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Road Trip: How to Avoid Stress, Fatigue and Pain on Your Next Road Trip

Simple precautions can make your road trip a pleasure, not a pain


Spending hours in a car during a road trip, or even a long commute, is nearly always stressful and can become painful and exhausting. By taking a few simple precautions, such as those listed below, you can prevent many of those common road-trip problems.

Get comfortable - Before starting your road trip, make sure you have plenty of legroom to prevent cramping, adjust your seat and steering wheel to bring the wheel within easy reach, and set your mirrors to provide rear-view and side-view vision at a glance.

Sit up straight - Reclining your seat may seem like a more comfortable position for driving during a long road trip, but it forces you to tilt your head forward, which strains your neck, back and shoulders and can lead to headache or muscle pain. For minimum strain on your road, keep the driver's seat at a 90-degree angle.

Empty your pockets - Sitting on your wallet, or other bulging items in your back pockets, during a road trip can irritate your sciatic nerve, which starts at your spine and runs down the back of both lets. Compressing the sciatic nerve (sometimes called sciatica) can cause pain, weakness, numbness or tingling in your leg and hip.

Take a break - When you're planning your road trip, allow extra time for breaks so you can get out of the car and stretch your neck, back, legs, arms and hips. Frequent breaks-about five minutes every hour or so-will refresh you mentally as well as physically. Try these stretching exercises at each rest stop during your road trip:

  • In a lunge position, place your right foot on a bench or step at knee height-picnic-table benches are good for this-and place both hands, palms down, on your right knee, keeping your left leg straight. Lean in slightly, hold the position for 20 seconds, and then repeat with your other leg.
  • While standing, raise your arms above your head and clasp your fingers together, palms upward and facing away from you. Look up at your hands, hold the pose for 20 seconds, and then relax. Repeat the exercise a few times.

Following these road trip tips can help you reduce fatigue and muscle strain, avoid the pain that can sometimes result, and ensure a more enjoyable road trip.

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