Preparing for a road trip

How to Stay Healthy on a Road Trip

Road trips can be a source of either excitement or dread, depending on your past experiences with the activity. However, it’s fairly simple to turn almost any road trip into a fun event without neglecting your health by learning how to stay comfortable, avoid junk foods, and relax. Read on to find out some steps you can take on your next road trip that will allow you to arrive at your destination feeling fresh and energized.

Being Comfortable

Most movies make road trips look completely simple and carefree. However, the reality is that when you are sitting in the same position for hours on end, your muscles can start to feel stiff and painful, which in turn can lead to irritation and anxiety. If you’re driving, it is especially important for you to stay as comfortable as possible throughout the length of the trip so you remain alert and focused. Here are some tips for making your road trip as easy and effortless as they look onscreen:

  • Posture: To keep your neck from straining and your back from knotting up, you should always make sure that you are sitting comfortably in the driver’s seat without feeling like you are leaning or stretching to reach the steering wheel. If this is the case, move your seat forward an inch or two until your elbows are bent with your hands resting naturally on the wheel.
  • Seat position: For long drives, your seat should be at a 100-degree angle for the best support. It can also help to place a pillow in the small of your back to support the natural curve of your spine and keep you from slouching.
  • Cruise control: If your vehicle provides it, use this feature whenever possible. Resting both feet on the floor is much easier on your back and hips than keeping your foot at a constant angle.
  • Breaks: Experts recommend that stopping regularly to get out of the car and stretch is good for keeping your muscles loose and relaxed. If you drive a lot, this will also lower your risk of developing deep vein thrombosis, which is a blood clot that forms in the deep veins of your legs and tends to develop when you are stationary for long periods of time.

Avoiding Stress

Next time you feel like taking a spontaneous trip across the country, don’t let the anxiety of driving hold you back. While some people genuinely enjoy driving, others find it very stressful, especially in unfamiliar territory. If you drive while stressed, this can cause you to become very tense and jerky. Try some of these suggestions to stay happy and healthy while you’re behind the wheel:

  • Avoid traffic: It can be helpful to plan your driving schedule ahead of time to avoid areas that may be very congested during rush hour.
  • Switch drivers: If you are traveling with someone else, try to switch out as often as possible.
  • Take breaks: Any time you start to feel overwhelmed, just pull over for a few minutes to stretch or walk around to clear your head.
  • Listen to music: Singing along to your favorite music is one of the best ways to stay relaxed and calm while driving.

Eating Healthy

Though most road trippers opt for the snacks found in vending machines and fast food chains, there are much better ways to eat when you are traveling lost distances in a vehicle. Don’t let fattening, high-sugar foods bog you down during your trip.

  • Avoid rest stop snacks: Foods found in rest areas and vending machines are always going to be high in fat, salt, and sugar. While these types of snacks might satisfy you temporarily, they are not ideal for staying energized throughout the trip.
  • Snack regularly: If you’re hungry, don’t avoid eating just because you don’t want to stop. This could lead to overeating and snacking on unhealthy foods once you reach your destination.
  • Pack your own food: The best way to eat healthy while you travel is to simply bring your own food. Some good items to include are water, dried fruit, fresh fruit, nuts, and cheese sticks.

Staying Awake

While most everyone is aware of the dangers of drinking and driving or texting and driving, the hazard of a sleepy driver is often overlooked. Driving while drowsy can be just as fatal as (if not more) than drunk driving because it slows your reaction time, decreases your awareness, and affects your visualization. Here are some tips to fight falling asleep at the wheel:

  • Pay attention: If you start to feel groggy, don’t ignore the signals your body is giving you. Pull over immediately and either rest, change drivers, or do some exercises to wake yourself up.
  • Be well-rested: Make sure that you get plenty of rest before your trip begins, as this can make a big difference in how you feel once you are on the road. 
Last Updated: May 21, 2018