How to make a long road trip more comfortable

6 minute read

Group of friends in a car laughing

Anyone that’s been on a long road trip, whether for business or pleasure, will tell you how taxing it can be on your body and mind. From aches and pains in your legs and back to that drained feeling that comes with concentrating on the open road for hours at a time if you’re the driver. That’s why, as well as making sure you have the correct car insurance in place and have conducted all essential pre-trip maintenance checks, it’s worth taking the time to make your car as comfortable as possible before a long journey.

When it comes to making your car more comfortable, there are an array of things you can do to enhance its interior. While some of these suggestions may sound simple, it’s amazing how much of a difference they can make – especially when you know you’re going to be travelling in your car for a number of hours.


1.   Correctly position your seats

The position of your seat - no matter whether you’re driving or a passenger - can have a significant impact on your body. While you may not notice that your car seat is not in the correct position when using your vehicle for short journeys, if you are sitting incorrectly for a number of hours, pains in your back, shoulder, neck and even legs are far more likely.

Before heading out on any long drive, ensure you and your passengers have properly adjusted the seat’s position, altered the slant of the backrest and changed the height of the seat itself. It is also important to adjust the height of your seatbelt if needed. Getting your seat in the best position to suit your body is not just important for comfort, it is essential for safety too. If you’re driving, ensure you can see clearly out of all mirrors, as well as make sure you are able to fully reach the foot pedals and the steering wheel without stretching. If, after you have correctly positioned your seat, you are still feeling uncomfortable, try adding a specialist padded seat cover to provide extra support for your back.


2.   Clean and declutter

Mess and clutter can be overwhelming at the best of times, and this is only heightened in a compact space like a car. Sitting in a decluttered and tidy car can help passengers relax during long trips. With this in mind, you could consider keeping your car’s logbook and insurance details in the glove compartment, while phone chargers, ice-scrapers and other travel essentials can be stored in a seat-back car organiser. Meanwhile, other knick-knacks can be stored in a plastic box that can be kept out of sight in the boot.

Similarly, you’ll also be amazed at how much of an impact a dirty car can have on your road trip experience. From hardened crumbs on seats that bring ongoing discomfort to mud, rubbish and old bits of food on the floor that can smell bad and make your car feel unclean, a dirty car is an uncomfortable one for all involved. Try to empty all the litter from your vehicle before a long journey and be sure to vacuum seats and footwells for a clean car interior.


3.   Think about the sun

The sun can cause discomfort for motorists and their passengers at all times of the year, never more so than during autumn and winter. Its low angle in the sky during these times of the year can push rays below your car’s sun visor and into the eyes of drivers and passengers alike. This is why keeping a pair of sunglasses with tinted lenses in your car is a sensible idea.

Additionally, with global temperatures on the rise and summers, in particular, becoming warmer, long drives could become increasingly uncomfortable. While most modern cars are now fitted with air conditioning systems, this is not always a cost-effective method of keeping cool. So, if you want to keep your car cool without it using additional fuel, or you simply drive a vehicle that doesn't feature air conditioning, consider having your windows tinted to keep the sun’s glares at bay. This will not only keep you cool but also protect your skin from potentially dangerous UV rays.

Alternatively, you could buy reflective sun shades that can be placed on passenger windows as you drive, and a windscreen cover that will stop your car from becoming too hot when parked out in the sun.


4.   Keep on top of car maintenance

While you may not associate the exterior mechanics of your car with comfort, they do actually play a huge role. From ensuring your car’s up to date with its recent service to making sure the suspension, alloys and tyres are all in good shape, it's worth taking your car for a quick check-up at your local garage before a long drive. After all, you don’t want to experience a bumpy ride or suspicious sounds coming from your engine when you’re out on the road!

5.   Keep everyone entertained

Long drives can be dull, especially for passengers. One way to keep everyone in the car entertained without distracting the driver is to make use of the car's entertainment systems. After all, an occupied passenger is a comfortable passenger. This could involve your car’s sound system to listen to an audiobook or even portable media players that can be attached to headrests. If electronic devices are not your thing, why not bring along your favourite magnetic board games or books of puzzles and crosswords that can involve all passengers in the car? Remember – keeping everyone entertained doesn’t have to cost a fortune.


Extra tip: How to sleep comfortably in a moving car

For some passengers, having a snooze is the best way to pass the time during a long car journey. However, positioning yourself comfortably enough to drop off, as well as ensuring you are not going to wake up aching all over, is not always easy.

If, after you have checked off all of the above suggestions to make your car journey as comfortable as possible, you are still struggling to sleep in a moving car, try the following tips:


  • Make sure your head is supported, either by the in-built neck rest or by using a comfy travel neck pillow
  • Ensure the interior of the car is set at a nice temperature and that you do not have blowers pointed directly into your face
  • Wear comfortable clothing – if it is cold, wear warm, layered items, and if it is warm, wear cool, loose clothing
  • Bring a travel blanket or small duvet if it is cold
  • Wear sunglasses or a sleep mask if it is bright and you tend to sleep better in darkness
  • Keep water and light snacks close at hand to keep everyone hydrated and hunger pangs at bay between rest stops
  • Open the windows once in a while to allow fresh air into the car. This will perk everyone up and help to keep the cabin of the car smelling fresh.


Sitting for long periods of time on a road trip can leave you feeling achy and fidgety. For this reason, it’s important to remember that no matter how comfortable you make your car, it is likely that you will have to make regular stops in order to stretch your legs and ensure you continue to feel fresh for the rest of your journey.


For more tips on cars and driving, please check out the rest of Age Co's Useful Articles.