When Mandy and I go on our trips, we usually spend several hours taking apart our house to look for things to keep our attention when we’re not driving. You should keep in mind that on a twenty-hour road trip, chances are that the things you’ve brought to stave off boredom may just as well start boring you again when you’re doing it for ten hours straight.
Much like raising kids (or from what I’ve seen of them being raised), keeping occupied during a road trip is mostly about the art of distraction. Especially during that boring stretch of I-10.
That’s all of I-10. All of I-10 is boring. There, I said it.
Anyways, the art of distraction plays an important role in any road trip. You’ll want to bring enough supplies to split your attention between them for a while, but not enough to where your trip is going to be overly-cumbersome.
I find bringing something that personally engages you, like something to write on or with, helps a lot. Something that you can create with your hands, like knitting or writing, can help your hands be actively occupied with something rather than just turning the page occasionally. I would say hand-held game systems work too, and they do in moderation, but to me, I can’t focus on the screen for long in a moving car without feeling gross.
Besides packing your bags, packing any multi-media tools you’re bringing with you will prove just as important. Listening to some podcasts that interest you, or stand up comedy, or even just music to keep you awake and alert will help keep you busy and moving.
Just make sure you check with the driver if you can change the music. It’s their radio when they’re in the seat.
Remember to pack intelligently, in a way that won’t hinder your progress by bringing the whole house with you. Bringing something to keep your hands occupied as well as your mind will help those exceptionally long passages of time.
Ideas for Keeping Occupied:
- Podcasts: We find that podcasts allow us to catch up on news and our hobbies and interests, all without distracting from the road and scenery. Fill up your phone with a bunch to listen to (or your iPod if you still have one of those things separate from your phone).
- Books / Nooks / Kindles: If you can handle reading while someone else is driving without feeling sick, this is a great way to get through some of those books you’ve been putting off. We find that our Nooks are better travel companions than real books due to weight and bulk of the types of books we like to read, but the downside is they need to be charged (which is usually fine if you buy a USB charger for your car).
- Notebooks for Writing and Sketching: The road may be bumpy, but hey, it can add to the charm of your writing and/or sketching. You may also use a laptop for writing instead, since it’s easier to type on a bumpy road than write.
- Music: Depending on where you’re driving, you may not get a radio signal. Along with those podcasts, make sure you bring along lots of music to listen to. We find it helps calm us down as the feeling of not getting phone or radio signal somewhere creeps us out… a lot.
- Crafts: If you’re a crafter, bring your craft along! According to Mandy, knitting and crocheting is pretty easy in the car, while cross stitch and embroidery are a little more difficult (though not impossible). Don’t bring too much though. You may end up traveling with more projects than you can even work on.
In the end, it really comes down to getting comfortable with the idea of taking the extra time to give yourself a road trip rather than flying. You’re opting to take it slow, so enjoy yourself. You don’t want to be over encumbered on the trip, but you don’t want to be so totally distracted that you miss the rest of the world rolling by.