When my wife and I first figured out we would be making the 20+ hour drive from the mid-west to the Amish country of Lancaster County, we decided that this was going to be our most productive road trip ever.

We knew that the more things we could do along the way, the more productive the trip would be and the easier it would be for us to make the drive, especially the trek that seems like a million miles across Tennessee and Virginia.

I’m writing this article right now as my wife is driving us down the road and helping me brainstorm ideas for new articles…

Why Drive?

We rarely fly. We almost always drive. It doesn’t matter if we’re going across the state border or across the country. But why? I’m glad you asked. Here are a few reasons why we drive and why you may want to do the same:

  • Cost. The first and most obvious point. It’s usually cheaper to drive. Almost always, actually. Especially when you have a family of six as we do. With the current gas prices, driving is cheap!
  • Convenience. You may think it’s convenient to fly, but is it convenient to pay for a rental car? When you drive, you’ve already got the car. Why pay for an airline ticket and a rental car? Just bring the car!
  • Time. Time with the family. Time together. Time to do different things (like writing articles). And honestly, how much time does a flight save? Accross the country, you may save some time, but for a drive less than 12 hours, how much time do you save when you consider arriving early at the airport, waiting, layovers, etc.?

drive instead of fly

Save on Gas: Before we go on, if you’re going to be making a road trip, be sure to get the free Gas Buddy app to find the cheapest gas along the way. It has saved us 40 cents/gallon by just driving a mile off the interstate.

How to Be Productive on the Road

How many road trips have you taken that were full of listening to music and sleeping? I love both of those things, but I think we can all admit that they’re not the most productive uses of our time. There are plenty of ways to be productive, even if you’re stuck inside a rolling metal box.

Break up the monotony of a drive. Take the below ideas and break them up into sections. You can do two hour blocks or change it up every time you get gas. The trip will go by faster and you can get more done. Here’s what you can put in those blocks of time:

  • Audiobooks – This almost goes without saying, but I’m not saying, I’m typing. Audiobooks are a great use of your time in the car, just be aware of your energy. If audiobooks make you sleepy, you may have to be selective on when you use them. Regular books are great too. For the passengers, not the driver!
  • Computer – Bring a laptop and get some stuff done on the road. Again, the passenger, not the driver! My wife and I take turns driving and likewise, take turns on the laptop. She got some stuff done for her work and I used my time to brainstorm ideas and write some articles.
  • Relationships – A 20 hour drive is a great time to be alone with your spouse. If you have kids, they’ll fall asleep eventually and that will give you and your spouse time to talk about anything and everything. It’s a great way to build your relationship. This goes for family time as well. Have those productive conversations with your kids.
  • Hobbies – My wife enjoys crafting and knitting. I enjoy reading and writing. Take turns with your spouse or other driver and do some of your favorite things. Of course, this has to be something that you can reasonably do in a vehicle, but surely you can find something.

Productive road trip

The usual road trip things are fine, but if you want to be productive, limit things like listening to music and sleeping. You can add them into your blocks of time if you want, but remember, if you’re going to sleep, it’s always best to do it while you’re in the passenger seat, not the driver seat. I know from experience!

Car Games

Another fun thing that helps the time go by and gives you a break from everything else is car games. Here are our favorite three (be fair and take turns!):

  • “I Spy” – Find something in the car to look at and say “I spy something that is blue, green, round, square, etc.”, then the family has to guess what it is.
  • “I’m Thinking Of” – Think of something, then give a brief description, such as “I’m thinking of something that is blue, round, hot, etc.”. Then your family can only ask you yes/no questions about it until they guess it.
  • “License Plate Game” – Try to find as many different state license plates on cars driving around you. You can even keep track of them with this sheet.

There are too many games to list. For more game ideas, check out this site.

Final Words

We have made countless 20+ hour drives, so we know how to make them productive. Road trips are what you make them. We have perfected our trips to the point that we know exactly the best time of day to leave and arrive.

People talk about children adding hours and hours to a trip. On our recent trip, we only spent an hour and a half on top of drive time and that includes eating! And yes, we have a one year old. Like anything else, road trips get better and easier the more you do them.