Ten Ways To Stay Alert On Long Drives

Driving can be invigorating, thrilling, and live-affirming. It can also be deadly boring — literally. Staying awake on a long haul is a serious matter. These are Jalopnik readers' ten top picks for ways to stay awake (and alive) on a long drive.

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Ten Ways To Stay Alert On Long Drives

10.) Caffeinated drinks

Suggested By: CRXPilot; Junior Cornering Solutions Consultant

Why it keeps you up as the miles go by: Western civilization as we know it would not exist without coffee and tea, and to a lesser extent the kola nut. Power drinks and energy shots have opened up new avenues of increased metabolism. You'll want to keep consumption pretty steady instead of gulping down a huge jolt, but caffeine is the backbone of conscious long-haul driving.

Photo Credit: Ruben Schade

Ten Ways To Stay Alert On Long Drives

9.) Road Games

Suggested By: Defender90

Why it keeps you up as the miles go by: See how long it takes to find a Q or X on a road sign; after that, multiple Qs and Xs. Name each song while your radio is on "scan." Try to count how many states you've been in, especially if you're going to hit some new ones. Spell the alphabet on passing license plates. Do anything weird that will keep yourself from being hypnotized by paint dashes.

Bonus points if you come up with any good new numerological conspiracy theories.

Photo Credit: slworking2

Ten Ways To Stay Alert On Long Drives

8.) Sunflower Seeds

Suggested By: Lidos

Why it keeps you up as the miles go by: Normally the work-to-food ratio of unshelled sunflower seeds is a bit unbalanced, but many drivers swear by the constant cracking and chomping and shell disposal. The little hit of salt (or spice, if you're so inclined) also helps.

Photo Credit: Nikola Bilic/Shutterstock

Ten Ways To Stay Alert On Long Drives

7.) Taking A Short Break

Suggested By: bearslayer

Why it keeps you up as the miles go by: When you're tired, you're tired. There's a point where safety and sensibility outweigh the bravado of going for maximum distance nonstop. Pulling off for a stretch or a snooze is among the smartest and most complete solutions to drowsiness.

Photo Credit: Diego Cervo/Shutterstock

Ten Ways To Stay Alert On Long Drives

6.) Fresh Fruit

Suggested By: deysg

Why it keeps you up as the miles go by: Berries and bananas and the like are some of the nicest things you can eat regardless of whether you're moving or not. You don't get the sugar high and subsequent crash, the tartness keeps perking you up, and it's just healthy anyway.

Photo Credit: Julie Magro

5.) REALLY LOUD MUSIC

Suggested By: End User

Why it keeps you up as the miles go by: It's all about sensory input, man. It's hard to fall asleep in a loud car in the first place, and when that noise is all kinds of roaring amps and drums and stomach-punching bass and whatever, so much the better. (Watch out for unintended side effects, though; the cop probably isn't going to appreciate how listening to "Three Days" is why you were doing 105 in a 65.)

Ten Ways To Stay Alert On Long Drives

4.) Singing In The Car

Suggested By: Spiegel Con Queso

Why it keeps you up as the miles go by: Go for it. If you're alone, no one's listening. If you're with someone, either make sure that person doesn't mind or can harmonize or is in a competitive mood. In any case, the mix of noise and effort — both mental and physical — will dispel the haze.

Photo Credit: mingaling

Ten Ways To Stay Alert On Long Drives

3.) Talk Radio

Suggested By: dangertree

Why it keeps you up as the miles go by: Radio offers an endless variety of viewpoints, opinions, theories, and any number of other ideas to keep your consciousness invigorated when the drive is less than involving. Find something that makes you think — politics, sermons, random offensive dingbats calling in at 2AM — and it'll keep you conscious, if not always serene.

Photo Credit: Gts/Shutterstock

Ten Ways To Stay Alert On Long Drives

2.) Fresh Air

Suggested By: Xander Crews, Proud of BOXER

Why it keeps you up as the miles go by: Sitting in a box of processed atmosphere is dulling and often sleep-inducing. Roll down a window, open the sunroof, drop the top, do what you can to feel some airflow. Especially if it's a bit cooler outside, the invigorating effects and extra oxygen content will do wonders.

Photo Credit: 8000vueltas

Ten Ways To Stay Alert On Long Drives


1.) Someone In The Passenger Seat

Suggested By: nibby4WD

Why it keeps you up as the miles go by: Hold the noble-lone-road-warrior stuff, please. Driving with a good conversationalist by your side is a mental and emotional lifesaver. There's any number of things to discuss or debate to keep your mind active and alert, and especially if it's someone important a long drive can be a great chance to reconnect or hash out little lingering issues.

There's other benefits, too, but that's up to you.

Photo Credit: Peter Gerdes