Lately we’ve taken quite a few long road trips and, as fun as it is to get in the car and go some place awesome, it is also taxing on your body. By trial and error, I’ve learned some really important lessons that now make my road trips much easier to handle…to the extent possible, that is.
An NIH funded study entitled, “Driving: A Road to Unhealthy Lifestyles and Poor Health Outcomes“, examines the associations of driving time with a series of health behaviors and outcomes and breaks down some important findings for us.
Longer periods of driving were associated with higher chances for smoking, insufficient physical activity, short sleep, obesity, and degrading physical and mental health. The associations showed a pattern with more than 120 minutes of driving per day proving to consistently present these adverse health effects. Studies have shown that lengthy commutes cause conditions that compromise an individual’s health, including stress caused by traffic congestion, searching for parking, interacting with other drivers and safety concerns; a phenomena characterized as “travel impedance”.
So, how do you minimize the effects of driving on your body? Here is what I have learned from my own experience:
- Money – Don’t leave home with out it. Be prepared for unexpected situations when you may have to pull out some cash or plastic.
- Bottled water – Stay hydrated and refreshed. Of course, this will mean pit stops…we’ll get to that next.
- Pit stops – Very important for a number of reasons. You’ll need to uh…eliminate…every so often and your kidneys will thank you. But also, to stretch your legs and treat your eyes to something other than the road. Plan your trip based on including these stops as non-negotiable.
- Food – You need to eat, but you shouldn’t fill up too much when you know you’re going to be stuck on the road for a while. Food coma, gas cramps (maybe that’s just me, idk lol), etc. Just eat enough to satisfy the hunger, you can eat a big meal if you want when you get to your destination.
- Emergency kit – You know…just in case.
- Tissues – For your boogs or anything else that needs a wiping.
- Cell phone car charger – Also very important. In the event of an emergency, you need to be able to call 911 or to call a loved one to come help you change a flat tire.
- Spare tire – You should probably always have a spare, but it you don’t, you should have one when you’re taking a long road trip.
- GPS – God bless the person who invented the GPS, because I couldn’t follow a map to save my life.
- Back up plan – What will you do if you’re 6 hours into your drive and just can’t take another moment of it? Will you be driving at night and possibly need to stay at a hotel for the night? Think of all of the things that could happen, and what you will do in the event that they do happen.
- Last, but not least – Enjoy your self. Take in the sights. Take pictures when you pull over at rest stops. Make the drive part of your adventurous trip and make it fun. Listen to your favorite music, sing along, and don’t take everything so seriously when other drivers on the road are being total jerks…don’t let others steal your joy.
Thanks for visiting. I hope you found this article to be helpful and informative. If you have some tips of your own for long road trips, please share them here.