You’ve got seven hours ahead of you on this trip — seven hours where you feel you should be doing something, seven hours where you’ve got to keep yourself, maybe your spouse, maybe your van full of kids entertained and busy. Suggestions after the jump.
The open road offers you the most freedom in terms of tasks you can tackle since the stowing and carrying of tasks, as well as their potential “security risk” and, ahem, volume, is less of an issue.
+ Read. This is the most straightforward (assuming you’re not driving), if you’re not the type of person who gets easily carsick. If you’ve got a car full of kids or just want to be more social, reading stories aloud is a great road-trip activity. If you don’t have a pile of books, papers or magazines at home that you’ve been meaning to read for ages (either your own or checked out from the library), for the price of postage you can trade for books you’d like to read at websites like Book Mooch, Title Trader, or Paperback Swap.
+ Audiobooks are a similarly great option if you get carsick or are driving. Lots of titles are available from your local library.
+ Knit, Cross-stitch, Craft! There must be a crafting project you’ve been putting off that would be the perfect gift if you could just finish it before the holidays . . .
+ Patching, Hemming, Sewing. You probably have a few things you’ve been meaning to handstitch, whether it’s the patching of small holes or the replacement of a button. Get those off your to-do list and back in your closet!
+ Clip Coupons, Copy Recipes. There are any number of things you pile up to do later, waiting for proper filing into your preferred system. Coupons and recipes are two I thought of — maybe you need to update your address book, cull business cards, sort through bills or subscriptions before the year ends?
+ Address and Sign Your Holiday Cards. Get the kids involved in this mindless task with sticking on return address labels and stamps.
+ Road Trip Games. I could try and list my favorites, but TravelHacker has a far more extensive list to jog your memory.
+ Sing-Along. Pop in your favorite music — holiday or otherwise — and sing along.
+ Mind Puzzles. We have a pile of crosswords, sudokus, jumbles, wordfinds and other mind puzzles that we’ve snagged from newspapers or advertising inserts. Puzzle books can often be picked up inexpensively in supermarket magazine racks or dollar stores. You can also have them delivered free to your inbox from Daily Sudoku. Rip (or print) out a few pages and always have them along — they take up no space and are great when you’re stuck on the runway or at the gate.
+ The Internet. If you’re reading this, you don’t need me to tell you how to kill time on the internet. This post details a site listing free wifi access at airports across the U.S. and the world.
+ Organize Your Files. Even if you don’t have access to the internet, it doesn’t mean you need to put your computer away. Travel time is a great time to perform maintenance, like sorting through and organizing photos or music, running defrag or, if you have blank discs along, backing up and removing files from your hard drive. You may also delete your browser’s cache, history list, and cookies — those things you mean to do but never seem to find time for.
+ Make Lists. Whether simply updating your normal to-do or pondering up next year’s resolutions, time in transit is well-spent thinking about goals and putting them to paper.
What are your favorite things to do on the road? Leave your suggestions in the comments.