The last time you got stressed out, did you end up going for a long drive? Did you feel better all of a sudden and wonder why?
It’s often overlooked, but the simple act of going for a long car ride can do wonders for your emotional well-being.
The Benefits of Going for a Drive – The Short Answer
By getting in your car, putting on some music, and going for a drive, you could be releasing serotonin and dopamine, which has a calming effect on your mood. If you’re feeling a touch of boredom, going for a drive will also help with that, as it gives you something to do and somewhere to go.
It’s often easy to overlook something as simple as taking a ride around town, but it can be an outstanding way of changing up your environment and hitting the reset button on your brain.
Proven Health Benefits of Going for a Drive
- Going for a ride helps you stay in the moment. You feel the wheels on the road and you’re focusing on what’s right in front of you. This can help get you out of your head and lets you take the focus off of whatever might have been troubling you mentally. Getting your focus on the road gets your focus off of whatever might have been bothering you!
- If you’re battling loneliness, going for a road trip helps connect you to the world. It gets you out of the house. You’ll be surrounded by other people in cars, at stores, etc., and you’ll feel less alone just by getting out of the house.
- Fresh air will help. If the weather is right, put those windows down, or the roof if you’re lucky, and let the Vitamin D and fresh air boost your mood! Studies show that fresh air drastically improves mood and well-being.
No matter if something is ailing you, or you just want to get in your car and take your fancy new sports car for a ride, taking a car ride is sure to boost your Serotonin and your happiness!
Taking a Car Ride might raise your Serotonin
Now, this isn’t always the case. If you are fighting through horrible L.A. traffic or performing stressful multitasking in the car, driving could have the opposite effect. However, chances are, you’re not choosing to go for a serotonin-boosting ride to clear your mind if it’s during L.A. rush hour.
Many people love driving. In fact, you might still be the person that insists on continuing to drive manual transmission cars because you love how it feels to shift gears. Even if you’re not jamming gears, there’s a very high probability that driving through the open road will bring you a sense of calm and happiness.
Benefits of Listening to Music during a Car Ride
One of the reasons this can be healthy is that most people use driving time to listen to their favorite music while in the car. The right music is scientifically proven to improve your mood. Whether you choose some calming jazz music that slows down your brain waves, or some angry heavy metal music, which will serve to let you work the stress out, music will no doubt have a positive effect on your mood.
If you happen to be taking a ride with your kids, music is great for that too. Play some of their favorite tunes (if you can handle them) and let your kids sing along in the backseat!
Bring the Essentials
What are you after in your road trip? Is this a quick 20-minute jaunt just to clear your head and get you out of the house? Or, are you looking to drive for a couple of hours and maybe check out a cool destination?
Here’s a list of some things you might want to make sure you bring along for your car ride:
- Phone charger – While you shouldn’t talk on the phone while driving, you might use your phone as a GPS or as a source to stream music. Both the GPS and your music app will drain your battery fairly quickly – make sure you bring something to charge your battery.
- A Full Tank – Don’t underestimate how distracting it can be to spend a whole drive staring at the needle on your fuel gauge. Go ahead and fill your vehicle up all the way if you can afford to. This is a small detail that can eliminate quite a bit of micro-stress from your drive, freeing you up to focus only on the road.
- GPS – whether you use your phone, a dedicated GPS, or an old-fashioned map, make sure you have something in your car that can help you get where you’re going. There have been plenty of drives that are meant to just clear the mind of the driver and he ends up worrying about navigation instead.
- Music – This is a maybe. Some people can’t get in the car for two seconds without cranking the music, but maybe you’re taking a car ride for some peace and quiet. That’s ok too. But, if you’re the type of person to need music in your life, make sure you’ve got a stash of music lined up.
- Nourishment – Depending on how long of a ride you’re taking you might want just a cup of coffee or as much as an ice chest packed with a couple of sandwiches and snacks for your ride. There’s something to be said of not having to stop at a gas station of a drive-thru when you’re trying to blow off some steam and block out extra noise.
- Turn it All Off – Even though we recommend bringing your charger, GPS, and music, sometimes its best to totally shut these things out. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the infinite sea of information and stimulation from the world, put your phone in the console (for emergencies) and hit the road with some peace and quiet.
While you can get by on a road trip without any or all of these items, they might just go a long way towards making your car ride more enjoyable, whether it be for 5 minutes or 5 hours.
Top (Long) Road Trip Destinations by Region
Let’s pretend for a minute that you’re taking a car ride for longer than 20 minutes. It’s a Saturday morning and you wake up and say, “Let’s go on a road trip somewhere fun!” Where should you go?
Here’s a breakdown of just some of the best road trips you can take depending on where you live.
- Route 66 – if you live anywhere near Route 66, this is a must for your car ride! It runs all the way from Lake Michigan to L.A., so really, you can live a lot of places and still be near this historic route. There’s a lot of historic sites on the way. You can see America’s oldest church or even the world’s largest rocking chair.
- Pacific Coast Highway – This is on many bucket lists! If you’re a West Coaster, you must do this! The scenery winding down the California coast on this ride is breathtaking!
- Overseas Highway – For East Coasters, check out the Overseas Highway down in Key West, FL. You’ll have nothing but water surrounding you on this beautiful trek!
There are many more road trip options! Perhaps you have a destination in mind – if so, that’s great! Plug it into your GPS, put the windows down, and get driving to your target! We recommend taking a look at National Geographic’s list of top road trips around the world.
Never underestimate the powers of a good road trip, whether it be a solo trip for 20 minutes to rock out to your favorite music, or a weekend ride with the whole family to go see some cool new location. Getting in your car and going for a ride could be exactly what you need to feel more connected to the present and help you forget about your troubles whether they be boredom, stress, or loneliness.