Driving to your vacation destination can be time-consuming, but it’s usually more cost-effective, and you get to use your own car. If you’re planning a road trip, how many hours per day should you drive on a road trip?
You should drive a maximum of eight hours per day on a road trip or until you start to feel tired. If you have an RV, drive over a mountain pass, weather conditions are poor, or travel with kids, pets, or an older adult, you may need to drive fewer hours per day.
In this article, I’ll discuss how many hours per day you should drive on a road trip and what you can do to make your road trip more comfortable. Let’s get started!
How Many Hours Can You Safely Drive per Day?
When planning a road trip, it can be tempting to drive as many hours as possible to reach your destination faster. But how many hours can you safely drive each day?
You can safely drive eight hours or 500 miles (804 km) per day. It can be more if there are multiple drivers but less if you’re traveling with an RV, kids, pets, or an older person. If the weather is bad or you’re driving over a mountain pass, you may drive fewer hours in a day.
Driving eight hours or 500 miles (804 km) per day is general advice, and you might consider adjusting how many hours you drive if any of the below factors are true for you.
You’re Traveling With Kids, Pets, or an Elderly Person
Traveling with kids, pets, or an older person can be challenging as they can have special needs, necessitating more stops.
Kids can quickly get bored on a road trip, and if you haven’t provided enough entertainment for them, they can become irritable and distract you from driving. They also enjoy running around and regular energetic play, so it’s essential to take breaks often to allow them to burn off energy.
Instead of taking 15-minute breaks every two hours, you may need to extend them to half an hour or more.
Pets can become stressed out and overheated in a car, and owners should monitor them closely to ensure that they’re comfortable. Like humans, pets need regular leg stretches and potty breaks. Your pet will be much happier in the car if you stop more regularly, but this will delay your arrival.
Older people can be more at risk for deep vein thrombosis and need regular stops at a restroom or to stretch their legs.
You’re Driving an RV
Taking an RV on vacation is an excellent decision as you have all your home comforts with you. However, depending on whether you’re towing an RV and the state’s speed limit for RVs, you might need to drive slower.
In some states, drivers towing RVs must adhere to the speed limit for commercial trucks, which is 55 mph (89 km/h). Depending on your journey’s length, you might need to add in an extra day for traveling if you’re driving an RV.
You Have Multiple Drivers in the Car
It’s safe for one person to drive for eight hours per day with regular breaks. However, if you have multiple drivers in the car, you can share the driving and reach your destination faster. Before driving for an extended period, make sure that the car is comfortable enough for drivers to rest when they’re not driving.
Your Route Is Over a Mountain Pass
If your route includes driving over one or more mountain passes, the speed limit is likely to be lower, and you’ll need to concentrate more on the winding roads. This can quickly make you feel tired and reduce the number of hours you can safely travel in one day.
The Weather Conditions Are Poor
Driving in heavy rain, a snowstorm, or very windy conditions will cause you to slow down, and, in extreme conditions, you may need to pull over until the conditions improve. This can reduce how many hours you can travel per day, and it’s worth checking the weather forecast before you leave to plan accordingly.
How Do I Make My Road Trip More Comfortable?
Knowing that you can safely drive eight hours or 500 miles (804 km) per day, how can you make your road trip more comfortable?
You can make your road trip more comfortable by having regular breaks, sharing the driving, getting a good night’s sleep, consuming a reasonable amount of caffeine, and snacking on nutritious foods.
I’ll discuss these points in more detail below.
Have Regular Breaks
Stopping every two hours for 15 minutes allows you to stretch your legs, visit the restroom, fill up with gas, and breathe in the fresh air. Fifteen minutes, however, should be the minimum length for your break, and you should consider making it longer if you’re starting to feel tired.
Regular breaks give you an energy boost as they allow you to rest your concentration and feel more alert when you start driving again. We’ve found 4 reasons why car travel is so tiring. Learning to combat these can help make it through your next trip.
If you feel tired or sleepy and there’s not another driver that can take over from you, you should strongly consider pulling over and getting some rest. Most major interstates have budget hotels along the way that won’t make you deviate from your route.
If you’re on a tight budget, or you’d rather spend the night in your RV, park at a rest stop or truck stop. Most Walmart stores and Cracker Barrel restaurants allow RVs to use their parking lots overnight but check with the store manager first.
If you’re not looking forward to a long drive, here are 11 ways to make it seem shorter.
Share the Driving
If there’s another responsible driver in the vehicle, share the driving to make the trip more comfortable and allow everyone to enjoy the scenery. A good time to swap drivers is during your 15-minute break, allowing each driver to have only a two-hour driving shift.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Before heading off on your road trip, make sure that you get a good night’s sleep the night before to help keep you alert and focused while driving. Avoid drinking too much alcohol the night before, as drinking with a hangover is uncomfortable and can be unsafe if you feel drowsy.
Snack on Nutritious Foods
When you’re on a road trip, it’s tempting to snack on junk food and candy in the car. There’s also plenty of junk food available at gas stations and rest stops to tempt you further.
Instead of eating fatty and sugar-rich foods, opt for healthy snacks like nuts and dried fruit that won’t cause your blood sugar level to spike and drop suddenly. Junk food can give you indigestion and digestive issues and make you feel uncomfortable and bloated while driving.
Caffeinated drinks like coffee, soda, or energy drinks can make you feel more alert and improve your concentration on the road. A study by Springer Psychology revealed that one cup of caffeinated coffee positively affects driving performance and perceived sleepiness on monotonous routes.
Avoid consuming too much caffeine, though, as it can make you feel jittery and nervous.
You should not drive more than eight hours or 500 miles (804 km) on a road trip. However, if you have other drivers in the car, you can share the driving and cover a greater distance. You might need to travel fewer hours if you have an RV or driving with kids, pets, or an older adult.
If the weather conditions are poor or the roads difficult, you’ll need to slow down and concentrate more, which can make you tired faster, reducing how many hours you can drive per day.