With roads now more crowded, behavior like traffic rage, unexpected braking, swerving, and not indicating are becoming more widespread – in almost every country.
Provocative gestures, yelling, cursing, tailgating, and loud car horns – all of this is quite common, and something you’ll likely encounter on any road trip you take.
But road rage can trigger dangerous behavior, and this is not something you want ruining a trip. So learning how to stay calm in your car is an essential skill to have with you on any road trip.
Five Ways To Stay Calm on a Road Trip
Ensure Calm Driving Environment
One of the best ways to stay calm on a road trip is to make your car a happy and peaceful place. This means you should avoid stressful distractions such as texting, talking on a non-hands-free phone, or doing your make-up.
After-all, a roadtrip is supposed to be about the adventure, and taking in the changing scenery of a new place, so why would you want to be distracted anyway?!
These actions are not only dangerous (and often forbidden depending on which country you’re in), but also very distracting, which means you’re more likely to snap if you have to react to something suddenly. Remember that driving requires focus, so it’s vital not to be engaged with other things.
Create a positive driving environment by listening to music that lifts you, calms down, or relaxes. This calm atmosphere will allow you to stay calm even if you’re faced with the road rage of others.
You should avoid listening to aggressive music with heavy bass and have music at a reasonable volume. Listening to podcasts or audiobooks are both great methods for keeping calm when driving a long route.
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Keep Your Car Clean
While the very nature of a road trip means you’ll likely be traveling with a lot of gear in the back; suitcases, bags, maybe even camping gear, cleanliness and tidiness can make a world of difference to your overall mood.
Driving in a cluttered car, with a dirty windscreen, and trying to see through unclear rear window cab can be very stressful. Make sure to keep the interior and exterior as clean as possible, and this includes the footwells.
The worst part about road trips is the amount of trash that collects on your car floors from snacks and activities. Get ahead of this problem with a travel trash can you can have in the car – and empty it often.
There are several styles of trash cans to consider, but look for one that collapses for easy storage when not in use. If you’re throwing cans of drink make sure it’s waterproof.
Consider placing one in each row of seating so that all passengers have a place to put trash. A sedan, for example, would have two trash cans and a minivan would have three. Empty the receptacles whenever you stop for gas.
Breathe & Take Time To Calm Down
If you notice yourself feeling tense, anxious, or angry, stop, pull over, and take time to calm down. Take deep breathes to collect your thoughts, roll the window down for fresh air, or stop your car if you are feeling symptoms of road rage.
It’s important to find a safe and proper place to pull over, after-all, you can’t just stop in the middle of a highway, but once you do, park and walk around for a few minutes until you feel better and calmer before returning to the road.
Meditation can have a very calming effect on both your mind and body, so if you know you suffer from anxiety or stress while driving long distances, or in foreign countries, travel prepared with a meditation app or recording on your devices.
The best way to limit stress, fatigue, and other dangers on the road is not to drive more than 3 hours at a time, and to take proper breaks inbetween your drive. Getting enough rest before you drive a vehicle is crucial to a stress free journey.
Keeping a bottle of calming essential oil or CBD oil (legalities will vary from country to country), can be useful for most situations and health conditions. In instance of road rage, anxiety, stress and lack of energy for instance, these oils can provide relief.
Keep Your Distance And Drive Defensively
If it seems to you that a driver is behaving aggressively, it’s better to let that person go first and pass by your car. In case a driver is in front of you, keep your distance to ensure your safety and if he or she is behind you, or try switching lanes.
Avoid blocking traffic as much as possible, as this might cause anger or impatience from other drivers. And especially if you’re road tripping in a rental car, it’s best just to avoid any possible issues which may end up in a scrape.
If you’re dealing with a passive aggressive driver on the road, slow down your car enough to get behind a different vehicle and try not to ride near a driver that seems to be “playing games”.
Instead of engaging, be a courteous driver and role model for other drivers by being calm, using turn signals, and driving safely.
Ignore Escalation & Resist The Urge To Retaliate
If an angry driver yells at you or shows a rude gesture out his or her window, it’s important to ignore them and abstain from shouting back.
Honking, screaming, or flashing high beams at you, may leave you to feel scared or anxious. And especially if you’re road tripping through a foreign country, and are not familiar with their culture, situations can escalate quite quickly if you act without knowledge of how something as small as a hand gesture could be interpreted.
The essential thing is to remain calm and continue to drive as safely as possible. Fighting and riding angry is dangerous for you and other drivers and will only aggravate the situation.
Keep in mind that it’s nothing personal, and you shouldn’t take this situation to heart. If another driver cuts you off, this person is probably experiencing its own road rage or not paying attention to the road, and not because the driver is angry at you.
Someone else’s bad driving or behavior shouldn’t ruin your commute, so it would be best to be understanding and try to avoid any possible argument. If it escalates to the point where the police get involved, they can often side with local drivers.
How do you stay calm on a roadtrip?