Anyone who’s been on a long road trip will attest to how taxing it can be to sit still for hours on end. Your body aches, you feel drained and the only thing on your mind is getting out of the car.
It can be difficult to stay comfortable during a long journey, especially if you don’t have room to move around. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of the best ways to stay comfortable and happy while traveling.
While traveling, it’s easy to become dehydrated and tired. Here are some helpful tricks you should consider to stay happy and hydrated on your journey:
- Carry a reusable water bottle. Durable water bottles are a simple way to keep hydrated, especially while traveling. To be sure you’re getting enough water, use a water bottle with time increments to show you how much to drink throughout the day. At rest stops you can refill your bottle without buying another plastic bottle.
- Pack electrolyte powders or drinks.Drinks designed for athletes often contain electrolytes, which help replenish important nutrients in your body. Powders are easy to transport without adding bulk to your travel load, but still help keep your body fluids balanced.
Set a reminder to drink water every hour with a water tracking app. If you have trouble remembering to drink water or never “feel” dehydrated, there are many ways to remind yourself to grab a sip of water. Set a reminder on your smartphone or use a water tracking app to log your daily consumption. This will also keep you from drinking too quickly, which can lead to more bathroom breaks.
Apparel and accessories
Comfort is the key to success on any lengthy trip, so it’s important to dress in things that don’t make you uncomfortable after a short time wearing them.
- Wear compression socks. If you’re on the road or in the air for hours at a time, your legs and feet may swell due to a lack of circulation. Compression socks promote blood flow to and from your feet and keep your muscles from getting sore after hours of inactivity.
- Use an infinity scarf as a multipurpose travel accessory. A scarf is a must-have for any traveler. It can be used for just about anything. Besides keeping your neck warm in cold weather, it can be used as a shoulder wrap, a hand towel, a travel pillow, a window curtain and even a bag!
- Wear closed-toe shoes with supportive inserts. It might not be the most fashion-forward choice, but tennis shoes, sneakers or other closed-toe shoes will go a long way to protecting your feet during your trip. An arch-specific shoe insert improves your body’s alignment which will help reduce strain and muscle soreness in your feet.
- Wear loose or stretchy clothing made from cotton or rayon. To avoid sneakily undoing a button during your travel, skip the skin-tight clothing. Cotton and rayon are breathable, lightweight fabrics well-suited to travel.
- Use a memory foam neck pillow. A neck pillow is extremely effective in providing your spine with the firm support it needs to maintain proper alignment while traveling for an extended period. Use one with ventilated memory foam for additional support and comfort.
- Use noise-blocking headphones. Sound has a significant impact on both your ability to fall asleep and your quality of sleep. Noise disturbance can overstimulate the brain, preventing sleep-inducing hormones from working properly. If you’ll be traveling overnight, a set of noise-blocking headphones or earbuds can help you sleep when it’s not your driving shift or when you're in the air.
- Sleep with a cooling eye mask. The car is a difficult place to get quality shut-eye. If you crave darkness while you sleep, consider a soft, thick eye mask, which will block out light and help you get the rest you need. Use an eye mask with cooling gel inserts to depuff tired eyes while you sleep.
Stretching and posture
Anybody who’s traveled before knows how sore your body can get after hours of sitting still. To prevent muscle soreness, keep yourself as active as possible by stretching and moving around periodically. Perform a mental “scan” of your body to look for tension. Sometimes, you don’t even realize you’re in pain until you look for it. If you find an area that feels tight, a simple stretch could help. If you’re the driver, remember to regularly pull over if you need to stretch or move around.
Here are some stretches and activities to try while traveling:
- Improve circulation by twisting your spine. Plant your feet firmly on the floor, place your left hand on the outside of your opposite knee and slowly twist to the right. Breath deeply and hold for five seconds. Repeat on the left side. This will increase blood flow to your lower back while keeping your spine stretched and relaxed.
- Loosen up your hamstrings and calf muscles. While sitting, stretch your legs out straight in front of you, feet flexed with your toes pointing up. Lean forward and touch your toes if possible, or rest your hands as far down your shins as you can reach. If you can stand up to stretch, bend forward and touch your toes, keeping your knees straight. This will stretch the backs of your legs and help prevent muscle tightness.
- Take five seconds to stretch your neck, shoulder and back. While seated, interlock your fingers behind your back and press your knuckles into the floor. Pull your shoulder blades down while pushing your chest up and forward. Extend your spine and hold for five seconds.
- Use a tennis ball to relieve tension in your back. If you’re prone to backaches or soreness, a tennis ball can be a useful DIY massage trick. On a driving break, find a hard surface level with your back (or use your car seat while on the go), place a tennis ball between it and your back, then gently roll your back over the tennis ball. This can be done on your back, neck and glutes to relieve tension.
- Sit up straight so the length of your back touches the seat. Poor posture can add strain to your muscles and put stress on your spine, resulting in constricted blood vessels. Sit up straight in your seat to prevent back pain. If you find yourself forgetting this often, set a reminder on your phone to practice good posture every half hour.
- Use a lumbar pillow behind your lower back. If you’ll be driving, a pillow behind the small of your back provides lumbar support and prevents back pain, so you’ll feel more comfortable sitting in a car seat for longer periods of time.
Energy and wellness
You may find yourself needing a boost of energy to make it through the day before you can crash on your soft hotel bed. If you get tired easily or need a pick-me-up, these things may help:
- Inhale peppermint oil for energy. Peppermint is the perfect essential oil to use if you’re feeling groggy. Give it a whiff every once in a while to engage your senses and clear your head.
- Take vitamins to avoid getting sick. Vitamins are a great way to restore your body’s nutrients if you’re feeling drained during your trip. Just remember to check with a doctor before taking vitamins with any prescription medications you take. Pack the following vitamins with you for extra support on your journey:
- Vitamin C: Because your body doesn’t produce it on its own, take a vitamin C supplement or eat foods rich in nutrients like oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, bell peppers and broccoli to boost your immune system while traveling.
- Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 is essential to supporting the biochemistry that powers your immune system. Eat foods like chicken, salmon, tuna, and hummus to replenish this nutrient.
- Vitamin E: This powerful antioxidant helps your body fight off infection naturally. Foods with vitamin E include nuts, seeds, and spinach.
- Drink coffee between 9:30–11:30 a.m.It’s best to drink coffee after cortisol levels have died down to avoid building up a tolerance to caffeine. According to the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, the body's cortisol production peaks between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., making 9:30 a.m. the best time to down a cup of joe.
- Avoid snacks with over 10 grams of sugar. Keep your sweet tooth at bay if you need to stay alert. A candy bar or soda will give you a quick burst of energy, but you’ll find yourself crashing soon after. Instead, choose foods low on the glycemic index like nuts, dried fruits, or healthy sandwiches to keep yourself full, but not so full that you find yourself in a food coma.
- Eat foods high in protein like hard-boiled eggs, almonds or breakfast bars. Though your first instinct may be to down an energy drink or coffee when you’re feeling groggy, healthier alternatives will provide more sustained energy. If you need a pick-me-up, try protein-enriched foods like hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, oranges, nuts, or even dark chocolate!
Sitting still during a long road trip or flight can leave any traveler achy, sore and fidgety. We hope these tips will help you stay comfortable on your next big trip.
Other important things to remember while traveling include keeping a first aid kit handy and checking that your car is properly insured and maintained.
With these helpful tips in your back pocket, you’ll be a pro traveler on your next trip!