An anxious traveller’s guide to driving long distance

Clammy hands, perspiration, a tightening knot in your stomach and your heart is beating so fast it might just escape from your chest. It’s safe to say that anxiety is no fun at the best of times, but when you’re expected to get behind the wheel and drive on unfamiliar roads, for a long period of time and with no understanding of the parking situation at your destination, then you’re quite literally dealing with nightmare fuel. 

It may be unpleasant, but sometimes we have to tackle our anxiety head-on. And thrust ourselves into situations that make us feel uncomfortable and where we’re not in control. Thankfully, if you have to drive a long distance on unfamiliar roads, there are ways you can prepare yourself better for the journey and not let your anxiety have the upper hand.

As someone who learnt to drive relatively late on (my late 20s) I did find driving long distance a bit intimidating at first, and I did find my nerves were on edge when facing journeys of two hours or more.

I now look forward to long drives, so read on for an anxious traveller’s guide to driving long distance.

Know what to do in an emergency

Ok, so imagining the worst-case scenario might not sound helpful, but for many anxiety sufferers, the fear of the unknown combined with the worst-case scenario is enough to prevent them from enjoying life. For example, breaking down at the side of the road or getting involved in a car crash – speak with a local car accident lawyer if you think you have a PI claim. 

If you know what to do in the event of an emergency, then you’ll feel more prepared and better equipped to deal with the situation if it occurs. Have emergency call-out cover in place, and their number to hand. Better yet, learn how to change a flat tyre. And know what to do in the event of a car accident.

Research your route

Even if you’re following a GPS, you can still research your route for peace of mind and to keep your anxiety at bay. Follow the route on Google Maps, make yourself familiar with the lanes you’ll need to be in, where the toll booths are and how much money you’ll need. Will you need to stop for fuel? If so, find a fuel station and incorporate it into your route.

Go over your basics

Make time before your journey to practice anything that gives you anxiety. Worried about bay parking or parallel manoeuvres? Go with a friend and practice them somewhere quiet. Read up on road safety. If it’s been a while since you’ve gotten behind the wheel, go for a simple drive to build your confidence.

Get your vehicle checked over

If you’re worried about something going wrong with the vehicle itself, it’s definitely worth getting a little vehicle check at your local garage. It won’t cost much, and they will be able to check things like oil and water, and also key things like tyre pressure and your engine function. Knowing your vehicle is in tip-top condition will really help you anxiety!

Reduce your speed

The faster you’re going, the less time you’ll have to react, spot the turn-off, or read the street signs, so drive a little slower than the speed limit to ensure you have more time to process information. Try not to feel pressured by any impatient drivers behind you. 

And finally, make time to rest!

Taking plenty of breaks is essential for anyone who is driving long distance. So, stop as often as you need to. If you feel you’re becoming overwhelmed, find somewhere safe to pull over and get some fresh air before continuing on your journey. 

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