15 Things to Do on a Long Car Ride by Yourself

A long car ride can be boring and exhausting. This is most especially true if you are doing it by yourself, and there’s no one to talk to.

The good news is that there’s actually an incredible assortment of things that you can do while your hands are on the wheel, and you are waiting to get to your destination. All you have to do is keep on reading this article to get some fantastic ideas — all 15 of them!

Taking a lengthy road trip on your own can be both good and bad. Because you’re the only one in the car and no one else, there are no distractions such as a chatty aunt, a sibling singing to his heart’s content, and a baby that won’t stop crying.

However, it’s also something that can suck big time because you cannot do what a typical passenger can do in order to get rid of boredom, such as read a book, play a video game, or get some Z’s.

It’s a good thing that a long car ride by yourself need not bore you to death as there are a number of things that you can do in order to make the journey entertaining and at times even productive — some of the best things to do on a long-distance journey on wheels can be found below.

The best time to check out the tips mentioned below is a day or two before you hop into the car and begin the long and dreary trip without anybody else in the vehicle.

That’s because some of them require you to stash the right stuff in your bag, like your favorite CDs or some healthy snacks. Just like what they say, failing to plan is planning to fail — not taking the right things with you on a car ride alone can make you feel bored to death even when you’re just a couple of miles into the lengthy and dreary trip.

So without any more ado, let’s take a look at 15 of the things that you may do on a long car ride by yourself, each one of them can make the journey a pleasing and rewarding one!

1. Listen to Music

Just like what Marilyn Manson once said, music is the strongest form of magic. And this is exactly why playing some great music can magically turn a boring car ride by yourself into something that’s enjoyable.

how to make a long drive seem shorter
Listen to music on a road

Needless to say, before you step foot inside your vehicle, you should fill your playlist with songs that you love.

Other than saving your favorite tunes in your smartphone or bringing some of the CDs in your collection, you may also opt for digital music streaming to have access to millions of songs.

Just bear in mind that in some areas, the cell signal may be crappy, which is something that can interrupt your music-listening time while on the road. Avoid the worst-case scenario by seeing to it that you can have access to music in more ways than one.

By the way, a long boring car ride can leave you feeling sleepy, which can put you and other motorists in grave danger! It’s a good thing that you can count on certain types of music to keep yourself awake.

According to audio experts, listening to tunes that are fast-paced and have sufficient amounts of bass can help you to remain alert even without having a cup of coffee and it’s one of the best things to do on a long car ride by yourself.

So make sure that your playlist consists of tunes that can leave your fingers thumping and your head bobbing.

2. Sing Your Heart Out

Why simply listen when you can also sing to your favorite songs? No matter if you can carry a tune or the dogs in the entire neighborhood howl uncontrollably as soon as you open your mouth, it’s so much fun for you to sing every now and then while you’re on the road to keep yourself entertained.

Other than saving yourself from being bored while your hands are glued to the wheel, singing can, in fact, offer a solo long car rider like you so many other perks.

what to do in the car when your bored
Sing along

For instance, it can actually help to keep your mind to stay wide awake, which is vital for you to get to your destination in one piece. Singing is also very good at dealing with stress — we all know that traffic jams and rowdy motorists can be very stressful!

So go ahead and turn your vehicle into your stage and motorists and pedestrians into your audience. But there’s one thing that you should avoid doing at all costs, especially when you’re singing some heartfelt songs: closing your eyes!

Here’s a quick tip to make singing during a long car ride by yourself even more entertaining: before you start to sing, mention some people to whom you would like to dedicate the song, or deliver a thank-you speech after every song as if you’re accepting a Grammy Award for best singer of the year.

3. Hum Instead of Sing

Just because you do not know the lyrics of a song doesn’t mean that you should put your singing career while driving to a halt. Humming is just as enjoyable as singing, plus it also offers some benefits to someone who is taking a long car ride on his or her own that will surely come in very handy.

Especially if you are taking a solitary road trip during the coldest months of the year and your sinuses are clogged due to the season, humming can leave you feeling less miserable. Based on many studies, the vibration that humming makes can help to ensure that the sinuses remain clog-free.

It goes without saying that humming makes for an excellent alternative to an antihistamine, which is something that’s not suitable for you to pop in your mouth when driving as it can leave you feeling drowsy.

Are you wondering why in the movies those who are meditating in order to relax and reduce stress are making the “om” sound? Well, that’s because it helps to boost the perks of meditating by encouraging better breathing as well as removing clutter from the mind.

If truth be told, humming is similar to making the “om” sound, and that is why it’s great for keeping your stress and anxiety levels to a minimum while driving solo.

Besides, humming a song is less weird and awkward than simply making the “om” sound.

4. Listen to Audiobooks

Earlier in this article, we mentioned that one of the things a driver cannot do that a passenger can to his or her heart’s content is reading a book. This does not mean, however, that you can no longer have yourself entertained with a really nice book if you’re the designated driver of a car during a solo road trip.

Book lovers have different opinions when it comes to audiobooks. Some say that audiobooks are alternatives to the real deal that are made for those who are too lazy to read.

While others say that it is pretty much similar to reading a book, only that they are using their ears instead of their eyes, plus their hands are completely free.

It’s due to this reason exactly why listening to audiobooks is perfect for drivers who are into reading books and would love to check out some of them without having to use their hands for flipping pages instead of holding the steering wheel.

No matter which side you are on, there is no denying that audiobooks put a few positive things on the table.

For instance, the personality of the narrators can help in enhancing not only the feel but also the flow of the story. They also help to increase attention span and focus, which is something that all good drivers out there could need.

Definitely, audiobooks are a blessing to a driver like you who could use some valuable form of entertainment while taking a road trip alone.

5. Give Podcasts a Try

While it is true that audiobooks can keep driving solo a task that’s a lot less boring, there are a few downsides to them as well.

For instance, not all of them come free of charge — good ones that are available at no cost may be hard to find on the web. Also, some people complain that audiobooks tend to consume a lot of brainpower when imagining what the narrators are saying, oftentimes causing them to lose focus on their driving.

Fret not if you don’t have the budget to purchase some audiobooks or if listening to them tends to leave you distracted. That’s because there’s an excellent alternative to them, and they are none other than podcasts!

One of the nicest things about podcasts is that you can listen to topics as well as podcasters that you are interested in.

As a result of such, a long car ride by yourself becomes not only entertaining but also worthwhile. The longer you listen to certain podcasters, the more you feel like there are acquaintances who are accompanying you on your road trip.

I routinely listen to half a dozen podcasts. And if I used to hate being stuck in traffic, now I don’t even notice them. Driving an hour to work and back gives me an opportunity to catch up on my favorite shows.

Here’s a wonderful tip: instead of listening to podcasts, why not make your own podcasts?

Recording your thoughts and ideas while driving is an excellent way to share with your listeners some of the things you would like to share, be it some personal life experiences or stuff you are an expert on.

6. Learn a New Language

No matter if you prefer audiobooks over podcasts or the other way around, there is something that you may do with them while driving a car for hours on end that allows you to really use your time wisely. It’s trying to learn a new language!

Aside from audiobooks and podcasts, you can also do so with the help of a language-learning app that you can install on your smartphone.

Experts say that there’s a variety of benefits that come with trying to learn how to speak a foreign language other than simply blending in when you visit the country in which the language is being spoken.

For instance, it helps to improve your memory as well as decision-making skills. And because it encourages you to use your brain, learning a different language may help to fend off dementia.

Another undeniable perk that comes with trying to speak a foreign language is that it helps to enhance your multitasking prowess as you are learning and driving at the same time. In this day and age, when most people are leading hectic lives, being able to multitask efficiently is a huge plus!

Make sure that by the time you arrive at your destination, you are no longer a beginner at speaking the language you’re learning by applying the lessons.

When you spot a red car, for instance, say “ese es un auto rojo”. Or when you come across a scary trucker, say “ese es un camionero aterrador”.

7. Sharpen Arithmetic Skills

Is math one of your weaknesses because you are poor at adding, subtracting, and multiplying numbers? Well, you could spend your long car ride by yourself complaining about how dreary the task is, or use the time to improve your arithmetic skills.

No, there’s no need for you to grab a calculator or abacus for this task. All you have to do is take a look at the license plates of the vehicles on the road.

What you may do in order to turn yourself into a math whiz is to add every digit on a license plate.

Do this over and over again, and once you feel like you’re already doing great, you may proceed with subtracting those digits — this will prove to be more challenging than adding them as you are likely to end up with negative numbers.

You may then proceed with multiplying the digits on a license plate once you’re already a pro at subtraction. Other than the digits on license plates, you may also add, subtract and multiply the figures painted on distance signs. You will surely encounter them every now and then as you get from point A to point B.

Doing intensive math with the help of license plates and road signs can be mentally draining. Aside from adding, subtracting, and multiplying, you may also have your arithmetic skills sharpened by something as easy as counting all the blue or red cars that you can spot.

8. Perform Guided Meditation

Sometimes leaving the hustle and bustle behind for a while is a fantastic way to reduce one’s stress levels.

If your reason for taking a lengthy road trip to get as far away from the busy city is to unwind, you don’t have to wait for you to get to your chosen destination to have your stress reduction begun.

That’s because it is something that you may start to do while you are driving on your own.

You can do this with the help of guided meditation. Just like what the name says, it is a form of mediation in which someone is telling you what to do, such as to take slow and deep breaths or imagine your stress turning into dust.

You can easily come across guided meditation videos on YouTube — there’s no need for you to look at the display panel of your smartphone as all you have to do is follow what the narrator or instructor is telling you to do. You may also choose from the many guided meditation apps that you can install on your mobile device.

However, do take note that the right guided meditation for you to go for is the kind that allows for mindfulness while you’re behind the wheel.

This is something that encourages you to be fully aware of your driving, thus keeping you from thinking about stressors that you would like to run away from.

Needless to say, unlike most other forms of guided meditation, the kind that’s intended for mindfulness while driving won’t leave you feeling sleepy.

9. Chew Boredom Away

Did you know that something as simple as chewing a wad of gum is enough to make your long drive alone so much easier to bear? No, it’s not just the flavor of the gum that makes that possible, but also the act of chewing it.

Experts confirm that chewing gum can, in fact, help to fight off the sleepiness that can result late night drive, and thus allowing you to drive safely.

There are a few other perks to chewing gum aside from making sure that you stay alert until such time you have the opportunity to catch some sleep at a motel, parking lot, or pit stop.

For instance, it allows you to get rid of nausea and heartburn that can be due to hunger or overeating. In order for you to get the best effect, consider stashing some peppermint-flavored gum in your pocket or bag.

There is another reason why it’s a wonderful idea for you to opt for gum with peppermint flavoring, and that’s the fact that it can help to keep your breath smelling fresh. And by the way, it can also help to keep your pearly whites gleaming for as long as you go for a sugar-free variant.

If you are trying to get in shape, chewing a wad of gum is highly recommended. That’s because it can help to keep at bay hunger pangs. What’s more, fitness experts say that chewing gum for an hour allows you to burn 11 calories!

10. Reach for Some Snacks

Speaking of hunger pangs, in order to keep them at bay, you should remember to bring with you some snacks before you rev up the engine to commence your long car ride by yourself.

Keeping your tummy happy is one of the secrets to traveling for several hours without winding up grumpy.

However, this does not mean that you should bring with you just about any snack that you can think of. If you want your solo driving to go as smoothly as possible, you should munch on stuff that will leave you feeling satisfied and not cause you to experience digestive distress.

It goes without saying that you should steer clear of greasy and fatty ones like pizza, fries, and burgers as they can cause abdominal issues, as well as gas-forming ones such as tacos and beans that can leave you bloated and gassy.

Treats that are loaded with sugar should be avoided, too, as they can leave you feeling tired and sleepy once the levels of sugar in your bloodstream crash.

Some of the healthiest snacks for you to munch on while driving include beef jerky, nuts, trail mix, popcorn, hard-boiled eggs, grapes, dried fruits, oatmeal cookies, dark chocolate, and protein bars.

11. Take Frequent Pit Stops

solo road trip essentials
Service Area

Every now and then, it’s a wonderful idea for you to take a quick break from driving. This allows you to get out of your car, stretch your legs, and do a few other things necessary to make the rest of the trip easier to bear.

It’s for this reason exactly why you should grab every opportunity to take a pit stop, especially if you’re not really in a hurry to get to your destination.

There are so many reasons why momentarily stopping at a gas station, convenience store or diner is highly recommended. Obviously, it allows you to use the bathroom to pee or freshen up.

It also enables you to get your hands on food and drinks, especially when your stomach is already complaining, and you forgot to follow the previous tip on things to do on a long car ride by yourself.

More importantly, it allows you to rest your overworked eyes, hands, and feet for a while.

Keeping at bay deep vein thrombosis or DVT is another reason why taking pit stops on a regular basis is highly suggested. Put simply, it’s a condition in which a blood clot forms in one of the veins situated in the legs as a result of sitting down or being immobile for a long time.

You don’t want to have a blood clot to form in a deep leg vein of yours as it can travel to your lungs and lead to pulmonary embolism, a life-threatening condition.

12. Pick up Nice Souvenirs

During pit stops, you are given the opportunity to browse for souvenirs and purchase those that you find attractive. Having some keepsakes allows you to remember that lengthy car trip of yours for the rest of your life.

Flat ones such as postcards, stickers, and small maps can be used as scrapbook decors. By checking out some souvenirs, you will find that every place that you drop by has its own unique charm.

The souvenirs you buy also make for fantastic gifts for your family members and friends.

Especially if your solitary road trip is for you to get back to your hometown to meet your folks as well as childhood friends, picking up some nice souvenirs allows you to hit two birds with one stone — take a quick break from driving as well as get your hands on some of the most exceptional gifting items on the face of the planet.

However, do take note that shopping for souvenirs can leave a dent on your budget, especially if you’re not careful. If you are traveling on a shoestring budget and what you want are some keepsakes for yourself, worry not because all you have to do is check out the following tip.

13. Take Snapshots

If you want a pocket-friendly way to have keepsakes from every captivating place that you run into along the way, you may simply fish your smartphone out of your pocket or take your camera out of your bag.

That’s because taking snapshots of the places you drop by makes for some of the best souvenirs that won’t leave your budget in shambles. It’s also a great idea to take photos of the local foods you try and friendly people you meet.

Uploading photos on social media during your trip is also a great way to let the ones who care about you know that you are safe and sound — nothing can make your family and friends feeling worried more than not hearing from you.

But thanks to the snapshots that you regularly post online, they can rest assured that you are out of harm’s way and actually having the time of your life while on the road.

Which type of camera you use for photographing the areas you visit will depend on your needs and personal taste. You can use the camera of your smartphone or a digital camera.

14. Choose a Scenic Route

In order for you to be able to take beautiful snapshots that you could post on social media, it’s a great idea for you to pick a route that allows you to come across picture-perfect sceneries.

solo road trip across America
Scenic routes in America

This means that before you leave your home, you should pick up a map or log on the web to determine the most suitable route for the job.

Especially if you’re not really in a rush to get to your destination, you may consider stopping by as many popular tourist attractions along the way as possible. You may also choose to drop by some of the hidden gems that various cities or provinces have to offer.

By seeing these spots in person and photographing them, too, you will realize just how beautiful the world we live in really is.

More importantly, it will let you have a road trip that also doubles as a learning experience that you won’t be able to get from any school — personally seeing places that you used to see only in books and online can definitely broaden your horizons and make you feel more confident and accomplished.

By picking a route that allows you to get entertained and educated at the same time, you will get to your destination as a much better individual, which your family members and friends will surely appreciate.

15. Talk With Someone

Refrain from assuming that just because you are doing a long car ride on your own doesn’t mean that you have to be alone.

Thanks to today’s smartphones that are capable of making calls, sending text messages, and accessing the internet, you can get in touch with people who matter to you the most while you’re on the road!

We all know that driving for hours on end can be a very stressful task. This is true whether we are driving alone or with some companions.

No matter the case, communicating with some of the most important persons in our lives allows us to express our emotions, including most especially negative ones that could leave us feeling stressed, drained, anxious and even depressed.

When talking with someone while on a long car ride by yourself, remember to keep your hands on the steering wheel and not on your smartphone with the help of some accessories such as a hands-free car kit or headset with Bluetooth capabilities.

Video chatting is also a fantastic idea, but of course, it can only be done when two very important conditions are met. First, a good cell signal has to be available. Second, you should be parked on the side of the road or at a pit stop.

Just Before You Put the Key in the Ignition

Taking a long car ride by yourself can considerably limit the things that you can do in order to stay entertained until you arrive at your destination.

However, it doesn’t mean that it has to be way boring and exhausting than sharing the car with some family members and friends, provided that you know how to keep yourself entertained.

Above, we have discussed 15 things that you can do on the road as you get to the journey’s end one mile at a time — it is completely up to you to experiment with different ones to see which of them suits your personality the most.

Just remember that preparation is very important as some of the things that you may do to keep boredom at bay while you’re on the road on your own require the right tools.

So while packing your bags, make sure that you get your hands on everything that you will need to be able to carry out some of the tips discussed above.

Have a happy and safe drive!

Reed Harris

Reed is a traveler and blogger. He's planning to visit all states in the USA. He's been in 31 states so far.

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