Music and 20 questions will only take you this far on a road trip, until a period of lull sets in. And it kind of just goes downhill from then on. But worry not, as Vacayholics brings you a compilation of the most engrossing and entertaining audiobooks to keep you company on those long, long drives.
First, let’s just get Mr. Potter out of the way.
That a Harry Potter novel will feature in this write-up is a definite certainty, but the real question is which narrator to pick. The debate surrounding Stephen Fry’s version (sold in the U.K.) and Jim Dale’s(sold in the U.S.) ceases to die down. We’re not going to take sides, but the Internet is abuzz with Fry’s version having a stiff upper lip, whereas Dale’s being a little too animated.
Accept it―it’s not just kids who chant the “Are we there yet?” mantra on road trips, we all do, although we may stop ourselves from saying it out loud. So, despite packing the puzzles, loading 10,000 songs on the iPod, carrying 7 different types of sandwiches, and 15 loo breaks later, the dreaded b-word makes an appearance, no matter if your fellow travelers are aged 5, 15, or 50.
Audiobooks are lifesavers on such occasions, and if you haven’t tried playing them on your road trips, you’ve done nothing. So, if you’re looking to get started, or are here to build your collection, you’ve landed at the right page.
Audiobooks Meant for Families
Families traveling with younger children, those aged under 10, have a different set of concerns than those traveling with teens in tow. But as far as making a choice of audiobooks is concerned, you may want to let the teens decide what they’d like to carry along, rather than assuming that they’ll simply go with Harry Potter. Introducing newer authors and genres is also an excellent idea on a trip, since it is bound to kill the boredom for at least a little while, if not entirely. For now, here are our suggestions.
C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia
Narrated by: Multiple readers
It’s not just children, but people of all ages have fought, laughed, cried, and rose to Aslan’s calling to protect the kingdom of Narnia from evil forces. It goes without saying that The Chronicles of Narnia is a fine travel companion for every kind of group. Michael York’s reading of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe comes highly recommended, as do other books in the series read by Kenneth Branagh, Lynn Redgrave, and Patrick Stewart.
Cressida Cowell’s How to Train Your Dragon
Narrated by: David Tennant
Vikings and dragons make an excellent combination, especially when they manifest in the form of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, along with Toothless and Windwalker. Their antics are just what you need when your journey feels like it’s slipping measurably into a rut. Before you embark upon your trip, check out the movie by the same name to get a sample of what’s in here.
Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island
Narrated by: Alfred Molina
The story is a classic adventure we’ve all grown up on, and Alfred Molina’s fabulous voice breathes life into the characters. It really doesn’t matter how old you are, Long John Silver’s coming of age saga has pirates, treasure hunts, along with lots of gold thrown in for good measure.
Psst … these are great too!
Love fantasy spins? Try Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings along with The Hobbit by BBC Radio, or the never-can-do-without Harry Potter series. If you’ve got older children on board, try The Roald Dahl Audio Collection voiced by the man himself. This superb compilation includes classics such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Enormous Crocodile, and The Magic Finger.
Audiobooks Meant for Adults
Oh, the possibilities! With the younger audience out of the picture, the scope widens to bring in books that are saucier, trashier, and entertaining in their own right, which is how we want our road trips to be, isn’t it? Even for the more sedate ones out there, the options are limitless.
Anything by P.G. Wodehouse
Narrated by: Jonathan Cecil
As a self-confessed Wodehouse addict, this recommendation comes straight from the heart. Road trips are all about lighthearted banter, silliness, and that sardonic British humo(u)r. These are some of my absolute favorites:
- The Code of the Woosters
- Jeeves and the Mating Season
- Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen
- The Inimitable Jeeves
- Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Narrated by: Mark Smith
Mystery, intrigue, and drama―here’s something that is sure to annihilate the boredom out of your car’s wipers too. Sherlock’s cinematic as well as televised outing has garnered rave reviews from all quarters, so it’s just fitting that we’d love them to be our travel companions. Although if you’d ask me, it’s only Jeremy Brett I can picture, when Mark Smith is doing this suitably staid narration.
Tina Fey’s Bossypants
Narrated by: Tina Fey
All-girls’ trip? You’ve got to carry Tina Fey along. The autobiographical Bossypants is among Ms. Fey’s best work, and she narrates it with her usual sass. Feisty, funny, and so relatable, this book will have you nodding in mirthful agreement at all times.
Want more options?
Well, I never thought of this as an able companion for road trips, but quite a few of you seem to enjoy it along your journeys. I’m talking about E.L. James’ 50 Shades of Grey trilogy, voiced by the fabulous Becca Battoe. On to some serious stuff, Sissy Spacek’s rendition of To Kill a Mockingbird is something of a must-do. If you’re into whodunits, and are past Sherlock already, I’ll urge you to try Agatha Christie’s Poirot, voiced by David Suchet, the same actor who brought the character to life on television. Immaculate reading, really.
Well, ultimately, it only rests on you to make the right choice of audiobooks to carry for your upcoming trip. Just a tip before I sign off―don’t hog the selection duty all by yourself, lest you be at the receiving end of some loud snores, or worse, even a food fight. Have fun choosing!