Tips to stay sane and healthy on long drives

Long drives mean different things for different people. Some of us love nothing more than going for a drive when we need a break.  In fact, it can be a stress busting relaxing practice. We get in the car for hours to unwind, just for the joys of driving, especially through countryside on a sunny Sunday afternoon!

Others, commute for hours every day, and face an hour sat in heavy traffic regularly inhaling toxic car fumes, reaching boiling point over other people’s irresponsible driving and panicking they’ll be late. To these people, a long drive is more than a few hours in the car. It’s closer to a day of driving.

Other people only ever drive short distances, sticking to their local area and very rarely spending more than an hour in the car. These people would consider two hours a long drive, yet to another as mentioned above this could be a normal day’s worth of driving just to get to work and back!

But, whatever you consider a long drive to be, it’s fair to say it’s different to your everyday driving experience. Sitting in the car and covering a much greater distance can be uncomfortable, tiring, stressful and even scary.  For those of us with kids the stress of a long road trip can even set in before we leave the house as we know the kids are going to drive us somewhat insane with boredom, bickering and the constant ‘are we there yet?’ questions!  Joking aside, some of us are genuinely anxious about driving long distances, on unfamiliar roads and on motorways.

Whilst I may not be able to calm your anxiety if you have a fear of driving, I can help to make the drive go more smoothly with a simple checklist below to make sure you have everything you need and everyone is entertained.  Going on a long drive can be relaxing, exciting, and a great way to take a proper break from your everyday life and reconnect with your passengers. It’s also often much cheaper and more convenient than travelling by other methods.

Here are some tips to make long drives a much better, less-stressful and healthier experience.

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Photo by Sven Scheuermeier

Pack carefully

Packing for a long trip can be tough. You want to pack everything that you need for both the journey and the duration of your stay, but you also want to leave yourself enough room to be comfortable, while being able to easily reach anything that you need while you are on the road.  Sitting with your legs cramped up for hours on end is not going to make for a comfortable journey, so make sure you can fit everything in the boot or extra storage solutions so you don’t end up with aches and pains.  Read more about extra car storage such as roof racks, to free up space in your car. Then, make sure you keep everything you might want in the car close to hand.

Stock up on healthy snacks and drinks

People often assume that being on the road means that they can stop for meals whenever they want to. This is usually true, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t want snacks and drinks in the car too.  Also, any services pit stops are mostly going to be full of unhealthy options such as fast food. You’ll need plenty of water, especially if it’s hot, and also some easy to eat snacks. Opt for healthy fruit, nut, seed and dried food snacks that are easy to eat and will give your body a boost of essential vitamins and minerals.  There are plenty of organic healthy fruit snacks for the kids in regular supermarkets today too.

Prepare a playlist

You might love or loathe road trip games, but one thing everyone needs is music. Plan your playlist in advance so that you don’t have to worry about it on the road.  If driving makes you stressed then choose some calming music.  If you lack motivation to drive long distances or find in mundane then make an uplifting energising playlist.  Music has amazing capabilities to change our mood and feelings so bring this notion into the car to make your car journey more enjoyable.

Get your car serviced

You should always perform necessary car safety checks before any long trip. But, even if your car seems to be running well, it’s worth taking it into the garage for a full-service too. Even if it’s just for your own peace of mind.   It’s not just you that needs to be healthy, but your car too.

Legally you have to have a MOT each year to ensure your car is road worthy, but you should also have a full service at least once a year and mini service if you regularly drive long distances.  There are also several car checks you can learn to do yourself to maintain your car’s health and also to check before a long journey such as fluid levels, tyre pressure, wind-screen wiper effectivity, tyre tread, lights and so on.  Keeping your car well maintained will ensure your own personal safety too.

Don’t rush

The most important thing on any long drive is that you don’t rush. Give yourself plenty of time to make your journey, take it easy and stop for a rest whenever you need to.   Rushing is a sure fire way to make you agitated and stressed which is destructive for health, as well as potentially causing you to drive erratically which is dangerous for you, your passengers and the public.  You’re not going to get there any quicker by stressing, so learn to stay calm and take everything as it comes.

Most importantly learn to enjoy the journey.  Instead of seeing it as a chore, learn to embrace it and take in the beautiful country views as you travel.

 

More stress busting posts to read next

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How to naturally boost your mood

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