With Memorial Day and the unofficial start of summer closing in, I’d love to regale you with nostalgic memories of a long 1990s road trip when gas was less than $2 a gallon and your most likely musical entertainment was Boyz II Men, All-4-One, or anything Mariah Carey on a local FM station. But alas, I can’t.
My first road trip was a jaunt to Myrtle Beach, SC, when I was 8. It was the first time I played on a beach and splashed in the ocean. That car ride, though? Yikes. My mom’s friend drove because freeways and my mom were and still are a no-go! I had a conniption (a very real word, but most famously used by Southern belle magnolia blossoms having a fit) because my brother kept poking his finger in my face with the classic line of “I’m not touching you” while my mom half-heartedly told him to stop. He didn’t, though, for three hours. I couldn’t get out of that Virginia Slim smoke-filled car fast enough! So, you may see why I was a bit put off on road trips.
However, it’s definitely one of my favorite things to do as an adult. I decided to tackle my aversion to road trips by driving to Charleston, SC, in my 20s. With my best friend at my side and the magic of the aux cord, we set out on the road. And I’ve never looked back! I’ve gone with my best friend, my kid, a partner, and solo. And it’s always better when you have a game plan. And in some cases, a literal game plan (travel chess, anyone?).
Let’s put you in the driver’s seat and remember: the entertainment will always vary based on who is riding along!.
There’s a podcast for everyone. Like, everyone. From the stationary addicts that buy beautiful notebooks that are too lovely to write in, the mockery of the complainiest complainers, to anything true crime, there’s a podcast for you.
While you could fumble for a local music station that’ll change every time you cross a state line or fork up the cash for satellite radio, there’s a more literary option. Audiobooks! You could subscribe to an app, but you can also save money. Stop by your local library and get a card. You can download apps like Libby or Hoopla from your app store, register the card, and soon you’ll have access to thousands of titles, completely free.
3. Learn a new language
With a plethora of language learning apps, you’ll find the one that best fits your learning style. While many have subscription costs, they can eventually pay for themselves. Learning an in-demand second language? Hello, pay raise!
In The Friend Zone
1. Road trip trivia
What better way to pass the time than to one up each other on your knowledge of Greek mythology or the history of Wi-Fi? A quick search for “trivia games” in your phone’s app store will have you playing in no time.
With your sidekick opening up Spotify or another fave app, choose some classics and belt it out! A word of advice from my personal experience: If you’re more William Hung than Ricky Martin, turn the volume a little bit up so you don’t hurt your own feelings.
3. Classic conversation
You’re trapped in a vehicle with someone for hours. Why not have some great conversation? Ask questions! You can even pick a topic to discuss (or avoid!). It’s a great way to bond with your friends even more — no LTE or 5G needed.
Kid- and Family-Friendly
1. Almost anything!
From the classic state license plate game to madlibs to 20 Questions, your imagination is the limit. For the electronically inclined, kids can play video games or watch a show or movie on a tablet. I recommend earphones (for you or them) because, as a mom, I wouldn’t subject you to 5 hours of Paw Patrol without warning.
2. Interstate photography
Give the littles a Polaroid, use the camera on their tablet or phone, and view how they see the world on the road trip.
What if I’m the passenger?
If you’re a passenger, then you’re running the show. From subjecting your Halestorm-obsessed friend to a barrage of Taylor Swift classics, you’re the mighty wielder of the aux cord . You control snack distribution for a safer driver. You can opt to have a conversation, pull out an actual book and read, or even take a nap. With great power comes great responsibility, and karma has a long memory, so be kind. You could drive the next leg of the trip listening to ‘90s country until you’ve memorized the lyrics to Fancy by the illustrious Reba.
Don’t text and drive, wear your seatbelt, avoid distractions, stick to the speed limit, and stop every so often to stretch your legs. If you’re traveling solo either share or let someone know your location. I’m a mom, and it’s mandatory I say the last bit, or they won’t renew my official mom license, and I do not want to take that test again. Have fun, and enjoy the ride on the road trip of your life!
Featured image via Dominika Roseclay on Pexels
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