Best Audiobooks for Family Road Trips

Best Audiobooks for Family Road Trips

Summertime often means road trips! While vacations are awesome, long trips in the car can be brutal: MOM, he won’t stop poking me, what’s that smell, I’ve gotta go, are we there yet? For our family, audiobooks are a great way to get everyone engaged in a shared experience and make those long hours on the road fly by a lot faster. We started playing audiobooks on car trips when our older boys were very young, and it’s become a family tradition that everyone looks forward to.

 

Today I’m sharing a list of audiobooks our family has loved over the years, as well as some tips for selecting great picks for your own family. We have listened to everything on this list at least once, and some of these have been on repeat for years.

 

Our Family’s Favorite Audiobooks for Road Trips

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Clicking on these links may result in my earning a small commission or referral fee at no cost to you. As always, all opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

#1 – Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Game is a sci-fi classic about a young prodigy named Ender Wiggin who is selected to essentially save the world from a dangerous alien race. Set in the future, Ender has to go through trials and testing, each time demonstrating his intelligence, leadership, along with his compassion. This is an action-packed story that will have you hanging on the edge of your seat. I would not recommend it for young children since there is some of the more violent parts may be too much for them; that said, my boys all listened to this story for the first time around the ages of 6-8. This is one we’ve listened to over and over again.

 

#2 – Hank the Cowdog, by John R. Erickson

ANY of the Hank the Cowdog series books are so entertaining and fun to listen to, but it helps if you start at the beginning with The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog, the first in the series. These books are narrated by John R. Erickson, the author of the series, and he has this wonderful, authentic Texas accent that is absolutely perfect for Hank, the main character. These stories are told from the perspective of Hank (the Cowdog), a dog who is “Head of Ranch Security” on a ranch in Texas. These stories will make you laugh out loud, especially when Hank, who thinks pretty highly of himself, ends up not knowing or being able to do everything as well as he thought. But you also find yourself cheering for Hank as he fights to save the ranch from all kinds of perils. I HIGHLY recommend these books for all ages.

 

#3 – Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson

Treasure Island is the classic tale of young Jim Hawkins’s adventures on the high seas with Long John Silver himself. If you’ve read it before, you know it’s a swashbuckling, rip-roaring adventure packed with mutiny, bravery, and treasure. My boys all love this story, and they started listening to it around the ages of 6-8.

 

#4 – The BFG, by Roald Dahl

Anything by Roald Dahl makes for a great audiobook: Dahl’s stories are funny, heart-warming, and full of fun and adventure. My family and I love everything Dahl has ever written, but our favorite for car trips has to be The BFG. In this book, an orphan named Sophie befriends a big, friendly giant who lives in a land with some bigger and not-so-friendly giants who love to eat children. Together, Sophie and the BFG work out a plan to stop the bad giants and save the children of the world. What we love about listening to this story on audiobook is all of the wonderful nonsense words the BFG uses when he talks. We continue to listen to this one over and over again, even though my two older sons are high school age and beyond.

 

#5 – Sea of Trolls, by Nancy Farmer

This epic Norse mythological adventure knocked our socks off. It’s a story of magic, a dangerous quest, Vikings, and trolls. The story blends Norse mythology (and if your kids are familiar with Thor, Oden, and Loki, they will have heard some of these names before). We listened to this one the first time when my youngest son was 7, and he went bananas for it right along with the rest of us. My youngest went on to read the second and third book in the series on his own over the past few years. It might be a little scary for kids under 6-7, though. If you are a fan of Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, you’ll love this.

 

Other Great Audiobooks for Family Road Trips

Here are a few other audiobooks our family has listened to and enjoyed on the road over the years.

 

Tips for Audiobooking on a Family Trip

Here are a few things we’ve learned over the years:

  • You can get audiobooks for free from your library! Most libraries have books on CD or mp3 that you can check out and take with you. Many libraries also offer ebook and audiobook checkouts that you can download to your phone or tablet and take along for the ride. See if you can get the book you want for free before you buy!
  • Listen to a snippet of the audiobook before you rent or buy to make sure you like the narrator. Most audiobooks have wonderful narrators, but we’ve gotten a few over the years that are a little irritating to listen to and make the story not as enjoyable.
  • If you haven’t read the book first, read as many reviews as you can to see if it will be appropriate for your kids. I like to google the title of the book and add “Christian review” or “parent recommendation” type tags onto my search to come up with as much information as I can. If you did end up picking something that’s a little bit much for your kids, you can always skip through parts or even stop and switch to a different story.
  • We have a “no headphones” rule when audiobooks are on. Although, the only time anyone ever asked to put headphones on when we were listening to an audiobook on a trip was the time I tried to make the family listen to A Tale of of Two Cities. It’s my favorite story of all time! But my grade school aged boys really were not into it. Boo. Bet they’d have liked it more if they were a little older.

 

Our 2018 Picks

We will be heading out on a road trip to Florida and Universal Orlando (HARRY POTTER — so excited!!!!) this summer, and here are the audiobooks we have scheduled for this trip. Now that our youngest is 9 and the older two are pretty much adults, we’re listening to some different sorts of books.

  • And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie – I’m a huge Agatha Christie fan, and we had taken the older two boys to see this play and they really enjoyed it. Earlier this year we all went to see the Murder on the Orient Express movie and everyone loved it, so we’re all kind of excited to hear this story again in the car.
  • Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil deGrasse Tyson – My husband and all 3 sons are huge science and astrophysics nerds, so they are foaming at the mouth to listen to this one. I think I will enjoy it too, but not as much as them. 🙂
  • The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch – Tear-jerker, I know, but this is probably the last “just us” vacation my family will take together since my oldest is on his own now and my middle one is leaving for college in the fall. I thought it would be good to get a few “life lesson” type hits in on the road.
  • Then we’ll probably also throw in some old favorites if we have extra time: most likely one of the top 5 listed above.

 

What are some audiobooks your family has enjoyed?

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Best Audiobooks for Family Road Trips

Summer Style: Beat the Heat in a Swing Dress

Summer Swing Dress

Summer is just beginning and it’s already heating up around here. Swing dresses, also known as trapeze dresses, are my favorite thing to wear on sweltering days when the temps are hitting 90-plus. They’re lightweight, loose and breezy, and all one piece, so there’s no tucking or adjusting anything. And, depending on where you shop, you can usually find cute ones for under $30! Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite swing dresses to keep you cool all summer long.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Clicking on these links may result in my earning a small commission at no cost to you. As always, all opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

 

Basic Black Swing Dress

A black swing dress can take you anywhere! With fashion sneakers or sandals, it’s great for errands and can even pass as a beach cover-up. With accessories and heels, you’ve got a showstopping LBD for date night. My black swing dress is a core piece in my vacation capsule wardrobe.

black swing dress styled casually

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Basic black swing dress

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Black swing dress with kimono

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Striped Swing Dresses

Striped swing dresses can be really fun, and they look great with a denim jacket or cardigan in the fall and winter. Recently on a trip to Walmart, I found these adorable Time & Tru striped swing dresses for just $9.96 each! Couldn’t decide which striped color to get (black, gray, olive, or pink/orange), so I got them all!

Walmart Time & Tru Swing Dress Olive     Walmart Time & Tru Swing Dress Pink

Walmart Time & Tru Swing Dress Gray     Walmart Time & Tru Swing Dress Black

These cuuuute, comfy Walmart dresses also come in 5 solid colors and 1 other print! I was tempted to go home with more than just 4 of them at under $10 each. You can shop them at Walmart.com, too!

Shop Swing Dresses:

Here are some of my favorite places to find cute, comfy swing dresses for summer.

 

What’s your favorite easy summer piece?

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I’ll Think About It . . . and Other Ways to Protect Your Time

how to carve out more time

 

Do you have too many tasks on your to-do list and not enough time? Ever feel like you’re running from one thing to the next with no time to breathe? Are you tired? Stressed out?

 

no free time meme

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Yeah, I think we all are a lot of the time. But do we really need to be? Honestly, I complain just as much as the next person about how crazy-busy I am, but I am the one who signed up for all of it. Yes, all of it. Whether you did it because you wanted to or because you felt bad not doing it, you still chose it. And, you choose the standards to which you hold yourself. Whether those standards were realistic or not.

 

A teacher friend and I were recently talking about cutting ourselves a break, appreciating what we have, and not constantly striving for perfection. Sounds great, right? But it’s not so easy when someone is right there asking you to do something. It’s hard! They need volunteers! Who will do it if you don’t, and….gasp….what if it does get done, but it’s not done right? It’s a little easier to tell yourself no, but when you have to tell other people no, that’s when our backbones turns to jello and we hear that YES coming out of our mouths.

 

Should we be direct and let others know that we really would love to help, but we just don’t have time right now? Yes. But if you’re like me, you hate letting people down and find it almost impossible to tell people no on the spot. Well I have a little gem for you, friends. I was contemplating how to explain why I just couldn’t possibly help with _____ (fill in the blank with something you know you are going to be asked to do but that you don’t want to or don’t have time to do) when it came to me: a phrase that has the potential to get you out of that on-the-spot acceptance and give you more time to think about whether or not you really want to, and can, help. Here it is:

I’ll think about it.

It probably doesn’t seem all that revolutionary, but it never occurred to me before to ask for more time to think about a request and get back to the person. I always pretty much just agreed to help/volunteer/sign up/work/whatever. Those four little words take you out of the heat of the moment, give you time to digest the request, and then let you think about how you will respond if indeed the answer ends up being “no.” It’s hard to tell people “NO,” but it’s much easier to say you need a little time to think it over.

 

What all of this really boils down to is we need to consciously budget our time. We need to decide, in advance, what things we will do, when we will do them, and how much time we want to spend on those things. Without a “time budget” in place, you could be spending way too much time on activities that aren’t priorities in your life (and maybe even ones that you don’t even like!). Take a close look at how you’re spending time now and see what it suggests is most important to you. If you’re not spending your time on what’s important, you need to make some adjustments.

 

days off and weekends meme

 


 

Right in line with the “I’ll think about it” trick is a list of other steps I’ve taken lately to take back time I was losing due to inefficiencies in my habits and too much time spent on activities that weren’t priorities for me.

5 WAYS TO TAKE BACK YOUR TIME:

  1. I’ll think about it. When asked to volunteer or take on a new role or task, say “I’ll think about it” before automatically agreeing to do it. Then think about it carefully.
  2. Set a timer. This was LIFE-CHANGING for me. Social media break? Set a timer. Watching TV? Set a timer. Taking a quick nap? Set a timer. Setting a timer lets YOU decide how much time you’re going to spend on activities that tend to be open-ended time-suckers. Don’t let Pinterest decide how much time you’re spending there. When you use a timer, it’s your call! The hardest part is having the discipline to log off when the alarm sounds. 🙂
  3. Delegate chores, with choices. I used to do all of the housework because, sniff, I am the only one who knows how to do it juuuuuust right. Well one day I decided I didn’t care if things were juuuuust right anymore and it was taking too much time. Now I make a list of chores that need to be done and my husband and the boys and I divide them up among ourselves. Some trade negotiations do occur (I’ll trade you taking out the trash and the recycling for walking the dog tonight), but things mostly end up getting done without nagging. You can also “assign” chores that are more age- or skill-specific, but I find people grumble less when they’re doing chores they have chosen from a list.
  4. Exercise in the morning. Whether you’re a morning person or not (I didn’t used to be), you have to admit that things are less likely to “suddenly come up” at 5am than they are in the afternoons or evenings. I can’t tell you how many after school workouts were scrapped because I had to get kids to activities, scramble to make dinner, or deal with life (arranging for car repairs, doctor appointments, and on and on).  Yes, you’re getting up an hour or so earlier and potentially losing sleep to work out at 5am, but you are also buying yourself time at the end of the day. Setting out your workout clothes before you go to sleep makes it even easier to roll out of bed and go get your sweat on.
  5. Make a visible list. The simple act of writing things down helps you weigh their importance and think about when you’ll tackle them. Once written, you have a record and you can check things off as you go, which will keep you focused. Put the list somewhere you’ll see it, like near your computer keyboard, on your refrigerator, or on your bathroom mirror. I love sticky note lists that can be posted in visible places. Getting your to-do list accomplished helps you not have to scramble around at the last minute frantically. There are tons of beautiful planners and handy apps that can help you keep track of your to-do list, but good ‘ole sticky notes work just fine, too. Whatever you use to make your lists, just make sure they’re somewhere you will “see” them: lists are zero help if you never look at them.

 

All of these tips help me get things done with a little time to spare. With my spare time I like to hang out with my kids and family and take naps! More time with kids, family, and naps = one much healthier, happier mom.

no time to work out meme

 

Whenever I think I have absolutely NO time to spare, if I look closely, there are usually things I’m spending time on that I can either trim or cut out entirely. What are some of the ways you guard your time?

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