When driving long distances, be it to visit family or interview for a job in another state or an epic road trip adventure across the country, there are several things you can do to stay comfortable.
For instance, consider the type of car you’ll be driving, how often you’ll take breaks, what types of stretching you should be doing, and what sort of gear you should bring with to make your drive more comfortable.
To help get you started, here’s what you need to know to prepare for driving long distances.
Common Challenges When Driving Long Distances
Aside from potential boredom, back and neck pain are two of the most common challenges to overcome when driving long distances.
To avoid aches and pains, consider how frequently should you take breaks. The exact frequency and duration of breaks will vary from person to person, but if you find that you’re experiencing a lot of pain, you’ve probably waited too long.
Even if you haven’t yet developed any back or neck pain, pull over every two hours or so, get out, and do some of these exercises and stretches that will not only help with existing pain but can also help prevent pain to begin with. Simple driving tips—like keeping your seat upright and putting a rolled-up sock behind your upper back—can encourage good posture and help prevent back and neck pain in the first place.
Preparing For A Long Trip
Before setting out on a long-distance drive, think about your route, who’s driving, where you’ll be stopping, and the sort of car you’ll be driving.
When planning your route, you don’t necessarily need to choose restaurants, rest centers, and gas stations in advance, but by spreading out these stops, you’ll have more opportunities to get out and stretch your legs. Even if you can go without food, gas, or a bathroom for four hours, it would still be wise to pull over and stretch your legs, even just for a few minutes.
If you’re tackling a long drive alone, you have no choice but to do all the driving.However, if there are other legal drivers in the car, divide the drive time among them so everyone gets a chance to rest.
Also understand that while cruise control can make a long drive more bearable, it can also lead to laziness, sleepiness, and loss of concentration if it’s used for too long.
Getting a good night’s rest the night before and avoiding alcohol and other intoxicants the day before your trip can also make you more alert and energetic during the drive. Fresh air also helps you stay alert so crack open the windows from time to time even if you’re using air conditioning.
If you find yourself getting sleepy, pull over to take a quick nap or energize yourself by walking (or jumping) around outside of the car.
The Car You’re Using
There is no single best car for long distance driving and even if there were, it might not be practical (or possible) to rent it just for your trip.
As such, the best option is typically to work with what you’ve got.
Mechanical problems are another potential challenge when driving long distances so get your car checked out before your trip. It also wouldn’t hurt to brush up on easy DIY car repairs and to bookmark that page so you have it handy should you run into any car trouble.
And before you head out, make sure your car is in good working condition and make it as comfortable as possible by bringing along some specific gear.
Recommended Gear To Get For Your Car
The best car seat cushion for long distance driving will depend on you, your personal preferences, and the shape of your specific car seat. Small, round devices might be enough for back pain limited to right around your belt line but for more support, look for full-size memory foam cushions that go from the seat up to your mid-back or shoulder blades.
Buying lumbar support cushions for long drives helps to prevent pain for anyone spending a lot of time in their car so they make great gifts for new drivers and would also be helpful for someone who might be living in their car.
Before investing in a fancy lumbar support device, however, experiment by driving around with a rolled-up towel or throw pillow behind your lower back to see if that helps. You can adjust the size and shape of the makeshift support, and once you find the set-up that feels best, you’ll know what style of lumbar support ball or cushion to buy.
Here’s a quick list of tools that will help correct your posture, minimize pain, and do stretches:
o Lumbar support cushion
o Slightly deflated workout ball, 6-8 inches in diameter
o Rolled up pair of socks
o Loop or stretch bands
Now that you know how to prepare for your trip, what to pack, and how to treat and prevent pain, you should be ready for driving long distances safely and comfortably. To learn more about planning a road trip and staying safe on the road, check out these articles:
10 EASY WAYS TO SAVE MONEY FOR VACATION: TRAVEL BUDGETING
LIVING IN YOUR CAR TO SAVE MONEY: IS THE STRUGGLE EVEN WORTH IT?
Disclosure: we do not receive any affiliate commissions based on the sales of any items mentioned in this blog post. They were selected soley based on consumer reviews.