I’m a big fan of road trips. Sometimes that means hopping in the car with a loose plan and just driving. Other times my family might be embarking on an epic, multi-state journey. Either way, planning and preparation – with flexibility built in – is the way to a successful family road trip.
Today I’m going to share some of my favorite apps, books, and games for your next road trip.
Favorite Road Trip Apps
iExit: This is the app I use most on the road. Have you ever exited the highway and then had to drive miles to find gas or food? Or maybe you’re really craving Panda Express and need to know how far until you find one? This useful app will tell you what’s off the exit and exactly how far you’ll need to go.
AroundMe: This app tells you the restaurants, coffee shops, bars, banks, gas stations, hospitals, hotels, pharmacies, movie theaters, supermarkets, parking, and even weather around you. Easily map your way to a location, or link to a review or web page to learn more. I use this app more when I’m off the highway and looking for a local coffee shop or pharmacy.
Diners and Drive-Ins TV Unofficial Guide: If you’re a fan of Guy Fieri’s TV show, “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives,” this app will tell you how to find the Triple-D restaurants featured in the show!
Gas Buddy: Finding the best price on gas will save you money on a long road trip. Gas Buddy locates the lowest pump prices in your vicinity, with easy-to-read maps to help you zero in on the savings.
Roadside America: Created by America’s foremost experts in roadside attractions and oddities, this app will find those unique, “biggest ball of twine”-type stops that are a must on any road trip. My family has been delighted by some of the crazy things this app has pointed us to!
Roadtrippers: This app helps you find everything from hotels to restaurants, and national parks to roadside attractions. Users can plan out trips in the app or on the web site, saving locations and stops into a trip plan which you can sync across multiple devices for easy reference.
Favorite Road Trip Books
Miles of Smiles: This book is full of fun facts, trivia and games that will keep kids and adults talking and laughing. One of our favorite games from this book is called “What Am I Counting?” One person starts counting something out loud and the rest of the passengers have to figure out what they are counting. It’s a tough game! Is he counting traffic lights? Trucks? Surveillance cameras?
National Geographic Kids’ Almanac: Bursting with information about the culture, history, animal life, geography, wackiest weather and weird but true facts from every corner of the globe, this book offers an entire section that provides an overview of all 195 countries and another section containing info on our 50 states. My kids love the “weird but true” facts and I love that they are learning something new. And it’s full of the gorgeous photos you’d expect from a National Geographic publication!
Rand McNally Activity Books: Are We There Yet? offers boredom-busting puzzles, games, and journaling and coloring pages. The Kids’ Road Atlas is the ideal companion for any US road trip with a page for every state that includes a road map, state facts, and a game or puzzle. I mapped our route on each state map before the trip so the kids could follow along.
Favorite Road Trip Games
Travel Scavenger Hunt Card Game: Each person is dealt five cards depicting various things you might find on the road. There are the usual items, such as stop signs and hotels, but there are also some fun ones, like a “person with orange hair,” and a “really dirty car.” When you see the item on your card, you call it out, put your card aside, and draw a new one.
There are also swap cards that let you exchange cards if you’ve got a particularly difficult one in your hand. The first person to find 10 items wins. The game goes pretty quickly and my kids always ask to play again. I love that it makes everyone look up from their devices and outside at their surroundings.
Magnetic Travel Bingo: Bingo is always a classic, and this magnetic version makes it easy to play in the car with all ages.
Brain Quest: My kids love all versions of Brain Quest and the questions have sparked some interesting and educational conversations!