Whether you’re traveling one hour or twelve hours, learning how to pass time on a long car ride can help you keep your sanity. Whether you have kids or not, it can be really boring hanging out in the car waiting to get to your destination.
We understand that it’s frustrating to be on a long car ride—or long RV ride. When you’re on a road trip, you want to enjoy the journey and not just the destination. Continue reading this article, and I’ll share some great tips that helped our family of six get through some really long car rides and some I’ll add to the next time we’re on long car rides with the family.
1. Read Books
Bring along a few books to read if you don’t get car sick. I used to read books in the car when I was a kid all of the time, but now I get sick when I try to look down at a book for even a little while.
You can read physical books on the car ride, or you can read ebooks on an e-reader, your tablet, or even your phone.
Reading books allows you to go to another world, and hopefully, when you look up, you’re much closer to your destination.
Here are some resources to help you find the perfect book for your long car ride.
2. Listen to Podcasts
If you’re like me and find it difficult to look down to read during a long car ride, then podcasts can be a lifesaver. Most of my favorites are personal development, but I’m also learning Spanish, so listening to a podcast that helps me learn Spanish is also a good option for me.
Before you hop in the car, create a list of podcasts that might interest you. If you can’t look down too long without getting car sick, you don’t want to stare at your phone searching for the perfect podcast.
Here are some resources to help you find the perfect podcast for your journey.
3. Listen to an Audiobook
On long road trips, a good audiobook can pass the time in the most enjoyable manner. Since I can’t read in the car, this is a great way for me to get my book fix and make the time fly by.
I listen to anything from personal development to romance, and it definitely makes things easier when we visit family or go on a vacation.
Here are some resources to help you find the perfect audiobook for your long drive.
4. Catch Up on Sleep
Did you know that 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep?
There’s no better time than when you’re stuck on a long car ride to grab some extra zzz. Sleep allows your body to recharge, and when you get to your destination, you can use all that extra energy.
A power nap is your friend.
5. Watch a Movie
Do you want to enjoy some guilt-free movie time? A long car trip is a perfect time to cuddle up with your travel neck pillow and watch a movie you’ve wanted to see—or even better—re-watch one you already know you like.
Maybe check out one of these when you’re thinking of watching movies:
6. Eat Healthy Snacks
When you’re on a car trip that seems like it will never end, one of the best things you can do is break out the healthy snacks. You won’t put a bunch of extra weight on your hips, but you’ll keep yourself busy while you eat healthy snacks.
Check out this list of healthy snacks for your next road trip.
7. The License Plate Game
You can play the license plate game alone or with other passengers. The goal is to see who can spot as many different license plates as possible in a certain time period, and it is a great way to pass the time while you’re driving.
8. I Spy
Hey. Not everyone thinks about playing I spy—even if you did when you were a kid.
To play I spy, you “spy” something, and everyone else has to guess what it is you spy. They have to ask questions about it to figure out what it is.
Kids love to play this game—especially younger kids.
9. Learn a Language
Have you meant to learn a new language? Spanish maybe? Or French?
Riding on a long car trip is the perfect time to increase your ability to communicate with other people. Plus, it will totally impress your friends that you know how to speak more than one language.
You can take a course, listen to a podcast, or simply find friends that speak the language and get them to help you out.
10. Catch Up with Someone
It’s easy to lose track of people in our lives, and before we know it, it’s been a year since we’ve talked to some of our favorite friends. We used to have fun together, but now we’re on a long road trip, and they’re not there.
Call up the person you’re thinking about and talk to them for a while. You might be surprised at all of the things you and your pal haven’t told each other since the last talk you had. If you’re the one sitting driving, there isn’t much else you can do but talk, so why not use that time to reconnect with someone important?
11. Car Karaoke
Listening to your favorite songs in the car is fun, but if you really want to have fun, then draw your family into some car karaoke. Play the music loud and have each person in the family pick a song to show off their singing skills.
After some solos, it’s even more fun when everyone in the family belts out the tune together. Kids always think it is funny when people go off-key and out of tune. Sacrifice your pride for the kids, and it’s a great way to pass the time and keep them from asking, “are we there yet?”
12. Play Cell Phone Games
When you’re on your long journey, you might not want to break out your cellphone, but it’s one of the best ways to pass time. There are so many different games, so there is something fun for everyone. If you want to limit screen time and have people interact with fellow passengers, try playing games that are interactive.
You can check out these 10 free mobile road trip games.
13. Listen to Stand Up Comedy
Even if you’re too tired to play games, listen to audiobooks or read books, listening to stand-up comedy can get everyone from the back seat to the front to laugh along. Keep in mind that there are some very inappropriate comedy shows to listen to, so make sure a child isn’t listening if it’s mature humor.
Comedy can keep you alert while you’re driving as well as in a good mood for when your long journeys are over.
14. Bring a Friend
Bringing other kids outside your family on your next trip might seem like a lot of extra work. The thing is that when you’re on a long drive, it’s a great idea to bring a friend to keep them entertained. Even if they have a younger sister or brother, that doesn’t mean they have a playmate they want to hang out with.
Kids will think the trip is so much fun instead of groaning about how long it will take the car trip to get over with.
15. Play Mad Libs
Speaking of laughing and having fun, mad libs is super funny when you’re looking for a car game to play. When it comes to fun ideas, your kids will love this and probably won’t want to stop playing it.
You can get an actual book for the game and just fill in the blanks, or you can make up your own stuff which often is even funnier.
When you’re on a long trip, this is a great thing to reduce the amount of screen time your kids have, and they won’t complain because it’s one of the fun activities most kids enjoy.
16. Play 20 Questions
With 20 questions, you get to ask 20 things about a person or object and try to figure out what it is. Here are some good questions you can use if you’re really serious about winning the game.
17. Play Travel Versions of Popular Games
There are a lot of great games that have travel versions for long car rides. If you plan on having many road trips, you can have a travel game survival kit that you take with you anytime you’re going on a long car ride.
18. Window Decoration Fun
You wouldn’t normally let kids draw on the windows or put anything on the windows, but when you’re going on a road trip, why not? They’re going to be on a long car ride, and it would be neat to look over and see their own creation on the window.
You can let them put window decals or even draw with washable markers. If you’re passing by a person having a bad day—it might even make them smile.
19. Tell Stories
Telling your child a short story about your past, something cool happening in the world, or some fun facts is a good way to get their mind off the long car ride.
You could also ask them to tell you a story as well. You might be a little surprised at how creative they can be.
If you're ready to hit the road and see some amazing national parks in the US and Canada, then check out this book.
It would be hard to run out of things to do with over 5,000 ideas. You're bound to find something close enough to you and also inspire some longer road trips.
20. Add to and Organize Your Recipe Box
Everyone loves food, and great ideas come to us when we’re on the road. Okay, maybe we had some help with our mobile device, but still.
Going through and throwing out recipe failures and putting in tasty new recipes is one of the great ways to pass the hours as you’re whirring down the highway.
21. Find a New Music Playlist
Are you tired of listening to the same music over and over again on the car ride? You can use this time in the car to find or create a new playlist of tunes that make you want to sing and dance. After all, that’s what a road trip is all about, isn’t it?
Whether you use YouTube Music, Spotify, or another service, a long car ride is much more bearable when you have fresh music to enjoy.
22. Edit Photos
Do you edit photos, or have you wanted to try your hand at it? Making your photo look Insta-worthy is pretty easy these days with all the different apps. Give some a try and see which ones give you the best results.
23. Organize Emails
If your inbox is a nightmare, organizing emails is one of the productive things you can do while in the car.
Get your folders under control, empty spam, and see if you can reach inbox 0.
24. Plan a Workout
You’re sitting in the car eating snacks, and it’s likely you’re thinking about the increased calorie count and the decreased amount of activity happening.
Planning a workout can help you with any guilt you might feel from your extra-long lounge time.
If you want to be super zen when you reach your destination, a little meditation can do the trick. There are apps like Headspace that can guide you through different types of meditation and allow you to breathe deeply and relax.
26. Take a Course
There are lots of courses available online, no matter what it is you’re interested in learning. Whether it’s for a hobby or you want to take classes to get a pay increase, you can find something interesting.
Many courses aren’t very long, and you might even be able to finish it before you reach where you’re going. However, many courses will take a lot longer.
27. Write a Travel Journal
If you are one of the people able to write while you’re riding, it’s a cool idea to keep a travel journal. You can even do little doodles in it to show the things you most want to remember.
28. Follow Along with the Map
Yes, of course, there is GPS to plot out your journey, but there’s something about having a map to your destination. Print out a map to have in the car, so everyone can trace their fingers along the route.
29. Read Aloud
If you can read in the car, why not let everyone else in on the fun? Read aloud and make sure to use the voices for each of the characters. If there is a goofy character, that’s the most fun—especially if you have kids.
30. Brainstorm Goals with Your Partner
If you’re going to be next to your partner in the car for hours on end, you might as well use the long car ride to plan out your next goals in life. It is a lot of fun to dream up different things you could do together.
When you do this goal brainstorming, it’s fine to dream, but you want to find some goals you can work at and reach within the next 18-24 months. You can come up with a lot of great goals on a long car ride, but you want to make sure some attainable goals are thrown in there.
This cool resource for setting goals with your spouse could be helpful.
31. Plan Out Holiday Gifts
When you’re on a road trip, you will see a lot of billboards with interesting ads. Use that inspiration to figure out holiday gifts for your loved ones.
32. Meal Plan
If you can cook where you’re going on this long car ride, it will save lots of money, so you can plan another road trip with the extra cash.
Meal planning on the long car ride also gives you that much less to do once you arrive at the place you’re going to.
33. Optimize Your Phone Screen
If your phone screen is a mess, using your road trip car time to fix it up will make your life easier when you’re back to the “real world.”
Put folders on your home screen and make it simple to figure out what is where. You can save hours each year if you organize your phone’s home screen.
34. Look Up Towns You Drive By
You likely pass a lot of cool places on your car ride. Instead of just passing them by, you can do a quick search on the towns you pass by and see what interesting things might have happened there.
You might even find some fun things you want to check out when you drive back through. This is a fun way to find fun things to enjoy in the future, and as long as you have phone service, it’s quick and easy.
35. Do Crossword Puzzles & Word Searches
You can keep yourself busy with crossword puzzles or word searches you grabbed at the grocery store impulse by aisle. As long as you don’t get car sick, it could take hours to find all of those puzzles.
36. Activity Books
Younger children love activity books, and even adults are getting in on them—or at least coloring books. Keep your minds busy by doing some simple activities.
37. Play with Toys
Bring some interactive or imaginary toys along and let their imagination soar while you’re making your trek to wherever you’re going. Even adults enjoy certain toys like those pop-it toys that can be really relaxing.
Road Trip Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Should I make my entire road trip in one day?
Answer: If you’ve got a good groove going, keep at it. However, if everyone is tired, it might be good to take a break in the middle of a very long trip.
Question: Should I plan out little stops on the way to our main destination?
Answer: Having mini stops planned can keep everyone in good spirits.
How to Pass Time on a Long Car Ride – Wrapping It Up
Now you have some great things to do the next time you take a road trip. If you want to learn more about RV life and especially about RVing with kids, make sure to check out my article about RVing with kids.