What Are The 7 Best Road Trip Activities To Bust Boredom?

Taking a road trip with your kids, family, or friends is great – once you arrive at your destination. All that boring time spent driving in the car can make you regret the decision to load up the family van and drive halfway across the country. To help take some of the stress out of your next spring break or holiday getaway, we put together some of the best things to do on a road trip. Have no fear, these boredom-busting activities are sure to help put some happiness and fun back into your family road trips, or at least make them bearable for everyone to enjoy until you reach the destination and the real fun begins.

Speaking of taking road trips, a recent survey found that 67 percent of Americans prefer spontaneous road trips over planned road trips. Why not liven up the driving portion of the trip and make it one of the highlights of your next summer vacation? Which activities do travelers recommend to help liven up your road trips? StudyFinds did some digging, consulting 10 tourism and travel websites to bring you some of the best things to do on a road trip. Our list comprises the seven most frequently listed activities from across these sites. Do you know of some creative and fun activities to help pass the time on a road trip? Feel free to share them with everyone in the comments section below!

The List: Best Things to do on a Road Trip, According to Travelers

1. Listen to Podcasts

The list of the best things to do on a road trip starts with enjoying your favorite podcasts or discovering new podcasts. There are millions of podcasts out there, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. Of course, you’ll want these to be age-appropriate for your younger travel companions, but there are lots of fun podcasts that you and your family can enjoy together. There’s no better time to catch up on your favorite podcasts than during a long road trip, notes SIXT.

"Listen To A Podcast" spelled out with Scrabble letters.
“Listen To A Podcast” spelled out with Scrabble letters (Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels)

If you need some suggestions for podcasts, a quick search will reveal hundreds of podcasts in your desired niche. As PureWow says, podcasts are a great way to keep your group entertained as you blast down the road toward your destination. From the hilarious to the educational, there’s a podcast out there that will keep you laughing, learning, or engaged.

Downloading a few episodes of your favorite podcasts ahead of time will save you from the headache associated with blind spots or dead spots along your journey, adds Camplify. You’re sure to find funny, entertaining, or educational podcasts that you and your passengers will love. A good podcast can also help stimulate conversation, keeping you and your passengers engaged and alert during the driving portion of your trip.

2. Audiobooks

The next activity to keep you entertained on a road trip is listening to an audiobook. Listening to an audiobook is one of the best ways to keep yourself entertained on those long, solo road trips, writes Live a Wilder Life. If you’re planning to travel alone, listening to an an audiobook will help those hours pass seamlessly.

man driving a car wearing wrist watch
A man driving (Photo by why kei on Unsplash)

Depending on the length of your drive, an audiobook will burn many hours of driving time, explains Here Here. A great way to choose the perfect audiobook is to match the book with your destination. For example, if you’re heading to a National Park, listen to an adventure book set in the area. If you’re traveling to the beach or the coastal regions of America, listen to an audiobook about pirates or sailing, and so on. If you have a favorite book you’d like to introduce your kids to, then a road trip is the perfect time to break out the classics and engage your children.

Matching the audiobook with your destination is a great way to get your group excited about your vacation and stimulate your brains in the process. Since a lot of people feel nauseous when reading books in the car, an audiobook is a great way to keep your trip educational and entertaining without risking an accident, explains Love Panky. Whether you’re traveling alone or with others, chances are you can find a great audiobook that everyone will enjoy. Be sure to download the book ahead of time so your story time isn’t impacted by dead zones along the way.

3. Play a Travel Game (i.e. 20 Questions, License Plate Game, ABC Game)

Gaming into the third spot on the list of the best things to do on road trips is travel games. Playing a travel game is a great way to stimulate your passengers and help pass the time as you cruise down the interstate on your way to a fun destination. There are all sorts of fun travel games you can play with your kids and family such as 20 Questions, the License Plate Game, and the ABC Game.

assorted-color license plate lot
State license plates (Photo by Semyon Borisov on Unsplash)

First, the ABC game. This fun game is great for kids of all ages and helps stimulate their brains during the summer months away from school and learning. As iMom explains, start with a topic such as animals, begin with the letter “A” and move through the alphabet. Each family member will name an animal that begins with the letter “A” and if you want to spice things up a bit, you can have each participant list the previously mentioned animals.

Twenty Questions is another fun, stimulating travel game that helps pass the time. Start with a topic such as objects, sports, people, or celebrities, explains Live a Wilder Life. The first player will think of something in the topic’s range and the other participants get 20 questions to try and figure out what they’re thinking of. If after 20 questions no one has guessed correctly, the player wins. If someone does guess correctly, that person wins. It’s a great way to have some laughs and stimulate your kids’ social skills on a long drive.

Last, you can have a lot of fun and teach your kids about U.S. geography by playing the License Plate Game. As SIXT notes, start by creating a list of different states and have each participant cross off a state when they see that license plate on the highway. To make things a little easier, you can start by creating a list of the states around the region in which you’re traveling. For example, if you’re traveling around the southeast, create a list of states in that region. This will make it a little easier to check off all the states on your list and you can even use this opportunity to teach your kids more about U.S. geography.

4. Try Local Foods and Snacks

Friends eating snacks on a road trip
Friends eating snacks on a road trip (Photo by Olena Yakobchuk on Shutterstock)

Munching into the fourth spot on the list of best things to do on a road trip is trying local foods and snacks. Eating is one of the quintessential road trip activities, but don’t just load up on greasy fast food, enjoy some local fare and explore various regional cuisines on your way to the vacation destination. As Freedom Not Fate suggests, try and buy a few snacks you’ve never heard of before. If you stop at a rest area or an interstate gas station, you can typically find local snacks and food at these places.

Many areas around America are known for their regional cuisine and food is a great way to explore other cultures and learn more about various regions of the country, notes SIXT. But, don’t just swing through and pick something up to take with you. Stop, go inside, and sit down to eat at a local restaurant. This not only helps break up your trip, but it’s a great way to meet some locals, learn about an area, and discover fun activities you might not otherwise know about.

As Camplify suggests, you should try snacks and foods you’ve never heard of before, or at least have never tried. Trying new things on your vacation will contribute to an overall refreshing experience and help reinvigorate your zest for life – as vacations should. You never know what types of new foods you might enjoy and you can even take the experience one step further by journaling your food experiences. Create memories, try new things, and have fun, that’s what vacationing, traveling, and exploring are all about.

5. Create a Travel Journal

Speaking of logging your travel experiences, the next activity on the list of the best things to do on road trips is creating a travel journal. Travel journals are a great way to chronicle your travels and create lasting memories you can look back on later in life. While flying and air travel is stressful and costly, road trips are the perfect way to enjoy the journey. As Here Here notes, saving memories along the way is a must. Whether you take photos, videos, write blog posts, or all of the above, chronicle your trip so you and your kids can look back on the great memories you made on the road.

go pro, pen, notepad
A travel journal (Photo by freephotocc on Pixabay)

However, if reading and writing in the car make you sick (like it does a lot of people), then you can journal in between stops, explains Varied Lands. Not only will your future self thank you for preserving the memories, but it’s a fun and thrilling way to pass the time as you travel. You can start by taking pictures or videos of various roadside attractions, city signs, and rest stops and put words to them later when you’re not driving and at risk of getting car sick.

Fortunately, modern technology is geared toward documenting the “human experience,” so there are plenty of apps and software you can use to create a stellar travel journal. As Escape Camper Vans explains, creating a travel journal is a great road trip activity for the drive home from vacation when everyone’s excitement for the road has faded. Relive key moments from your vacation by sifting through pictures and videos and creating journal entries from those. If you’re feeling extra creative, you can begin putting together photo books (Google Photos is great for this) or family blog posts as you make your way home, getting those experiences documented while it’s all still fresh in your mind.

6. Learn a Language

Parsing into the sixth spot on the list of the top road trip activities is learning a new language. Of course, you probably won’t be able to learn to speak fluent French during an eight-hour road trip, but you can at least get started. If your road trip is long enough, you might be able to make decent progress and stimulate your brain in the process, notes SIXT. All you need to do is find a language learning program that fits your needs and you’re all set to hit the road and start learning.

Duolingo language learning app
Duolingo language learning app (Photo by ilgmyzin on Unsplash)

As PureWow explains, road trips are a great opportunity to enhance your kids’ knowledge as well as your own. If your kids are learning a language at school, take this opportunity to review what they’ve learned and maybe teach them a few new words so they can stay ahead of the curve. Again, there are tons of language apps and learning software available to help you get started. Download a couple of apps beforehand to see which ones might be best for you and your family.

Long road trips provide a great opportunity to learn those new things you’ve been putting off and stimulate your kids along the way. Learning a new language checks both boxes and goes a long way in bonding with your kids. If you’re planning a future trip to a different country, then it’s a great chance to learn more about that culture and how to speak the language, notes Live a Wilder Life. Plus, you’ll also start creating excitement for your next family vacation – it’s a win-win.

Check out our list of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers here! The easier the language, the more you will be able to master during your road trip.

7. Be Spontaneous

Rounding out the list of the best things to do on a road trip is being spontaneous. We get it, spontaneity is not for everyone, but many times, the best road trips are those when you just let the road take you somewhere, anywhere. Regardless of your plans or where you’re going, you can always find unique ways to be spontaneous and have fun in the process. Ditch the itinerary and make some lasting memories as you drive across the highways of America. Not sure how to be spontaneous on a road trip? Just get on the road and see what catches your eye, explains Love Panky. See an interesting attraction? Take the exit. Come across a sign for a city or town you’ve always wanted to visit? Get off the highway and cruise through. The choices are endless, and creating fun memories is inevitable.

One of California's Cabazon Dinosaurs
One of California’s Cabazon Dinosaurs (Photo by Chris Long on Unsplash)

One of the best ways to enjoy a spontaneous road trip is by ditching the directions and cruising without worry. If you aren’t on a tight schedule, or a strapped budget, abandon the GPS and see if you can travel on your directional acumen, Varied Lands suggests. Spontaneous exploring is also a great way to find new and exciting places and activities that you didn’t know existed. It’s also an excellent way to expose your kids to new places, explore different areas, and let them see and learn about the “real” America – the one that lives behind those signs on the interstate. You might have to convince them to put down the devices first, but they’ll eventually be glad they picked their heads up and came off their screens.

If you really want to get adventurous without your GPS, steer clear of the major interstates and take the backroads or old U.S. highways, recommends Camplify. Whether you need to take a detour because of a traffic jam or you and your passengers are sick of the congested, boring, and sometimes dangerous interstates, straying off your phone’s recommended path is a fun way to keep your road trips fresh and exciting plus make lasting memories with your family. Just ensure the road you’re taking is safe and you’re heading in the right direction – then hit the gas and cruise.

Here’s a tip: odd-numbered interstates and U.S. highways travel north and south while even-numbered highways travel east and west, mostly. The number of the highway predominantly dictates the direction it runs. Don’t let yourself become a GPS drone or an interstate robot. Take a deep breath, relax, get off at the next exit, and start exploring America the way it was meant.

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