feeling tired and heavy. Also, be sure to drink plenty of fluids while you are on the road. While this may end up making you stop more often for bathroom breaks, keeping hydrated is essential for feeling your best.
6. Get off the highway
Driving on highways gets very monotonous over time. Few highways offer anything in the way of scenic views to hold your interest. Unless you are trying to get to your destination as quickly as possible, it can pay to get off the highway for a bit and take some back roads. These roads may offer much more interesting things to see, which will keep you engaged on the drive. You should be careful to avoid roads that are just as monotonous as the highway. Most atlases will mark scenic roads, so stick to those or Google some beforehand.
7. Plan for problem spots.
If your route includes problem spots along the way, you should plan to hit them at off times. For example, if you are crossing the George Washington Bridge in New York, make sure you hit it before morning rush hour or late in the evening to avoid getting stuck in traffic. Changing your departure time by an hour or two can save you a lot of time and frustration down the line. If you don’t feel like you can avoid the problem spot, see if there is an alternate route you can take. The last thing you need on a long drive is more frustration.