Best Essential Oils for a Long Drive

Do your drives to work and home always involve peak-hour traffic, angry honking or being stuck in a jam? Or are you someone who is fond of long road trips when you’re on vacation?

In any case, if you, like millions of other people, spend a lot of time in the car, you’ll understand that fatigue, irritation and road rage are all part and parcel of driving. Throw in a couple of restless kids in the backseat and the frustration level immediately increases tenfold.

While music and activities are excellent ways to help calm the frazzled nerves of both parent and child, one thing you may not have considered is adding essential oils to your drives. We are not talking about the dollar-store artificial fragrances that you can plug into air-conditioning vents. What we are referring to is a kind of in-car aromatherapy, so to speak, using pure essential oils to engage your senses and bring about positive physiological changes, both emotional and physical.


Aromatherapy for the Road

Essentials oils each have different effects. Some soothe and calm, some energise and revive you. When you are in a car, you’ll want to use essential oils that calm but won’t put you to sleep. So while oils such as lavender and chamomile are excellent choices at bedtime or at a relaxation spa, these can make you drowsy and sleepy, which isn’t how you want to be when you are behind the wheel.

You also want oils that stimulate, but not agitate. So an oil like eucalyptus may be invigorating and cleansing, but it can also be so powerful to unsettle you, potentially causing you to be triggered by others’ appalling driving. The best oils for driving should improve focus and concentration, keep you alert and allow you to react quickly to unexpected traffic conditions in a calm and assured manner. It will also ensure that you arrive at your destination feeling and looking radiant, rested and raring to go.


Diffusing Oils in the Car: Safety First!

Use 100 per cent pure essential oils in order to get the best results. One easy way to perfume your car is to simply add a couple of drops of essential oil onto a cotton pad or tissue and lay it on the dashboard. The warmth emitting from the engine will help the scent to permeate the confines of the car.

You can also create your own hanging felt diffuser for your vehicle. All you need is a piece of felt and some twine. Punch a hole at the edge of the felt and string the twine through it. Add two to three drops of your oil of choice and voila! It’s done. If you have kids, this is a fun project that they can help you with. They can feel free to get creative with shapes and designs!

Note. Oils can be powerful, so when you are diffusing essential oils in the car (or any small, confined spaces), always remember that less is more. Also, take care with essential oils if you are pregnant, have a pregnant lady or children in the car, as not all oils may be safe or smell agreeable. Do your research and due diligence!


Essential Oils: Top Picks for the Drive

So, what are the best oils for your time on the road? Below is a list of refreshing scents that you can try.


Basil’s herbal notes help to alleviate mental fatigue and stimulate the brain, keeping you awake and alert. It can also improve your mood if you’re feeling low and help you stay calm in irritating traffic conditions.


This is a great scent to capture the spirit of the holiday season (or extend those positive feelings you get from the year-end festivities). Cinnamon oil has sweet as well as spicy notes, which will help to improve your concentration. The oil can also help if you are experiencing headaches and tiredness after driving for extended periods of time, improving blood flow by dilating the blood vessels.


This is a major boon for coffee connoisseurs. Coffee essential oil has the same fragrant aroma of roasted coffee beans that you experience as you step into a cafe. A whiff of it can quickly eliminate fatigue and help you to focus on the road. As for those who are prone to car-sickness, the oil’s scent may also be able to help prevent motion sickness. Other good options include ginger and peppermint essential oils. The latter is a pretty powerful scent so you’ll definitely want to use less of it.


This bracing citrus scent is a great mood and energy booster. It’s an oil that can both soothe and allow you to stay alert at the same time. It can help lessen headaches as well. An excellent option if you’re expecting a long drive.

Sweet Orange

Sweet orange, like grapefruit oil, is another uplifting citrus alternative when it comes to your mental state. It can help to lift you out of fatigue and enables you to keep trying traffic situations in perspective. So if you’re expecting to be stuck in traffic, you may want to diffuse some of this oil. Lemon essential oil is one other scent you can try.


Great for chasing away mozzies, lemongrass is a handy oil to have on any vacation, much less a road trip. It’s a relatively mild scent that can help you stay alert but not so strong that it will agitate the kids. Lemongrass also serves as a great car deodorant, should anyone in the car have any unpleasant accidents that involve spills and throw-up.