Woman staying comfortable on a long drive by standing outside of car with arms outstretched.

Long car trips can literally be a pain. But you can remain physically comfortable on long drives with these tips.

Stay alert. Drowsy driving can be fatal. Don’t push yourself to drive late into the night, when you are usually asleep. Switch drivers if you start to fade. If you’re the only driver, get a hotel room.

Pull over every 2 to 3 hours. Sitting too long is hard on the lower back due to that constant flexed position,” says Lynn Millar, Ph.D., chair of the department of physical therapy at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina. It may compress the discs between your vertebrae, potentially leading to pain, numbness, or tingling in the legs. Your neck and hips could get tight, too. Getting out of the car and walking around a bit can help keep you comfortable on long drives.

Stretch your back. On your driving breaks, stand tall and circle your shoulders back five times. Then reach arms overhead and arch back slightly. Hold for 5 seconds, then lower arms and repeat once or twice.

Uncramp your legs. Try this calf and hip-flexor stretch: Stand with feet staggered in a lunge, left knee bent in front and right leg straight behind so that your heel touches the ground. With hands on hips (or holding on to something for balance), clench the right side of your gluteal muscles. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs and repeat.

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Relax your shoulders. Keeping your chin parallel to the ground, slowly draw your head back as far as you can. You might feel a stretch along your upper spine and shoulders. Repeat six times.

Flex your feet. Trips longer than 4 hours increase your risk of deep vein thrombosis, a clot that forms, usually in the lower leg or thigh, says Mary Cushman, M.D., a spokesperson for the American Heart Association. Stopping to walk around helps. Passengers in the car should do ankle rolls and alternate flexing and pointing their feet one at a time every half hour or so.


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A first-aid kit, which can help you stay comfortable on long drives.

Your Travel First-Aid Kit

Start with a prepacked kit, such as those sold by the Red Cross for $20. These give you a variety of bandages, gauze, tape, and more for treating wounds, cuts, and burns. We recommend adding:

1. Your health and hospital insurance cards.

2. Enough of your Rx medications to last you the length of your trip—and a few days more just in case.

3. An antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl Allergy and generic) or loratadine (Claritin and generic), for an unexpected allergic attack.

4. A pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol and generic), ibuprofen (Advil and generic), or naproxen (Aleve and generic).

5. Antidiarrheal remedies, such as loperamide (Imodium and generic) and bismuth subsalicylate (Kaopectate, Pepto-Bismol, and generic), and antacids.

6. Insect repellent and tweezers for tick removal.

7. Sunscreen, aloe gel, hydrocortisone cream, or calamine lotion to prevent sunburn or soothe bites.

8. Antiseptic wipes, hand sanitizer, and an antibiotic ointment, such as Neosporin, for infected wounds.

9. Lubricating eye drops.

10. A thermometer.


Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the July 2018 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.