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How To Stay Comfortable On A Long Car Ride (Survive 12-Hour Drives)

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This article gives you helpful information and tips about how to stay comfortable on a long car ride. There is plenty you can do to enjoy the journey, as much as the destinations that you are traveling to!

The more comfortable you feel in the car, the more fun you will have along the way! I’ve taken many long trips and I’m big on feeling my best, so I’m here to help you to plan well and minimize discomfort.

This guide includes everything you need to know to survive a long road trip. Use my suggested road trip accessories and tips/advice to easily complete a 12-hour drive.

Read on for my 6 top tips that create a relaxing, and comfy, road trip vacation. This article includes advice on what to wear, how to prepare the car, and what items to pack. I will also suggest things you can do on the ride to keep it enjoyable and relaxing!

Let’s get straight into those tips!

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7 Tips to stay comfortable on a long car ride

Follow these 6 top tips to stay comfortable on a long car ride, and you won’t go wrong. They are easy to organize, simple to follow, yet highly effective in ensuring comfort! Use these and you’ll be feeling comfy, relaxing, and having fun on the road in no time.

Tip 1: Make the car comfortable with these useful accessories

A selection of road trip accessories can help to make the car more comfortable for long drives. Some of my favorite things include a trash can for the car and this awesome lumbar back support. A nice warm blanket and a comfortable travel pillow are also great things to have.

Tip 2: Pack plenty of healthy food, snacks, and stay hydrated with water!

It’s crucial to pack plenty of healthy food, road trip snacks, and water. Traveling long distances in a car can result in you feeling sluggish, therefore good nutrition and hydration are essential. The right foods help to keep your energy up and maximize comfort. If you are the driver, nutrition is especially important for keeping you alert on the road!

See our road trip food for ideas, and if you have any vegans on board, check out how to road trip vegan!

Tip 3: Plan 15-minute stops into your road trip itinerary at least once every 2 hours.

Plan 15-minute stops into your road trip itinerary at least once every 2 hours, for maximum comfort in the car. Moving around and stretching your legs, really helps your circulation, energy, and mood. Sitting in one position can take its toll, so breaks are a priority. Take rest-stop activities for kids, such as skipping and hula hooping.

  • Stop every 2 hours for at least 15 minutes
  • Get out of the car, stretch your legs
  • Go for a walk if you can
  • Take a skipping road to skip on the spot
  • Take a hula hoop (if you have room) to boost your energy

Tip 4: Get good sleep, and make sure you feel rested before you leave

Before you head out on a long car ride, get good sleep and make sure that you feel rested. It isn’t always easy when you have packing to do and things to organize before you travel, but aim to unwind and have an early night, before your road trip begins. This will seriously uplevel the comfort on the journey! If you leave feeling sluggish, it will be harder to relax!

Check out Road Trip Packing for advanced organization.

Tip 5: Take a sleeping kit with essential bedtime items for all passengers. Include a pillow, blankets, and toothbrushes

On-road trips, we need rest and sleep along the way, so take a sleeping kit with essential bedtime items for all passengers. Sleeping in a car can be uncomfortable without the right items, so pack pillows, a blanket, and toothbrushes for each passenger. Have these items within easy reach for maximum comfort.

See Road Trip Hacks for ideas on how to pack the car well. Ensuring that everybody can reach the things they need along the way, will make the journey more comfortable.

Tip 6: Plan entertainment for the car, to combat boredom

Plan entertainment for the car, to combat boredom. Boredom leads to agitation and discomfort, so planning it is a priority. There are SO many things for adults to do in a car, such as games, music, audiobooks, quirky debates, and conversations. Why not learn a language or have each passenger prepare a quiz? For children, plan lots of coloring, DVDs, and engaging, reusable activities like car bingo.

See Road Trip Hacks for our own version of Car Bingo for kids. If you haven’t already got an Audiobook app, I highly recommend an Audible Free Trial.

Tip 7: Wear layered, comfortable clothes, and take spares

On a road trip, wear layered, comfortable clothes in the car and take spares for food spillages. On a long car ride, you need clothing items that you can easily add on or take off. Everybody feels the temperature individually, so all passengers wearing layers allow individual self-regulation and comfort. For hot/cold weather, think sunglasses, umbrellas, and raincoats.

Always keep coats, jumpers, and weatherproof jackets to hand for leaving the car. This will prevent you from getting rained on and having to sit in wet clothes.

What to wear to stay comfortable on a road trip

Wearing comfortable clothes on a long car ride
Wearing comfortable clothes on a long car ride

Knowing what to wear to stay comfortable on a road trip is vital. Avoid easily creasing clothes, jeans, or anything too hot. Instead, opt for layers; including leggings, lightweight cotton joggers, vest tops, t-shirts, and zipper sweatshirts. Choose dark colors to hide food spillages! Choose sneakers that are easy to take on and off at rest stops, and sunglasses in sunny weather!

A driver should avoid flip-flops; they can trap under the pedals and cause an accident. Flip-flops for passengers are OK, but be aware that it is hard to keep your feet warm with the AC on!

  • Have hiking boots handy, in case you stop for a walk, or want to sightsee
  • Pack a new outfit for each part of the journey (car outfits get grubby really easily)
  • Wear loose-fitting, soft clothes
  • Choose leggings over shorts
  • Pack sunglasses
  • Dress in layers so that you can easily warm up or cool down
  • Avoid clothes that crease easily
  • Choose dark colors
  • Avoid denim
  • Have spare car outfits handy in case of food spills
  • Pack wipes to freshen up
  • Have a raincoat and umbrella within reach
  • Tieing up long hair increases comfort in a car

What to do to stay comfortable on a road trip (whilst in the car)

In order to stay comfortable on a road trip in the car, there are many things you can do along the way. Offer each passenger a handheld fan as well as a kit for freshening up at rest stops (including wipes, tissues, and a toothbrush). To relieve stress, do regular breathing exercises, and keep the car cool by having the windows open. Opt for relaxing, and low-volume music.

  • Try out a breathing exercise
  • Keep the car cool
  • Eat healthy snacks and stay hydrated
  • Keep music relaxing
  • Take a handheld fan
  • Pack items to freshen up along the way

An easy deep breathing exercise to help you to relax is called Take Five (kids love it too). Relax your shoulders, relax your face, and inhale slowly and deeply, filling your belly and your chest. Inhale just as slowly, breathing out deeply. Try to really focus on each long breath; this helps clear your mind. Just five of these can help you to feel nice and relaxed!

Looking for fun conversation ideas as a couple? 186 Questions For Couples will keep you occupied!

How to make the car comfortable for a road trip

When it comes to making the car comfortable for a road trip, planning is key. Before you pack, remove any rubbish or unnecessary items, vacuum, and get the car sparkling. Fit lumbar support if you suffer bodily aches. Be careful not to overpack the passenger footwells, and have smaller-sized luggage containing essentials, within reach.

  • Remove items, clean and vacuum the car before you pack
  • Don’t overpack the passenger footwells
  • Fit lumbar support to your seat
  • Have a tote bag of essentials in reach, so you are not rummaging whilst on the move (wipes, tissues, phone chargers, sunglasses, handheld fans, etc)

Items to pack to stay comfortable on a road trip

Packing items for a comfortable road trip
Packing items for a comfortable road trip

On a long car road trip, there are helpful items to pack to stay comfortable. With AC blowing, your skin may be prone to dryness, therefore packing moisturizer and chapstick prevents irritation. Tissues, wipes, and hand sanitizer will keep you feeling fresh and clean on the journey. Healthy food and snacks will keep your energy levels up, and for rest, pack pillows and blankets. Lumbar support is essential for bodily aches.

To save space, a travel pillow is handy. My personal preference, however, is my own pillow from home; if you have room why not take it? Having your own pillow is useful for uncomfy hotel beds too!

When planning, see our Essential Accessories For A Road Trip

  • Moisturizer
  • Chapstick
  • Tissues
  • Wipes
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Health Food
  • Healthy Snacks
  • Water (or hydrating drinks)
  • Blankets
  • Pillows (or travel pillows)
  • Lumbar support
  • Handheld fan for each passenger
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste

Thank you for reading, I hope you have a safe and comfortable journey!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. This means I earn a commission if you make a qualifying purchase, but this is at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting The Road Trip Expert.

Holly Jaskolka Profile Image

Holly Jaskolka


Holly is an animal lover with a passion for travel and living a plant-based lifestyle. She enjoys practicing and teaching yoga, cooking, and visiting new places. She currently delivers self-care sessions that utilize EFT (emotional freedom technique) to support people struggling with their breakups. She enjoys writing about travel topics including road trips with pets and maintaining a vegan lifestyle on the road. She gained valuable experience during an epic road trip to Valencia from the UK!