I love a road trip as much as the next person.
I mean, with the sun shining and blue skies overhead, you pile into the car with your friends, wind down the windows and blast some classic tunes as the open road unfurls before you.
Ordinary life, with all its responsibilities, gets left behind. An enticing sense of adventure takes its place.
It’s no wonder that road trips feel so liberating from the outset!
However, if my experience of them has taught me anything, it’s that the reality of spending hours/days on the road can, on occasion, fail to live up to those dreamy expectations.
When the initial excitement fades and you’re faced with countless hours in the car, the mood can turn, and a general sense of boredom sets in.
Know the struggle and want some tried and tested ideas for what to do on a road trip?
Well, having done my fair share of them, I think I might be able to help! Sound good? Read on to discover 40 fun things to do on road trips with friends.
40 of the Best Things to Do On a Road Trip with Friends, Family, or Total Strangers!
Looking for fun things to do in the car? The following 40 fun things to do during a road trip should help!
1. Record the journey
One of my top suggestions for things to do on a road trip with friends is to keep a journal as you go.
Write about where you’ve been, what you’ve been doing, and how you’re finding the experience.
It doesn’t have to be a hand-written thing either.
I mean, writing in a moving vehicle isn’t easy! You could save yourself the hassle (and mess) by typing notes on your phone or even dictating into it.
However you do it, journaling about your journey will help a) pass the time, and b) provide a lasting record of the trip.
You’ll be able to look back on it long after it’s over and reminisce over forgotten details.
Need some help getting started? Check out these travel journal prompts.
2. Track your route on a map
Another cool thing to do on road trips is to track your route on a map.
I did this on a recent trip to Australia. I was travelling around in a rickety old campervan for 6 months or so, covering more than 20,000km and stopping all around the country to take in the sights.
Wanting to remember where I’d been, I dropped a pin on Google maps at every new place I went.
The result? I’ve now got a lasting memory and a visual display of my route to look back on.
You could do the same, or take it one step further with an actual physical map. I’ve heard of people literally stitching their route (with a needle and thread) as they went from place to place.
You’d have a fun task to do along the way and an awesome memento of your road trip at the end!
3. Take tonnes of videos and photos
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you to take lots of photos and videos as you go!
Most people will have their phones/cameras out at every opportunity on a road trip. It’s the perfect way to record your trip and all the amazing things you see and do.
Have some fun with it as well though.
For example, why not challenge each other to take a maximum of 5 photos per day? Or do a photo competition to see who can snap the best image. And so on.
It might also be cool to take a Polaroid camera with you on the road.
You’d end up with piles of physical photos that captured the moment to moment of your trip in a way that digital cameras and phones couldn’t.
4. Post about your trip on social media
You don’t want to spend all of your time on your phone.
But there’s no denying that social media provides another option for entertainment on a road trip.
Try to avoid any mindless scrolling though! The last thing you want is to let the trip pass in a blur of cat videos and random TikTok clips.
Think about creating a new Instagram profile and Facebook page for your adventures.
Record your endeavours, post photos, and write little stories of your exploits. People back home, and even random strangers, can then check in on what you’re up to. You never know, you could end up garnering a significant following!
5. Play road trip games
Games are a classic way to stay entertained on long car journeys.
There’s no shortage of options either. License plate bingo, cards against humanity, and eye-spy are just a few examples of popular road trip games to try.
Here’s a great list from BuzzFeed with more ideas.
Wondering what food to take on a road trip too? Check out this post!
6. Find out more about each other
You might have days on the road with the same road trip travel companions.
That’s a lot of time to kill! Why not take the opportunity to find out more about each other?
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve known someone for your entire life. There might still be things to discover about them. Now’s the ideal time to change that.
Have a heart to heart. Get political. Ask about their childhood. Enquire about their job, dreams, and goals. Divulge long-held secrets, get their opinion on noteworthy topics, and so on.
Need some conversation starters? These road trip questions should help.
7. Reminisce over shared memories
I love nothing more than reminiscing with good friends about days of old!
Whether you’re talking about old childhood stories, shared memories from college, or past adventures, it’s always fun to reflect, laugh, and feel the warm tinge of nostalgia on a best friend road trip.
8. Crack your favourite jokes
Is the atmosphere in the car getting a little grey?
Tell some jokes to brighten the mood! They’re a perfect antidote to lifting peoples’ spirits and putting a smile back on everyone’s face.
They don’t have to be good jokes either.
For more joke-related fun things to do in the car, you could spice things up a bit and have a competition to see who can tell the worst one. Vote on the best/worst and the winner/loser has to buy the beers as the next destination.
9. Listen to music
No road trip is complete without music blaring in the background!
Make sure your car has a good set of speakers, Bluetooth (or an aux cord), and something from which to play music. I recommend having multiple playlists of top tunes available to ensure you’re never short of a song.
Here’s an awesome road trip playlist from TimeOut if you’re looking for inspiration.
Want to mix things up a bit? Think about reverting to the good old days of CDs. Get everybody to bring an album and take it in turns to play them from start to finish.
10. Play movie soundtracks!
On the subject of music, why not play your favourite soundtracks as well?
There’s nothing better than driving along open roads with an epic movie soundtrack playing. Everything takes on a new sense of drama.
Whether it’s Batman, Braveheart, Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter, they’re a perfect addition to any road trip playlist!
Heads up, you might also like this post about the best gifts for road trippers!
Heads up, you might also like this list of 50 funny road trip quotes! Check it out!
11. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks
I often get tired of both the radio and my own music after a while.
That’s why I like having podcasts and audiobooks downloaded to my phone as well.
They’re ideal for quiet moments in the car and long stints behind the wheel. You can turn them on, tune in, and let the miles drift past.
12. Read each other stories
Why not take it in turns to read to each other as well?
It might have been years since anybody read you a story! But, trust me, it’s bloody lovely. You feel like a little kid again.
It’s nice for the driver as well.
They can focus on the road without being distracted by loud music or boisterous conversation.
13. Read a book
Quiet moments in the car provide a perfect opportunity to read a book.
With a good novel or non-fiction in your hands, you can escape into the pages and easily kill hours of the drive! That’s good news when boredom has started to settle in and the time’s dragging.
14. Watch a movie/series
The same goes for watching a movie or series!
With TVs in the back of the car, or Netflix on your phone, you can get engrossed in your favourite series/film and see time pass by in a flash.
It’s even better if you can watch the same film/show with friends. The experience becomes less antisocial.
Spare a thought for the driver though! They’re having to concentrate on the road while you escape into the screen. Make sure they’re happy with the silence and take regular breaks to keep them company too.
15. Eat some road trip snacks
I think having a car-full of snacks is a pre-requisite for a successful road trip.
There’s nothing worse than being hungry on the road. Having an ample supply of tasty treats will prevent that eventuality and help lift peoples’ mood (not to mention their energy levels).
Don’t overindulge in the unhealthy stuff though.
You’ll end up feeling sick, which is the last thing you want when you’re spending hours in the car. Pack a mixture of healthy and unhealthy snacks to keep you satiated and satisfied in equal measure.
Wondering what else to bring along on the road trip? Check out this post full of things to take travelling.
16. Sing karaoke songs
If you’re going to be listening to music, then you might as well sing along! Break out some classic songs and get your karaoke on in the back of the car.
You could even do one of those lip sync videos, like this epic one from a few years back:
17. Take breaks
Don’t forget to take regular breaks from the car as well!
I mean, too much of anything is bad for you, right? But that cliché seems particularly apt when you’re travelling at high speeds for hours at a time in a metal tin can with wheels.
Stop the car every couple of hours, stretch your legs, see the sights, and give yourself a rest.
18. Take turns driving
Got a few of you in the car? Divide the driving up between you as well.
For one thing, it gives everyone a turn behind the wheel, which means you’re getting natural breaks. That should stop people from getting too tired on the road, keeping everyone safe in the process.
An added bonus is that everybody gets to experience the joy of being a passenger!
I mean, driving’s great, but you have to be focused on the road all the time. Everything from looking out at the sights to engaging in the backseat banter becomes far harder.
19. Have a snooze (passengers only)
Things gone quiet in the car? Feeling tired and not your turn to drive anytime soon?
Well, I’d have a nap.
Road trips, like all travelling, can tire you out! You’re literally on the move all the time, fluctuating between excitement and boredom, stopping and seeing new things every few hours.
Having a periodic snooze can keep your energy levels up and ensure you keep enjoying yourself.
20. Turn off the GPS
I literally don’t know where I’d be without a GPS.
My sense of direction is notoriously bad and my memory isn’t much better. Take my GPS away when I’m driving and all hell breaks loose.
I don’t know where I’m going and can’t remember where I came from!
I can’t lie, though, it’s kinda fun. That’s how adventure happens! Give it a go if you aren’t in a hurry to get anywhere.
Turn off your GPS and see where you end up. You’ll be able to find your way back if you get lost (just turn the GPS back on!) and you might end up stumbling on some awesome and unexpected sights/places in the process.
Want an extra challenge? Don’t take a GPS in the first place and use an old-school map instead. It’s sure to make things more interesting…
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21. Take detours & see the sights
I’ve travelled a reasonable amount at this point and done my fair share of road trips too.
And I can honestly say that, for me, at least, the best kind of travel is slow travel.
I don’t like rushing anywhere, skipping things out, or being in a hurry to reach my final destination. Remember, the joy of travel really is in the journey itself.
You won’t look back on this road trip and remember much about where you ended up.
But you will recall, in vivid detail, how you got there and the adventures you went on along the way.
With that in mind, make sure you stop at every opportunity (where it’s practical and feasible) to explore, do fun things, and take in the sights. Take random detours (especially when you don’t know where they go) and embrace the adventures that come as a result.
Want some inspiration? Click here to read about the world’s greatest explorers and their epic stories.
22. Make profiles for each other on dating apps & go wild
Looking for fun things to do on road trips and fancy having a giggle?
Swap phones, set up a profile for each other on Tinder (or another dating app), and start swiping left and right. See who you can set your mates up with at your next destination!
23. Drive a classic route
It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, every country has certain roads and routes that are steeped in road-tripping prestige.
Think about the old Route 66 in America, the Skeleton Coast in Namibia, or the Grimsel Pass in Switzerland. All of them are epic road trips.
See which classic routes might be along the way on your chosen path and consider taking a detour to travel a section of them!
24. Goof around
Road trips should never be serious affairs.
They should be fun-filled, laughter-fuelled, joke-ridden rides that leave everybody in a good mood.
Take every opportunity on your trip to goof around. Plan some practical jokes, partake in plenty of (friendly) banter, and play silly games that everybody in the car likes.
25. Keep in touch with people back home
Don’t forget to let your loved ones at home know how you’re getting on.
There are all sorts of things that can go wrong on the road. And, if your mum’s anything like mine, then they want constant reassurance that you’re a) still alive, and b) having fun.
…But mainly that you’re still alive.
Dropping them the odd text and giving them the occasional call will help keep everybody happy! It’s also something to do when things are getting a bit dull in the car.
You could even download one of those apps that lets people back home check your whereabouts. They’ll be able to track your progress without having to call/message all the time.
26. Research your next stop
I’m never a massive fan of planning.
I try to ‘go with the flow’ where possible, and see what happens. Sometimes, though, that tack backfires and I end up missing out on incredible opportunities that I simply had no idea existed.
Strike a happy balance: plan a little as you go, googling the next destination before you get there, checking what there is to do.
It’s a good way to pass the time when you’ve got nothing better to do and ensures you see the best bits of wherever you’re headed.
27. Come up with 3 must-do activities for each stop
This point leads on from the last.
Basically, while researching the next stop on your road trip, you could challenge each other to come up with 3 things to do there.
It could be activities to do, sights to see, places to eat, or points of interest to check out.
In any case, with multiple people coming up with multiple options, you’ll never be short of something to do when you arrive at each stop.
28. Check roadtrippers.com for ideas and inspiration
Roadtrippers.com is a gem of a website for anybody on (or planning) a road trip.
Plan your trip, decide your itinerary, get more travel tips, and so on. Check it out if you’re at a loss for what to do or how to get somewhere.
29. Make no plans whatsoever
You could throw caution to the wind and ditch the lot of ‘em. Pile into the car with nothing but a physical map and your final destination in mind.
Figure it out as you go, with a general attitude of openness and adventure. Find yourself planning in the car? Stop it! Take the next turn off and see what you find.
30. Take/buy an air freshener
I suppose this is more of a practical suggestion for road trips than an idea for what to do on them.
Basically, there’s nothing like spending hours at a time in an enclosed space with your friends to make things a little ‘stuffy’. You’re eating food, sharing space, and sweating away in a hot vehicle!
Having an air freshener in the car will make an almighty difference.
31. Keep your electronics charged up (use a multi-way charger)
Phone going flat? Camera battery running low? Laptop powering down?
Stick it all on charge!
First, though, you’ll need a multi-way adapter to plug into the cigarette lighter (or a power bank). They’re an absolute life-saver when you’re on the road with no access to mains power.
32. Remember the beers (and a bottle opener)
No, this isn’t me advocating or endorsing drunk driving!
But there’s no denying the benefits of having a case of cold beers in the back (preferable in a cooler). An ice-cold beer goes down a treat when evening rolls around and you’ve been driving all day.
Just wait until the driving’s done before you break them out.
Drunk driving causes countless accidents every year. Be safe, be responsible, and only enjoy your beers when you’ve got nowhere else to go that day.
33. Camp out along the way
Remember when I suggested making detours, stopping along the way, seeing the sights, and taking your time to have an adventure?
Well, camping out is a way of combining it all.
It’s also a really cool way to spend the night when you’re out on an extended road trip. Stick your camping gear in the back and keep an eye out for the perfect spot to free-camp.
Heads up, this is the perfect time to break out those beers I just mentioned…
Driving at night? Or camping out along the way?
Look up at the stars! Use an app on your phone to highlight the constellations (assuming you don’t know them already) and take in the magic of the night sky.
35. Eat at local establishments
Stepping into local bars, cafes, and restaurants can be daunting sometimes- particularly in smaller, rural communities that don’t get too many travellers.
They can feel a little hostile. The locals don’t know you; you don’t understand the way they do things. It’s tempting to go to the big chains, the fast-food restaurants, or to cook for yourself/get take-out.
But I like (and recommend) doing it for two reasons:
First, it’s a way to support the local communities through which you’re driving. The result?
Well, it’s just good, ethical practice. But it has the added benefit of endearing the locals to travellers that come through after you.
Second, you end up challenging your stereotypes, meeting some lovely people, and learning more about where you actually are in the country.
36. Speak to the locals
This point leads on from the last!
Get into the habit of talking to locals whenever you can. It’s the best way to get recommendations for things to do, discover a place’s history, and have a quality conversation all at once.
37. Turn your mobiles phones off
Mobile phones are always useful on road trips.
They act as a communications device, cameras, video recorders, GPS, entertainment, and encyclopedia all at once.
However, they can also be very distracting.
You’re there to have fun, escape the mundanity or real life, and spend time with your nearest and dearest. But you end up on your phone the whole time, just doing what you always do!
Get everybody to put the phone away every now and again to stop that happening.
38. Take customized stickers to leave as reminders at different stopping points
Want to leave you mark along the way?
Why not bring along some custom stickers (e.g. ‘Pete and Dave’s US road trip 2020’- or something slightly more original…) and leave them in places along the way?
Obviously, respect the places you visit. Only stick them in locations where it’s vaguely acceptable. The bathrooms of dive-bars or nightclubs are often a good place to do it, for example!
If you ever go back there, you’ll be able to look for your ‘mark’ and reminisce about the trip you took way back when.
39. Buy a tiny souvenir at each stop
Stop and buy souvenirs along the way too! It’s an awesome way to remember the road trip when it’s over. Take the mementos with you in the car and then back home when you’re done.
You’ll have a tangible reminder of all the cool things you did to go with the photos and journal entries.
40. Sit, daydream, and watch the world go by
My final suggestion for what to do on a road trip is just to sit and watch the world go by.
I know, it’s hardly revolutionary!
But you’d be surprised at how easy it is to just let the time slip by without ever taking in what you’re doing. Whenever you’re not driving, try to sit back, relax, and observe all the new places you’re travelling through.
Watch the landscapes change, see what the weather’s doing, and acknowledge the way you’re feeling in each place. You’ll be present and far more appreciative of your road trip as a result.
Exactly What to Do on a Road Trip
Road trips are always special. I mean, the very thought of going on a road trip is usually enough to get me dribbling with excitement!
They’re full of promise from the get-go. They’re exciting, liberating, fun-filled adventures that you share with awesome people in amazing places.
But they can definitely end up being a bit boring at times too. That’s why it’s so important to know what to do on a road trip! You’ll never feel bored or let-down if you know the best things to do on a road trip.
Hopefully, this post will help in that regard!