Ah, the great dichotomy of the road trip. The open road? Yep, but it’s full of potholes. That unbridled sense of adventure? Indeed, but you’re confined to a small metal box, strapped tightly in for safety. Songs of freedom on the radio for days? Could be, but how many Bruce Springsteen playlists can one truly listen to before going mad? Alright, alright, enough of the questions. Basically, it’s a style of trip which requires a little more foresight than most to get the very best out of it. So, to make your next road trip as pleasant as possible, here are 5 IDEAL hacks for a comfortable road trip.

SIT COMFORTABLY

This may sound simple, but don’t underestimate how much your sitting position affects your mood. If you’re taking charge of the wheel, first of all, we salute you; taking one for the team while the others snooze and natter is a noble act indeed. Secondly, it’s essential to adjust your seat to the correct position to avoid the aches and pains which come with a prolonged stretch of sitting still. So, make sure you tilt your seat back slightly, and keep your shoulders in contact with the backrest, instead of hunching forwards. Have your chair at the correct height so your legs feel comfortable and not overly stretched in reaching the pedals and then – and only then – can you put that same pedal to the metal.

Additionally, passengers may benefit from using a lumbar support cushion for the car, as it provides effective distribution of weight to keep you comfortable — no matter how many hours you’re travelling. These cushions are light and portable, which makes them easy to bring along for the ride and won’t impact on space greatly. If you’re travelling in a hot country, consider a wooden bead cushion seat instead, which you’ll often see taxi drivers using in tropical climes. Not only are they designed with spacing in between the beading to ensure plenty of ventilation, letting air circulate underneath so you don’t stick to your seat, but they’re also said to massage your muscles. Result!

ACTIVELY ENJOY REST BREAKS

One trap that many road-trippers fall into is the “wing it” attitude that comes with adventure. While you don’t have to strategise every single detail, it is a good idea to roughly plan where you’re going to stop every two hours or so. Not only does this bring you comfort in knowing that you only have to drive for a set amount of time, but it’s also much better for your wellbeing on the journey and the safety of others on the road.

During this rest break, get out of the car, go for a wander and stretch your legs; don’t take things for granted in this respect. It also helps to view the stop as an active part of the trip — what is your stopping point known for? Is there a particular famous food product or cafe to check out? Give it a bit of meaning, explore and soak it all up so that you’re refreshed and ready to tackle the next two hours without feeling you’ve wasted time.

STIMULATE YOUR MIND

Not only can a road trip be physically uncomfortable, but it can be mentally draining too. The trick is to not rely on the radio and chatter the entire way, as of course there will be lulls and concentration may wane. Instead, use the time as an opportunity to learn something new, via a podcast, or get lost in an interesting eBook. Here are 15 great podcasts to check out if you’re stuck for inspiration.

DRESS COMFORTABLY

Much like when you’re dressing for a long-haul flight, it’s a good idea to dress in loose pants and soft materials when on the road, so you can sit, nap and position yourself comfortably without any stiff denim or tight, restrictive shirts getting in your way. Additionally, dress in thin layers that you can add on and take off as or when you get too hot or cold. Throw a blanket into the car for comfort too, as it’s inevitable that every passenger will have their own aircon preference.

BE PREPARED

Finally, think about the miscellaneous bits and bobs which you’ll need along the way to make the whole experience more comfortable. Is it hot outside? Pack sun cream for the rest stops, handheld fans if the aircon breaks, and face wipes for when it gets a little sweaty. Add a packet of pain relief for any pesky headaches and have a second GPS on hand as it’s possible that your regular might pack up. You should also prepare for your car breaking down just in case!