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
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 will
help you down the road.
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 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
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 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 .
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
stops. Get out and stretch your legs every
two hours or so, our experts suggest. Plan these stops into your drive, whether
they fall at mealtimes or can be timed to let you view interesting places.
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.
scents. 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.
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.”
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.
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.”