On a long road trip, you might find your eyes glazing over at the endless stretch of road ahead of you. It’s enough to keep yourself occupied, let alone make sure your travel companions (including young children) are entertained.
Here are a few low-budget ideas for in-the-car fun, no matter what your age:
Books. Before your trip, make a stop at your local library and load up on some light reading. Don’t overlook magazines and audio books. Particularly if your fellow travelers all appreciate the same style of books as you, you can all listen along and become engrossed in the plot, almost dreading the next pit stop.
TV and movies. It’s easier than ever to bring along TV shows and movies on your phone or tablet. Wi-Fi availability can be unpredictable while on the road, so download a few of your favorites before you take off. You can always download new ones at your next stop.
Podcasts. Before your trip, download a few podcasts on your cell phone or tablet. There are a variety of podcasts available from National Public Radio or independent producers covering nearly every topic, from humorous to informative. Plug your phone into your car’s sound system and enjoy the ride.
Create some memories. Bring along a blank scrapbook and tuck in photos, ticket stubs, and funny or interesting observations along the way.
Travel games. There are several travel editions of games available, such as Scrabble, Yahtzee, and more. But you can also have fun with free games. Games like License Plate Bingo and Twenty Questions are throwbacks to the days before everyone had easy access to music and movies at their fingertips, and they can be just as fun and engaging as ever.
Road Trip Roulette. My friend Jeremy plays a game to help him discover previously unknown destinations. And all you need is a coin and a spirit of adventure. Drive out to an area with which you’re not already familiar. When the spirit moves you, ask your passenger to flip the coin for an approaching exit. Heads means you keep going; tails means you exit.
As you enter onto new highways or side streets, again flip the coin to determine your turns and your stops. See where you end up. You can add on your own rules as you go along. You might base your turn-by-turn decisions on other equally “random” factors, such as seeing a license plate from a particular state, or the color of a car passing by, etc.
When it is time to stop, do something fun to break up the trip. Consider taking a break at an unusual roadside attraction—and take turns letting everyone in the car decide on restaurants or other pit stops. Don’t forget to stretch!
Guest blogger Cynthia J. Drake is the author of the forthcoming book, Budget Travel for the Genius, which comes out in January and is available for preorder. Follow her Facebook page, Budget Travel Genius.