When I’m taking a road trip with the family, my primary concern is keeping my kids amused.
But there are times when I take roadtrips on my own and I find that I’m just as easily bored in the car as my four year old. I don’t mind traveling alone once I get to my destination, but spending hours in the car in order to get there can be torture for someone with my attention span. Playing travel games is frowned upon by most law enforcement agencies, and tic tac toe is not much fun with one player anyway.
So what do I do to entertain myself when I’m driving alone for hours?
5 Things To Do On A Road Trip Alone
1. Listen to audio books.
My parents called them “books on tape”, but I haven’t driven a car with a cassette player since high school. Now I download audiobooks to my iPod and use the long hours of silence in the car to catch up on reading I never find time for at home. If you don’t have an mp3 player that works well in the car, you can get audiobooks on CD as well.
(Editorial note here – I highly recommend Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father. Regardless of your personal politics, there’s something highly entertaining about driving down a highway and listening to the now president of a major superpower use the F word. Repeatedly.)
2. Sing. Loudly.
I always make sure I am heavily armed with music before I head out for a long road trip. I organize the playlists on my iPod and fill the middle console of my car with CDs. I dig out the soundtracks to my favorite Disney movies and old broadway musicals. I prepare for every possible musical mood I may encounter on my drive with a selection that covers classic rock and 80′s bubble gum pop.
And when I’m just far enough down my street that I am positive my family won’t hear me, I turn the volume on the radio up as loud as I can stand it. Now, I can’t do this for hours on end. But I can usually amuse the heck out of myself for a good 45 minutes at a time with some spirited car karaoke.
3. Work on writing that book. Or article. Or grocery list.
No, I’m not advocating that you try to use a pen and paper while driving. But if you find yourself alone in the car a lot, I highly recommend you look into picking up a digital voice recorder. I get some of my best ideas when I’m driving, and for years I wished that I had a way to remember all of those ideas later when I got home. Then my husband picked me up a recorder for Christmas one year and it’s been a road trip necessity ever since.
In fact, I recorded this post on a recent drive to Tampa. (I’ll thank you not to comment on whether it qualifies as one of my “best ideas”.)
4. Call your grandmother. Or your dad. Or your old college roommate.
How many times do you find yourself telling loved ones “Oh, we should keep in touch more” and making excuses for your busy lives? A roadtrip alone is a great time to make that long overdue phone call.
Of course you definitely need to invest in a hands free device (most cell phones come with a headset at the very least) – it’s not only safe, but the only legal way to use a cell phone in many states. I also don’t recommend this (or any other distraction) for rush hour traffic in an unfamiliar city. But when you’re face to face with miles and miles of open highway and nothing else to do, you’ve got the perfect opportunity for a long chat while you drive.
5. Enjoy doing nothing.
Last weekend I spent 90 minutes in the car by myself doing nothing. I didn’t even have the radio on as a distraction. It was fantastic.
We spend so much of our lives trying to juggle and multi-task and get more done. Sometimes the best thing we can do is seize the opportunity to shut everything off and enjoy being alone with our thoughts – without worrying about recording them for later use.