Be kind to yourself this season with these winter road trip hacks


You’re hearing a lot of important messages about caring for your car this time of year. Hopefully, you’ve taken the correct steps to properly prep your ride for the winter ahead with proper tires, up-to-date servicing, and a quick check of the fluids and battery and cooling system. Whatever you drive, hopefully it’s hitting the road this winter in tip-top shape. 

But what about you? What can a driver do to make sure they’re just as well set up for as safe and confident drive as that winter-prepped car or truck? Below, we’ll cover a few easy tips to help drivers tackle hours of winter conditions on end in as safe and stress-free a manner as possible — with a specific focus on longer-distance driving. 

Eye Protection

Slipping on a pair of quality driving glasses immediately protects and enhances the two most important safety features in your vehicle: your eyes. A good set of lenses will almost instantly make it more comfortable to see, especially on the brightest winter days that blast our retinas with bright light and harsh colours. 

A quality set of driving glasses can darken and optimize the incoming light. If it’s in your budget, polarized lenses nuke reflections from puddles, snow, ice, and other vehicles, too. Do some homework and find a driving lens you’ll like. Slip them on, and your eyes are spared from distracting or hazy colors and protected from UV rays. Wear on a good set on a bright day, and you’ll feel your eye muscles relax, along with your entire face. It’s like taking your eyeballs to the spa.

Do pay for quality, though: the $9 shades from your local gas station probably aren’t doing your eyes any favours. When test-driving some driving glasses, remember sunglasses with thinner arms block less of your peripheral vision during lane-change checks. Wearing a quality set of polarized driving glasses all day can help make sure your eyes are fresh and alert for hours longer after the sun goes down, too. 

We can also give our eyes an extra helping hand by avoiding screen time before bed. If you skip that late night episode of The Mandalorian the night before an early morning road trip, your eyes will probably thank you the next day.

Proper Nutrition

If you could be convinced your body’s performance is a function of the food and drinks you put into it, you might like these nutrition-related travel tips. They’re based on many years of snacking on the move, plus your writer’s casual interest in fitness and nutrition.

First, keeping caffeine intake to a minimum can prevent you from getting dehydrated and, in some people, keeps their bladders from being overactive. Try water instead. It doesn’t have any caffeine but it keeps you hydrated, unlike coffee. When properly hydrated, numerous processes in our bodies work better. This tends to help a person feel more comfortable, alert, and energetic. Skip the sugary snacks and drinks on the road, too. On longer trips, simple sugars (candy, pop) can cause a sugar spike and subsequent crash that make our energy levels fluctuate. 

By seeking snacks low in sugar but high in protein and fibre, blood sugar and energy levels can be kept more consistent. That’s because high protein, high-fiber foods are harder to digest, which slows digestion and nourishes us over a longer period of time. In my lunch bag, I’ve usually got some high-fiber, protein fruit or granola bars, walnuts, cheese slices, beef jerky, and plenty of water. These are my favourite snacks because they keep me full for longer and help keep my energy levels steady.

The gist? Eat good snacks on the go and you’ll probably find it easier to stay alert, focused, and comfortable. 

Sleep

Sleep is your body’s ultimate weapon. Not only does it help us remember things, stay healthy, and perform better at many tasks, but ensuring you get enough sleep before an early-morning road trip or commute is a great way to wake up feeling ready for the day instead of nervous and flustered.

Combined with good nutrition and proper eye protection on the go, a good night’s sleep is an absolute foundation for safe and comfortable long-distance driving.

Cover Everything

Knowing you’re prepared for common mishaps and setbacks as you travel can make for a more comfortable trip, and a few simple safety tips can add confidence to your drive, too. Remember — comfortable and confident means relaxed, less stressed, and more alert. Knowing you’re absolutely prepared for the drive reduces the likelihood you’ll be a white-knuckle stress-fest if conditions get bad. 

When you’re at ease, it’s easier to control your car properly, too. If you’ve ever heard someone describe a car accident where the car just ‘spun out’ for no apparent reason, the driver was likely stressed, tense, and unable to execute the smooth and controlled maneuvers required to keep the car on the road. Stressed out driving is a killer, so setting yourself up for a comfortable drive is vital.

Here’s another stress-busting tip for winter road trips: ensure your seat in a position where it’s easy to keep your head upright with your nose, and eyes, pointed straight down the road. This makes it easy to look far away. Put some effort into keeping your eyes trained as far up the road as possible, while maintaining a big space between you and the next vehicle in traffic at all times. 

These two steps build a safety net into your driving environment. First, you can use the space maintained ahead of you to read the road surface for signs of ice or changing traction levels, though it also comes in handy for extra reaction time if there’s a hazard up ahead. 

The secondary benefit is perception: look further ahead, and everything comes at you more slowly. This makes your surroundings easier to process, reduces surprises, and smooths out your driving. As one of the first things race car drivers learn in their training, keeping your eyes up is vital to safety and driver confidence. It’s a tip you can practice and use towards being a safer and more comfortable driver in winter conditions.

To Recap

Protect your eyes, get enough sleep, stay hydrated, eat well, and focus your eyes well up the road. These steps will give our inner driver the best tools with which to work, helping create conditions for the best possible drive. Do the same for your vehicle with proper tires and some pre-winter TLC, and you’re setting yourself up nicely for worry-free winter travels.



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