Stay awake on a long road trip

Staying alert on long drives can be difficult. Sometimes even a good night’s sleep isn’t enough to keep you from yawning behind the wheel. While you should never try to fight sleep and get behind the wheel of a car, there are some things you can do to help yourself keep alert in the driver’s seat.

First and foremost, remember that you can’t fight sleep. If you really are worried that you might fall asleep behind the wheel, pull over and take a powernap. Pack your car in a way that allows you to lean the driver’s seat back so you can have a nap at a service station or roadside stop. It could save a life.

Bring a friend
Having company to keep you entertained, put on some great tunes and be in charge of snack distribution is one of the best ways to ensure you stay awake on a long drive. If you begin to lose focus you can take turns driving and entertaining.

Workout – your face
While face exercises are often used to help prevent and reduce wrinkles by toning facial muscles, they also help to keep you awake. Smart Travel recommends trying a few techniques on long road trips.

  • tightly purse your lips while your mouth it wide open
  • open your eyes and raise your eyebrows
  • suck in your cheeks
  • extend your jaw and move it from side to side.

Caffeinated drinks on hand

If you’re a coffee drinker, good. Whether you’re buying it on the way or have a thermos packed for the road, drinking black coffee can help perk you up. The darker and more bitter the coffee the better it will be, as the taste will give you a jolt before the caffeine has even entered your bloodstream. Energy drinks and No-Doz pills can also help, although it’s important not to be dependent on caffeine to keep you alert.

Don’t get too comfy
Getting too comfortable makes it all the easier to doze off behind the wheel. Now I’m not saying you should be sitting on a bed of nails, but keeping the temperature low and your seat upright can help to keep you more alert. If you start to get a little dreamy, crack a window and let the rushing air perk you back up.

Good snacks
When I say ‘good’, I don’t mean your favourite bag empty calorie chips or lollies. Those snacks will likely give you a short energy boost followed by a crash. ‘Good’ snacks are those with a higher protein than sugar content and will slowly release energy to help keep your mind and body alert on the drive.

Listening to an intriguing podcast or audiobook can help to keep you entertained and alert. I’ve found that mystery podcasts or action-packed audiobooks keep me sitting up and wide eyed. A long trip is also the perfect opportunity to learn something new or have a laugh alongside a comedy podcast. 


How do you stay awake on long drives? Would you consider a road trip when restrictions lift?

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Liv Gardiner
Liv Gardiner
Writer and editor with interests in travel, lifestyle, health, wellbeing, astrology and the enivornment.
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