Road trips are a great way to travel and have an amazing time with your friends — on a budget! In fact, going on a road trip with your friends is one of those life adventures that you shouldn’t take for granted or waste. So, here are the best things to do on a road trip that will make it a fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime experience!
1. Follow the Plan (But Not Too Closely)
The best road trips are often the unplanned ones. However, if you’re going on a journey that will last more than a few days, then you need to have a detailed plan. You at least have to set a budget!
Planning a road trip is usually half the fun. You sit down with your friends, and you fantasize about where you’ll go. Sounds great, right? Even better — after all that planning, you actually get to go and see the places you’ve been dreaming about.
Still, just because you have a plan doesn’t mean you need to be rigid about it. Don’t be scared to walk off the beaten path or see where that little village road leads.
2. Document the Trip
When thinking about things to do on a road trip, people usually make lists of games and places to visit. However, it’s equally important that you document everything that you’re doing. Soon enough, the road trip will be nothing more than a memory, so you want to have as many reminders as you can.
So, document the trip! Start a travel journal on your first day and use it to write down every little thing that happens. Well, alright, not everything, but definitely the stuff that seems important!
Making travel vlogs and sending them to your friends and family back home is an amazing (modern) way to make a travel journal. If you’re too tired to write or don’t have the means for it, just grab a camera and make a quick video to memorialize each day.
3. Take Lots of Photos
Taking plenty of pictures goes hand in hand with the previous suggestion. But you’re probably wondering why it’s even a tip for travelers. It’s not like you aren’t going to take photos, right?
Well, of course, you will. However, it’s good to be conscious about taking as many as you can because several decades down the line, those photos will turn into precious memories.
Whether you’re going on a road trip for two or with a huge group, it’s a good idea to invest in some camera equipment. A selfie stick might look ridiculous, but it will come in handy if you only have one travel buddy.
That way, you won’t have to constantly harass other people to take your pic (or have a massive amount of photos with only one person). What’s more, a selfie stick will be a godsend when you’re in the middle of nowhere with no one around to hold your camera while you and your travel buddy are posing.
You can also buy a tripod or even a drone. These might come in handy as they can capture some angles that a camera-in-hand approach simply doesn’t allow for.
4. Take a Breather From Technology
Now you’re thinking, “How do I take lots of photos if I’m taking a breather from technology?”
Well, you don’t have to take a technology-free trip. However, when it comes to things to do on a road trip, not using technology might open up new avenues. It’s also a perfect way to unplug and rest (which is probably the entire point of the trip).
Just because you chose to unglue your smartphone from your hand for a day doesn’t mean you’re helpless. You and your travel buddies can use paper maps to find your way on the road. It’s a fun, old-timey experience that you’ll remember for the rest of your lives.
What’s more, if you look up from your phone, you won’t miss anything, and you’ll enjoy the scenery more. If you find yourself a bit lost, though, try asking some locals for directions or advice. Now that’s an adventure full of uncertainty and new experiences!
5. Don’t Ignore the Locals
One thing to always keep in mind when you’re looking for things to do on a road trip is where to look. Sure, the Internet is a powerful tool and an abundant source of information. However, when it comes to eateries, vistas, and fun things that will entertain you on your road trip, you need the inside scoop.
Are you looking for a place with the best food that won’t leave you broke? Ask a local. Do you need directions to the secret spot that’s not on the maps or in any guide? Ask a local! They’ll rarely lead you the wrong way, and, most of the time, they will share some information that you’d never be able to get otherwise.
If you make a stop on your road trip in a quaint little town in the Middle of Nowhere, America (or anywhere else, for that matter), finding the local supermarket or the watering hole won’t be that difficult.
Once there, you’ll meet people who hold precious gems of information. Ask them where to go to see the most beautiful parts of the place you’re in and where the best food is. Nine out of ten times, you’ll be happy you did it.
6. Watch Sunrises and Sunsets
If you’re looking for amazing things to do on a road trip that don’t require a lot of effort or money, watching the sun rise or set is a perfect choice. Even though they happen every single day, sunrises and sunsets are still mesmerizing and stunning. The beauty of watching a day start and end almost cannot be explained with words.
Again, ask the locals about the best views. Sometimes, even the most beautiful sunrise will look unbelievably better from that one special spot that you simply don’t know about (yet). So, ask around.
7. Play Road Trip Games
To be honest, any game can be a road trip game if you adapt it well enough. If your road trip is long and requires a lot of driving, pass the time by playing children’s games from your childhood. That way, the time will fly by, and you’ll be reminded of the good old days.
If you lack ideas, the license plate game is always a good choice. It’s fun, and it actually makes all passengers pay attention to the traffic.
You can spice things up by turning the game into a little contest too. For example, the winner can pick the next rest stop or the dare for the loser.
Bring cards and board games with you. You can always make a stop to rest and pass the time by playing games. Also, fun games such as Cards Against Humanity will make an amazing trip even better. They’re not only hilarious but very engaging too!
8. Entertain Yourself With Music
Making playlists might seem like a tedious task, but every adventure needs a stellar soundtrack! So, take some time to make the best playlist with songs that will make the road trip all the more enjoyable. Remember — each song you pick will, from that point on, be a “road trip song.”
Of course, you don’t have to try that hard if you don’t feel like it. You can also just play a randomized playlist and hit the skip button every time a boring song comes along.
Either way, make sure to fill the silence with something. Music will keep you engaged and focused on the road, which is vital (whether you’re driving or not).
Music isn’t the only thing that will keep you entertained! You can also listen to podcasts or audiobooks. That will help you pass the time and also give you something to discuss with your road trip buddies.
Another Pro Tip
If you’re strictly a music person, then by all means — go all out. Sing along to all the songs; correct lyrics, be damned!
Suppose you and your road trip buddies are particularly competitive. In that case, you can start a sing-along competition with prizes or dares for losers (remember, you can turn anything into a game on a road trip). Such contests are some of the best and most fun things to do on a road trip!
9. Don’t Forget About Self-Care
When making a list of things to do on a road trip, self-care often doesn’t make the cut. However, it should!
Just because you’re on a road trip doesn’t mean you should put your needs on hold. If you’re feeling stiff from driving or sleeping in your car, rent a hotel room for the night. Even better, book a massage and let someone pamper you for a few hours.
You might not have the money to do this every night. That’s not really what road trips are about, right? However, it’s quite alright to treat yourself from time to time (especially if it’s a long road trip).
You must stay active while traveling. Sitting in your car and eating snacks while driving for hours on end is fun, but it isn’t really that beneficial.
So, when you see an appropriate spot, get out of the car to do something — play some sports, take a hike, swim in a lake, or do anything else that will keep you in shape.
10. Take Detours
What are the best things to do on a road trip? Well, you should try exploring and leaving no stone unturned, of course! In other words, do your best to see as much as you can of every single spot you visit!
Most people have pretty fixed road trip schedules. Where’s the excitement in that? Sure, it’s nice to have a plan. But it’s also wonderful to do something completely out of the blue.
Google the weird tourist attractions in the area and go see them. They might be silly, but they’ll be the perfect breather on a super-focused journey.
Alternatively, take an impromptu hike to see what’s on the top of that hill over there. Who knows what you’ll discover while taking these detours!
Stepping off the beaten path can be a fantastic adventure. Still, it’s important to stay as safe as possible while on a road trip.
Yes, try to explore as much as you can. However, don’t just go wandering around unknown woods, for example. Always ask the locals (or the Internet) for advice on where to go, which hiking trails are safe, and which areas you should avoid.
11. Try Something New Every Day
Road trips are, by nature, new experiences. And, since you’re already in the right mindset, they are also the perfect setting for exercising the “yes” attitude.
Set a challenge for you and your travel buddies — try one new thing every day. It can be anything, from trying out new dishes to bungee jumping! Stop playing it safe all the time and live a bit dangerously by engaging in some activities you’d otherwise avoid.
Sure, some of these experiences won’t be entirely pleasant. But they’ll be a great reminder of the road trip, and they’ll spice it up.
Believe it or not, traveling can become a bit dull after a while. Make it edgy again by trying out something new every day.
The “say yes” attitude might make you stray away from your plan, especially if you take it to the extreme and say yes to everything people offer you.
Besides, keep in mind that trying out new things is only fun if everyone is on board. Discuss this particular adventure with your travel buddies beforehand.
12. Buy Or Make Souvenirs
Small mementos and various knick-knacks that you can pick up at each stop will turn into beautiful reminders once you return home. What’s more, they’ll make fabulous gifts for those waiting for you to come back from your glorious trip.
If you’re on a budget, though, you can make your own souvenirs. Pick up a small, interesting rock every time you stop to sightsee and make a small collection that you’ll proudly display at your home.
Or, even better, pick a flower that’s indigenous to the area and press it. Then, after you come back home, you can make a beautiful floral scrapbook!
A Few Parting Words
Road trips can be heaps of fun, but they can also be exhausting since they require a lot of effort and energy. Of course, in the end, you’ll see that they are worth that and much more. When you’re old and wrinkly, you’ll find yourself smiling over the good and not-so-good memories from your road trips.
However, things don’t always happen organically. You might be eager to jump into your car and just start driving, but that spontaneity might cost you.
To make the best memories, thinking of things to do on a road trip in advance is a fantastic choice. Hopefully, this list has given you some good ideas and will make your road trip the best one ever!