Road trip tip: How to sleep comfortably in your car

I have slept in a car once on a road trip. When I drove from Odense, Denmark to Paris where people are smiling more than when I was there, my friend and I pulled off of the road somewhere to sleep. We could have been in France. I can’t remember. What I do remember is that it was not comfortable. We were in a Peugeot station wagon, so space wasn’t the problem, but we didn’t have enough bedding and it became light too soon. By the time I finally fell asleep, there I was waking up again.

Yesterday’s video road trip tip was about how to stay awake while driving. This one is about how to sleep comfortably. After watching this video you might think why get a hotel room when there’s a Walmart parking lot? Sleeping in a Walmark parking lot is a budget travel idea for sure. This video has demonstrations and some great ideas. The main idea is to plan to stay in your car.

Road trip tip: How to stay awake while driving

There are ways to stay awake while driving. I’ve done some of them. Coffee is one. Chewing gum is another. This video explains why and how those two methods work, plus offers other suggestions.

At the end there’s a statistic that gives one pause. Falling asleep at the wheel is not uncommon. It doesn’t hurt to have a few tricks for a road trip, but also is a reminder that pulling over to take a nap is not the worst option. In that case, it seems that being parked at a rest stop would feel more restful than being parked at a fast food or gas station parking lot. Consider that Virginia.

If you do stop at a rest stop to take a nap, make sure you are alert before you take off otherwise you might forget something.

Driving on ice and tips on how not to wreck

A few nights ago, I drove one of my daughter’s friends home after a day of cookie baking and watching a movie. It had started to sleet in Columbus before we headed out. We didn’t venture far onto I-71 South when I started to think, big mistake. There were flashing lights on both I-71 and I-70 from car wrecks in each direction.

When I pulled off on our exit ramp and onto the road, there were emergency vehicles and personnel attending to another wreck on the overpass, just a few feet from where I was maneuvering our car. Down the street I could see more flashing lights. A policeman motioned for me to roll down my window. “Be careful,” he said. “Go slow. There are a lot of wrecks out here.”

His words weren’t necessary, but calming somehow. He sounded like a deeper voiced version of my mother. With my children bundled in the backseat and my daughter’s friend in the passenger seat, I wasn’t in a hurry. Adding to the mayhem was not on my agenda.

Despite my careful efforts, I slid all the way across another overpass, although, I didn’t skid. I could feel that the tires weren’t gripping the road at all. “Shit,” I said under my breath, proud that I didn’t say worse.

On the way home, we skidded over another overpass, this time right between a car wreck, seconds after the two cars collided to our left and another car skidded to our right.

“You’re doing fine, Mom,” my daughter said from the backseat, as I said, “Oh, oh, oh, oh,” and tried not to flinch us into our own wreck.

After deciding to avoid the highway and travel the side streets, figuring that if anyone hit us, at least it would be at a slower speed, I took the highway the last mile and a half. It was a mistake. Cars fly on the highway in Ohio in all kinds of weather. It’s mind boggling. Really. We saw one car on the opposite side off the highway slide off the road and head down the embankment. Luckily, it stopped and didn’t flip.

Tonight, it was the same type of weather, although before it became too bad, we were home. With driving conditions treacherous, here are some tips for driving when the roads are slick. They worked for me. I was paying attention and followed them for a change.

Here is what helped me avoid having a wreck:

  • I kept a very large distance between my car and any car in front–at least triple what I normally do. When the wreck happened to my left, this helped me reach a slower speed so I could pass by.
  • Don’t break if you start to feel like you are beginning to hydroplane. Keep calm and keep the wheel straight and steady. I was hydroplaning past that wreck, but kept going.
  • I started to slow down way before I reached an intersection in order to make sure I could stop, almost without braking. To brake, I tapped on them gently several times to avoid any strong movement.
  • The whole time, I kept alert to what was going on around me. This helped me feel like I had control which helped me stay calm. Mind you, I wasn’t totally calm, but it could have been worse.
  • My original plan to avoid busy roads was sound. Avoid highways if you can. I was so sorry that I took the highway for the short distance that I did. I was so happy we only had a few exits to go to more safety.

When we arrived back home, 45 minutes after setting out on our icy adventure, I had a glass of wine and counted my blessings. Next time a friend is over and it’s icy out, we’re not going anywhere. There’s plenty of room for a sleepover.

For more driving on ice tips, including the one on what to do if you do start to skid, check out “How to Drive on Icy Roads” at eHow: How to Do About Everything.

Program that provides safe driving tips for parents and their teens

My daughter is approaching driving age. Gaad! Let’s just say, I’m not thrilled. Dings and dents abound in Columbus. This is a city. It’s not that people drive like maniacs, but there are many cars and many possibilities for an amiss to happen while navigating the roads. Dents and dings are the mildest forms of mishaps.

One day though, it’s inevitable; my daughter will be driving. To get her ready for the day when she hits the road on her own, I’ve come across a guide that could come in handy. In July’s Car&Travel: New York, a AAA publication, is a blurb on AAAStartSmart, a newsletter that is geared for teen driver education.

Developed in partnership with the National Institute of Health, the on-line newsletter, published every two weeks, covers topics such as driving at night, teen passengers’ seat belt use and drivers’ distractions. It gives tips to parents on how to set limits and what limits to set.

I can see how this newsletter might help illuminate the issues that occur with teen drivers to help parents know what to expect and how to prevent a problem before the problem ever has a chance to happen. For example, setting limits such as not letting a teen drive with other teens in the car since teens are a major distraction for teens.

To get the newsletter go to and register.