It’s summer, the Covid vaccine is widely available, infections are down, and things are opening up again. All of that means we’re so excited to see loved ones again that NYU researchers say up to 80 percent of us are planning a road trip! Before you buckle up, check out these tips on how to stay healthy and safe so you can have the most fun on your travels.
Carsick? Chew on this.
When one too many bumps and turns make your stomach feel topsy-turvy, nibbling on a piece or two of candied ginger could ease that queasiness in just one minute, say University of Connecticut researchers. Ina Lete, M.D., explains that candied ginger’s strong, spicy aroma and flavor quickly calm the nausea center in the brain. One to try: Next Organics Dried Crystallized Ginger (Buy from Amazon, $7)
Gotta go? Picture this.
It’s a perennial road trip dilemma: The next rest stop is miles away, but you need the bathroom now. Try this: Take deep, calming breaths while imagining a bright string of light connecting your brain to your bladder. Sounds wacky, but Loyola University investigators say this clever trick soothes a spasming bladder, cutting your need for emergency bathroom breaks by up to 68 percent, often within a minute — enough to get you to the next rest area!
Headache? Try an ancient remedy.
Blasts of strong sunlight paired with long periods of time spent sitting can irritate spinal nerves and trigger painful neck tension, making your road trip less enjoyable. The good news: Gently massaging your forehead with Tiger Balm ointment (a soothing mix of pain-killing camphor, mint, cajuput and clove oils) tames an on-the-road headache as quickly and effectively as over-the-counter meds, Australian scientists say, without side effects like nausea. (Tiger Balm Ultra Strength Pain Relief — Buy from Amazon, $18)
Stiff? Wiggle around.
You don’t want to keep pulling over just to get out and stretch — but you don’t want to feel stiff and sore either! Luckily, Cornell scientists say just moving your muscles for 30 seconds every half hour, even in the car — try ankle rolls and shoulder shrugs — helps you feel 75 percent more limber on a long road trip. As Sue Dalton, M.D., explains, “Your lymphatic system, which pumps trapped fluids from your tissues to your heart, works best when your muscles are in motion.”
Unfocused? Pop some gum.
If you feel unfocused or zone out after miles on the road, a stick of gum can help! Research in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science suggests that chewing gum energizes brain cells, chasing away that sluggish road trip state known as “highway hypnosis.” Plus, it boosts alertness and driving accuracy by 35 percent.
Hungry? Hit the drive-thru.
Hungry? Opt for a drive-thru, rather than going into a restaurant. Canadian scientists say avoiding crowded, enclosed spaces makes you 18 times less likely to catch respiratory infections, including COVID -19.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.