Doesn’t it seem like more people are going on road trips these days? However, more people on the road means more accidents. Some of which are caused by fatigue and health issues that may contribute. Regardless of what you drive, by following these safe RV driving tips, you can minimize collisions and stress on the road.
When it comes to road tripping, many feel they have to drive 600-800 miles in a day. Because time is limited, drivers need to pay attention to their health instead of their vacation destination. So, here’s our driving tips to help you get there safe and sound.
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SAFE RV DRIVING TIPS: Staying Alert and Healthy on the Road
Take Turns Driving
Our first driving tip for RVers is if you’re going on a road trip alone, then this point is mute which you should just skim until the next section. However, if you are road tripping with travel companions that are of legal driving age, why not split the driving? This will allow the driver to stretch their legs out in the passenger seat. As well, by switching out drivers, the driver will be more alert as they get rested while the other drives.
Shorten your travel day
I see so many on social media brag about how many miles they travel in a day; whether in an RV or automobile. Oftentimes, motorhome drivers will brag about driving 600-800 hours straight. While yes, motorhomes and even luxury cars are super comfortable to drive, you still have to deal with road fatigue.
But also, you could be doing your own body a disservice by not getting out of the driver’s seat and taking breaks. Now that we’re older and our stamina isn’t what it used to be when we were young 20-30somethings, we’ve slowed down our travel days on the road.
While most older full-time RVers use the 2-2-2 rule, we have the 3-3-3 rule since we’re driving a much smaller motorhome. We stop every 3 hours, travel no more than 300 miles in single day and stay 3 nights. Because by the time you figure in fuel stops, potty breaks, lunch and snacks and getting out to stretch our legs, that makes for a full travel day.
One of the biggest culprits of roadway accidents is driver’s inattentiveness to their driving. As the motor vehicle operator, you are the captain of your ship. All you should be doing IS driving; not texting, not fumbling with the GPS or radio, or tending to the kids fighting behind you.
In other words, you are inescapably responsible for the lives of those in your automobile, truck or RV. As well, your actions of inattentiveness will affect others as well.
So, if you have a travel companion, agree that the driver’s job is just to drive and the passenger’s job is to take care of everything else. However, if you’re a solo road traveler, just make certain you’re organized, have your tunes already programmed, GPS set, and put your smartphone on silent mode. Those who call you while you’re driving can leave a message.
Take time to eat healthy
Isn’t it funny, when one thinks of road trip snacks, they think of packing snacks chips, cheese puffs, crackers, soda, Red Bulls and Rockstar high-octane drinks. Those snacks are loaded with empty carbs which can make you very tired after your sugar rush. But hey, you can do better than that.
Most convenient stores, travel centers and truck stops now stock healthy options such as single pieces of fruit, yogurt and fruit cups, You can also find single-serve protein trays that include cheese, nuts and a meat snack.
But, if you’d rather pack your own snack bag or cooler, concentrate your findings of the perfect road trip snacks that are healthier options such as hard boiled eggs, carrot and celery sticks, low carb tortillas, apples, oranges and bananas and beef jerky. Your body will thank you for it and your road trip will be a much better experience.
Lay off the sodium and salt
Regarding those road trip snacks I mentioned above, while they may be fun food for your fun road trip, they aren’t healthy to begin with. Those bagged snacks like chips, cheese puffs, crackers and other processed snacks are loaded with salt and sodium.
By laying off the salt and sodium, you help your body to not retain bloating and swelling; especially in your lower extremities. Plus, there are many more added health benefits by minimizing your salt intake.
According to Harvard School of Health, “too much sodium in the diet can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. It can also cause calcium losses, some of which may be pulled from bone. Most Americans consume at least 1.5 teaspoons of salt per day, or about 3400 mg of sodium, which contains far more than our bodies need.”
Another one of our safe RV driving tips is anytime you drive your RV or any vehicle for that matter, you should always have a water bottle with you. And drink often as this helps your circulatory system and keeps your heart beating properly. Plus, hydration alleviates you from getting headaches and joint aches. But, stay away from sugary drinks or those caffeinated drinks that do more harm than good.
Stop often to stand up and stretch
As mentioned earlier, a lot of roadtrippers and RV travelers tend to drive as far as they can to get to their destination. Sometimes, that means sitting in the driver’s seat for 3, 4 or even 5 hours. That is NOT healthy!
First, consider that your bladder is holding onto all those toxins for a long time which can result in you getting sick or a urinary tract infection. Second, you need to get out often, stretch those legs and move. Because if you don’t, you chance getting blood clots in your legs which can cause you bigger health issues down the road.
I’ve found ever since getting my Apple Watch, I’m more attentive in getting up every hour to stand and move around. This is a great tool for driving too! Because my watch will alert me every hour to stand and stretch, it gets the blood pumping and flowing to those lower extremities instead of just sitting there clotting. It also Bluetooths to our smartphone GPS that alerts me using a vibration of upcoming turns, exits or instruction.
Walk or exercise
Speaking of stopping to stand and stretch, you should also get in at least a short walk; even if it’s around the parking lot. Hey, the dog’s gotta go out too, so you’ll need to go walk him anyway. A lot of rest areas have dog walks or picnic areas you can take a stroll around.
Another option of getting a little exercise and wake up those lazy bones is find some steps and do about 2-3 minutes of stepping. That little bit of exercise will help get your heart pumping, put your lungs to work and get those ligaments and joints moving.
I admit, I’m not into yoga. However, I have heard that doing some simple yoga stretches will help get those muscles loosened and joints working like they should. You could do these yoga stretches before you even get into the driver’s seat, between stops, and after a long day of driving.
Our friends at RVShare put out a great safe driving tips article: Tight from your RV Travels? These 10 Yoga Poses Will Help You Loosen Up.
Road trip music
One of the ultimate safe RV driving tips is to stay alert on the road. Keeping to the beat of your favorite tunes may help keep you company during your long drive or road trip
Unfortunately though, some automobiles and even RVs lack quality sound systems; including our own Winnebago View. But, you could get high quality sound using a highly reputable yet affordable portable speaker. In fact, we use ours in the cab of our motorhome and Jeep, outside at the campfire or just to listen to our favorite tunes inside our RV while working, playing games or relaxing.
An important driver’s tip regarding music in your vehicle or RV is to not play it so loud that you can’t hear what’s around your vehicle or your passengers who may be warning you of things you don’t see.
Safe RV Driving Tips: NEVER use earbuds or earphones when driving an automobile, truck or RV. Especially noise-cancelling earphones and ear buds prevent you from hearing emergency vehicles, sirens, and other motorists and motorcycles. In many states headphones or earbuds covering both ears is prohibited and driver’s doing so can be cited and fined for wearing them.
Stop to De-stress
Regardless if you’re on a road trip, commuting to work or just going to the grocery store, it’s super important to not get stressed while driving. Understandably, there are certain triggers that can cause a stressful situation while you’re in the driver’s seat such as heavy traffic, construction zones, inattentive and rude drivers, meeting deadlines, etc.
Stressed out reactions are linked to higher aggression, which links to a higher risk for roadway accidents and motor vehicle collisions (including RVs!), according to a population-level analysis in transportation research.
However, there are helpful ways to help mitigate and alleviate stress or road rage while driving.
Geico (no, we weren’t paid to link to them) put out a worth-the-read article, “Does Driving Stress You Out?” Check it out before plopping down and putting her in drive.
Get proper rest and sleep
If you’re like me, the night before a big road trip or long day of travel, I don’t won’t sleep well, if at all. The excitement of the journey, wondering if I forgot something and of course, the fun I’m going to have once I get to my destination all roll around in my head the night before.
So, to help me relax, I’ll take in a good movie, a hot cup of chamomile tea and a little Melatonin (I take only 1-2 MG) gets me to fall asleep and stay asleep so I will be alert and ready for my next day’s adventure.
Perhaps you can find your own way of getting a good night’s sleep through bedtime meditation, soft music, read a good book or *ahem* “that”. Might we suggest though, before taking melatonin or any other supplement, consult with your physician first.
Driver’s seat cushion and back pillow
Some RVs and automobiles or trucks don’t have fancy lumbar support in their seats. Therefore, you may have to improvise by getting a good seat cushion and/or lumbar back pillow.
And, since I oftentimes get sciatica from sitting for hours without getting up, I found a comfortable sciatica relief cushion. And oftentimes, I’ll grab my lumbar cushion to help support my lower back and maintain proper posture while sitting.
Wear Compression Socks
A little secret I’ve learned from my younger days of flying long distances is before boarding the plane, I’d throw on a pair of compression socks. The same concept can apply to driving. And guess what? Those high tightly knit socks aren’t just for our elders.
According to WebMD, “compression stockings can keep your legs from getting tired and achy. They can also ease swelling in your feet and ankles as well as help prevent and treat spider and varicose veins. They may even stop you from feeling light-headed or dizzy when you stand up.”
That said, before running out to buy compression socks, consult with your doctor first. But I am going to share another secret with you. Before I even knew what ‘compression socks’ were, I would just wear soccer socks that do practically the same thing. While not the most stylish when wearing shorts, they do help!
Elevate legs in the evening
Speaking of feet, now that you’re finished driving for the day, it’s time to sit back and relax. A great way to help with the swelling in your legs and ankles is to elevate them. Since we’re full-time RVers in a tiny motorhome, we don’t have big recliners to sit and elevate our legs. And, since space is premium, getting an ottoman isn’t the answer. So, it’s dinner and then in to bed we go to watch movies or read.
Final thoughts on these safe RV driving tips
As you have just read, staying alert and healthy on the road is key to preventing accidents. Regardless if your safely driving your RV, pulling a camper or just road tripping in your car, by following these simple cues will help keep you safe but also everyone else you share the road with. Please drive defensively and safely.