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How to Handle a Long Distance Move When Driving

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Many times, people may consider making the drive to their new home when they move, rather than flying. They might do this for a number of reasons, one of them being that it would likely save a great deal of money. If you're making a long-distance move, paying for an auto shipper to move your cars for you can be expensive, depending on the service you choose. Also, plane tickets are becoming increasingly expensive as well, with gas prices going up.

These are just a few of the reasons why some people may choose to make the long-distance drive to their new home when moving. Of course, some people are just adventurous and choose to make the drive because they want to do some sight-seeing, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Whatever the reasons though, long car trips can be both physically and mentally taxing. This guide will provide you with some helpful tips and advice on how to help make the whole trip a little easier on you and your fellow travelers, and what you need to know to stay alert and aware out on the road and make sure you arrive at your destination safely.

Rotate drivers regularly

Everyone taking part in a long road trip likes to think that they can "drive forever" and that they don't need rest. The truth is, everyone needs a little break from time to time. Even if you don't feel tired, you've been sitting in one position and your legs are likely getting tired and cramped up. If you have more than one driver in the car making the trip with you, don't be afraid to rotate and drive in shifts. Three or four hours at a time usually works best, and if you're tired, take a nap. Even a quick 30 minutes of shut-eye can go a long way in refreshing you.

Being alert on the road is one of the most important things when you're taking a long road trip, and too much time behind the wheel without a break can cause you to lose some focus, which in turn causes more frequent mental lapses that can lead to poor judgment, inability to make quick decisions and serious accidents. Make a plan before you embark on the trip of who is going to drive first, who is going to drive second and so on. The more drivers you have along with you on the trip, the better, as it gives everyone else more time to rest in between driving shifts.

Here are some additional tips to follow:
  • Keep the driver engaged at all times. If the rest of the car has decided to doze off and take a quick nap, always make sure that at least one other person stays awake along with the driver. Engage the driver in conversation to help maintain alertness and awareness and prevent the driver from losing focus or dozing off as well.

  • Bring drinks and snacks. Keeping some snacks in the car with you, along with some water or sports drinks, can also go a long way in helping to keep everyone energized and alert during the trip.

  • Schedule the driving shifts ahead of time. If there is only one driver, then frequent stops should be made every few hours to allow the driver to rest and recuperate energy for the trip. If there is more than one driver though, you should devise a schedule ahead of time that will allow each person to know exactly when their shift to drive is so they can rest up and be prepared when the time comes.

Plan your trip for the daytime

A lot of people choose to drive through the night on a long road trip for several reasons. First of all, there are a lot fewer cars on the road during these hours, meaning virtually no traffic. Also, driving through the night means you get to your destination a lot earlier, leaving you more time to get things done. But this tactic also has its downsides. Of course, you can get to your destination earlier, but then you will most likely be tired from driving all night and will want to sleep anyway. So how much time are you really saving?

Also, continuous nighttime driving can put a strain on drivers and create a problem known as highway hypnosis or "White Line Fever" which is extremely dangerous and all-too-common. If you must drive at night, the best way to avoid highway hypnosis is to constantly keep your eyes moving. Focusing solely on the road in front of you will cause you to drift off, so keep your eyes busy by looking at signs on the sign of the road, your dashboard, and your mirrors.

If you feel like you are succumbing to White Line Fever or you feel tired or unfocused, your safest move is to pull off of the highway as soon as you can and look for a place to stop and get some rest before you continue driving. If there are other drivers in the car who are more rested and can take over the driving, allow them to, and don't be afraid to stop for the night at a local hotel or motor inn. The road will still be there in the morning, and so will your destination, and you'll be rested and ready to take on another day of driving with energy and alertness.

Rest is important

In fact, rest may be the most important thing to make sure you get on a road trip, besides gas. Driving tired is extremely dangerous, and many recent studies have shown that driving while tired is just as dangerous as driving drunk. Instead of putting your life and the lives of others at risk by driving when you shouldn't be, stop and pull off the highway to catch some rest and allow someone else to drive.

Sure, you're making great time and you don't want to stop, not even for a bathroom break. You should, though. Make frequent stops, even if it's just to stretch your legs and browse a gift shop at the highway rest area. Getting out and grabbing a bite to eat and taking in some of the sights in a new town or state is a great way to collect memories on your road trip and also a nice way to take a welcome break from all the driving.

Robert Moreschi  Posted by Robert Moreschi on May 27, 2013

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