I Hate Road Trips – 10 Tips to Make Road Trips Fun

I hate road trips - here are a few tips to make road trips more fun!

Road trips can be a very economical way to take a family vacation. Unfortunately, not everyone loves the idea of driving long distances. In fact, you or a loved one may have once blurted out I hate road trips when the idea was broached at the last family meeting.

Listen—I get it. 

But road trips don’t have to end in pain and suffering—they can actually be quite fun.  So if you (or someone you love) hates road trips with a passion, here are some of my helpful tips to make your next car-bound vacation trip a lot more enjoyable. 

I Hate Road Trips – Tips to Survive Long Car Rides

If you hate car rides, this article should help you.

Boredom is a huge road trip complaint. Outside of comfort (which I’ll soon address in the next section), it might be the biggest reason some people hate road trips altogether.

It’s tough to keep oneself entertained, and it’s even more challenging in a car full of people ranging from small children to adults!  So here are some suggestions to keep everyone entertained, and to help the time pass by quickly.

Audio Books and Podcasts

We all love to listen to music in the car, but for the sake of variety consider listening to an interesting podcast or intriguing audiobook.

There are podcasts available on just about any subject you can think of, and they’re easy to listen to in your car with a Bluetooth connection. You can find serialized stories, TED talks, mysteries, stand-up comedy, shows about history, pop culture, science, cooking, art, and so many other subjects! There are plenty of podcasts aimed at children that can keep everyone entertained, too.

If you don’t have a subscription to an audiobook service such as Audible, check with your local library. You can use the Libby app to borrow audiobooks using your library card.

Most major libraries offer this service, and they have thousands of books to choose from. Download the audiobook(s) before your trip, and you can easily stream it in your car with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, or just a Bluetooth connection.

You can find everything from new releases to classic literature available in audiobooks. Listening to a book can be a great way to keep kids from getting too bored. It’s like having someone read them a story during the trip.

Streaming Movies on Devices

If you’ve got little kids or teenagers in the car (or even adults, for that matter), watching movies or TV shows on a mobile device will keep them occupied for a couple of hours, at least. Download a few movies before leaving for your road trip so they’ll be easy to access when the young ones start to get bored.

If you normally limit screen time for your little kids, give some thought to loosening that restriction a bit to keep them occupied. It might be worth it to keep them from getting overly bored and cranky. Cranky kids are no fun on road trips, to say the least!

Don’t forget to pack headphones or earbuds, especially if you’ve got more than one kid who will be watching movies on their devices. They can watch what they want, without the noise being a distraction or nuisance to everyone else in the car.


Playing games on a road trip is a long-standing tradition. Of course, there are the “classic” games like “I Spy”, “20 Questions”, “Punch-buggy”, and the ever-popular license plate game. But if you’re tired of those, you can find dozens of fun road trip game suggestions online.

One of the silliest, but most fun road trip games is called “Fortunately/Unfortunately”. It’s a cooperative storytelling game that gets progressively sillier the longer you play it. Everyone in the car can play, regardless of age.

The first person starts the game with the statement “fortunately”, and the next person follows it up with a sentence starting with “unfortunately”. Each alternating sentence should relate to the previous one to tell an ongoing story.

For example, the first person starts the game by saying “Fortunately, there’s not much traffic on the road right now.” The next person could follow it by saying something like, “Unfortunately, traffic is light because aliens from outer space are beaming up all the cars”.

The next person’s sentence could be: “Fortunately, the aliens are friendly and have ice cream”…and so on. It’s hard not to laugh when playing this game.

If you have kids who aren’t into playing storytelling games or “I Spy” type games, pack travel-sized cards or board games to entertain them. You can find games like Checkers, Chess, and Scrabble in travel cases with magnetic boards so the game pieces will stay in place.

Finally, consider buying some coloring books and crayons or colored pencils. Buy some of the more detailed “grown up” coloring books for teens and older kids, and focus on favorite stories or characters for the littlest kids. It may seem like a simple, somewhat silly activity, but coloring is very relaxing and can be almost meditative.

Staying Comfortable on Road Trips

It doesn’t matter which fascinating audiobook you’re listening to, or how much fun you’re having playing games, sitting in the car just won’t be comfortable after a long while. It’s hard to stay in a good mood when you’re not comfortable, and it can even be distracting enough to affect one’s driving.

Here are some tips to keep everyone comfortable and happy while being “stuck” in the car:

Take Breaks and Switch Things Up

It can be tempting to keep driving without many breaks to get to your destination as fast as you can. The result of that, unfortunately, can be that you’ll be sore, tired, and probably not in a great mood by the time you stop driving at the end of the day.

Taking a quick break every two to three hours does a world of good to keep everyone feeling more alert and comfortable. It doesn’t even have to be long breaks; you can stop for just 15 minutes to stretch your legs and move around.

Encourage everyone to get out of the car whenever you stop for a break, then have everyone sit in a different space when they get back in the car. It’s a little change of perspective that helps make the next leg of the journey feel a tiny bit different.

I know there are many people who insist on doing all the driving themselves, but it really reduces stress and discomfort to let someone else share the driving responsibilities, even if it’s just for a couple of hours.

Road Trip Snack Attacks

What’s a road trip without snacks?! Having food and drinks on hand can save time if you want to limit how many stops you make, and it can save money if you shop ahead of time. Tasty snacks also just make people happy!

You can lessen the chance of anyone in the car getting “hangry” by having food readily available whenever anyone feels like they need to eat.

You can maximize your drive time by having a cooler of fruit and sandwich supplies handy to make quick lunches on the road. Don’t forget to have some chips, pretzels, or something else crunchy and delicious on hand, too! Beef jerky, string cheese, and trail mix are good choices if you just need a small energy boost.

Go ahead and include some sweet treats in your snack supplies; you’re on vacation! Treats like cookies, snack cakes, and candy make everyone happy (especially children who might be getting bored).

Bottled water and sports drinks are great to keep you from getting dehydrated but don’t be afraid to have some caffeinated drink options on hand, too. A little boost of caffeine will help keep you alert if you start to “zone out” during the drive.

Dealing With Car Sickness

Car sickness is a pretty good reason to hate road trips! Being “car sick” is just another term for motion sickness. This occurs for some people because their brain perceives an imbalance between what they feel and what they see. The vehicle is moving forward, but your body is staying still in the seat. This imbalance can cause nausea and headaches.

There are a few easy ways to alleviate motion sickness, though. It might help to sit in the front seat, where you can focus on the forward view looking through the windshield. Cool air, either from the air conditioning or by opening a window, is also helpful.

Don’t try to read if you are prone to car sickness. Watching anything on your phone or tablet might also make you feel sick. Instead, try to focus on looking out towards the horizon if you start to feel ill.

You can also take over-the-counter motion sickness medications. Some of these can make you sleepy, so look for a “non-drowsy” formula if you need to stay awake. Ginger is also an effective remedy for nausea. You can try ground ginger capsules, ginger candy, or even ginger ale (as long as it contains real ginger) to help you feel better.

Reducing Stress on Road Trips

Road trips can definitely be stressful. If you ask anyone what causes the most stress on a road trip, the answer will probably amount to “something that was unexpected”. While not every road trip “surprise” can be planned for, a little pre-trip preparation can make the trip go a little smoother. 

Planning ahead may not sound like a fun activity, but it can make the road trip less stressful, and it will be easier for everyone to relax and enjoy the trip. Or, you can listen to the sounds in this video below and feel the stress leave your body:

Vehicle Maintenance

Is there anything more stressful on vacation than having something go wrong with your vehicle? A week or two before your trip, take the time to get a few routine maintenance items taken care of to reduce the risk of any surprise malfunctions.

Get the oil changed, check the tires (and make sure you have a spare!), make sure the air conditioning and heat are working properly, ensure the windshield wiper blades are in good shape, etc.

Having a little peace of mind that your vehicle is in good shape means less worrying on the road, which in turn means the trip can be a little more enjoyable.

Plan Your Route

Don’t wait until you’re ready to leave and just assume you can rely on Google Maps (or any other navigation app) without any issues.  Familiarize yourself with the route just a little bit so you have an idea of what to expect and how far you can drive in one day.

Take a good look at the directions before you leave. Does it involve toll roads? You might want to plot out an alternate route if you want to avoid tolls. Are there any attractions along the way that look fun? Plan the route to visit them if you have the time!

If the trip will take you more than one day, figure out ahead of time where you might stop for the night. This will keep your driving time focused on a destination, and you will be less likely to keep driving to the point of being exhausted. Being well-rested on a road trip is important for your safety and comfort!

Make Reservations

If you will be stopping for an overnight stay during your road trip, plan ahead and have your accommodations already reserved. It’s just not easy to find vacancies at a motel along the highway anymore.

Since the pandemic, many hotels adopted a policy to only book rooms for people who make reservations in advance, and some chains have kept that policy. Having a reservation also saves time and stress. You won’t have to search for a place to sleep, and you’ll have a set stopping point each day of your trip.

This is also true if you plan to stop at campgrounds or an RV park. Make the reservations ahead of time so your camping spot will be ready and waiting for you.

When you’re looking for a place to make overnight reservations, it’s helpful to have a place that is on or close to the highway you’re traveling on. Also, check to see if there are restaurants and gas stations nearby. Take advantage of amenities like swimming pools and fitness centers. It will make the stop at a hotel seem like a fun part of the vacation, not just a quick stop on the way to your vacation.

Many budget-friendly hotel chains offer a free breakfast for their guests, which is always a great way to start the day before hitting the road!

Travel Apps

Almost everyone has an app like Google Maps or Apple Maps on their phone. It’s so much easier than the days of having to navigate by reading a paper map!

There is one navigation app that might even be more popular than Google Maps: Waze. Waze operates very much like Google Maps, but it has a better system for identifying and routing your vehicle around hazards, blockages, and traffic slowdowns. It relies partially on users reporting road conditions, which means the data is usually up-to-date and accurate.

For example, if there is an accident several miles ahead of you, Waze will automatically show you a reroute that directs you around the slowdown. Waze also gives warnings about stalled vehicles, police in the area, and road construction.

If you’re traveling with kids or teens that will have phones or tablets with them, install your favorite navigation apps on their devices, too. It will (hopefully) end the repetitive questions of “How much longer?”, Or “Are we there yet?”  The young ones can follow along on the app and see the arrival time and get a sense of the surrounding area.

Another handy app/website when traveling is gasbuddy.com. With Gasbuddy, you can search for the cheapest gas prices in all 50 states, in and around most major cities. If you’re traveling on a budget, every bit of money you can save makes a difference!

Lastly, make sure you bring a physical map with you—just throw it in the glove box,  You never know when your cell phone will run out of battery, or you can’t get cell reception, and you have to rely on an old school, hard copy map (you know, like how everyone did for decades prior to the smartphone invention).

Hopefully, these tips will make your next road trip a little more fun and a lot less unpleasant. Who knows? Maybe the next time you plan a vacation the complaints of “I hate road trips” will be a thing of the past! 

This article was written by Kimberly and edited by Michael.

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