9 Thirst-Busting Tips (Hint: Don't Forget The Hydration Pack)

Dogs might not sweat, but humans sure do, especially behind the wheel during the hottest days of the year.

These are the longest, hottest days: Broiling temperatures and stifling breezes and all that.

But did you know staying hydrated during gridlock can not only keep you refreshed, it can make you more alert?

Research from the United Kingdom shows dehydrated drivers can be more prone to mistakes on the road, like, hesitating to brake, drifting into another lane or rolling over a rumble strip.

“Mild dehydration has been shown to reduce concentration, slow reaction times, impair memory recall, and produce negative effects on mood," said Dr. Phil Watson of Loughborough University, who authored a study on the effects of dehydrated driving. "All of these factors can impact our ability to safely drive a motor vehicle."

Here’s tips from certified dieticians, and ergonomics experts to keep you cool, at least while in the car.

  • Start With H2O. How much water you need to drink each day varies from person to person and depends on a number of variables. However, it’s important to stay hydrated. Recent studies indicate even mild dehydration – a body water loss of 1–2% – can impair cognitive performance. That means less awareness and slower reactions behind the wheel.
  • Supplement With Fruit. While sports drinks, coffee and even soda contain water, health advocates encourage people to reach for water first. Infuse your water with fresh fruit. Fresh fruit can provide a boost of nutrients and electrolytes you’ve sweated out while behind the wheel.
  • Snacks that help keep you hydrated. Consider stocking up on foods like watermelon and cucumber. They contain almost 100 percent water by weight and are easy to share while traveling. They also provide a fun, healthy alternative to bottled water.
  • Invest in a water purification system or container. Your next family drive could end up far from the nearest grocery store. Purification containers can turn suspect water sources into clean fountains of refreshment. 
  • Bring along a hydration pack. Your driving companions may get a sudden urge to take a hike. If they do, a hydration pack can be the difference between a walk in the park and heat exhaustion.  

One way to prevent overheating is by taking some additional precautions while driving. Here are some suggestions to help make your next driving excursion more comfortable:

  • Don't forget your pets. Bring along a travel bowl and plenty of water for your furry feline and canine friends. And keep them out of direct summer light while driving or sitting outside.
  • Consider a cooling seat cushion or wooden beads. Cool gusts of air on your thighs and legs from a padded cushion plugged into your adapter can be a welcoming luxury during gridlock. These accessories typically use a number of fans that can be operated at a variety of speeds. Also, your parents were onto something with wooden beads draped over the upholstery. They’re a natural product and keep your body from sticking to the leather upholstery while providing the same or better airflow as mesh mats.
  • Make sure the air-conditioner works. You’ll know if your air-conditioner isn’t working, but sleuthing out the source of the problem can be tricky. Adding refrigerant won’t correct a problem like a leak. Ask to have your air-conditioner checked during your next multipoint inspection.
  • Spring for some cooling gel packs. These short-term solutions can keep your neck, shoulders or lower back cool for roughly 20 minutes. Just remember to pop them in the freezer the night before.