Going somewhere? It’s about time! The world of travel as we knew it has changed post-COVID-19 and more people are going on drive holidays and road trips than ever before. From what to keep in the car and what to listen to, to where and when to stop, here’s how to boost those long-distance drives and road trips.
Long-distance safe driving tips
Stay safe, stay aware – it’s good advice for the road too. Here are the top tips for traveling safely and comfortably in your car on your drive holidays.
Plan your journey ahead of time
If you’re going on a road trip, don’t leave it till the last minute to plan your route. Plan your road trip ahead of time and avoid traffic jams and roadworks. This will also help you figure out where to stop for lunch, fuel, and/or stop for bathroom breaks. Most modern cars have a GPS or a USB plug for a smartphone running Google Maps en-route to your destination. Always leave more than enough time to reach your destination – rushing is no fun for anyone and can be stressful.
Share the driving on a drive holiday
For your own safety, it’s a good idea not to drive more than ten hours a day, even though some long road trips require more time behind the wheel. If there is someone else traveling with you who can share the driving, you’ll be far less likely to snooze while you’re cruising, and it might even make the travel time go faster.
Get enough sleep before you leave
Yawning or risking nodding off at the wheel on the open road is a dangerous game, so make sure you have a nap, or get a good night’s sleep before you leave on a road trip. If you’re setting off early in the morning, it’s a good idea to go to bed earlier than you usually would the night before, and try to stay away from alcohol, as this can interrupt your sleep patterns and stay in your system for longer than you think.
Always wear the right clothes and shoes
Wearing comfortable clothes while driving is essential – there’s nothing worse than feeling like your jeans are too tight or having a button keep popping undone when you’re meant to be concentrating on driving. Flat, closed-toe shoes like trainers are best for your feet. Remember, flip flops and high heels can get caught under or around brake pedals, which could lead to a nasty accident.
Don’t forget the sunscreen
You can burn, even behind the wheel. If you’re driving somewhere sunny, lucky you, but make sure to apply sunscreen before you set off, and don’t forget to pull over and re-apply it after a couple of hours. Driving during the day might mean your hands, arms, or even lap are exposed to direct sunlight which can burn you – even through tinted windows. Wear sunscreen!
Pull over for a break every two hours, or every 200 kilometers
Even if you feel like pressing on with your journey, taking a break from driving every two hours or every 200 kilometers is a good idea just to stretch your legs and get some fresh air. It can wake you up and help refresh you for the next leg of the road trip – especially if you stop where there’s coffee and water!
Don’t check your phone while driving
Remember kids, checking your phone while you’re driving can put your life in danger, and the lives of others on the road. If your hands are on the wheel, keep them there! If you need to change a song or play a podcast, get someone else to do it for you from the passenger seat. If you need to make a call, pull over.
Forget the fast food
It might be tempting to pull in at a fast-food restaurant and shove a burger down your throat, but heavy meals and fast food can make you bloated, feel tired, and just generally uncomfortable in the car. Eating small portions of healthy food is the way to go on drive holidays. Pack ahead and snack at regular intervals, or stop when you find somewhere nice to take a well-deserved walk at the same time.
Get enough fresh air and water
Falling asleep at the wheel can mean game over! If you’re driving long distances be sure to get as much fresh air as possible to keep from getting drowsy. Roll the windows down occasionally and feel a breeze on your face, even if you have to air-condition (and except when you’re in a tunnel!). And stay hydrated. Always keep a bottle of cold water at hand.
Watch out for the rules of the road
Road rules and regulations can change depending on the country. Always be sure you’re driving on the correct side of the road, obey the speed limit, never overtake in a dangerous manner, and ensure everyone in the car is wearing their seatbelt. Make sure to be considerate to other drivers – no blasting your show tunes or flicking cigarettes out of open windows.
Switch off the cruise control
Cruise control is tempting, as it can make a long trip feel shorter and more bearable, but being “lazy” with it can lead to accidents. To stay awake and focused, and to notice any issues with the car that might pop up quickly, involve yourself with the car and the journey fully. Only use cruise control for short periods at a time on long stretches of highways. After all, part of the beauty of drive holidays is the driving itself!
What to pack for long drive holidays
What you pack depends on where you’re going, but there are several items you should keep close at hand in the car. Keep these things where you or someone else in the car can easily reach them to save you having to pull over and root around in the back.
- Wet wipes and tissues for easy cleaning
- Towels for muddy or wet shoes/paws
- Passports to flash easily at borders
- Your driver’s license
- Registration card for your car
- Visas (if needed) and vignette/road tax
- Snacks and water
- Charging cables
- Treats for pets/children
- Long-sleeved or short-sleeved items for easy changing
- Mints for a quick breath refreshment
- Reusable coffee cup
Best podcasts for drive holidays
If you’ve got a long drive ahead of you, you can easily make a playlist of the best road trip songs before you go. This way you’ll buzz happily along to songs you love while avoiding songs that make you want to drive into a wall. Sometimes, music won’t cut it at all. Here are the best podcasts for a road trip, guaranteed to keep you engaged and driving safely.
For the history buffs: 1619
Buckle up for an educational journey through the history of race in America. 1619 is a five-part audio series by The New York Times that utilizes first-person and familial stories to thrust us into the legacy of slavery in America. From the “birth of American music” to the underlying racism of American medical institutions, this podcast might have you missing your stop, and not even noticing.
For the couples: Where Should We Begin?
Whether you’re a smugly happy couple cruising into an adventure or the kind of couple who bicker relentlessly on road trips, this will suck you in and make you see your problems aren’t all that bad. The soothing voice of couples therapist Esther Perel will lull you into silence as she dissects real-life relationship issues with the couples involved.
For the horror fans: The No Sleep Podcast
Been on the road a while and need to stay awake? This is the one for you! The No Sleep Podcast is a horror fiction anthology series of short, scary stories featuring immersive music and sound design, guaranteed to keep you awake and terrified. There are 14 seasons to binge and they all have 25 episodes each. So there’s no chance of running out of these on the road!
For the culturally conscious: The Only One In The Room
With the Black Lives Matter movement in full swing, The Only One in the Room will hit home and stick with you. The podcast was inspired by the time its host, Laura Cathcart Robbins, was at a famous writer’s retreat and discovered she was the only black woman in the room. Dive into a wealth of similar experiences from people of all races, creeds, ethnicities, and nationalities who have felt like the only “other” in a room.
For your sense of humor: Gimlet’s Heavyweight
Guaranteed to keep you tuned in, Heavyweight is a Gimlet Media podcast created and produced by humorist and writer Jonathan Goldstein. Each episode is dedicated to helping people try to resolve a moment from their past that they wish they could change. From finding old school bullies and teachers to locating a crying child from a haunting photograph, this is some seriously heartwarming stuff to take on the road with you.