Travel Tip: Know Your Limits

If you plan on taking long road trips, you need to figure out what your limits are to avoid putting yourself in a dangerous situation. Fatigue is a powerful thing that will creep up on you when you least expect it and you are often the least prepared for it.

They often say that being up for 24 hours straight will impair your mental abilities to the equivalent of a .10 blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). To put that into perspective, the government deems a lower BAC of 0.08 to be the limit and if you were to have a BAC of .10, you’d be arrested and charged with a DUI.

Just like alcohol where everyone has their own individual tolerances, everyone will have their own tolerances for the amount of fatigue they can work through as well as how fast they become fatigued. It’s really a matter of knowing how fast you fatigue and how well you personally deal with that fatigue to know what your limits are to remain safe on the road.

The one thing about getting to know your limits is it takes time to really get in tune with what you can and can’t do. You will most likely have to push yourself beyond your limits several times to get a good idea what they are and how to deal with them. The key point is to constantly be evaluating yourself and when you feel you’ve gotten to your limits, figure out a safe place to stop.

For me, I find I can drive around 18 hours at my absolute max and can only do that for a single day. I found this out with the drive between Texas and Wisconsin. What I also find is when the sun goes down, I get tired fast. I always keep in this in the back of my mind and start formulating a plan when the circumstances come up.

While I will start looking for places to stop when I know I’m going to be tired, sometimes I have to push my limits. When I scaled the Texas-Mexico border and got into the area of West Texas that it was desolate nothing, it was just not viable to really stop anywhere. I had to push myself a bit to make it to El Paso where my hotel was booked.

When you find yourself in situations where you feel you’re pushing your limits, this is where caffeine can help. While I don’t recommend being continually wired on caffeine and highly recommend laying off of it, there are times where it is necessary. If you have to resort to chugging energy drinks to stay awake, consider that a warning sign for your energy levels just as you’d consider the fuel light a warning sign for low fuel levels. You’ll definitely want to find the next safe place where you can fuel up and recharge.

A final element to helping with your limits is getting enough sleep in the first place. Just like the only way to truly eliminate alcohol from your body is time, the only true way to combat fatigue is time resting and sleeping. You will want to make sure to get enough sleep before you venture out on a big road trip, and I highly recommend planning for a day off after you come back to recharge before you go back to work.

Making sure to be in tune with your limits is one of the most essential things you can do when you want to take massive road trips like I do. It may take a while to really know your limits, but once you do, you can avoid dangerous situations on the road and also make your trip more enjoyable!

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