A quick and painless 2,250 kilometer road trip begins with good preparation. In Part  1 I mentioned that begins by getting your body ready physically and driving according to your circadian rhythms. A long road trip will wear on you without warning so you’ll need to set a few mental and physical “alarm clocks” to keep yourself alert. Your biggest obstacle is fatigue which you can put off but not fight completely. You’re well rested so now it’s time to hit the road and keep going.

driving at night

Give Yourself Mental Challenges

Much of a long drive is staring at open road for long stretches of time. It’s boring and can dull your senses. Mix things up from time to time with these little exercises.

  • Change lanes every so often. Such a menial task may seem pointless but will get your mind off of autopilot for a moment. It’s also a good way to check how tired you are. If that lane change is more difficult than it should be (like taking forever to get the car over or within the new lane) it’s evidence you need a break, no matter where you are in the driving segment.
  • toilet handleUse your bladder. Mark H left an excellent tip in the comments yesterday about using your bladder to keep yourself alert. I mentioned yesterday that you should limit yourself to 8 oz. of liquid during the first 100 miles of a trip segment, but as the drive wears on increasing your water intake can help you stay awake. You’ll be taking a few more bathroom breaks as you get closer to your destination but you’ll probably need it as you go on.
  • Don’t stare at the lines on the road. Staring at the lane dividers and solid lines along the roadside has the same effect on your mind as hypnosis. It’s dangerous and can make take you out of consciously being aware of your surroundings. Read license plates or try to remember the name of your high school math teachers to jolt your mind into action.
  • Avoid cruise control. A great feature of most modern cars, cruise control is something you want to avoid on long solid stretches of road when you’re reaching for mental challenges. Force your mind to take conscious action.
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Your efficient brain will check itself out of consciousness and start daydreaming. If you find yourself falling into this state, pull over for 5-15 minutes and take advantage of daydreaming to make use of this creative peak (write down your ideas!) or take a 20 minute nap to improve your response time. Keeping the temperature low will also make you less drowsy and more alert.

driving at night

Be Silly

As UpTake suggests, sing loudly if you’re driving alone or shout for a moment or two. You can also make the drive a more interesting part of your travels and keep your mind occupied by taking Randomn3ss’ advice and looking for photo opportunities to drive 1,000 miles or more in a day.

silly girl

Talk A Lot

If you’re lucky enough to be traveling with a partner, talk their ears off or get on your mobile if the laws and conditions allow for it. Have your partner or good friend on the phone jot down some travel blog ideas or things you’d like to do at your destination. You’ve got plenty of time on your hands and a long drive is a good time to let the ideas roll.

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Check Your Ego At The Door

I used to fight fatigue and sleep mercilessly driving through the night to get to my next destination in as little time as possible. While I was racing against the clock, it was really my ego that was driving me. Ultimately your body is always in control and it’s better to pull over and sleep rather than risk an accident. Sleepy drivers cause more than 2 million accidents in the US alone each year and driving sleepy may be as bad as driving drunk.

dog with dead end sign

The best way to drive 2,250 kilometers in a day is not getting hurt or killed along the way. Enjoy the ride and rest as needed so you get to your destination in one piece and feeling refreshed.

[photos by: greetheory., powerbooktrance, PhotoDu.de, AJamison, themaxsons, zoomar]