Coffee for Long Road Trips; The Only Option?
It's a New Malaysia, they say.
Old or new, most Malaysians still spend certain periods of their year planning long road trips back to their hometowns. While some may choose flying or taking the bus, many still have to spend long hours driving themselves back on their own.
Often, the advice is to get plenty of rest and to drink coffee.
People often see coffee as something that helps keep drivers awake and alert. This assumption is so common that even petrol stations and highway operators use in their marketing campaigns. Remember how they always offer free coffee around festive seasons?
But how many of us have thought about this assumption? Is coffee really the best option for everyone? Does it really keep you awake and alert? Let's discuss this a little bit.
Coffee is a wonderful drink isn't it? The moment it enters your body, the caffeine in it gets to work, but perhaps not in the way you think it does. Contrary to popular belief, caffeine doesn't actually supply you with you energy. Instead, it helps to stop your body from getting tired. Your body reacts by producing adrenaline which makes your heart pump harder making you feel more awake and alert.
After a few hours, its effects start to wear off and that's when some people start to feel the 'crash'. Their energy levels dip much lower than before, and their ability to concentrate is negatively affected.
Heavy caffeine drinkers, however, might drink coffee because they love the way it tastes even if there is minimal effect. Heavy coffee drinkers are so used to the effects of caffeine that it actually has no effect when consumed during a long driving session.
So what are the alternatives?
Coffee doesn't directly provide energy, as mentioned above. So the first thing you might be thinking is "What about energy drinks, then? That's exactly what they do!". You're right, so let's take a closer look.
Common energy drinks tend to have high levels of caffeine as a common ingredient. Manufacturers add other ingredients like Guarana and Taurine to the mix, and also a lot of sugar to enhance the taste.
All these ingredients have the same effects: they make you feel alert for awhile, then they start to wear off. When they do, they leave you feeling even drowsier than before! Something that might not be so good if you're the driver on a long road trip.
So what is the best thing to drink while on a long road trip in order, both to keep awake and also to keep you from being thirsty?
The answer might surprise you.
Water is the most important fluid we should be consuming. Staying hydrated, especially in our hot Malaysian weather driving down those hot highways, is the best thing you can do. Staying hydrated helps our bodies work optimally, which helps us stay alert and effective, especially when we need to react quickly in risky driving conditions.
This might not sound like an exciting option, but nobody said you have to consume boring old plain mineral water! Plain soda water and sparkling water (sometimes with flavours) are also readily available at most petrol stations. Or you could be like those who take it a step further and make their own waters at home, infused with all sorts of flavours!
Look around online for recipes! There's no limit to what flavours you can infuse with your water to take it on your long drives. The best part is that you'll stay refreshed without having to depend on caffeine or other stimulants!
The only 'challenge', however, might be that you'd have to stop more frequently to use the bathroom!