Life may be a journey, not a destination, but it's hard to appreciate the journey when you're in a car squabbling over what music to play and where to stop for lunch. Road trips, however exhilarating, can also be taxing on the body and mind at times, but by planning ahead you can ensure everyone on the drive stays engaged and entertained. Here are a few ways to make your trip more memorable.
Once you've buckled up and are ready to pull away, kick-start your vacation mood with an energizing playlist. Songza, a free app for iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire, functions as a "music concierge," offering song collections organized by mood, genre, and activity. The Road Trip category offers mood-attuned playlists like Hamptons Beach Traffic, Sing-Along, and '90s Crowd Pleasing Hits.
For a more intellectually stimulating ride, listen to a podcast. Stuff You Should Know will get the conversation flowing -- the massive archive of single-topic episodes includes shows on volcanoes, the digestive system, the Bermuda Triangle, and the history of the Barbie doll.
If you've got kids in the car, it's tempting to hand them an iPad filled with games and videos to keep them occupied. But part of the fun of road trips is the opportunity to bond and learn more about the people you're with. PBS has a great list of creative games to play with kids, such as The License Plate Game and "I wonder where that car is going?"
Make the most of your gas station stops with one of the many free apps designed to save you money at the pump. GasBuddy and Gas Guru, available for iOS and Android, both display the locations of nearby gas stations and their current prices.
With a bit of preparation, you can even get gas for free. If you have a Citi ThankYouￂﾮ Rewards credit card you can redeem reward points for Sunoco gas cards before you go -- gift cards are valid at any of the 4,600 stations in the United States.
Refueling the car gives you an opportunity to rest, have a bite to eat, and get re-energized for the journey ahead. When you're on the highway and wishing for an exit that has your preferred food stop, reach for the free RoadAhead iOS app. It lists eateries by exit, as well as showing nearby parks where you can stretch your legs and breathe some fresh air.
Off the Beaten Path
To discover diversions along the way to your main destination, check out Roadtrippers. Sign up and plug in your start and end locations on the website and you'll get a list of quirky places to visit along the way--from '50s diners to abandoned amusement parks. Once you've created a Bucket List on the site, download the free iOS app, sync your account, and you'll have an itinerary of interesting pit stops in the palm of your hand.
Other web resources for finding offbeat attractions include Roadside America and Atlas Obscura. On these sites you'll encounter such places as the National Mustard Museum, the World's Largest Pistachio Nut, and the Cockroach Hall of Fame -- certainly ingredients for an unforgettable vacation.
Women & Co., a service of Citi, is the go-to personal finance source for women. By providing financial content, commentary and community, Women & Co.'s mission is to get women thinking and talking about personal finance. Founded in 2000, Women & Co. is one of the longest running personal finance websites dedicated to helping women strengthen their financial futures.