3 Tips to Beating Holiday Travel Fatigue

3 Tips to Beating Holiday Travel Fatigue

So it’s Holiday time again, which, if you’re like me, means, among other things, long-haul road trips. And for me, that used to mean drive-through food for lunch and dinner and several doses caffeinated soda and chocolate to fight the inevitable fatigue that would set it somewhere between the 4 to 6 hour mark.

And I guess I’m not alone. Triple A reports that in 2011, 32 percent of drivers surveyed admit driving while fatigued, and 2 in 5 say they have fallen asleep at the wheel. Joke all you like about family dysfunction during the holidays, but I would much rather spend a few hours with irascible in-laws than not arrive at all.

Obviously, I always managed to make it safely where I was going, but I would eventually arrive dehydrated, jittery and wired with dry, scratchy eyes. I would not be able to sleep, and it would usually take a couple days for my system to resume full regularity.

Here’s what I was doing wrong: The fast food for lunch would cause my blood sugar to first spike, then dive, leaving me feeling even more craving more. The candy bars would do the same, as would any other snacks which followed. Drinking soda after soda pumped me full of caffeine which would eventually kick in, but at the cost of dehydrating me and affecting my sleep and regular digestive function for days.

Then last year, when I was faced with monthly 14-hour drives for my job, I stumbled on a better way. First, I changed the fast food I eat. Despite the variety of fast food chains, the vast majority is loaded with carbs. As we all know from countless diet plans and info-mercials, “bad” carbs lead to low blood sugar and cravings. I now make sure to order grilled chicken and leave off the bun. I usually find a franchise that offers side dishes besides fries like coleslaw or green beans. Anything but fries.

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Second, sing. That’s right. Sing. When you start to feel a little drowsy, pop you favorite music in and sing. Really belt it out. Who cares? You’re in your car, your own little bubble, on the interstate. If you really look closely (as a passenger, that is) I’ll bet you’ll see most everybody else is singing, too, anyway. Not only is it fun, but your breathing will get deeper and send more oxygen to your brain – just the ticket to be more alert.

Third, Yerba Mate. Okay, so what it Yerba Mate? Yerba Mate is a sort of tea. Actually it is made from steeping the leaves of the celebrated South American rainforest holly tree. More antioxidants than green tea, as much natural caffeine as diet soda, 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino wonder it has been revered for centuries as the “Drink of the Gods.” It’s available in the organic section of your grocery store or in any health food store. Simply brew some up before you go, pour it into a thermos or water bottle, and take it with you. I usually get a full cup of ice whenever I stop, pour some Yerba Mate into it, and just sip it along the way. I will admit it tastes a little strange, so I add a lemon to the thermos. You quickly get used to the taste, and you may get addicted to how you feel.

That’s it. Better food, some singing, and Yerba Mate. It’s fun, healthy, refreshing, and I arrive without the sour stomach, jittery nerves, and sleep least none caused by the trip. The in-laws are a whole other matter.

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