Your Guide to Adventure: 66 Tips for the Ultimate Summer Road Trip – Part III

Your trip is planned and the car is packed! Time for the epic road trip of 2016 to begin! Sounds like adventure awaits … but so do some very long and monotonous hours on the road. Every long road trip requires some onboard entertainment to pass the time. So for Part Three of our series, we’ve got tips for games and entertainment to keep the passengers engaged and the driver’s energy up. Whether you’re headed out to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Route 66 (see our bonus tip at the end for an event you can hit along the way!) or headed to your own summer shindig, here’s how to keep it fun.

 Part 3: Tips 25–41

  1. Make a Road Trip Playlist

road trip

You can’t always rely on perfect LTE service out on the highway, so saving a playlist to your phone via Spotify or iTunes will keep the tunes flowing even when the FM signal cuts out. Take time to choose songs that are relevant to where you’re headed, whether it be songs about the cities and states you’ll pass through, or music by artists from those places. Perhaps most importantly, a playlist for your trip will help make certain songs a part of the collective memory. Start with Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere,” and then crank up “Dust in the Wind” for the long haul across Kansas. You get the picture.

  1. Take Turns Sharing Your Favorite Music

Whether you’re traveling with family or friends, chances are you’re going to disagree about what constitutes “good music.” This is your chance to widen your appreciation of other genres. Take turns picking songs off of YouTube or Spotify. Play DJ and give 15-second explanations of why you each chose a particular song.
“On a cross-country road trip with my Dad in his 1930 Model A, we gave each other music lessons. I introduced him to mainstream contemporary pop like Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj, and he talked me through all of the references that Don McLean makes in ‘American Pie.’”   

Madeline Zappala, Photographer and Artist

  1. Discover a New Podcast


Serial helped make podcasts mainstream in the last year, but it’s just one of thousands. Tune into any of these for an escape, a laugh or a new perspective:

Radiolab: Deep, multi-angled looks into specific topics that will make you think, cry and laugh.

TED Radio Hour: All the intellectual stimulation of TED talks in an audio-only format.

Snap Judgment: Host Glynn Washington walks listeners through inspiring, quickly digestible stories.

  1. Cue Up an Audiobook

Choose an audiobook your whole crew can enjoy together in the car. It’s more engrossing than music and makes the miles float by faster. You can even make it an impromptu book club and stop the playback for a quick discussion and questions after each chapter. Download books in advance or choose them on the fly with a subscription to Audible.

Audiobooks have transformed our road trips! Originally we just bickered from the backseat (as is family tradition) but as technology evolved, everyone ended up isolated on their individual devices. Although better than the arguing, it didn’t qualify as family fun. A few summers ago, our library began offering downloadable audiobooks and now I use that driving time to introduce the kids to classic literature—books they would never choose willingly, but that I suspect they’ll like. Time flies by as we follow the story to its conclusion, and it’s a great opportunity to discuss any social issues or mature themes that may arise in the books.”

—Ashley McCann, Blogger and Mother,

  1. Read Out Loud


Got a cargo of kids in the backseat? If an audiobook won’t hold their attention, mom or dad’s voice probably will. Read out loud and pass the book around to show pictures. This tip works for grown-ups too—any book can become an audiobook on the road!

  1. Create a Rolling Cineplex

Although you’ll miss the scenery outside, sometimes it makes sense to let the kiddos—old and young—dive into a screen. If you don’t have built-in screens in your car, hang on to your old smartphones and tablets and pre-download favorite cartoons, shows and movies onto them. There’s nothing like handing each kid a private screen to break up backseat bickering.

  1. Create a Mobile Scavenger Hunt


Create the scavenger hunt list to include things you’ll see along your route, like certain gas stations, restaurants or landmarks. You can use your Garmin for a list of what you will pass along the way, and see which passengers spot them first! nüvi 57LM makes it easy to find addresses and millions of POIs (points of interest) – that is, businesses, stores, restaurants or other destinations. Our POI database also includes accurate, relevant information sourced from Foursquare. Now, when you search, the most relevant Foursquare result appears at the top of the list. It’s an easy way to discover new and popular restaurants, shops and more.

  1. Start a Drawing Game

Start with a squiggle, and see how each person can add to it to make an actual complete drawing. Save your creations for a road trip scrapbook.

  1. Play 20 Questions

Come up with your own round of 20 questions, where a person thinks of something and answers yes or no questions until the crowd can guess what it is. There is even a gadget which is amazingly accurate at guessing and winning!

  1. Play the Alphabet Game

Find letters on signs to complete the alphabet. Here’s a challenge: Don’t use license plates, and don’t use more than one letter from the same word.

  1. Do Crossword Puzzles

Have one person read the clues to complete the puzzle together out loud. For an extra challenge, split up into teams and have one team take the “down” clues while the other takes “across.”

crossword puzzles

  1. Bring Along Travel-Sized Classics

Get travel-sized versions of Connect Four, Guess Who, Bingo and Battleship. Many travel-sized games have magnetic pieces to help prevent slippage during bumpy rides.

  1. Start Up the License Plate Game

Put a time limit and see who can find the most license plates from every state in the U.S. Before you leave, make a DIY corkboard with pins for the license plates you see.

  1. Name That Tune


This is a good one for the motion-sickness prone to play in the car, as it requires no reading. Play from your playlist or the radio, and see who can name the song title, artist, or finish the lyrics after listening to a small snippet.

  1. Try Modified Board Games

Some regular board games can be easily adapted to the car. Brings stacks of cards from Trivial Pursuit, Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity (for adults only), and modify the rules to make them mobile.


  1. Play I Spy

“I spy with my little eye … “ Everyone loves a round of the classic game of I Spy. If you’re stuck in traffic, it’s a great way for passengers to find interest in their stagnant surroundings. If you’re cruising, focus on the items within the car—just choose something inconspicuous, and keep your guessers guessing!


  1. Bonus Tip: Where to Go? Live It Up at the Mother Road Revival

September 8–11: The Mother Road Revival is a four-day event in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In this home state of the legendary Woodie Guthrie, events of the weekend pay homage to Route 66 while celebrating with folk music and film.


OK, so the miles are full of fun and laughter, but it’s just as important to keep them safe, which includes keeping the driver in good spirits. Get those tips on our next stop on the trip, Part Four: Staying Safe (and Sane) with Co-travelers. [Insert Part 4 Link if published]

Stratton Lawrence is a travel writer and adventure buff located in Folly Beach, South Carolina. He’s driven cross-country many times, including a two-month sojourn from San Francisco to Charleston in a 1972 Volkswagen Super Beetle. Stratton also provides auto advice, whether you’re hitting the road in a classic car or your favorite modern cruiser, as a writer for eBay Motors.