How Often You Should Actually Be Stopping for a Break When on a Road Trip

How Often You Should Actually Be Stopping for a Break When on a Road Trip
Image: National Lampoon's Vacation

This article is sponsored by Ampol.

After what feels like an incredibly long time to Australians who have been in lockdown this year, we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and enjoy a bit more freedom. One thing that many people and families have missed over the last few months have been road trips – whether it’s somewhere totally new or a familiar spot you’ve been driving to for years. So, if you’ve been stuck inside for the last couple of months, it’s time to explore what Australia has to offer and hit the road.

While going on a road trip can be incredibly fun, it can also be seriously tiring for whoever is at the wheel. For this reason, it’s so important to remember to take breaks during your drive to stay alert. After all, driving long distances without a break can make us less likely to notice and react to dangerous situations. Not good.

Whether you’re going for that first long drive to visit nan or for some much-deserved R and R, here are some tips to make sure you stay alert at the wheel and keep safe!

How often should you stop and stretch while on a road trip?

You should be getting out of the car to stretch on a road trip every two hours to get your body moving and increase circulation. These short stretching breaks will also prevent the lower back pain that comes with driving long distances. 

A good rule of thumb to consider is that you should be resting for a minimum of five minutes for every two hours of driving. Frequent breaks will mean you’re less likely to experience driver fatigue. 

You should also have a rest period of at least 30 minutes if you’re planning on driving long distances over several hours. For example, if you’re driving over seven hours, you should be taking at least one 30-minute break and a few other shorter breaks over that time frame.

Get out for a little walk and stretch your entire body. Star jumps and touching your toes are also great options if you’re game — no one’s going to judge.

If you’re travelling with pets or young children, you’ll probably find that you need to stop more frequently — something to keep in mind.

How long should you drive per day on a road trip?

If you’re on an extended road trip and will be driving over multiple days, you should plan to stop at the eight or nine-hour mark to prevent any dangerous situations. If you’ve got multiple drivers, you could maybe extend this out to 12 hours, though let’s be honest, that’s not a super fun day.

How often should you stop for petrol on a road trip?

You’ll want to stop for petrol every three hours to refuel during your road trip. The best way to do this is to pre-plan where you’re going to stop before starting the journey. Ampol has over 1900 different locations across the country, so you’ll always be able to find quality Australian fuel wherever you are.

Four ways to use your rest time:

  1. Grab a coffee and a sandwich or wrap, or even freshly-baked goods at Ampol’s Foodary. Some even have Boost Juice smoothies! You can also grab some essentials for when you arrive at your destination. There’s nothing worse than waking up the following day and not having any milk.
  2. Stop for a picnic in a beautiful park or rural area – whether you’ve packed it yourself or bought something along the way, this is a great way to use your rest time.
  3. Find a weird attraction – Go big or go home, right? Well, in Australia, we’re lucky to have some of the wackiest ‘big’ things, like The Big Banana in Coffs Harbour or The Big Prawn in Ballina. These make for great pit stops, and the IG feed will love ’em.
  4. Go for a short walk or swim – We are blessed here in Australia to have some of the best beaches and bush walks in the world. So, why not stop to enjoy some of those spots along the way? There’s nothing more refreshing than a swim, right?

Now go on, get exploring.

Comments

  • Ha, just an Ampol advert. It’s a pity Ampol are so far behind the game with EV charging infrastructure, they could have tied this in with electric vehicle charging. 30 mins is about right for a 20-80% charge for many EVs nowadays, so a quick stop for a cuppa and a loo break gives you enough time to get your car charged as well as recharging yourself. EVs work really well in this respect, they force you into taking proper breaks, instead of a 5 minute refill and then back in the car like many people do in petrol cars, which is the sort of behaviour that leads to fatigue and crashes.

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