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Small Town Travel Guide

Things to do on a Road Trip: The Ultimate Idea Guide

A road trip is more than just getting from point A to point B—it’s an opportunity to make lasting memories and enjoy quality time with your travel companions. While the destinations along the way are undoubtedly exciting, the hours spent cruising down the open road can be just as memorable with the right activities. From classic car games to engaging conversations and immersive audiobooks, there are countless ways to enliven the journey and bond with your fellow travelers. In this article, we’ll explore a variety of entertaining and enriching ideas to make the most of your time in the vehicle, ensuring that your road trip is as enjoyable as the final destination.

The List:

1. State Sign Selfie Stops

Capture the Moment at Every State Line

Crossing a state border is always an exciting milestone on a road trip. As that iconic “Welcome to…” sign comes into view, make sure to have your camera ready to capture the moment. Taking a selfie with the new state’s road sign or at the welcome center makes for a fun photo op and serves as a memento of reaching that destination. Get creative with your poses – jump for joy in front of the sign, give a big thumbs up, or let your silly side shine through. Don’t just snap a quick pic and be done with it either. Spend a few minutes framing up the perfect shot that showcases the sign along with any eye-catching scenery in the background.

If there’s a welcome center nearby, that can be an even better locale for selfies. The welcome centers are usually dressed up with colorful flowers, funky statues, or other decorations representing that state’s culture and heritage. Use those backdrops to add extra flair and personality to your photos. Better yet, see if a friendly passerby can take a group shot of everyone in your crew together. Having those welcome center selfies strung together captures the journey of your travels from state to state. Be sure to geotag those photos too! Years from now, you’ll be able to look back at those goofy self-portraits and reminisce about the good times and countless miles of road thrashing.

Don’t just speed on by without stopping to smell the roses (or sunflowers, or whatever that state may be known for). Taking a few minutes to snap some fun pics at each welcome sign provides a lasting memento and allows you to embrace the spirit of adventure that a good road trip is all about.

2. Play Classic Road Trip Games

I Spy

No road trip game arsenal is complete without the classic I Spy. This simple yet engaging game is perfect for players of all ages and requires nothing more than a sharp eye and a bit of creativity. Take turns calling out “I spy with my little eye, something…” and provide a color or other descriptive clue about an object you see outside. From there, the other players must scan their surroundings and guess what you’ve spied. Not only does this keep everyone focused on their environment, but it also leads to fun conversations as you dissect the various objects and scenery whizzing by.

20 Questions

Another time-honored road trip favorite is 20 Questions. One player thinks of an object, person, place, or thing, and the rest of the group takes turns asking yes-or-no questions to try and guess what it is within 20 questions. This game encourages creative questioning and deductive reasoning skills. It’s also a great way to learn more about your travel companions based on the subjects they choose and the types of questions they ask.

The License Plate Game

Spotting out-of-state license plates is a rite of passage for any road tripper. Turn it into an engaging group activity by playing the License Plate Game. Make a list of all 50 U.S. states (or expand it to include Canadian provinces and territories for an added challenge). As you spot plates from different states or regions, cross them off your list or use a marking system to keep score. The person who completes their list first or has the most unique plates marked wins. This game is not only fun but also educational as you learn about the designs and mottos represented on each jurisdiction’s plates.

These classic games are beloved road trip traditions for a reason. They’re simple, require no materials besides a pen and paper (or just an observant mind), and provide hours of amusement and healthy competition to pass the time as the miles roll by. So don’t forget to pack them along for your next journey!

3. Play Lyric Buster

Turn up the road trip singalong fun with the game “Lyric Buster.” The rules are simple – one person plays a song over the vehicle’s speakers, and everyone jams along. But at some point during the chorus or a famous lyric line, the DJ suddenly pauses or stops the music without warning. If you were truly knowing the words and singing genuinely, you can keep going acapella. However, if you were just pretending to know the tune, you’ll be caught stammering or making up lyrics!

Not only does Lyric Buster make for hilarious moments as people get “busted” faking it, but it also leads to entertaining discussions about the song’s meaning, artist facts, and memories triggered by the nostalgic hits. Take turns being the DJ and choosing songs that you think will stump your opponents. You may be surprised at who really knows the lyrics to that 80s hair band classic or modern pop earworm! For an added challenge, make a rule that certain genres or decades of music are off-limits to really separate the experts from the amateurs.

4. Sleeping Storytellers

The next time a road trip nap is in order, don’t just let your sleeping beauty snooze in silence. Instead, turn their deep slumber into an improvisational storytelling adventure with the game “Sleeping Storytellers.”

Here’s how it works: Once someone has dozed off, the remaining players collaborate to weave an outrageous tale about events that supposedly occurred while dreamland beckoned their sleeping comrade. How did the car run out of gas and require an epic push to the nearest station? Maybe there was a sudden snowstorm, and the travelers had to take refuge in a creepy abandoned lodge. Or perhaps a series of wacky GPS misdirections led you down a secret country backroad to a town stuck in the 1950s. Let your imaginations go wild!

The real fun begins when the napper finally wakes up. At that point, the made-up story gets retold as if it actually happened, complete with animated voice impersonations, sound effects, and as much compelling detail as possible. The snoozer-turned-audience has to listen intently because once the tale is complete, they’ll be quizzed on the “real” events to determine if they were truly unconscious the whole time. If they can’t keep a straight face or give away any hint that the story was fabricated, they lose that round.

Not only does Sleeping Storytellers provide raucous laughs, but it also exercises everyone’s creativity and storytelling abilities. You may even find yourselves reminiscing about this legendary road trip yarn for years to come!

5. Game of Scones

From the corridors of gas station snack aisles to the humblest roadside fruit stand, a great culinary game is afoot. When hitting the open road, the snacking houses of your travel party must bravely venture forth to forage the most unique local delicacies. For he who returns with the most coveted regional fare shall be crowned the reigning snack sovereign and the king or queen of scones.

The rules are simple – every time you stop for gas, food, or just to stretch your legs, each person must seek out and purchase a snack or food item that is uniquely local to that town or area. It could be a regional candy, pastry, or bag of chips made by a small-batch company. Maybe it’s a jar of spiced nuts, beef jerky, or home-style preserves from a roadside farm stand. As long as it’s a food item made locally, it counts!

At the end of the road trip, everyone will present their haul of munchies and telltale where each food find was sourced from. Then it’s time for an official taste test to let the flavors do the judging. Sample each other’s snacks and vote on which ones were the most delicious, most unique, or just the wackiest culinary discovery.

Crowning the Snack Royalty

The person with the highest number of votes is crowned the Snack King or Snack Queen of the road trip! They can proudly lord over their tasty territory from the front seat as you continue snacking away. For an extra bit of fun, have the runner-up be crowned the Snack Jester.

In addition to creating delicious memories, this road trip snack challenge encourages you to talk to locals for insider tips on the best gourmet gems in each town. You may even discover some crazy snacks you never knew existed! It’s all in good fun…and good eats.

So get ready to embrace your inner snacking royalty. With this tasty competition, your crowd will be fueled by both wanderlust and an appetite for culinary adventure!

6. Play The Movie Quote Game For a Hollywood Recital Royale

“You know, Lloyd, just when I think you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this… and totally redeem yourself!”

Put your pop culture knowledge to the test with this road trip game all about reciting famous movie quotes. Here’s how it works:

One person starts by saying just the first line from a popular movie quote. It could be something iconic like “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” or more obscure. Then, the next person has to correctly recite the remaining part of that quote.

If they get it right, they get a point and get to kick off a new movie quote by saying just the first line. But if they’re stumped and can’t finish the quote properly, the point (and chance to start a new quote) passes to someone else.

You can make it easier by sticking to extremely well-known quotes from classic films. Or ramp up the difficulty by pulling from more niche or independent movies for bonus points.

Need to verify the line – even better pull up a YouTube clip of the movie to put the quote to the test. Extra points for style!

Not only does this get everyone’s minds working to remember those unforgettable movie one-liners, but it sparks fun discussions about the scenes, actors, making movie references and jokes. Just be sure not to actually act out or recite too much of the full dialogue to avoid any copyright issues.

It’s a simple but endlessly entertaining game that will have everyone feeling like an amateur cinema buff. You may even inspire an impromptu movie quote-off!

Bonus points if you can name a character’s name or the actor’s name playing the character you’re quoting!

7. Alphabetically Awesome Adventures With The ABC Game

One extremely simple yet engaging road trip game is the ABC Game. The premise is straightforward – players take turns spotting words, signs, or objects outside that follow in alphabetical order.

To start, the first player names something they see that begins with the letter A, like “Apple tree.” The next person has to spot something beginning with B, maybe “Billboard.” It continues through the alphabet, with each player calling out words for the successive letter.

But here’s where it gets tricky – no one is allowed to use the same word twice during that particular round of the game. So if someone already called out “Billboard” for B, you can’t reuse that one when it’s your turn for B. You have to get creative and find a new B word like “Barn” or “Bus.”

The ABC Game is simultaneously simple and challenging. It keeps everyone’s eyes peeled for words and objects you may ordinarily overlook when zipping down the highway. It also inspires some hilarious moments when players get stumped trying to spot an X, Q, or Z word!

For an added dose of silliness, you can impose “phrase” rounds where players have to come up with an alphabetical phrase, rather than a single word, that incorporates each letter in order. So for A, you might say “Andy ate an apple.” Then the next player has to come up with a B phrase like “Billy bounced back.” Bypass boring waypoints with this alphabet road trip classic!

8. Park It for a Picnic

For a welcome break from eating drive-thru fare or snacking in the car, plan to have a proper picnic during your road trip stops. Seeking out a scenic spot to spread out a blanket and enjoy a leisurely alfresco meal can be one of the simple joys of hitting the open road.

Research parks, gardens, historic sites, or even roadside rest areas with beautiful views along your route. Pack a cooler with picnic basket goodies like sandwiches, salads, raw veggies, fresh fruit, cheese and crackers, and sweet treats. Don’t forget beverages, napkins, plates, and utensils. A large blanket or drop cloth allows everyone to lounge comfortably while dining.

A picnic provides the perfect excuse to get out and stretch your legs after being cooped up in the car. Let the kids run around and burn off some energy, tossing a frisbee or kicking a ball. The adults can bask in the surroundings free from distractions. Take some deep breaths of fresh air and maybe even sneak in a short snooze on the blanket post-meal.

For an extra fun twist, turn your picnic into a themed event – having food items that correspond with the area’s local cuisine or throwing an old-fashioned 1950s style drive-in meal with milkshakes and burgers. With a picnic basket packed, all you need is a nice patch of grass or shaded spot, and you’ve got an instant road trip oasis.

Picnicking is an easy way to slow down, savor the journey, and make some special memories together amid the hurried pace of driving long distances. So spread out that blanket and add a delicious picnic interlude to your road trip itinerary.

9. Quirky Roadside Attractions

One of the great joys of a road trip is happening upon quirky, off-the-beaten-path attractions and landmarks. Those kitschy, only-in-America type spots that make you do a double-take from the highway before excitedly peeling off to go check them out.

Always be on the lookout for humorous billboards or signs advertising these wonderfully wacky roadside stops. It could be something completely random like the World’s LargestBall of Twine, a Bigfoot Museum, or Carhenge – an automobile rendition of England’s Stonehenge. Maybe you’ll stumble upon a city’s claim to fame like the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota or the Giant Van Gogh Painting Recreation in Kansas.

Embracing these quirky detours is all part of the road trip spirit. They break up the drive with silly surprises and give you an amusing tale to recount later. Pose for inspired photo ops at giant roadside fruits and vegetables, pop into a classic American diner with outrageous decor, or explore wacky themed mini golf courses.

If you’re really seeking out the most unique stops, invest in an Roadside America app or classic guidebooks that catalog the most bizarre Americana attractions region by region. Some may seem too absurd to be real, like the Moscow, Idaho cashew plant with a 60-foot squirrel statue or Wall Drug’s panorama of fake western facades and jackalopes galore. But that’s what makes them perfectly memorable road trip material!

Beyond the kitschiest of stops, you can also hunt for other interesting pit stops like notable museums tailored to your interests, amusement parks for the thrill seekers, historic sites, or geographical wonders. The open road is your oyster, so don’t just stare at it through the windshield – veer off and experience its wonderful weirdness!

10. Bring the Book (Club) Along for the Ride With Audiobooks

Audiobooks are the perfect road trip companion, allowing you to “read” while keeping your eyes focused on the road and landscape around you. Instead of having the radio provide a repetitive soundtrack, you can immerse yourself in a great novel, non-fiction narrative, or full-cast audio play.

Before your trip, load up your smartphone, tablet, or vehicle’s audio system with enthralling listens. Check if your local library offers digital audiobook downloads, CDs or Playaways that you can easily borrow and bring along. Many libraries now have huge audio selections, making it free and easy to stock up.

If you want access to the latest releases or bestsellers, sign up for a free trial subscription to an audiobook service like Audible, Audiobooks.com, or Scribd. This allows you to download a free “first book” to sample the service, with no commitment required if you decide not to continue. Even a single free credit during the trial can score you over 20 hours of listening entertainment.

Take turns picking out titles to listen to together as a group, or opt for fun full-cast audio plays and comedies that the whole car can enjoy. You can even start your own mobile book club by downloading the same novel and discussing it as you log the highway miles. Listening together sparks great conversations and allows you to pause frequently for breaks or stops.

With thousands of stories at your fingertips, an audiobook provides non-stop listening entertainment. Just be sure to buffer your downloads ahead of any dead zones without internet or cell service! Between absorbing plot lines, beautiful narration, and lively discussions, an audiobook makes each mile a true page-turner.

11. Scavenger Hunting Off the Beaten Path

Why just passively observe the roadside attractions and pit stops on your journey when you could turn them into an engaging scavenger hunt experience? Before hitting the road, create a list of wacky, mundane, or surprisingly specific items to scout for every time you pull off the highway.

At basic rest areas, you may look for things like an interestingly stamped penny from a machine, an “Adults Must Be Accompanied By Children” sign, or pigeons snacking on dropped french fry remnants. When passing through small towns, up the ante with quirkier targets – a garden gnome in someone’s front yard, an ancient rusted vehicle on cinderblocks, or the most unintentionally hilarious church sign message.

If your road trip takes you near major truck stops, you’ve hit the scavenger hunt jackpot. These massive oasis strips are a treasure trove of potentially strange sightings like wildly elaborate trucker mud flaps, a shark merrily “leaping” out of the parking lot pavement, or hopefully not an actual shirtless person at the driver’s pit stop shower stalls.

To maximize the fun, make your scavenger list collaborative by having each person contribute a few target items to find. Assign points for different categories of targets and varying degrees of difficulty to spot. The first one to achieve “scavenger bingo” by filling a row or reaching a point threshold wins bragging rights and gets to pick the victory treats at the next wacky roadside eatery you encounter!

In addition to providing laughs and an engaging group activity, this road trip scavenger hunt encourages you to really take in all the quirky nuances around you instead of zoning out. Who knows what obscure off-ramp oddities you may discover?

12. Things To See On A Road Trip: Visit Iconic Movie Locations

For movie buffs hitting the open road, one fun activity is to research which popular films were shot on location in the small towns you’ll be passing through. Turn your road trip into a cinematic scavenger hunt of sorts!

Before departing, do some online digging about your route’s highlights – you may be surprised how many classics or current hits utilized unassuming rural areas as their backdrop. Jot down notes on the specific towns and locations so you can keep an eye out for photo ops replicating famous scenes.

Was there a heartwarming high school dramedy that captured hallway pandemonium at your local school? Pull over for a picture under the high school’s sign. Maybe portions of a revolutionary war epic were filmed amid the downtown historic district’s colonial-style buildings. See if you can pinpoint the buildings used as film sets.

The possibilities are endless when small town America plays host to Hollywood. One stretch of lonely highway may be internationally infamous as the “fried chicken road” thanks to an action movie car chase sequence ending in a glorious truck full of poultry chaos. An unassuming rural grocery store made a cameo as the setting for an unexpected zombie attack.

Researching and then actually visiting the filming locations allows you to step into the real-life world of your favorite movies. It adds an exciting layer to your road trip sightseeing. Just be prepared for some pop culture-inspired pranking from your passengers – they may start reenacting scenes or quirky movie quotes once you arrive!

13. Magnetic Travel Boardgames

Need a surefire way to bypass boredom during long stretches of driving? Don’t forget to stock up on travel-sized board games and cards for your road trip! These compact diversions provide hours of entertainment and friendly competition.

While regular bulky board game boxes are inconvenient for packing, there are plenty of portable versions perfectly sized for taking on the go. Look for magnetic, velour or snap-in boards that won’t go flying when you hit a pothole. Classics like mini travel chess, checkers, and playing card tins make great options.

You can even find road trip-optimized takes on beloved board games from Yahtzee to Sorry!, condensed into tiny travel cases. Stash a few in the car’s side pockets or the middle console for easy access. When the road drags or you need a break at a rest stop, simply whip out a game and challenge your companions to keep brains engaged and battling boredom.

For even lighter packing, stock up on simple card games like Uno, Phase 10, or a trusty deck of playing cards which enable everything from Crazy Eights to Blackjack on the road. The possibilities are endless for idle hands and restless minds.

Don’t let “Are we there yet?” become the refrain – keep the good times rolling with portable play packed and ready to go. A rousing game of travel Yahtzee or Jenga may just become one of your most memorable road trip moments. You’ve been warned – expect demands for rematches!

14. Planning Out Where To Visit On Your Adventure

Don’t just let your road trip happen to you – take an active role in plotting all the potential adventures ahead! Making a list of must-see stops, quirky roadside attractions, and activities gets everyone invested and builds excitement.

If you can hold off until hitting the road, spend one of those first highway hauls collaboratively brainstorming a master adventure list. Ask each person to contribute their top picks for places they’re dying to visit or offbeat things they’d love to experience based on research about your routes.

Did you learn that a certain small town is known for having the country’s largest burger statue? Nominate it for the list. Is there a famously haunted hotel or bizarre museum along your path? Those make for unmissable road trip lore. From historic landmarks to kitschy Americana weirdness, nothing is off-limits for adventure consideration.

To get those creative juices flowing, refer to handy trip planning resources like the Roadside America app, random tourist attraction blogs, and guides dedicated to unearthing hidden gems. Small Town Travel Guide blog is a great place to start!

With a roster of potential escapades in hand, you can cross off and add new ones as your whims guide you. It builds a sense of camaraderie, provides easy inspiration when you need a break from driving, and ensures you don’t just blaze through forgettable freeway stretches. Most importantly, it’s a recipe for unforgettable memories!

15. Stargazing

Things to See on a Road Trip: Chasing Stars on the Open Road

Once the sun goes down, be sure to take advantage of your wide-open surroundings by doing some stargazing on your road trip. Pulling off onto a secluded road or setting up in a dark parking area away from city light pollution can unlock a brilliant night sky vista.

Come prepared with a few stargazing apps loaded on your phone to help identify and locate different constellations, planets, and celestial objects. Bring along binoculars or a basic telescope if you really want to zero in on details of the lunar surface or neighboring galaxies.

For an truly epic stargazing experience, plan your road trip route through one of the designated dark sky parks or communities known for their exceptional night skies. An article on Space.com highlights some of the best stargazing road trip destinations in the U.S. Southwest, from national parklands to small towns committed to protecting their inky dark skies.

According to their guide, places like Bryce Canyon in Utah, Grand Canyon National Park, and Chaco Culture National Historic Park in New Mexico consistently rank among the darkest sky spots ripe for cosmic appreciation. The tiny town of Torrey, Utah even has designated “star parties” hosting telescopes and guides to gaze through.

Even if you don’t travel to one of those prime locales, simply pulling over and craning your neck skyward on a rural roadside can unveil brilliant bands of the Milky Way stretching into infinity. Catching a meteor shower streak across those vast celestial bodies makes for an unforgettable bonding experience on your journey.

16. Road Trip Mad Libs

For a linguistic blast of silliness, you can’t go wrong with playing a few rounds of that childhood classic – Mad Libs! This easy and hilarious word game will having you laughing until your cheeks hurt.

If you don’t have any official Mad Libs books on hand, you can easily find free printable Mad Libs online to print out or save to your device before hitting the road. Sites like Madtakes.com and Printable-Madlibs.com have a huge variety of free stories spanning different age levels and themes that you can access with a few clicks.

For optimal road trip fun though, it’s worth ordering an actual compact Mad Libs book or two from Amazon or your favorite bookseller. Having a dedicated collection of ready-made stories eliminates the hassle of finding, downloading, and printing pages. Plus, Mad Libs books typically come filled with stickers, pencils, and fun accessories to enhance the experience.

Take turns having one person assume the role of “narrator” by asking players for nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. and plugging those words into the fill-in-the-blank story without revealing the plot. Once all the words are inserted randomly, the narrator reads the full nonsensical story aloud to hilarious effect!

Mad Libs makes for the perfect travel game because no accessories or boards are required – just a book, some pens/pencils, and the ability to keep a straight face amidst absolute verbal lunacy. Get those imaginations churning and prepare for epic fits of giggles as you turn long driving stretches into comedy gold.

17. Play The Top 5 Game And Learn Something New About Each Other

This one can help you learn something new about your friends, family or travel companions that you might not have otherwise known. Try your hand at the “Top 5” game, where players take turns naming their top 5 personal picks for a given category.

The categories can range from silly (“Top 5 ice cream flavors”) to more philosophical (“Top 5 historical figures you’d want at your dinner party”). One player proposes the category, then everyone has to rapid-fire list their top 5 choices for that topic before analysis and debating commences.

Not only does this spark lively discussions as you dissect each other’s picks, but it also provides fun insights into your fellow travelers’ priorities, senses of humor, and general mindsets. Did your buddy really just rank Cherry Garcia above Chunky Monkey in the ice cream ranks? Now you know where their taste loyalties reside!

Get creative with your category prompts to keep things challenging and unpredictable. Amusing hypotheticals like “Top 5 celebrities you’d hire to renovate your home” or “Top 5 things you’d buy if you won the lottery” allow imaginations to run wild. For an added twist, enforce time limits so people have to quickly blurt out their top 5 choices without excessive dallying.

Over the course of a long road trip, you may find yourself cycling through hundreds of random “Top 5” scenarios and learning fascinating factoids about each other’s preferences and philosophies along the way. It’s the perfect way to salvage those inevitable lulls in conversation when all road trip topics seem exhausted – until someone shouts, “Ok, new category: Top 5 razors to shave a yak!” Then it’s game on again.

Here’s a section on documenting your road trip, including making a memorable photo book afterwards:

18. Create Window Art Masterpieces

Need a creativity outlet to keep young road trippers entertained? Allow your kids to unleash their inner artists by decorating their car windows!

Before hitting the road, pick up some window cling decorations, washable markers, or paint pens designed specially for glass surfaces. Once you’re cruising along, those restless little hands can get to work fashioning colorful masterpieces right on their window canvases.

Kids will delight in using the cling stickers to spell out silly phrases, create vibrant drawings with the markers, or paint whimsical characters and shapes that catch the light. It’s an easy way to occupy their minds while strapped in those seatbelts for long stretches. Plus, you’re nurturing their artistic talents!

The best part is the artwork is totally removable and changeable. Simply pack some microfiber cloths or spray cleaner and they can erase or peel off their designs once complete. That blank window serves as a fresh canvas for more creative expression mile after mile.

Not only does this keep kids engaged, but their window friezes can garner plenty of smiles and hellos from other families you pass on the road. It’s an instant icebreaker whenever you stop for snacks or fuel-ups. Just be sure to snap commemorative photos of their window galleries before they get erased!

Whether they’re recreating lovely landscapes, telling a tale through stickers, or designing abstract patterns, window decorating provides a colorful outlet during those long driving hauls. You may even find the whole family joining in on the fun for some collaborative mobile artistry.

19. Map Your Journey

For a nostalgic touch, pick up an old-school road atlas or map before embarking on your road trip or at any of your stops along the way of your adventure. As you make your way across different states and highways, take turns highlighting or tracing your route with a bright marker.

There’s something immensely satisfying about watching your colored path snake across the map as the miles roll by. You can mark noteworthy stops, add quirky doodles, or make a game of estimating how far you’ll get by the day’s end.

Kids especially get a kick out of this interactive cartography lesson. They can practice identifying states, cities, and geographic landmarks as you literally connect the dots mile after mile. Offer driving bingo prizes to the first one who spots an upcoming route change or rest stop town.

At the end of your road trip odyssey, that marked-up map doubles as a keepsake wall hanging for reminiscing. You might even add photos or mementos collected at different stops along your vibrant route.

For a digital twist on this tradition, you can download an app like Polarsteps that automatically tracks your road trip journey on a live map using GPS data. Or use an online travel planning tool like Rome2Rio to virtually map out each leg before hitting the road.

However you choose to document your miles, actively mapping your shared travels makes for a rewarding group activity and cherished memento. Those snaking highlighted paths represent more than just progress – they symbolize an unforgettable journey together.

20. Reward System for the Road (For Kids)

Keeping the peace and morale high during long drives can sometimes feel like an uphill battle, especially with antsier younger travelers. One fun way to promote good behavior is by implementing a reward system with a portable “prize box.”

Before departing on your road trip, stock up on an assortment of small treats, trinkets, and privileges to dole out as incentives. Dollar stores and discounted carnival prizes make for affordable options – stickers, temporary tattoos, candy, small toys, and novelty items.

Then, while on the road, you can offer rewards from the prize box when good behavior or completed challenges merit them. Suggest playing the “Quiet Game” and reward whomever can stay silent the longest stretch. Or promise prize box dips if everyone can make it 50 more miles without sibling squabbles.

The rewards don’t have to be physical items either. Being able to select the next music choice, pick that night’s campground game, or control the temperature can be exciting prizes in themselves for younger road trippers.

You can get creative with the “competitions” too. Offer prizes for spotting different license plates, completing road trip activity books or mad libs most thoroughly, or showcasing exemplary snacking etiquette at rest stops.

A well-timed reward system promotes engagement, battles boredom, gamifies good behavior, and simply makes victories out of ordinary scenarios. Just be sure to apply the prizes impartially to avoid any backseat accusations of playing favorites! With a bit of positive reinforcement, meltdowns and youthful antsiness may soon be a relic in your family’s rearview mirror.

21. Lighten Up the Mood with a Programmable LED Car Sign

This one is especially fun if your group is traveling in more than one vehicle.

Take your road trip interactions to a fun new level with a programmable LED car sign. These signs, like the ones by Leadleds, plug into your car’s 12V outlet and stick to your back or side window using suction cups. They’re perfect for displaying silly messages (keep it PG!) to get a laugh out of passing drivers.

Most signs allow you to choose between stationary or scrolling messages, with adjustable speeds for easy reading. Plus, they’re easy to program, even for kids to use with the remote control. For even more fun, explore online options that let you program the display using your phone app or feature color-changing letters!

22. Get Active At Rest Stops

Sitting still in the car for hours can make even the calmest crew eager to move! But fear not, because rest stops are your ticket to shake off the wiggles and have a blast together! Here’s the lowdown on turning those pit stops into action-packed adventures:

  1. Fun Gear Galore: Toss in a mix of sporty stuff like balls, frisbees, and a skipping rope in your car stash. That way, you’re all set to transform any rest area into a playground!
  2. Family Fiesta: Dive into games like skipping rope, catch, or a friendly round of tag that’s bound to get everyone giggling. Feeling extra creative? Dream up your own games using the gear you brought along!
  3. Team Spirit Soars: Divide into teams and let the games begin! Who can fling the frisbee farthest? How many skips can each teammate nail in a row? It’s all about teamwork and good times!
  4. Race to Relaxation: Got some room to roam? Set up some speedy challenges at the rest stop. Sprint, skip, or why not try a hilarious three-legged race? Let the laughter roll!

With a sprinkle of physical fun at your pit stops, you’ll keep the whole gang buzzing with joy and revved up for the next leg of the journey!

23. Stop To Say Hi To Friends and Family Along Your Way

One of the joys of a road trip is being able to incorporate visits with loved ones who live along or near your route. After hours of driving through unfamiliar areas, reconnecting with friends and family provides a welcoming slice of comfort.

Before mapping out your journey, check to see if any relatives, college pals, or long-lost friends reside in cities and towns that conveniently align with your planned trajectory. Reach out and see if a stopover works with their schedules – chances are they’ll be thrilled to play host and local tour guide for a night or two.

Crashing at accommodating pals’ or family members’ homes allows you to get delightfully off-script from commercial rest stops and roadside motels. You’ll encounter familiar faces eager to show you their neck of the woods’ best eateries, top attractions, and insider secrets. An aunt in Omaha may introduce you to a legendary diner while a buddy from Portland could guide you to incredible hiking trails.

These pitstops also provide the perfect opportunity to reminisce and catch up in person over homecooked meals rather than just life’s usual updates via calls and texts. Kids get quality facetime with distant loved ones too.

If extended visits aren’t possible due to timing, you could opt for something as simple as meeting up for a meal, rejuvenating cup of coffee, or quick driveway “hello” during a bathroom break. Even that bite-sized interlude spent with familiar faces provides a recharge from life on the open road.

So don’t just resign yourself to being a faceless traveler during your journey. Tap into your network and let your voyage reconnect you with cherished family and friends scattered across the map. Those tiny reunions may foster some of your most meaningful road trip memories.

24. Things To See On a Road Trip: Seek Out America’s Natural Wonders At National Parks

If your road trip route happens to traverse any of America’s awe-inspiring national parks, you owe it to yourself to build in plenty of time to explore these natural wonders. From the craggy peaks of the Rockies to the deep forestry of the Smoky Mountains, our national parks provide the perfect detour for camping, hiking, and creating unforgettable memories.

Research which parks are within reasonable driving distance of your planned route and map out entry points ahead of time. While spontaneity is part of the road trip spirit, national parks tend to require more logistics for lodging, permits, and maximizing your time amongst the stunning landscapes.

For instance, if you’ll be passing through Utah, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, and Canyonlands national parks offer striking desert vistas and recreational opportunities. The famous Grand Canyon in Arizona is another iconic road trip stop. Out west, travelers can lose themselves in the lush biodiversity of parks like Yellowstone, Glacier, and Grand Teton.

Over on the east coast, take a scenic drive along the famed Blue Ridge Parkway which winds through the Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains national parks. Down south, hot spots like the Everglades, Big Bend, and Carlsbad Caverns offer vastly different but equally entrancing terrains to explore.

Wherever your road trip might lead, chances are there’s a national park beckoning you to reconnect with nature’s majesty. Wake up early for a sunrise hike and be treated to the cosmic dance of color across an ancient canyon ridge. Spend a starry night camping under the meteor showers of dark sky reserves. Go whitewater rafting through powerful rapids or angle for the day’s catch in a serene glacial lake.

With a little advanced planning, you can turn your road trip into a tour of America’s most astonishingly beautiful places. These rugged and raw parklands allow you to unplug from the highway and soak in experiences you’ll never forget.

25. Open Your Mind To New Ideas

Beyond the obvious scenic detours and kitschy attractions, one of the most rewarding aspects of a road trip can be the chance for meaningful conversations away from your daily grind. As the miles roll by, you may find your mind opening up to new ideas, perspectives, and possibilities.

When you’re removed from the usual distractions and stresses of work, homes, and routines, it’s easier to be present and drop your guard. The open road has a way of lifting that mental weight from your shoulders. Without the anxieties of looming deadlines or a laundry list of household chores, you can finally exhale and privately ponder those bigger life questions.

Use this rare brain-idling time to really connect with your travel companions. Share personal stories you may have glazed over before due to hustle and bustle. Unpack profound questions about your hopes, dreams, or View on the world at large. You may be surprised at the deep insights provided by loved ones when given the opportunity.

With neutral, ever-changing scenery replacing those familiar four walls, it’s almost meditative – inspiring creativity, dreaminess, and spontaneous idea flowing. Conversations careen from free-flowing reminiscences to rousing philosophical debates to exciting plans for future adventures together.

Psychological research has also shown that car road trips in particular, versus air travel, allow more time for self-reflection and stimulation from constantly changing landscapes. This engaging sensory experience can help facilitate more open and exploratory thinking patterns.

So don’t just banter about drive time playlists or back-seat silliness, though those jovial chats have their place too. Use the road trip’s unique atmosphere to nurture deeper bonds and connections. You may walk away with profound personal revelations or crazy new bucket list items to pursue. Those meaningful miles could steer you in excitingly unexpected new directions as a wiser, woke road warrior.

26. Have a Heart to Heart Conversation

With the hum of tires on pavement and scenery constantly changing outside the windows, there’s something about a road trip that lends itself to profound conversations and opening up. Use this rare breakaway from daily routines to nurture meaningful connections.

When you’re removed from the usual distractions of work, chores, and packed schedules, it’s easier to be fully present with your companions. The open road seems to lift mental burdens and inhibitions, allowing for more vulnerability. Without looming deadlines or a bottomless inbox, you can finally relax into vulnerability.

Take this opportunity to share stories, musings, and intimate questions that may get drowned out amid your regular home’s hustle and bustle. With quiet stretches of driving between attractions, you have the ideal setting for unhurried yet thought-provoking discussions about ambitions, beliefs, relationships, and those perpetual “what ifs.”

You may find yourself having profound epiphanies or being more open to new perspectives as the neutral scenery flows by outside. Research shows experiencing new environments can shake you from usual thought patterns, allowing more cognitive flexibility. The constant novelty seems to spark travelers’ curiosity about the world and personal self-reflection.

Use this road trip downtime to really listen to your companions’ hopes, regrets, and candid life philosophies. You may walk away with not just hilarious anecdotes, but a deeper appreciation for how your loved ones view the world. Or hatch exciting plans for future couple’s getaways or solo adventures you’d never considered before.

Recent research has shown that intrinsic goals, like nourishing relationships with these meaningful conversations bring more happiness to individuals than even more stereotypical goal achievements such as wealth, fame and power.

Whether you’re musing about the meaning of life or simply reminiscing on wild times from your youth, there’s something about that highway atmosphere that nurtures meaningful heart-to-hearts. Take advantage of this rare opportune journey to forge closer bonds and understandings with your travel mates.

27. Hand Held Video Game Tournament

For gamers hitting the open road, a handheld video game tournament provides the perfect way to satisfy that competitive fix while racking up miles. Get ready for some seriously intense multiplayer action!

Before embarking, have each person download or dust off their collection of both retro and modern handheld games suited for head-to-head battle mode. Classic Game Boy hits like Tetris, Super Mario Land, and Pokemon stadium translations make for riotous old-school challenges. Or go really throwback with those childhood Link cable Game Boy and Game Boy Advance titles that allowed direct multiplayer combat.

For those more contemporary games, hit up the mobile stores and load up on current hits with solid multiplayer support. Anything from Mario Kart Tour to Call of Duty: Mobile can turn those long highway hauls into arenas for glory. Handheld powerhouses like the Nintendo Switch provide the ultimate portable multiplayer experience with titles like Super Smash Bros and Mario Party Superstars.

Once you’re on the road, the tournaments can begin! Set up “teams” if you’ve got an even number of players or run a bracketed individual competition. Keep scores on a notepad or award prizes to round winners. Between skirmishes, frenemies can indulge in a bit of smack talk and strategy discussions during those necessary pit stops.

For extra road trip flare, you could even let the scenery outside influence gameplay. Hitting a particular milestone like a certain lunch spot could allow temporary power-ups or banana peel impediments. Just be sure to pack some external battery packs to keep those handhelds juiced up during marathon sessions!

Whether you’re schooling fools with a blindfolded Tetris attack or pulling off a last-second red shell to take down the current Mario Kart leader, there’s no better way to constant shuffle between fighting the boredom and fighting for multiplayer supremacy. Just remember to actually look out the window occasionally at those breathtaking IRL graphics too!

28. Document Your Journey and Hit “Publish”

In this digital age, it’s all too easy to take hundreds of photos and videos during a road trip, only for those priceless memories to get buried in your camera roll or computer files. One fun way to encapsulate and commemorate your adventure is to turn your trip into a professional-grade photo book after returning home.

As you’re exploring quirky roadside attractions, trying wild regional foods, and soaking in breathtaking scenic vistas, keep a photographic record of all those iconic road trip moments. Snap selflies in front of mind-boggling world’s largest fiberglass sculptures. Document your evolving snack stashes from local mom-and-pop shops and stands. Capture the hilarious in-car antics keeping everyone entertained for miles.

Once back from your odyssey, gather everyone’s photos and video clips into a shareable folder. Review the highlights as a group and collaborate on deciding which visuals best chronicle the spirit and flow of your journey. Curate the top shots and video snippets into a digital photo book using an online service like Shutterfly, Artifact Uprising, or Mpix.

With just a few clicks, you can arrange your road trip tales into a clean, professionally printed and bound book complete with captions, page layouts, and video embeds of your favorite silly singalongs or roadside dances. These modern-age memory books preserve all the little quirks and inside jokes in a high-quality keepsake format.

Short caption stories and anecdotes accompanying the snapshots make them even more cherished time capsules. Years later, you can pass that photo book around at gatherings and get transported right back to those endless highways, breathtaking overlooks, and laugh-until-you-cried Bad Lipper moments. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a whole book’s worth provides priceless road trip reminiscing.

Do You Have Something We Should Add To This List?

From blasting tasty tunes and absorbing audiobooks to challenging friends with road trip games and unusual scavenger hunts, we’ve covered a vast array of potential activities to keep everyone engaged and entertained mile after mile.

But we’re just scratching the surface! Every road trip comes with its own quirky circumstances, spontaneous detours, and personal traditions that spawn one-of-a-kind pastimes. Maybe your family awards goofy superlative titles at each stop, or you have an entire book of mad libs from past adventures. Perhaps an inside joke about a hilariously botched karaoke performance turned into an entire bit reenacted during each trip.

We want to hear all about the unique ways you maximize the fun and create lasting memories! What unorthodox shenanigans or creative pursuits does your crew wholeheartedly embrace while hitting the open road? Innovative games, themed snack challenges, or choreographed car dances? Sharing is caring when it comes to unforgettable road trip activities. Contact us here with your suggestions for this list and we’ll be sure to let you know if they are added!

No suggestion is too wacky or whimsical for this list! After all, the beauty of the road trip lies in the spontaneous joys and unplanned adventures that inevitably arise. By crowdsourcing your clever tips and time-honored traditions, we can ensure this road trip entertainment guide eschews no possibility for supported travel hilarity.

So don’t be shy – that oddball “would you rather” game you invented or the inexplicable highway singalong rituals you’ve established may be just what a fellow voyager needs to enhance their upcoming great open road odyssey. We’ll keep idling here until the road trip activity ideas are rolling in!

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