While the college experience looks different for everyone, there’s one experience shared among many students: the long car ride to and from your college town. For some, this journey might take only 20 minutes (if so, consider yourself lucky). But for others, the drive takes hours. For example, it takes me five hours to drive from my home in Miami to my university in Gainesville. Driving for a prolonged period of time seemed daunting at first, but I gradually got used to the college road trip thanks to a few tips that kept me alert and entertained while on the road. Before you know it, these seemingly enduring car drives will become a routine for you — heck, you might find yourself enjoying them!
Read on for 10 ways to stay entertained during long car rides back to college.
10. Sing Along to Music
What’s a car ride without music? Thanks to aux cords and Bluetooth, anyone can turn their long drives into an epic American Idol performance. Plug in to your favorite tunes and belt out the lyrics that’ll get you pumped to arrive at your destination, whether it be college or home.
“When I make long drives, I premake a playlist queuing all the songs I want to sing along to in the car,” University of Florida junior Alessandra Gazzo said. “I usually start with rap and then I end it with some throwbacks.”
Enjoy hours of car karaoke by getting that playlist of yours ready or searching for one that already exists — Spotify and Apple Music provide a plethora of great college road trip playlists! Of course, you can always switch on the radio to experience multiple stations as you pass through different counties, but keep in mind that you might experience some unwanted static here and there.
9. Snack on The Road
We couldn’t forget everyone’s favorite activity: snacking! Depending on the length of your college road trip, you may want to pack a variety of snacks to keep you satisfied during your drive. No one wants to be hangry while driving. Hangry + road rage = no thank you. Honorable yet easy car snack mentions include a bag of chips, a granola bar, dried fruit or no-refrigeration-needed fruit like a banana. In addition, you might want to pack coffee or an energy drink for that extra boost of energy behind the wheel. If snacking while driving seems like too much multitasking, you can totally pause your excursion by grabbing food at a rest stop. Although munching on something yummy might not seem so entertaining, it can encourage you to persevere through your (boringly) long drive.
8. Enjoy a Podcast
Making a huge breakthrough in recent years, podcasts now seem especially popular among college students. From The Joe Rogan Experience to Call Her Daddy, you can bet there exists a podcast perfect for you and your college needs. Looking to improve your study habits? Check out The College Info Geek. Perhaps you’re in search of really random knowledge. Well, try listening to How To Do Everything. With so many podcast options to choose from, you can pretty much gather any sort of information you seek. Pick a podcast and queue a list of episodes you want to hear amid your road trip. After all, your ears can benefit from the advice, amusement or knowledge that podcasts can provide during your long drive to college.
7. Bask in an Audiobook
Just like reading a book, listening to an audiobook practically feels like watching a movie inside your head. Instead of seeing visuals to explain a story, the spoken words vividly bring the story to life — the more you listen, the better the story’s imagery develops in your head!
Even if you don’t like to read, listening to an audiobook serves as a fantastic form of entertainment, especially during long drives. After all, you’re simply tuning in to someone—usually an actor with a very animated or soothing voice—reading to you. What else do you need to do besides watch the road and listen? That said, browse through audiobooks on Audible or the Books app (iPhone users) if you wish to get lost in a story the next time you drive to college.
6. Listen to a TV Series
Note the word listening. If you are driving, please do not watch anything besides the road before you!
You’ve probably seen a certain television series loads of times. I’m referring to the people who can picture the scenes in their head upon hearing the title’s theme music. To all you binge watchers, tune in to your favorite TV show audio as you make the long drive to college — heck, you might get through several episodes depending on the length of your drive.
“I’ve rewatched The Office so many times that now I just listen to it while I drive,” Columbus State University junior Matt McDade said. “It’s entertaining because you hear stuff you didn’t pick up before.”
While you can also listen to a movie, listening to a TV series feels less intense and quicker to finish. After all, you don’t want to get too engrossed by a lengthy plot while driving. Also, we recommend listening to a series you’ve already seen. Keep in mind that listening to an episode you’ve never watched will tempt you to look at the screen (a big no-no while driving). This idea might not work for everyone, especially for easily distracted drivers, but we recognize the fondness college students feel about certain TV shows — especially The Office, Game of Thrones and Friends, to name a few. You might come to love this idea, but always remember that arriving at your destination safely remains your—and our—first priority.
5. Play a Road Trip Game
From counting license plates from each state to listing different actors in alphabetical order, road trip games provided bored car passengers amusement before podcasting—and most tips on this list—took over the entertainment realm. Plus, so many unique road trip games exist that can either make you chuckle or learn something new. And if those existing ones aren’t enough, you can make one up for yourself! I mean, how hard could it be to invent a game while doing nothing besides driving and staring at a never-ending highway?
To the lonely drivers (yes, you who lack passengers beside you), you might think road trip games are an activity made for two or more people. While that may seem the intention of games, who says you can’t go at it alone? No one — get it… because you’re alone in the car. Sorry. But on the real, start counting those license plates!
4. Try Attentive Meditation
Whether you happen to meditate regularly or not, you can start to practice driving meditation. In other words, you apply mindful techniques that teach you to drive with greater attention, peace and concern. Plus, driving meditation can help you transform your life outside your vehicle. You’ll not only heal your road rage, but also elicit a mindful awareness that affects your overall lifestyle.
With all the time on your hands, give driving meditation a try the next time you find yourself taking an extended drive to college. Start exploring your mind by checking out Learning to Drive into the Now, a guiding book about driving meditation and mindfulness in general — psst, there’s an audiobook! However, for you experienced meditators, we’re sure you can handle this one all on your own.
3. Phone a Friend or Relative
Unless you’re traveling with some friendly passengers, you might find yourself feeling very lonesome during the long drive. Perhaps the idea of just you and the endless road doesn’t sit well with you. If you’re in need of some company, try calling a friend or relative to talk to. Especially if you end up driving for several hours, simply hearing a familiar voice can really feed some comfort to your soul.
“I make sure to get in all of my phone calls and talk to my friends who I haven’t caught up with in a while,” University of Florida junior Savannah LoPiccolo said. “It makes the time pass so much faster when it feels like I am with my friends.”
So do it! Call your mom, dad, best friend, or significant other to see what they’re up to. You certainly have plenty of time to simply chat and listen.
2. Learn a New Language
Alright you intellectuals, lovers of culture, somewhat-bilinguals and linguistics majors, we’ve got a perfect suggestion to keep you occupied on the road. Learning a new language not only opens professional doors (we know you want that resume booster), but it also gives you the chance to talk s–t about someone in a language that they can’t understand. Just kidding with that last suggestion, but lowkey seems convincing enough to learn an entire other language.
You’ll want to download Duolingo or perhaps listen to an audio course. Then again, you can also listen to a Netflix show—indeed, our previous suggestion can educate you—in a different language. Whatever the case, you’ve got a long road ahead of you — the highway and your journey toward unearthing a new form of communication.
1. Talk to Yourself
No one knows you better than yourself, which can only mean getting lost in conversation with oneself—we all do it, so no judgment here—can serve as the best form of entertainment during long drives. That said, engaging with your own words might feel appropriate if you’re the only passenger in the car. Seriously, don’t leave your fellow passengers confused, excluded or possibly terrified.
All in all, talking to oneself is practically free therapy. You can reiterate future debates you hope to experience, analyze the friendships in your life, or release tension about past actions that felt extremely cringy. The idea of communicating with oneself might sound insane, but it beats paying $200 for a therapist to listen to you ramble for one hour. And with the long drive ahead, you’ve got all the time in the world to release all your thoughts. Before arriving at your destination, you’ll have received the self-cleanse you always needed.