How to Keep Yourself Entertained on a Long Car Trip

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Traveling across the country by car is a lot of fun if you have the right frame of mind. You don't have to be bored on those long stretches of nothingness in the desert nor at night when there is nothing to see but white lines. Whether you're traveling alone or with your family, here are some ideas for keeping yourself entertained while driving on a long trip.

Snacking, Stopping, Don'ts and Do's

  • First of all, it's a good idea to bring a few boxes of snack crackers and an ice chest with some soft drinks and water on your trip. That way you're not tempted to pull into every food trap along the way. Snacking can keep your mind busy as the miles float by. However, be sure to always keep your eyes on the road.

  • Naturally, we all want to get as many miles behind us as we can before we have to stop for any reason. Although stopping for fuel and potty breaks, etc., is inevitable, if you bring a small bucket or cup with a handle onboard, the kids will have fun going in it and you'll have to stop only when it's absolutely necessary. Obviously, if you're driving alone, don't try to pee in a cup while driving. Pull over.

  • Here are some "Don'ts" to be aware of.
    Talking on the phone is certainly a good thing for passing the time, but it is dangerous and illegal in most states. Also, don't listen to soft music on your CD player. You don't want to fall asleep at the wheel.

  • Here are some "Do's" for audible entertainment.
    When travelling alone late at night, turn on the radio and scan for all the different radio stations that come and go in each small town. Some of the best moments in radio land happen on live broadcasts from small-town stations.

    If you're lucky enough to still have an old radio with knobs on it instead of buttons, you can turn the tuner slowly and find "skips" between the stronger signals. Skips are freak radio signals from powerful radio stations thousands of miles away. They travel around the Earth's rounded surface by bouncing off the Earth's Ionosphere at night, when the air is still.

Games for the Family

  • If you're traveling with your family, you may want to try some time-consuming games with your kids. For younger children, there's always "I See Something ... Yellow," a fun game where someone spots something of a particular color along the road and the family has to try to guess what it is. The winner gets to find the next item. Some times very little children call this game "I Spy With My Little Eye ...".

  • There is also the "Alphabet Game." This is a race to the end. Everyone has to try to find signs along the road with words on them that start with letters of the alphabet. An example might be Susie finds a sign that says "Apple Valley" for an "A." Then Johnny finds a "Burrito Factory" sign for the "B." The first one to get to a "Z" word sign wins. A variation on this game might be to use automobile license plates instead of signs.

  • Teenagers may not appreciate the challenges of an alphabet game and may want to try something a little more mature, such as "Bug!"

    The basic idea behind "Bug!"---a less-violent version of "Slug Bug," is that whoever finds a Volkswagon Beetle along the road gets points for finding it. Different types and styles of Bugs get different amounts of points. The game is designed to be played all day or during a single leg of a journey.

  • Milton Bradley makes a variety of famous board games that are designed to be used in the car. These professional games can keep young travelers entertained for hours. They range in price from $5.95 to $24.

If You're Not in a Hurry

  • Stop and smell the roses. If you're not in a hurry on your long trip, then make it a pleasure trip. Make time and distance your reward, not your goal. Take side trips often. Visit the national parks and natural caves. Stop and enjoy some of the amazing tourist traps that are out there, such as Arizona's Giant Crater or the Largest Ball of Yarn in the world, located in Nevada.

  • Each time you stop, pick up some literature to learn about local events in small towns ahead of you. You may discover a state fair, pie-eating contest, garlic festival or pickle-baking contest in the next town. Small-town local theater groups can be very entertaining as well.

  • There's a never-ending amount of historical landmarks to see on a long trip, too. Indian ruins, volcanoes, lakes and caves are locations best visited by car. So take some time to make your trip not only efficient but also entertaining---and even educational.

Tips & Warnings

  • Most important, enjoy your trip. Stay alert, drive rested and keep your eyes on the road.

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