Anytime spent on the road is a good time, in my book. Road trips are my favorite way to travel, but occasionally I find myself driving a long stretch between interesting scenery. If I have nothing to keep myself entertained, I might as well pull over and sleep because I’m going to drift off from sheer boredom. So, here is a list of things to bring to keep the driver’s mind engaged and the passenger’s occupied.
1) Mix tapes. Ok, ok. I know that nobody has a cassette player anymore. The idea of a mix tape is still relevant today–now they are known as playlists and are stored on little media devices called MP3 players, phones, and tablets. Encourage everyone that is coming along on the trip to create a special “Road Trip Playlist” and take turns sharing. It’s always interesting to see what constitutes as “travel music” to different people.
2) A USB/Headphone jack cord. While we’re on the topic of music, remember to grab one of those handy little cords to plug your phone/MP3 player into your car speakers. Otherwise you’ll be stuck listening to your friend’s awesome travel mix through his phone’s tinny speakers.
3) Noise cancelling headphones. What if you have one friend with horrible taste in music? In that case, you will want to make sure to bring a pair of headphones to block out the noises your eardrums are begging you to make stop.
4) Radio Guidebook. Browsing radio stations is one of the most cited reasons for car crashes after texting and spilling food or drink on oneself. There are several guidebooks available on Amazon that list radio stations by state and city across the US. One version by Hutchings William is available in both hard copy and in ebook format.
5) Etch A Sketch. As every 90′s kid(and 80′s and 70′s!) knows, Etch A Sketches are awesome! When I was eight, I passed many hours in the back seat of my Grandma’s car with my little red Etch A Sketch. No papers to get scattered, no crayons to get lost. Trust me, drawing with an Etch A Sketch takes a lot more talent and is a lot more fun than drawing on a smartphone screen.
6) Movies. I do not advocate watching movies while driving, but the passengers can happily pass an hour or two watching a movie, if you know the best way to get movies on the road. If you have a smartphone, I recommend downloading a Redbox locator app. Redbox is great for road trips because you can rent from one location and return it to any Redbox in whatever state you end up in by the next day. There are also websites dedicated to posting the latest promotional codes so that you can get a Redbox movie free.
7) Headphone/earbud splitter. Movies are very distracting. The considerate passengers will use earbuds while watching a movie, but have you ever tried sharing a pair of earbuds with someone? The other person turns their head, and your earbud get yanked out of your ear. That, or the sound is too low for either of you to bother watching the movie at all. That’s where a splitter comes in handy. They cost only a few dollars at Walmart, and you and a friend can both plug in your earphones and watch a movie.
8) Audiobooks. Audible.com is one of Amazon’s sister companies, and with thousands of quality titles available, it is one of the best sites to purchase and download audiobooks. Audible offers a free audiobook to new customers and a three month subscription at 50% off, after which the membership goes up to its full price. However, you can get a free book and cancel your subscription at anytime so that you don’t have to pay.
9) Ebooks. Speaking of Amazon, it is also a great place to buy ebooks to be read on your phone or tablet. The Kindle app is available for Android, IOS, and Windows. There are dozens of titles available for free everyday as well. Check out this blog for Amazon’s daily offerings.
10) Neck pillow. Lastly, but certainly not least, one of the best things to do on a long road trip is sleep. If I’m not the one driving, I tend to fall asleep after more than an hour or two in a moving vehicle. Do yourself a favor and make sure that you have a good neck pillow.
So there you have it–my top ten road trip accessories to prevent boredom, insanity, and sore necks. The next time you go hop in the car, be sure to have a check list and check it twice. Otherwise, you may wind up with some very cranky friends or kids and a crick in your neck.