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Tips on how to stay alert on a long drive?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
I leave next Sunday to drive to Minnesota. It will be a 28 hour drive broken up into more than one day. Maybe 4 days of 7 hours each, maybe 3 days of about 8.5 hours, or 5 days of 5 and half hours a day approximately. We'll see.

I know this drive is probably no biggie for most people, but I've never done anything like this. The longest I've ever driven was 5 hours 1-way and then 5 hours the next day back.

Short of having a Red Bull IV drip, what can I do to make sure I stay awake? It's not like me to fall asleep at the wheel, but like I've said - I've never done this before, and I see every year in the paper some number of people die from dozing off during a long distance drive.

I was going to drink energy drinks as I drive, anything else I can do? Talk radio would be nice, but unfortunately there is no way to get one radio station all the way up and I don't have (nor can I afford) XM radio.

I DO however have a 50 watt ham radio in the car that covers 10 meters, 6 meters, 2 meters, and 70 cm. I doubt all that many people will be talking during the middle of the day on business days.
post #2 of 26
I used to do long drives nearly every week.

My best suggestions are in order of importance:

1)Plan on resting every few hours - maybe 3 or 4 or 5, whatever you think is good for you. (I prefer 3). Locate on a map the locations you will stop and let people at your arrival and departure destinations know where you will be.

This is important for (A) safety, (B) something to look forward to, and (C) something to break up the monotony. ESPECIALLY A! I often stopped at truck stops like the Flying J and would park my car in front of the restaurant area that's well lit. It was perfect for taking a snooze (sometimes an hour long!), bathroom break, snacks, and just walk around area.

2)My favorite - the AWESOME playlist. It's the rock out songs you can't help but sing along to. Seriously - me and G'nR had some good times on the road and I know AFD and UYI 1&2 front and back!

3)Books on tape (or cd). Great way to get through a book you are interested in.

4)Prepare your snacks. We all eat and drink in the car, but having something set up where it is in easy reach is very important. Even if that means taking some tupperware containers and pouring your bag of chips/skittles/m&ms - whatever you like in. It's easier to eat. And don't forget straws! Tipping your head back, especially when sleepy, can cause a dangerous lapse in response time.

5)I'm not sure what your roaming is like on your phone - but if it is ok, make some of those chatty calls you meant to take.

Good luck on you journey! Stay safe!
post #3 of 26
I agree with DragulescuGirl.

When I have a long drive, I come up with milestones. I pick out places in my drive to take a break.

I listen to good music. I also listen to stuff I can sing along to. Sometimes, they aren't the same thing.

If I'm going to be in cold weather, I'll bring a sleeping bag or blankets with me. I can take a nap if I get tired!

Do take snacks. And stuff to drink. Water, gatorade, maybe an ice chest full of soda. It's good to have water and snacks if you break down in the middle of nowhere.

I also let people know when I'm leaving, and what time I expect to arrive.

Good luck on your long drive.
post #4 of 26
I used to live in the northern area of my Province and had to drive drive back and forth at times. It was about a 7 hour drive one way.

I used to keep the window open to keep the air circulating.

I also made sure that I had enough sleep before setting off for the drive, and that meant getting to bed extra early!

Take food (IE: Sandwiches with protein. Fruits, Veggies, Cheese, Nuts. Try to limit the pasta/breads because they make you sleepy) with you so that you can snack and keep up your blood sugar.

Put on some interesting music that you like, bouncy, not classical/soft style, so that it helps you stay alert.

Stop periodically and get out and stretch your legs and walk around for a few minutes every single hour!!! That will not only keep you awake, but it will also help reduce your risk of blood clots in your legs from sitting and not moving. Even a couple hours of sitting without getting up and walking around puts you at risk.

If possible take someone with you so that you can share the driving or have a conversation.

And most importantly....if you start to feel even a little bit tired, do not try to press on. Pull off the side of the road and take a nap!!!
post #5 of 26
I agree with most of the previous posts. I stop every 2 hours to stretch, bring fun sing-along music (and play it loud), keep the windows cracked, and snacks that won't make you fall asleep. High carbs and chocolate can give you a boost, but you'll crash when the sugars wear off. I do keep a candy bar for that last hour stretch just in case I need it.
post #6 of 26
I'm a horrible singer, but a long road trip is the one time I bring along lots of music and sing along to my favorite songs really loud It helps keep me awake and energized! Also, make sure you get fresh air and not rely on the a/c the whole time. A cold blast from the window in winter really helps!

I usually try to plan a long day 10-12 hours, but do have to stop every couple hours for a bathroom break and a chance to stretch your legs, etc. Just keep busy even if its just playing silly games with license plates or something. Keep your mind occupied and don't let yourself "zone out".

Good luck!
post #7 of 26
Some think the smell of peppermint is invigorating so you might try spritzing some mint breath spray - either in the air or your mouth.

I wouldn't depend too much on the energy drinks. They could interfer with sleep when you stop for the night. Maybe one or two in the morning, then water or gatorade.

Oh, do you have an auto club membership just in case? I recommend AAAPlus plan.
post #8 of 26
Everyone has some really great suggestions!

My plan for driving long distances is
1) drive with the window open, A/C makes me very sleepy for some reason
2) listen to your music LOUD- when you get out of range of your home city stations, just "seek" for new ones, I don't really recommend talk ones though, the sound of human voices sometimes puts me to sleep
3) as soon as you feel yourself getting a little sleepy, get off the road, get out of your car and walk for a bit, slapping yourself in the face can help too

I am like a baby in a car, if I'm not driving sometimes i fall asleep before the car is even on the freeway but I have driven to Myrtle Beach (about 13 hours) a few times, non-stop (other than bathroom breaks) and I drove to Harrisburg PA (about 5 hours each way) and back to Cleveland in one day
post #9 of 26
One trick I've learned is that coffee, when combined with a chocolate shake, really helps me... ymmv.
post #10 of 26
I agree that milestones or waystations along the way help you with maintaining your momentum and managing that long haul. Personally,I try and take little stretching/walking breaks at every 1.5 or 2 hours behind the wheel.If driving alone I generally listen to audiobooks as I can zone out on music.And if you are getting sleepy or nodding off please pull off for a "power nap".Arrive alive!
post #11 of 26
All wonderful suggestions!

I was going to say a book on tape, but someone has said that already.

My husband sometimes gives his face a little slap when he's starting to get tired while driving. It's pretty funny to see, but it does help him make that last stretch to our destination.

He does have to stop and take naps sometimes when he drives home from work - his drive is an hour in good traffic, but that rarely happens here in suburban NYC, and sometimes after a long day at work a nap is needed. So please do stop and catch some ZZZZZzzzzzzzsssss if you feel the need!
post #12 of 26
I'm going to have to second about being careful with energy drinks. They're not good for you and you'll be setting yourself up for a crash (caffeine can do that, too).

My DH eats sunflower seeds to help keep himself awake. Since he has to concentrate a bit, or otherwise swallow the shell, he tends to stay awake better.

As for loud music, that depends on the person. I listen to a lot of black and death metal, and do like to listen to it fairly loud when I can. Of course, I can fall asleep listening to it, too.
post #13 of 26
I agree with all the suggestions but 1. Please do not gab on the phone while driving. Not only is it dangerous, it's also against the law in some places. A friend of mine got a ticket for it If you talk on the phone, please make sure you're stopped

Have a safe and great trip!
post #14 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by LynneNY View Post
All wonderful suggestions!

I was going to say a book on tape, but someone has said that already.
Cracker Barrel has a books on audio program you may enjoy.
http://www.crackerbarrel.com/trip-bo....cfm?doc_id=48

You buy a CD from them and return it at any Cracker Barrel. They refund your money, keeping the small fee of $3.49 for every week you kept it.
post #15 of 26
My sister and I do long distance (16-17 hours) non stop when we see each other.

Start taking some aspirin 2-3 days before you leave as a preventer of blood clots (my sis had a doc recommend this).

I have the vehicle all packed and a checklist before I head out. I'm a morning person so I want to be on the road say between 5-6 am. We both have milestones so we know how we are doing time wise. Its about 4 hrs to Chicago, another 5 to Indianapolis we know the halfway point and then the "home stretch" of the last couple of hours.

Have some hi-quality snacks, not junk food. We only stretch when we get gas.

Have a current road atlas and check for road construction projects in each state you are driving through before you leave so you don't have a last minute detour to take.

I use the radio as well as favorite CD's to play when I need some momentum.

Make sure you have washer fluid filled up and the air pressure in the tires is good.

My sis leaves early evening then drives to about 2 am then pulls in a rest stop for an hour or so of sleeping.

I remember several college friends would take a long weekend and drive to Florida (24 hours non stop)
post #16 of 26
Be alert. The world needs more Lerts.

Seriously, I used to drive back and forth to college, 8 hours one way, somewhat frequently. I agree with the previous thoughts - good music that pumps you up (and who cares what the truck drivers think of your in-car-dancing?), prepared snacks and drinks, stop when you feel yourself getting sleepy and walk around. I was a freakin' maniac when it came to the long trips...I would make 1 maybe 2 stops for gas and bathroom in an 8-9 hour drive (depending on where I was headed) and that was it. But that's really far from the norm.

The biggest advice by far from me is: Be sure to get a good night's sleep the night before you start, and while you're traveling if you do stop for the night! I did make that mistake of staying up too late with friends the night before, and boy did I pay for it the next day! Not enough to be falling asleep at the wheel, but enough to know that it definitely wasn't the brightest thing I had ever done!
post #17 of 26
I drove from PA to CA from Sunday to Friday when I moved 2 years ago. I made sure to drive at least 500 miles each day (except the day i went through Denver/Boulder- spent too much time exploring there). I had quite a few stops though because there were some things I wanted to see/visit, even if for only a few minutes.

Sometimes I'd stop at a rest-stop parking lot type thing if there was pretty scenery, or a scenic look-out area, and take a few pictures.

Other than that, yeah, what everyone else said.

I also find chewing gum helps keep me awake for some reason..

Best of luck with your drive!!
post #18 of 26
Please be well rested before starting your trip, and be sure to take small breaks frequently, to walk around and stretch your legs. An open window, with the breeze blowing seems to work well for me, or aiming the air conditioning vents at my face. Stay well hydrated. Not only will this help you tolerate the long distances better, you will have to stop to use the bathroom more frequently...so you'll get your little 'stretch your legs/empty your bladder' breaks, lol!

Be careful, and don't drive when tired. I was the passenger in a car when the driver (my ex-husband) fell asleep while driving. He drove over the side of an overpass, and we landed upside-down in a tree! This was back in the mid-70's, before seat belts were required. He hadn't gotten around to disconnecting the seatbelt buzzer, so we were both wearing them! I'm quite sure they saved our lives!

If you can't afford the satellite radio, an FM converter for an i-Pod or MP3 player isn't very expensive. That way, you'll know you like all the music!
post #19 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
If you can't afford the satellite radio, an FM converter for an i-Pod or MP3 player isn't very expensive. That way, you'll know you like all the music!
My car has RCA inputs for an iPod fortunately. I am thinking of stopping at Borders this weekend to purchase music and books on CD. I like those ideas.

As for aspirin to prevent clots, it's unfortunately something I can't do for medical reasons. I can ask if there is something else I can take to prevent a clot though. Fortunately there are physicians in my family, including immediate family.

I won't be driving at night, so that's nice. I did that on purpose. Probably 7-8 hours a day of only driving during day time.

I do have roadside service as part of what's included with my vehicle. It's the Inifiniti roadside support program.

I like a lot of the ideas mentioned though. I will work on starting with what's been posted.
post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by LawGuy View Post
As for aspirin to prevent clots, it's unfortunately something I can't do for medical reasons. I can ask if there is something else I can take to prevent a clot though. Fortunately there are physicians in my family, including immediate family.
Actually, getting out and walking around a bit, every couple of hours, is just as effective as taking asprin for preventing clots.
You can also ask about getting a script for someJOBST SUPPORT WEAR or T.E.D compression stockings or Anti-Embolism/Vascular support stockings.
Here's a link that describes them. http://healthylegs.com/content/The_T..._Stockings.htm

I wear support stockings (Jobst thigh highs) every day at work. I'm on my feet daily for a minimum of 10 hours, and up to 24 hours (when on call.) They are truly a Godsend!
post #21 of 26
This post is very informative for me because my husband is going to have to drive to a class from orange county NY to Dulles airport in a couple of days. he'll be driving and going alone, I am nervous because it will be the first time we will be seperated. looks like its only a 5-6 hour drive but I have a horrible fear of bridges, tunnels and any interstate. I am so glad to have these tips and have been telling him all the you guys have posted. Thanks!!!
post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by LawGuy View Post
My car has RCA inputs for an iPod fortunately. I am thinking of stopping at Borders this weekend to purchase music and books on CD. I like those ideas.

As for aspirin to prevent clots, it's unfortunately something I can't do for medical reasons. I can ask if there is something else I can take to prevent a clot though. Fortunately there are physicians in my family, including immediate family.

I won't be driving at night, so that's nice. I did that on purpose. Probably 7-8 hours a day of only driving during day time.

I do have roadside service as part of what's included with my vehicle. It's the Inifiniti roadside support program.

I like a lot of the ideas mentioned though. I will work on starting with what's been posted.
I definitely think that audiobooks are a GREAT idea. I recently started listening to audiobooks while I was working on crafts. I discovered that they were a great way to break up the monotony of pinning or cutting fabric (very easy, mindless tasks ), and I listened to an audiobook on my last car trip. It was fantastic! I didn't get nearly as tired (car trips always make me tired) because I wanted to stay awake to find out what happened next! Plus the book I was listening to was very funny. The books that I got were not very long as novels, a little over 300 pages perhaps, but are 9 hours as audiobooks. One or two audiobooks could easily take up half of your huge car trip. I got mine from the library, but I don't think that would work for you. You are going up there for school, right?

I also agree about getting up to stretch every couple of hours. You don't always have to go to the bathroom or eat, just get up and walk around for a few minutes. You will feel loads better. Actually, if you have enough time to plan ahead and map out your route, you might find some cool things to see on your way, like a park or a monument that you might want to just stop and take photos of, since you will only be driving 7-8 hours of the day. That leaves enough time to stop for a couple of hours in the middle of the day to see something and still be driving largely in the day time. That sounds like fun!

Just out of curiousity... what will Ally and Ollie be doing during this trip? They are coming with you, aren't they?
post #23 of 26
There are good reasons why truck drivers are legally limited to 11 hours of driving before they have to stop for at least 8 hours of sleep. Even experienced drivers lose their sharpness, starting a downward slide at just 4 hours!

My friend had a fellow teacher who drove 14 hours to get home. He fell asleep, ran into the back of a truck, and was killed just a few miles from his destination.

If you get sleepy, sleep for an hour or two.

If you get sleepy enough that you do the "jerk" one time, stop and sleep. The next jerk may be you going off the road or hitting something.

Talk radio is pretty good, too.
post #24 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Just out of curiousity... what will Ally and Ollie be doing during this trip? They are coming with you, aren't they?
They will not be coming up with me via the car. I ultimately decided that an 1800 mile car trip would be too much stress too long for them. I didn't want to do that to them.

My mother was going to meet me up in Minneapolis anyways to help me move in (my father would do it but he has a work obligation that can't be moved that week). She is going to take Ally and Ollie on the plane. It's all arranged. They'll only have to be stressed for about 4 hours and then they'll see me and I'll make them comfy in Minneapolis at the hotel until I've got the apartment set up enough for them to move in and get to know their new home. It's costing $150 to fly them one way, but I think it's worth it to not stress them for days on end.
post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by LawGuy View Post
They will not be coming up with me via the car. I ultimately decided that an 1800 mile car trip would be too much stress too long for them. I didn't want to do that to them.

My mother was going to meet me up in Minneapolis anyways to help me move in (my father would do it but he has a work obligation that can't be moved that week). She is going to take Ally and Ollie on the plane. It's all arranged. They'll only have to be stressed for about 4 hours and then they'll see me and I'll make them comfy in Minneapolis at the hotel until I've got the apartment set up enough for them to move in and get to know their new home. It's costing $150 to fly them one way, but I think it's worth it to not stress them for days on end.
Awwww. You are so sweet to those kitties! I would have done the same thing.
post #26 of 26
Ooh, this thread makes me want to take a road trip!!! I haven't done that for ages!

I actually have nothing to add, except to agree with the sing-along music, the books-on-tape, stopping every once in awhile to get out and stretch.....also the peppermint thing. I bought a bottle of peppermint oil (you can find it at any health store, in the section that has "essences".) A couple of dabs of that on my wrists and under my nose was eye-opening!
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