For most South Africans, December will include a road-trip of sorts. Whether it’s an hour or two up the coast, or 15 hours across the middle… we live in a country that is too beautiful not to explore in our time off.
So how can you use your hours on the road to your advantage?
Watch your posture
Did you know that sitting in a car naturally makes you moody? Joint research from Harvard and Columbia found that low-power poses, like sitting down with your arms crossed, lowers levels of testosterone, reduces your feeling of power, and increases your levels of the stress hormone cortisol compared to high-power poses like standing.
This is why it’s also good to roll your shoulders, sit up straight, and switch drivers (or stretch your legs) every couple of hours. You will be less cranky and way more conversational!
Hold hands (if driving with your partner…)
Even though you’re confined to your own seat, holding hands with your partner, or holding their leg whilst they drive, helps strengthen your bond, and releases neurochemicals that create a relaxed atmosphere. Touch can help break any barrier of tension or confusion, especially when you have to deal with stop-goes or changes enroute.
Be willing to take detours
Beyond talking, sharing new experiences can bring you closer together. Luckily, road trips are ripe for novelty: Take the scenic route or stop at cheesy roadside attractions that you would normally include in your holiday. Not only will this keep the trip fun and exciting, but it’ll give you new things to talk about.
Disconnect for the ride
We’ve become conditioned to turn to our phone when we’re bored, but one of the biggest blocks in conversation is electronics. Researchers speculate the gadget reminds us of the wider network we could be connecting with, keeping us from focusing on the people right next to us. Unless your kids are watching movies or playing games on devices in the back, try to keep everyone engaged with the journey and other travellers in the car. It also helps to keep the driver alert when people are engaging them in conversation.
Listen to new music
New music stimulates the creative impulses in the brain, excites us and keeps us awake as our brain assimilates all of the new information. It’s also a great opportunity to listen to the full album that you’ve been wanting to listen to, but can’t find the time to appreciate in full!
Have savoury and sweet snacks, and plenty of water
Make sure you have a variety of snacks as your body will move from needing sugars to needing salts and all the while needing to stay hydrated. These don’t only keep your appetite sated, but they help you stay awake and alert!
Also – if you get stuck in a traffic jam, your next food pitstop may turn from 1 hour away to several hours away. Have extra refreshments on hand – hungry, dehydrated travellers are cranky and difficult!
Lastly – never be in a rush. Even if you are running late, remind yourself to take it slow and carefully. You will get there eventually, and then a few hours won’t matter any more.