How to Reduce Driving Anxiety for a Summer Road Trip

road tripSummertime means travel time for thousands of families, but it can also mean stress and anxiety. Even if you’re not the one doing the driving, extended trips on the road can bring up bastion of driving fears. The first thing to realize is you’re not alone. A Europcar survey found that most folks are struck with a bit of fear or trepidation when it comes to hitting the long, open road.

Top road trip driving fears and stressors:

  • 42 percent: Other drivers tailgating
  • 37 percent: Being cut off by other cars
  • 37 percent: Sunday drivers, or those going well below the speed limit
  • 33 percent: Backseat drivers offering unsolicited driving advice and opinions
  • 16 percent: Packing everything in the car (including passengers) without becoming squished
  • 62 percent: Reliability of the car, with fears of breakdowns or vehicle problems

While you can’t control the actions of other drivers on the road, you do have control over your own state of mind and other factors that can make the trip less stressful and more fun.

Vehicle Reliability  

Do a full vehicle pre-trip checkup, making sure everything from the tire pressure to the oil level is ready for an extended journey. Take it to a reputable mechanic if you’re not sure what to look for. You can also invest in a gadget like Automatic,which plugs into your vehicle’s diagnostics port and lets you know, via smartphone, if there are any potential electrical or mechanical issues. Renting a car is another option if you’re unsure of your own vehicle’s reliability.

Comfy Environment

Step one is to clear out your car of all the wrappers, random CDs and other clutter so you can start packing with a totally empty car. Keep items you may need during the trip accessible, and pack everything else tightly and securely in the truck or back. Also remember an longstanding vacation rule of thumb: we usually end up taking way more than we ever need.   

Driving Fears

If you’re fretting about the potential actions of other drivers, the possibility of a crash somewhere down the line or other factors that could go wrong on your road trip, you need to bring your mind back to the moment. As with many forms of anxiety, driving fears are often largely based on things that could or might go wrong in the future – not with anything going on at the moment.

Rein your thoughts back to the present whenever you feel those driving fears or driving anxiety start to creep in. Meditation can be helpful, and it can be a simple as closing your eyes and listening to the sounds around you.

Another trick is to close your eyes and invite the next thought into your head, whatever it may be. It may take some time for the next thought to surface, showing you just how calm and empty your mind can be when you keep it fully present in the moment. 


Photo Credit: ethan.crowley via Compfight cc