With fall in the air and the heat of summer starting to wane, you may be feeling the call of the open road. You can go drive through forests of colorful leaves, catch the last warmth of the year on the coastline, and see glorious sunsets over desert vistas. But taking a long-distance road trip can also be a pain in the rear—quite literally.
Before you jump in the car and head off on your next adventure, you need to make sure you have the right things in your bag. From seat cushions and neck pillows to water, blankets, and comfortable clothes, these essentials can make sure your trip experience isn’t marred by back or neck pain.
Read on to discover what you need to tuck in your bag before your next long road trip.
1. Good Food – Not Junk Food
When you’re packing up for a road trip, it can feel like a great time to load up on your favorite junk foods. Candy, chips, popcorn—the best road food is full of sugar and salt, right? But these foods can leave you jittery one moment and exhausted the next, which is not a good combination for driving.
Instead of junk food and candy, load up on nutritious snacks that will help you power through your long drive. If you have a sweet tooth, go for fresh fruit or honey granola. If you want something a little saltier, nuts, small pieces of cheese, and rice cakes can be a healthier way to satisfy those cravings.
Long road trips are also not the time to load up on soda and sugary drinks for the same reason that you should avoid candy and chips. It’s also not a good idea to go your whole trip without drinking a drop. Yes, you may save time on bathroom breaks, but you’re going to arrive dehydrated and sore.
Get a good reusable water bottle, preferably one with hour markings to help you meet drinking goals. Before you get on the road, fill it up with water, adding a low-sugar flavor mix if you like. Try to stick to your drinking goals to make sure you stay hydrated throughout your trip.
3. Plans for Stops
When you’re drinking as much water as you should, you’re going to need to stop for bathroom breaks. Although this will add some time to your road trip, it’s more than worth it. Not only will you have time to stretch out, but it will also give you a chance to see more of the places you’re traveling through.
Try to stop every three to five hours and get out of the car for at least a few minutes. Do some basic stretches, refill your water bottle, and walk around some to get your blood moving again. Take some time to appreciate the place you’re in rather than racing to the finish line and missing all the beauty on the way.
4. Light Blanket or Jacket
If you’re traveling with another person, there’s a good chance you’ll have different opinions about what a comfortable temperature is. You don’t want to spend your entire trip freezing or fighting over the thermostat. If you want to take a nap, you may also want to have something to cover up with.
Bring along a light blanket or jacket that you can keep rolled up within reach. Small fleece blankets can be an excellent choice for this as they’re compact and perfect for napping. If you bring a jacket, look for one that has plenty of pockets so you can use it while you’re on the rest of your trip.
5. Handheld Fan
On the other end of the spectrum, if the person driving is cold-natured, you may find yourself sweating through a long road trip. A driver may not always be able to safely keep a blanket over their lap, and they may want to set the temperature anyway. And if it’s raining, you may not be able to roll down your window.
Tuck a small handheld fan into your travel bag in case you get too warm on your trip. This can also come in handy if you plan to go hiking or spend time on the beach. It’s also a good idea to pack some extra batteries to make sure you can stay cool all the way down the highway.
6. Memory Foam Neck Pillow
No matter whether you’re traveling in a car or in a plane, having a neck pillow along can be a very good idea. These pillows help to support your head, providing gentle cushioning to your neck and shoulders. They can prevent you from waking up with a crick in your neck after propping your head against the window.
When you’re shopping for a neck pillow, look for a memory foam model. Memory foam is a dense polymer foam that softens as it warms up. This enables your neck pillow to mold to your shape, perfectly supporting your head and preventing neck strain that will stop you from taking in all the beautiful sights.
7. Proper Footwear
It may sound strange to include footwear on a list of road trip essentials; after all, if you’re sitting in a car all day, what difference does it make what shoes you’re wearing? But having proper supportive shoes can keep your feet comfortable and ready to hit the ground running when you arrive at your destination.
It may also be a good idea to wear compression socks if you’re going to be in the car for days on end. Sitting still for long periods of time can increase your risk of blood clots, pulmonary embolisms, and other health problems. If you have a clotting disorder, you’re on hormonal birth control, or you have a history of blood clots, this is an especially important road trip essential.
8. Comfortable Clothing
On the subject of wearing the right thing, you want to choose the clothes you wear on your road trip with care. You want something light, comfortable, and versatile. No one likes tugging at tight clothes all the way down the highway or peeling off layers without removing a seatbelt.
Try to pick clothing that’s stretchy and fits you well things like yoga pants and soft t-shirts can be good options. Go for clothes that are made from cotton or polyester, since those materials breathe well. And while comfort is important, try to pick something you would feel okay about being seen in just in case you want to get out and explore any attractions you pass along the way.
9. Lumbar Support Pillow
It can be easy to ignore your low back when you get into the car for a road trip. But a few hours down the highway, you may notice that your lumbar region is starting to ache. A memory foam lumbar support pillow can help to support your spine and make sure your road trip is as comfortable as possible.
Because memory foam molds to your shape, it can support the muscles in your back without putting additional pressure on your spine. A lumbar pillow will also help to keep your back in its natural curvature, making it easier to maintain a proper posture. This can help you avoid muscle strain and keep you ready to move when you get to your destination.
10. Seat Cushion
A memory foam seat cushion can also help to keep you comfortable during your trip. For one thing, it will help to redistribute your weight on the seat to remove pressure from points like your hips and your tailbone. No more jogging in place at your rest stops to get your butt back awake after hours in the car.
A seat cushion can also help to keep your hips in proper alignment with your spine. They lift you a little higher, putting your knees at a better angle and removing strain from your knees. And having your hips at a proper angle can keep your back in a more natural, comfortable position throughout the drive.
11. Tennis Ball
Believe it or not, a tennis ball is not only a road trip must-have when you’re traveling with your dog. Even with the proper cushions and supports, your back muscles will still likely be tense when you stop for the night. Sitting in one position all day is hard on your body, and you may need to work some kinks and knots out of your muscles at the end of a long day on the road.
Tuck a tennis ball into your bag and use it to massage your back when you get in for the night. Lay on the floor and put the tennis ball under your back on either side of your spine. Roll back and forth to gently work those muscles, being sure to stretch out afterward to loosen any remaining tension.
Having a good pair of sunglasses on a road trip is about more than looking cool and quoting Blues Brothers. Squinting at a sunny highway all day can be very bad for your eyes, not to mention uncomfortable. And even on cloudy days, the diffuse light can put extra strain on your eyes.
Look for a pair of sunglasses that are polarized and have UV protection. These will filter out reflective light, reducing glare and strain on your eyes. UV protection will keep out harmful rays, making sure you can see the sights at your destination all the better.
If you’ve ever spent a long time in a car, you may have noticed your face felt dry when you got where you were going. Most of the time, we have air blowing in our faces while we’re in the car. This constant Windstream can strip natural oils out of your skin, leaving your face dry, red, itchy, and irritated.
Get a light moisturizing cream that’s designed to rehydrate your skin. If you tend to break out a little more easily, look for an oil- and fragrance-free formulation designed for sensitive skin. You may also want to look for a moisturizer with UV protection to protect your face from sun damage.
On the subject of sun damage, it’s important that you bring along a bottle of sunscreen for your road trip. Even through a car window, the sun’s rays can damage your skin, causing fine lines and wrinkles. And no one wants to show up to their vacation already sunburned.
Tuck a light sunscreen into your bag and be sure to put some on before you hit the road in the morning. You may want to reapply at lunch and dinner to make sure you’re well-protected. And if you stop to go swimming or get caught in the rain, it’s always a good idea to reapply before you head back out on the highway.
Stay Comfortable on Your Long Road Trip
A long road trip can be an amazing experience, but without the proper tools, it can be uncomfortable. Make sure you have the right cushions to keep your body aligned properly and pack the right snacks and drinks. Grab your sunglasses and sunscreen, tuck a blanket in next to your feet, and stay comfortable all the way through your next great adventure.
If you’d like to find more tools to live your most comfortable life, check out the rest of our site at Everlasting Comfort. We have everything from memory foam pillows and cushions to humidifiers and oil diffusers to keep you living the good life. Shop our collections today and discover what it’s like to ride in the lap of luxury.