Any advice on staying awake for the drive?


Mommy also to Daniel and Lauren
Jul 29, 2001
We're leaving Saturday night from NY for WDW. Our plan is to leave at around 8 pm so my 1 yo son can sleep. We're planning on driving throught the night to get in a good 10 hours or so before he wakes up. I've never done this before though and am so worried about falling asleep at the wheel or something. I was planning on staying up really late Friday night, getting up really early Saturday morning, and taking a long nap that afternoon before the trip to refresh me. I've heard of this backfiring though. Any experiences? Or will I just be so excited I could stay up?

Oh sorry - meant to post this on a different board. Can a moderator move it to a board they think I'll get good response? Thanks.
I'd try a day or two before to get yourself on a late night schedule.

But if you get tired - you're going to have to stop. It's really dangerous to keep driving while you're tired.

Books on tape from the library are what works for us! We get one or two LONG unabridged books for our 12 hour trip. It seems to make the time fly. Also - a good way to catch up on your reading - and it's free too!

I'll be picking up my books on tape tomorrow morning for our trip down on Friday!
Coffee...lots of coffee! :D
We drove straight through (from MA) from 3:20 PM until 3:00PM the next day. DH did most of the driving stopping to get a cup of coffee ever couple hours through the night. Then around 5:00am, I took over driving(not that I had slept that much either). DH got a quick cat nap, just to recharge, then he went back to driving after breakfast. If you have someone who you can switch off with, that would really help. If not, I would suggest trying to take a nap before leaving. Good Luck!
I drove down from MA. a few years ago with my DW,DD at age 2 ,& DS at age 4 . My DW and I swapped a couple of times driving but for the most put I did most of the driving. We had scheduled a couple of days to get there, but, I was, like you said, too excited to sleep. We actually got there a whole day early. Sleeping was even an option for me.

As for the ride home...... I was horrible, no excitment. Had to constantly ask my wife to drive.

Good Luck

I don't mean to put a damper on your plans, but my cousin was killed this summer after she fell asleep at the wheel coming back from the ocean (a 3 hour trip). Bring lots of o's, drive in the day and check into a hotel when you are tired. Another option is the auto train in virginia. We live in MD and may do that ourselves. That would be something like 7 hours away for you?
Pace yourself, and take turns driving and sleeping. Stop at least every 3-4 hours whether you feel that you need to or not. Play the alphabet game, and listen to upbeat music. We usually take our Disney CD's to get us in the mood. Too much coffee can make you jittery, and have to go to the bathroom, so watch the coffee intake. Stop in VA to sleep---it is a 12 hour drive to WDW from that point. If you can get to Emporia the 1st night, there are some decent motels where you can check in and sleep a few hours. Another option, if you are taking turns, is to stop in Florence SC, and sleep, and go the rest of the way the next day. From there the drive is about 7-8 hours. Believe me, take your time, and get plenty of rest, WDW will be there when you get there, and if you aren't already tired from the drive, you will enjoy it all the more. We all know how exciting it is to be going to WDW, but we want you to get there to enjoy it!

Have fun, and be safe:)
I am so sorry to hear about your cousin, Angie... :(

My husband and I have driven through the night many times on previous trips. We have it down to a science. It takes about 24 hours so we like to leave in the morning so that we can arrive in Orlando the following morning. We switch on & off during the day, no problem. When it becomes evening, I take over (while my DH gets comfy) & I drive until about midnight (that's about as late as I can responsibly manage). He can usually sleep from about 9:00-midnight and then he is super-charged to take over. I repeat what another poster said - get a really really good audiotape to listen to through the night. It really helps!! The tapes plus a caffeine pill called Vivarin(my husband doesn't drink coffee) works like a charm. I usually take over around 5:00 a.m. or so, though my husband always insists he can keep going. And then he will sleep in the morning on & off until we arrive in Orlando :) We arrive somewhat refreshed & rested since we've both slept and have gotten at least 4-5 hours of sleep.

We drive through the night to and from WDW several times a year. Ditto pretty much what everyone else has said. Books on tape are like a miracle! They do wonders to keep us awake and refreshed. Cracker Barrel restaurants have a system where you can basically buy a book on tape and return it at any other Cracker Barrel in the country for a refund minus a small rental fee. They have a great selection and you can find a Cracker Barrel in just about every town these days.

My DH and I take turns sleeping and driving and try to drive no more than 3 hours at a time. When we switch drivers, whoever is driving next gets out and stretches their legs and walks a bit before getting behind the wheel again, and gets a drink and munchies.

By the time we get there the next morning (it's a 17 hour drive for us), we've each had about 6 hours of sleep and are ready to hit the parks. With 2 young kids, we find this soooo much easier than driving during the day. They sleep through the car trip, so they don't get bored and fussy! Plus, you don't have to deal with trafffic. :D
I only do this when I have to because driving barefoot in some states is illegal. When I feel myself getting really tired, I will take my left shoe off. Then, when I feel myself getting sleepy again I take the other one off. The increased blood circulation in your feet wakes your body up. Again, I urge you to check state laws.

Dress lightly, and try to keep the car a little cooler than you normally do. A warm environment makes your body relax more.
Books on tape are great. Humor titles are my favorites, especially if I'm the only one awake.
(Laughing helps. Beware of tearjerkers; you don't want to be crying behind the wheel.)
One caution about using these in hot climates: tapes are vulnerable to heat, so it is best to store them in a little insulated cooler bag when you are not actually using them.

Don't drive without sunglasses in the daytime. Glare causes eyestrain, and you don't want that.

Do not eat heavy meals while on the road, and it's best not to eat too early, either, because then the night will seem longer. I always try stay away from fried foods, and also heavy starches such as pancakes. Think of it as the apres-Thanksgiving dinner effect. (Oh, turkey sandwiches are not an especially good idea; either, turkey makes you sleepy.)

If you are now on the shady side of 30 and you have not tried overnight driving lately, do not assume that you can still handle extensive night driving as well as you did in college. You probably can't.

If you wear contact lenses, use your spare glasses for the drive, or take your lenses out when you are riding as a passenger. It is harder for your eyes to focus in the dark, especially
when there are lights flashing by; contacts will often dry out and give you halo vision, which is exhausting and just plain dangerous. (For the same reason, point the vents away from your face, and keep wetting drops near at hand.)

Don't forget your pillow. If your car does not have driver-side lumbar support, put a small pillow behind the small of your back. When sleeping as a passenger, a pillow dampens the vibration, making it less likely that you will wake up with a headache.

Don't forget your drugs. Caffeine is fine if it's not a problem for you, but don't forget real drugs like headache, sinus, and upset stomach medicines, and keep them where you can reach them; night driving with a splitting headache is hell.

Don't get too cozy. Keep the ambient temperature a bit cool, though not cool enough to give you chills. As a last resort, drive with the window wide open (don't depend on this to get you further than the next exit, however.) Bring a blanket for the passengers so they stay warm.

Most important of all, don't obsess on making good time. Stop frequently whether you think you need to or not, and if staying awake becomes a struggle, give up! The best stops are places where you can get on your feet for awhile and get a little exercise. One thing we find helpful is walking laps at 24-hr Walmarts or Targets. (Just go around the perimeter of the store a couple of times; the walk will help re-energize you, and it's a safe, lighted place.)


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