Have you ever looked forward to a road trip, only to be restless and bored a few hours into the journey? Realistically, you spend about as much time in the car as you do at your destination, so what a waste to be constantly thinking, “are we there yet?” Cars can be uncomfortable and traveling can make you lethargic, but with some forethought and intention, the time in the car can be pleasant.
Here are some tips to make your road trip memorable and enjoyable:
Before you leave, think about the resources that will keep your mind and body feeling good. Pack snacks that are healthy and filling, and avoid drinking liquids other than water to minimize bathroom breaks. Bring a reusable water bottle, a pillow or blanket, and chargers or aux cords. Plan car activities for days where you are on the highway and make note of where you will be near pretty scenery.
Another important thing to consider is what might make you carsick. Can you sleep or read in a car? Are you nervous driving through mountains or unpaved roads? This will inform your activities as well as your route. Assuming you are traveling with others, discuss everyone’s’ driving preferences before you leave. Some friends might prefer driving while it’s light out and others might be scared driving in cities. You can also discuss who might get carsick so that person can sit in the front seat.
Share DJ Privileges
Traveling with a group of people – especially family – can be tricky when it comes to the radio. Make sure everyone has their turn listening to their preferred music. You can even throw in a podcast or audio book. It’s also fun to listen to a certain type of music that is related to your destination, for example songs about the city, or genres that originated in that area.
Spending many uninterrupted hours in the car is a good opportunity to have meaningful discussions. Road trips can be a time to learn more about your friends. It’s also generally a safe environment to discuss existential, political, or other “controversial” topics at depth because you have the time and privacy to communicate well. You might want to consider the car as a “no phone” zone to truly be in each other’s presence.
Car games can range from “I Spy” to license plate games, and everything in between. I even played a car game recently called “cow on my side” where the goal was to see and call out more cows on your side of the car than anyone else. The freedom of vacation is a great time to just be creative and silly. Bring a journal to record funny statements or experiences as a personal souvenir from the trip.
Focus on the Journey
The beauty of traveling by car is that you see everything that is in between your destinations. Plan a couple of hours into your day to pull off to the side of the road if you see something interesting. Pay attention to road signs for landmarks like battlegrounds, national parks or celebrity childhood homes. You can even plan stops ahead of time using websites like RoadTrippers or Furkot to see landmarks on your trip.
Bringing intentionality into your road trip will ensure that it is a truly restful and memorable time. By preparing, being mindful, and taking advantage of the location and time with friends, you might even enjoy your time in the car more than your destination.