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Listening on the road

Stories and music make the world wonderful! We use stories to relax and to educate ourselves about the world. We use music to bring joy into our lives.

As we travel around the world with our children, we love to listen to wonderful stories that will capture our heart and enrich our experience. I absolutely love to pull out a book and snuggle down to read, but as a traveler and most especially as a busy Mum, this is not always possible. Because of our minimalist and busy lifestyle, we utilize a number of audio options while on the road.

Here are 6 listening tools to love!

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1. Audible.


With my whole heart.

I absolutely love being swept away into a beautifully written and masterfully told story. I love it even more when I can do two things at once! I can enjoy literature while I am traveling, driving, walking, washing the dishes or folding the clothes. My kids love to relax while listening to an audio book and colouring or knitting, just something with their hands that relaxes them while they are being swept away on an adventure.

The only, and I mean ONLY way that we have survived long road trips has been thanks to Audible. We have done soooooo much driving. We drove all over Europe, we drove up and down the East coast of Australia, and we have circled the whole of the USA. When people learn this, they sometimes comment that we must love road trips?

Um…. no.

We mostly hate them.

We are always squished with too much luggage (usually my fault), It tends to either be boiling hot or freezing cold, and we all like our personal space. Stick us all in a small, squishy moving metal vehicle for hours on end, and we feel like killing each other.

I have heard of those other families. Families who play ‘Eye Spy’ and sing songs and whose kids look out the window in contentment. Nah, they must be fantasy. That has surely never been my reality! WWIII threatens to break out if someone’s elbow so much as touches another.

Our most successful trips are when we are all plugged into a separate audio book. No need for bonding in the car, we can do that once we arrive. Ross and I even get the occasional privilege of long uninterrupted conversations! Bliss! We have done many life planning sessions thanks to Audible taking care of our kids.

All the books I purchase are mine to keep indefinitely and I can download them onto multiple devices. I am even able to return a book after listening to it if I don’t like it or I am unhappy with the narration. I can also sample the narration before I purchase to make sure I will like the voice.

I like to use my Audible credits for the more expensive books and then pay for anything cheaper than the cost of my monthly credit ( about $14). There are often sales and Audible now offers two free books monthly from their Audible original selection.

If you would like to try Audible, click here for a free 30 day trial!! Trust me, it's AMAZING!!!!

2. Library

I use my multiple library accounts to access an immense selection of free books on the road and this nifty trick works just as well for audio books! (for more details, check out our post about reading on the road). Use your library account to access an online database of audio books for free! I usually check my libraries for what I’m after first, and then head to audible to purchase it if I can’t find it at the library.

3. Librivox

Librivox is an app where you can listen to audio books from the public domain for free! They are read by volunteers, but quite a few of them are quite excellent. If you’re in the mood for a classic, Librivox might be the way to go. We have listened to “A little Princess”, “Pride and Prejudice” and “Anne of Green Gables” together on this excellent app.

4. Podcasts

Podcasts are a fun and educational way to while away some traveling hours. Currently our favourites are;

Ross - American History Tellers

Dr. Justin Coulson's Happy Families

Skyler - Better than Happy with Jody Moore

If you know of any more fantastic podcasts, please let us know in the comments!!

5. Deseret Bookshelf

We signed up for this online library and my kids won’t let me end the monthly subscription. Although it predominately contains books geared towards members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it also has an impressive array of fun fiction and non fiction to enjoy. We have listened to biographies and historical fiction together and my kids love the fantasy collection.

6. Spotify

If you just want to chill out and listen to some music, Spotify is fantastic!

I love that we can all create specialized playlists and that we can download them ahead of time. That way, if we happen to be traveling in some remote mountainous area of the world and there’s no data signal and the baby is squawking…we can quickly find something to meet our needs. Like, if the only thing that will bring peace and quiet to the car is a never-ending continuous rotation of the ‘Frozen’ soundtrack…then you’re good to go. We have had times in our life where the only thing we heard was - ‘Moana’, ‘The Princess and the Frog’ and ‘The Greatest Showman’.

Playing Spotify in our car often prompts Ross and I to deliver long-winded lectures towards our kids about how lucky they are. We give detailed descriptions about the old days when we had to wait by the radio all day on a Saturday with a tape recorder ready to go. We had to carefully push ‘pause’ before pushing ‘stop’ at the end of a song to eliminate the loud ‘click’ and thus produce a more professional sounding tape recording. It was a delicate art.

The kids of course roll their eyes and pronounce us dinosaurs. Aaahh, they will never appreciate how wonderful it is to have almost any song at the tip of your fingers!! No loud clicks, no hours upon hours of wasted time making one little tape mix. Just endless options and ease.

Be prepared…

Of course, we weren’t tech savvy enough for personalized Spotify playlists on our Europe trip, and as a result we experienced a severe music deficit. Our sound system was totally crappy (although not as crappy as the air-conditioning that died two days in…) and we didn’t have a way to experience music that we loved together. This would have been helpful to drown out the baby’s crying…and the noise from the Autobahn…

Every now and then, the radio favoured us with a song that we knew. When this happened, spontaneous car dancing also happened!

Now we are more prepared. One of my favourite travel items is a little speaker that I can bluetooth or connect to my phone. I love this small but powerful speaker, we've had it for three years and it's still going strong!! Its super sturdy and it's one item that we never leave home without!

This has been used soooooooooooooooo much! I use it in the car if the stereo is crappy, I use it in the home for Audio-books that we are listening to together, and most of all, I use it for impromptu dance parties!

Another little tool that I like to have on hand is a headphone splitter. This way the kids can pair up to listen to music or audio-books together.


We are an imperfect traveling family, but we have one true and uniting love - a good story and good music! A really gripping story will make the hours in a car fly by or have us laughing together. Whether it’s being able to relax together around the fire at night with a good story, arguing in the car for who gets to choose the playlist or having an impromptu dance party, these things have all become staple elements of our wild, fun and creative life!


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