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How Frequent should the Breaks be when Driving Long Distances?

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Driving long distances can be daunting, and taking frequent breaks is essential to staying alert and safe. But how often should you take a break? 

If driving long distances, you should stop for at least 15 minutes every two hours. Stop often to rest for at least 45 minutes every 4.5 hours of driving to avoid getting tired and stay alert. Plan to stop for a break every 100 miles on your long road trip so that you can relax. Try to only drive for 9 hours a day.

When driving for a long time, you should take at least one longer break of at least 30 minutes to get enough rest. We will review some of the risks of driving long distances when tired.

Read More: Road Trip Checklist

We’ll also talk about fun things to do at rest stops and other things you should know about stopping on road trips.

If driving long distances, you should stop for at least 15 minutes every two hours. Stop often to rest for at least 45 minutes every 4.5 hours of driving to avoid getting tired and stay alert. Plan to stop for a break every 100 miles on your long road trip so that you can relax. Try to only drive for 9 hours a day.

Finding the Sweet Spot: How Long Should You Drive on a Road Trip?

On a road trip, you should only drive for 9 hours per day to avoid the risks that come with it. If you have more than one driver, you can extend this to 12 hours. However, if you are on the road for the whole day, you may not enjoy the trip. Plan to drive for at most 8 hours if you can.

If you are going on a road trip for a vacation, keep the average amount of driving per day to 4 hours or less so that you can see many places without spending too much time in the car. This is one of my most important tips for planning the perfect road trip.

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Taking your time also allows you to stop at unexpected sights.

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How Long Should Your Road Trip Breaks Be?

On a road trip, you should stop for at least 15 minutes every two hours you drive. If you plan to drive a long way over several hours, you should also plan a long break of at least 30 minutes. Stopping often lets you stretch your legs, get more fuel, use the bathroom, and buy snacks.

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If you’ll be on the road for more than 8 hours, it’s a good idea to stop for at least 30 minutes halfway through the day to do something fun. This could be a short walk or going to a place along the road. If you need more ideas, we have a post with a list of fun things to do on a road trip.

Are you a music fan? Read our list of the Best Road Trip Music.

How often should you stop to stretch while driving?

On a road trip, you should get out of the car and stretch for at least 5 minutes every two hours to keep your body moving and avoid lower back pain. Rest stops are great places to walk, stretch, and move your whole body to improve blood flow and get your body out of the fixed position it has been in a while driving.

If you are traveling with pets or small children, remember that they must stop more often to stretch. You could also walk quickly, do star jumps, or touch your toes.

On a road trip, you should get out of the car and stretch for at least 5 minutes every two hours to keep your body moving and avoid lower back pain. Rest stops are great places to walk, stretch, and move your whole body to improve blood flow and get your body out of the fixed position it has been in a while driving.

If you have back pain when you drive long distances, consider looking into this lumbar support for your car seat.

On a road trip, how often should you stop for gas?

It would be best to stop on a road trip every three hours to fill up on gas and stretch your legs. It’s a good idea to plan your route so that you can stop at these places and find the gas stations with the best prices. This ensures you have enough gas and can take a different route if something fun arises.

It would be best to fill up your tank when gas prices are low along your route, so you don’t have to pay more than usual. A good advice is to stop for lunch away from the highway, where prices are usually lower. If you want to learn more, check out our guide on figuring out how much gas will cost for a road trip.

Read More: Best Road Trip Snacks to Munch On

When taking a Road Trip, How often should you Stop?

The government says you should stop for at least 15 minutes every two hours on a road trip. It may seem like too much, but making short stops often means you are less likely to get tired while driving. When you plan to stop at multiple rest stops ahead of time, your long car trip is less likely to be interrupted, which means you save time.

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How long can I drive before I have to stop?

Professional drivers have limits on how long they can drive without stopping, but it doesn’t look like there is an official law about how long private citizens can drive without stopping. To avoid driver fatigue, stop for 15 minutes every two to three hours and not drive more than eight hours daily.

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Read More: The Importance of Car Insurance before a Road Trip

Things to do when you take frequent breaks during long-distance driving

Stops are more than just pulling into a gas station, using the bathroom, and getting back in the car. They can be a great way to get your energy back and make the trip part of the fun.

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Stop in a rural area for a picnic.

Check your route to see if there are any nature reserves or state or national parks, and make one of your stops there. Ensure you don’t overeat because it can make you tired and uncomfortable when you return to the road.

Truck Stops are Great Places for a Coffee and a Souvenirs

Take 15 minutes to try on some cool sunglasses, buy a souvenir, and go to the bathroom. Remember to stretch to get the blood moving and lower the chance of getting lower back pain.

Read More: The Best Road Trip Movies

Roadside Attractions

When you are planning your route, take the time to look up what is nearby on Google. Having little stops along the way to your leading destination is a great way to break up the trip without feeling like you’re wasting time.

Nature Reserves, Beaches, and Parks

We might want to leave the car and sit in a café or restaurant, but getting fresh air and stretching our legs is much better.

Play a game

If you’re by yourself, bring a deck of cards, a sudoku puzzle, or some word puzzles to keep your mind active (avoid using a screen for this). Bring a ball to throw or kick around or your favorite board game at the picnic tables if you have company. Anything that gets your mind going and your endorphins flowing.

Read More: The Best Road Trip Games

Why Taking More Breaks Can Make All the Difference

You should stop every 2 to 3 hours for a short time, but everyone’s situation is different. Know yourself and your passengers, and then make plans based on that.

Stop as often as you need to give your body a chance to rest or stretch. 

Plan many bathroom breaks and stops in interesting places so kids and pets can get out and run around. Be aware that gas stations are not the safest places for kids and pets to run around. They are great places to stop for a bathroom break, though. Find places like information centers, national parks, and things to see along the side of the road.

If you drive for 8 hours or more every day for several days, you should know that fatigue can build up as the hours and days go by.

Read More: Tips for Comfortable Road Trip with your Pets

Plan for bad weather by stopping when driving any further is too dangerous.

Extreme wind, rain, or snow can make it very dangerous to drive, so pull over and make sure your car is safe to drive (check the gas, add chains if you need to), and double-check that you have all the supplies you need in case of an emergency. Check your weather app to see if there is a better time to get back on the road before you leave.

We recommend you shouldn’t drive between midnight and 6 a.m. or late afternoon when they are most tired.

If you must drive during these times, plan to stop more often to stay alert and be ready to say when you’ve had enough.

Road Hazards: The Dangers of Driving Without Taking Breaks

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that 56,000 accidents happen yearly in the United States because of sleep. When you’re tired, reacting takes longer, making it harder to see and understand what’s happening around you. Getting enough sleep between driving sessions and stopping when you need to eat, use the bathroom, and rest is imperative.

On a road trip, you should only drive for 9 hours per day to avoid the risks that come with it. If you have more than one driver, you can extend this to 12 hours.

You will most likely fall asleep if you don’t take breaks while driving. As you watch the night come on slowly and listen to the steady sounds of cars, your brain gets the message that it’s time to sleep. It’s not worth the risk to yourself or other drivers on the road to fall asleep at the wheel.

As you get tired and used to driving, your ability to see and understand threats worsens, and it takes you longer to react. Breaks keep our minds awake, alert, and engaged. If you don’t stop for breaks, you’re more likely to fall asleep at the wheel.

When you spend a long time in the car, especially alone, you might feel sad and lonely. A little silence, fresh air, and a short walk can help boost morale.

If you’re on the road for hours without stopping, your back, joints, and blood flow can take a real beating. Make sure your breaks give you enough time to stretch and get the blood moving again.

You might feel so good, alert, and ready to go that you don’t even realize the miles are passing and the gas is running out. Suddenly, your car stops 30 miles from the nearest gas station, and it’s getting dark. Stopping often means you always have gas and are much less likely to be caught off guard.

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Read More: The Best Road Trip Games for Kids

What Movies and TV Shows teach us about Long Drives

In the classic road trip comedy National Lampoon’s Vacation, the Griswold family sets out on a cross-country adventure to reach their destination. Along the way, they encounter all sorts of mishaps and obstacles, but they keep pushing on without taking many breaks. As a result, they end up exhausted and in a heap of trouble.

Lesson learned: Taking frequent breaks is essential for staying alert and enjoying the journey.

In one memorable episode of Seinfeld, Jerry, and Kramer decide to take a spontaneous road trip. However, they soon realize they have not planned their route or taken any breaks. As a result, they end up lost and exhausted, with Jerry even falling asleep at the wheel.

Lesson learned: Plan your route ahead of time and take regular breaks to avoid getting lost or tired.

In an episode of The Office, Michael Scott takes the office on a road trip to visit other company branches. However, he fails to plan for rest stops or bathroom breaks, leading to chaos and discomfort for everyone involved.

Lesson learned:¬†Don’t be like Michael Scott. Plan and make sure to take regular breaks for everyone’s sake.

How frequently you should take breaks when driving long distances depends on your personal needs and the length of your journey. However, taking a break every two hours or so is generally recommended to stretch your legs, use the restroom, and grab a snack. Remember to plan, stay alert, and, most importantly, enjoy the ride!

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