Road trips are certainly one of the best ways to travel and discover new places. As adventurous and exciting the idea of road trips are, it often happens that people embark on road trips without proper planning and preparation. While such spontaneous plans have their own excitement, if you are planning on a fairly long road trip (over 1000 km), it's necessary to have a proper planning and preparation in place to ensure a smooth and trouble-free journey. While shorter road trips are still possible spontaneously, longer road trips are almost bound to fail without proper planning.
So here are ten essential tips/advices that we think are very necessary when driving long distances. This simple check list will ensure you reach your destination as per your plan, safely and most importantly, enjoyably.
Be Well Rested
This is a very basic but one of the most neglected aspects of long distance driving. Driving long distances is very energy-consuming for both the mind and the body. It is thus very important to have rested and slept well the day before the journey. Without proper rest, one can be tend to be drowsy on highways, which not only takes away from the enjoyment of a road trip, but is also immensely risky. The more rested you are before the trip, the more energy you will have on the trip.
Get Your Car Serviced
Driving long distances over long hours can be equally stressful for your car. It is thus very essential to ensure that your car is in proper condition and is functioning smoothly. Top-up all essential oils, check your tyre pressure, spare tyre/puncture kit, check your brakes and thoroughly clean your car inside out. A breakdown during a road trip is possibly the worst nightmare ever and one should do his/her best to avoid it.
Plan Your Breaks
It is very important to properly plan your breaks, especially when on a long road trip. If the journey is over two or three days, try to cover maximum distance in the first day itself. That takes away a lot of stress from the following days and you can reach your destination in a relaxed manner. It is essential to plan your in-journey breaks and your night stop as that ensures that you maintain a steady pace through out the day. It will help you keep on time and when you know your destination for the night, you can plan your drive accordingly. Without a planned night stop, the journey is often haphazard and time management is never proper.
This is something that is almost synonymous with road trips - starting early. It's best to start your journey at wee hours of the morning - possibly by 3:00-4:00 am. This way you can exit city limits before sunrise and avoid unnecessary traffic. Starting early also ensures you reach your destination with sufficient time in hand, not requiring you to hurry through your journey.
Pack Eatables and Essentials
You must always pack in dry eatables like biscuits, fruit cakes and light snacks as well as fruit juices and lots of water from beforehand. This ensures that you do not need to stop too many times on the road. In case you are on a long, empty stretch on an highway, it also ensures that you have all your basic supplies in hand. Along with food and drinks, you must also pack essential and basic medicines along with a first-aid kit.
Use GPS or Google Maps
This is something that does not need to be particularly mentioned, as most people almost automatically resort to google maps on road trips these days. The advantages of using online GPS is that you are always aware of how far your destination is and how much time you will take to reach. You also get live traffic updates and you can plan your route accordingly. As an added advantage, you are also aware of all the places you are passing through, which just makes navigation simpler.
Don't Drive Fast, But Drive Steady
Even if you have to cover very long distances, it does not necessarily mean that you need to drive fast. Accelerating and braking hard, zig-zagging through trucks and changing lanes frequently, you'll only tire yourself faster. Moreover, your car will also not be retuning its best mileage. Instead, you should drive at a moderate speed (80-100 kph) and maintain a steady pace, which is the most time-efficient way of reaching your destination. Instead of driving faster, you should take lesser breaks. And when you do take breaks, optimize your stop to fulfill all your needs so that you don't need to stop for another 3-4 hours.
When you are driving long distances, you must be comfortable in your car. Wear comfortable clothes, carry additional seating support (such as lumbar support, neck support, etc) if you need so, drive to some relaxing music and most importantly, enjoy the drive rather than only trying to reach the destination. This way, you will minimize your fatigue.
Eat Light and Stay Hydrated
You must most certainly avoid eating heavy when on a road trip, particularly if you are the driver. If you eat heavy, you will soon be lethargic and will eventually feel drowsy. To stay alert on your drive, you must eat little but often. This way, you will be optimizing your body for the primary task at hand i.e, driving. It is also extremely important to stay hydrated on your drive as that directly translates to the amount of energy you have behind the wheel.
One of the most difficult aspects of long distance driving is to stay awake, particularly at night. As mentioned before, long distance driving can be quite fatiguing and it is very natural to feel drowsy on long highway stints. If you feel drowsy, you must immediately stop and refresh yourself. Wash your eyes and face, have some tea/coffee, take a stroll, talk to your fellow passengers, do whatever, but do not continue driving. If you are feeling very sleepy, it's best to pull over at a highway restaurant/dhaba and take a power nap of 30 minutes or so. This can often be a life-saving decision. It is very dangerous to be drowsy when driving and this situation must be avoided at all costs.