24 Things to Do on the Ultimate American Road Trip

Updated 05/03/19
things to do on road trips

Do you remember watching Britney Spears and her crew in Crossroads? The characters made taking a road trip—with a guy they met at their school dance, no less—seem like an absolute blast. There’s even that scene where Britney’s character completely nails her karaoke version of “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll” at a random bar along the way. But although real road trips have tons of perks like beautiful views and fun pit stops, the hours on the highway can get a little dull at best. We’ve put together a foolproof guide so the next time you choose to travel a distance by car, you’ll know how to keep yourself (and the other passengers!) totally occupied.

Scroll through to see the things to do on road trips to save yourself from boredom.

1. Put on a sheet mask—when you emerge at your destination, at least you’ll have glowing skin. We like this brand.

2. You can’t listen to the radio the whole time. Instead, take advantage of the longer trip and listen to a new podcast. S-Town—a mystery series from the creators of Serial—is getting a ton of buzz.

3. Use Google Maps to plot places you are thinking of visiting once at your location. It will be so much easier to try famous restaurants, food trucks, bars, and so much more.

4. If you’re driving with your S.O., now might be a good time to take an emotional intimacy Q&A—experts insist it’s the best way to spice up your relationship.

5. Go technology-free when it comes to navigation. Using only a map will give you and your travel companions that much more of a feeling of satisfaction when you arrive!

6. Use the Star Chart app to identify the stars and planets you see in the sky—perfect for nighttime breaks.

7. Stop at random places on the way—straddle state lines, peruse fireworks kiosks, and try the taco stand just off the interstate—and post photos on social media doing each of the above, of course.

8. Offer to critique a friend’s dating profile. They’ll thank you. If you’re feeling really generous, offer to help them find someone to date with the cool new app Vouch that allows you to “swipe” for your friends.

9. If you’ve got a full car, play a little Cards Against Humanity. Even though the driver won’t be able to partake, he or she will get a few chuckles from the front seat. If you’ve got a crew that’s engaged or married, Cards Against Matrimony may be even more entertaining.

10. Play license-plate bingo. Whoever spots all 50 states’ worth of license plates first wins. For quick note-taking, print out papers with state names on them so you can easily cross one off at a time.

11. Make up a scavenger hunt and determine prizes in advance (like treating the winner to a fancy dinner at your final location). Things on the list? Ask a stranger to pump your gas, get five people to wave back to you on the highway, be the first to spot 25 red cars—you can get really creative.

12. Let yourself drift off to sleep. It’s one of the best things to do on road trips (as long as you’re not the driver). How often do you get the opportunity to just relax?

13. Brush up on your language skills for your next international escape. We like Fodor’s Travel Phrases app.

14. Brainstorm a list of the next 10 places you want to visit. Then purchase a world scratch map so you can follow through with your goals.

15. If no one in your group has any kids yet, play the “what will I name my baby?” game. (Go for first names and middle names, since parents seem to be using both lately).

16. Sing along to an entire musical soundtrack while pretending you’re at the show. Feel free to applaud at the end of each track.

17. Play the silent game. See who can keep quiet for longest (you can use funny gestures to taunt your opponents).

18. Use a label maker to leave funny notes on your way. Put one with a friend’s phone number on your signed dinner receipt, or stick one on your sleeping friend's forehead.

19. Pick state flowers. Press them in a book as you go for a fun souvenir when you get home.

20. Pull into a drive-in movie theater. Make sure to bring in greasy local food and treats—the total road trip package.

21. Search for signs for local events—and then attend one. Is there a nearby carnival, pancake breakfast, or farmers market? Find one that best suits your interests, and then interact with the area’s residents.

22. Stay overnight at a fancy-ish hotel whenever you get tired. Use the One Night app to find something swanky last minute.

23. Download the Glympse app. Now your parents or significant other can see where you are without your having to constantly check in.

24. Give yourself a pedicure. Then hang your feet out the open window a bit to let them dry. Freedom!

Be sure to read about 37 things to do on a Sunday night to start the week off right. What are your favorite things to do on road trips to keep busy? Tell us in the comments!

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