How to Prepare for Long Drives - Must-Have Checklist for 12+ Hour Drives

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how to prepare for long drives

So, you're all set to hit the road for your next trip.  Whether you're going for an official trip or have a plan to explore an adventurous spot, you always need some travel-tested trip essentials to make your trip successful.  

Everyone knows that the main reason people like going on road trips are the flexibility and control over the journey. Plus, they get to pack whatever they want. 

That is to say, a trip without having to carry oversized bags and toiletries offers a great deal of convenience. But the freedom to carry whatever you want or how much you want doesn't mean you don't need to plan for the mandatory road trip supplies.  

If thoughts of preparing for a long drive overwhelm you or the task of packing stuff panics you, you've come to the right place.  Here we have included everything you need to know about preparing for long drives.  

But we plunge into compiling a perfect checklist for a 12-hour drive. Let's quickly understand if it is safe to drive long hours.

Is it Safe to Drive 12+ Hours Straight?

As mentioned above, long drives mean freedom.  While it takes you to the places or spots airplanes can't, driving straight ten to twelve hours is often tiring. 

And if you're driving alone to a place you've never been before, the trip can turn into a nightmare if you don't have the right supplies.  Also, sitting in the vehicle for long hours may become tedious and highly uncomfortable.    

Simply put, driving for straight 12 hours is safe if you don't have any medical issues that may aggravate because of it.  Plus, it would help if you were equipped with the right road trip supplies to make the driving stress-free and safe.  That means you should do hands-on research on tips on driving long distances.  

How to Stay Awake on Long Drives

"How to stay awake on a long drive" is perhaps the question that comes to everyone's mind when planning a road trip. 

It is simply because keeping you from dozing off while driving takes a lot of effort.

It is more likely to occur when you're sleep-deprived and have to drive long distances without taking any rest or breaks. Driving alone or riding rural highways, or driving after taking sedatives may worsen the situation.  

So how can you prevent that from happening? Take a look at these Dos and Don'ts to make your long drives safer.


-Drink coffee (caffeine is an excellent stimulant for your central nervous system. However, try adding less sugar to avoid a quick crash when it wears off.

-Pullover at a safe spot if you can after every 5 hours and take a twenty-minute nap. It can help you refresh your alertness level.

-Be preventive before getting behind the steering by doing a 15-minute workoutExercise can help you increase blood flow to your brain and lower stress levels. 


    -Don't drink when you know you have to drive.  Keep in mind that alcohol reduces the driving ability and may worsen tiredness. Most importantly, driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal.

    -If possible, try not to drive long-distance alone. Driving with a companion means you have someone who can watch you or keeps you awake. Plus, you can always take driving turns.

    -Don't avoid mini-breaks to get some shut-eye. Otherwise, you will nod off at the steering.

      Travel Checklist for Surviving a 12+ Hour Drive - 7 Tips

      When you plan for a road trip, know that there are some road trip necessities you need to travel with.   Here we have compiled seven travel checklists to help you survive 12 hours or long drive.

      1. Never Forget your Driving Essentials

      You're going on a road trip because you have a car that lets you drive from place to place smoothly. That means, whether you drive your own car or have a rental, you must have these car essentials.

      -Driver's License

      -Insurance Information

      -Car Registration 

      -Extra Car Key

      -Car Manual

      -AAA Membership or Phone Number(s) for Emergency Roadside Assistance

      -Spare Tire  with tools and a  tire jack to replace a flat

      -Water Resistant Flashlight (if car troubles at night or in the rain?)

        Of course, dealing with a car breakdown is undoubtedly the last thing you want on your road trip. However, to make your adventure incident-free, you need to be prepared. In short, never leave your home without an emergency kit.  

        2. Don't Forget To Take a Car Wedge Cushion! 

        This is a must-have for short or long road trips.   Travel with a car wedge seat cushion  if you suffer from sciatica, hip, or lower back pain or have trouble seeing over the steering wheel.  

        car seat cushion

        This contoured cushion is great for relieving back pressure with its slight downward slope.

        It helps keep your body in a comfortable position, improve posture and alleviate pressure. That makes it perfect for those who drive long hours and need enough pelvic comfort and support.

        📝 Expert Tip:  As a physical therapist, I also recommend adding a good lumbar back support, like the Easy Posture Brands back support, to your car seat to give your back the support it needs, and help prevent back distress.

        3. Keep the Basic Must-Have 

        When you start making the checklist for must-have road trip items, two things deserve special attention or call–out. 

        Paper map - it is the first must-have you should consider taking along. You might be wondering if Google Maps or smartphone apps can do the job, but what if you lose the service and your step-by-step directions vanish.

        Well, this is when you need a paper map to get information and continue your journey. It's, without a doubt, perfect for people with spontaneous whims!

        First Aid Kits

        First Aid Kits are without a doubt the second must-have you need for your long drives. You shouldn't waste time until you get medical aid if you have an injury.

        Some more basic must-haves include:

        -Power Inverter 

        -Phone Charger

        -Portable Charger

        -Hands-Free Phone Mount along with safety + easy to access Google Maps 

        -Toilet Paper

        -Garbage Bag


        -Hand Sanitizer


        -Bug Spray (getting bit may make your trip uncomfortable)

        -Gas, Travel, and dining rewards Credit Card

        -Paper Money for parking meters, pumps at gas stations, broken ATMs, etc.

        -Electronic Toll Pass 

        4. Pack Things to Keep Your Road Trip Cozy

        Driving long hours may cause you terrible backache or neck pain. No matter well- equipped your car is, you need the best car seat cushion for long drives. So, make sure to stock your car with the things that can keep your road trip comfortable. 

        -Extra Clothing layer (for hiking and temperature changes)

        -Blanket  and Sleeping Bag

          -Travel Pillow


          Travel Pillow


          -Eye Mask for Deep Sleeping


          -Travel Cup

          -Reusable Water Bottle

          Reusable Water Bottle


            -Hand Lotion

              5. Gather Your Entertainment Essentials

              From games to hi-tech gear and devices, you need to take your trip as seriously as any other journey.  To make the journey FUN, you must have everything. It would also help if you subscribed to famous podcasts for long drives and downloaded audible stories, map games, and your favorite music.  

              6. Prepare a Bag for Necessary Clothing 


              Travel Bag


              You need clothing that will be comfortable and cozy to wear in the car for traveling long distances. So, be sure you have your hiking pants, leggings, and track pants.  Use smart packing cubes and save space in the bag.

              7. Load Some Food and Eating Accessory

              Driving straight ten hours on an empty stomach can multiply your hunger pang by 100. Also, it is not practical.   It will also help if you plan your food strategy, which means if you want to eat out mostly, you don't need to carry many snacks. 

              However, if you want to keep it budget-friendly, stock an adequate amount of dry food, biscuits, snacks, and a cooler.

              Some Options are:

              -  Granola Bars

              -  Pretzels/Chips

              -  Cereal

              -  Dried Fruit

              -  Protein/Energy Bars

              -  Cheese Stick

              -  Nuts

              Summing Up

              A planned road trip is a key to a fun and exciting journey. Thus, the given tips will help you handle many things without ruining road trips or travel plans.





              Kimberly is a practicing Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant with 21 years of experience in the field. She is also a Freelance Writer. On her time off, she enjoys kickboxing, paddle boarding, and playing with her two Boxers, Letty and Finn. more
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