Roadtrip entertainment: Learning to love car time

When I first started tracking my time continuously, one of my biggest surprises was how much time I was spending in the car. Because I work out of a home office, I have no daily commute, and so “time in the car” wasn’t registering as a major category of life. Yet between driving kids places, or going to the airport or train station, or on random excursions, I was in the car for more than an hour a day. I used to listen to CDs in my car, but then the CD player broke. So I was just listening to the radio, and getting bored with it.

I am happy to report that I’ve started getting more purposeful about using this time. I have a rotation of podcasts I listen to. I’ll often practice my speeches in the car on the way to the airport — figuring out exactly how I’m customizing for the particular group I’m flying off to speak to. And I’m starting to get better about using my Apple Music subscription to download new music and listen to it more intentionally.

So, for instance, I’ve been working my way through Kacey Musgrave’s albums. I knew I had a drive this week of a little shy of 2 hours each way (I was giving a speech in Mechanicsburg PA). I listened to Same Trailer Different Park, and Pageant Material on the drive home and it made the time pass by more pleasantly than listening to the radio would have.

(I feel a little bit country while driving through the Pennsylvania countryside.)

One of these days, I’m going to get more ambitious. Back when I had a job at an archival library in college, I used to listen to Shakespeare’s plays while I was working. I think I’d like to get back to that, and also listening to musical masterworks. When I’m singing in something, I definitely listen to it over and over. I love becoming familiar with themes, and hearing how Bach might have a solo instrument and a solo voice trade off in one of his pieces.

I have not gotten into audio books. I know many people love those, but since my time in the car is more random, and not a predictable 30 minutes every morning and evening, I think I’d get annoyed to start an audio book and then not have occasion to listen to it for a few days (plays tend to be pretty short). There are definitely days I don’t drive anywhere, or at least don’t drive anywhere farther than the kids’ school (<5 minutes away).

Since summer is road trip season, I am curious how other people use their time in the car. If you’ve got a big drive coming up, how are you planning to pass the time?

In other news: One way to pass the time — the audio book of Off the Clock! The powers that be tell me it will be released on May 29 or within a day or two of that, to coincide with the hard cover launch. It’s just not available for pre-order, which is why there isn’t a button on Amazon to order it now.

7 thoughts on “Roadtrip entertainment: Learning to love car time

  1. One way to extend your audiobook time outside of your car is to listen while you are doing household chores. I find dishes, laundry and other household tasks are easier to get through when I’m listening to my audiobook. I’ll even listen while doing my hair and makeup if it is a particularly good book.

    1. @Deckled Edges- very true. I’ve listened to podcasts while on the treadmill, and I’ve practiced speeches while cleaning the house, so all of those would be candidates for audio book listening time as well. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Laura, very excited about your new book- have already preordered and I suspect I’ll be finding good excuses not to work and to read it. Well done!

    1. @Lina- thank you so much! I hope you enjoy some “off the clock” time reading it 🙂

  3. I listen to audiobooks in the car with my kids — they’ve really gotten into Nancy Drew, so we download them from the library — or I listen to podcasts. I’m rarely in the car by myself, since I work from home and one of my personal rules is to not do anything during kid-free time that can be done with kids, which includes errands (I only have two, and they’re 8 and 5, so I totally get it that there are times when solo is better!). That makes both podcasts and audiobooks occasionally tricky, so I listen to “grown-up” things while doing dishes and tidying up around the house.
    We often just chat in the car, or my kids read their own books while I listen to a safe podcast. I have fallen out of music in the last few years, but used to really love it. I’m not sure why! Bach is a favorite of mine, too.

    1. @Meghan – ooh, intriguing rule for the work-from-home set: don’t do anything during kid-free hours that could be done with the kids around. I suspect one reason my work hours have been lower than what I’m usually aiming for over the past year is because I have been doing errands and such during potential work time. Something to think about.

  4. When I still had kids in the car, we used to listen to audiobooks together. It led to some great discussions. I have a daily commute now so I listen to sermons, podcasts, and audiobooks on a regular basis. Although I know that I could listen at home while cooking, folding laundry, etc., I really dislike it. I’d rather listen to music or be alone with my thoughts.

    I’m tied to home in the mornings due to a caregiver situation so I’ve been thinking of getting a treadmill to walk before work. That’s a good time for audiobooks. It makes the time go quickly.

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