11 Sneaky Ways the Library Can Transform Summer & Road Trips

11 Sneaky Ways the Library Can Transform Summer & Road Trips. Tons of FREE resources to make road tripping with kids EASY! See the post for details and instructions!Have the summer boredom blues begun at your house?  Yup.  Mine too.  Perhaps your kids (and YOU) think the library is boring.  I am here to change that.  Planning a road trip?  Here are my top ten ELEVEN reasons to cancel your plans and go to the library TODAY!


11 Sneaky Ways the Library Can Transform Summer & Road Trips. Tons of FREE resources to make road tripping with kids EASY! See the post for details and instructions. PlanForAwesome

Did you know you can check out FREE movies from the library?!  And they’re not all old and lame!  They have NEW RELEASES!

Check out the stash we just scored for our road trip tomorrow!

**Road Trip Tip:  If you’re getting movies for road trips, be sure to get DVDs and not Blu-Rays.  Unless your car plays Blu-Rays**

Some libraries seem to have a killer selection all the time.  It’s like going to Redbox.  It’s awesome.  Others don’t have much available on a regular basis………..

2. BUT! Did you know you can make an ONLINE REQUEST for any movie, book, audiobook, etc, that exists in the ENTIRE LIBRARY SYSTEM for your area?

It is SO EASY!  You log in to the library system (in my case, it’s the Sacramento Public Library System) with your library card number.  You can search any title you want, and it will turn up any results in any of the libraries within that system.  Then you can request to have that item sent to the library of your choice within that area.  It will tell you how many people are ahead of you in the request line, and then you just sit back and wait.  They will email you when the item you’ve requested has made it to your library of choice.  Then they give you a certain amount of days to go pick it up.

Some libraries require pickup within 5 days, others give you a week, others give you 10 days, etc.  If you don’t pick it up within the allotted time, a lot of them will charge you a “restock fee.”  It’s usually been $1 from what I’ve seen.  So basically, don’t abuse the system.  Don’t request stuff and then get too lazy to go pick it up.

That’s it!  It’s that easy!

I love that they tell you what number you are in line.  That gives you an idea of how long you may be waiting.  For instance, I searched a couple movies for our upcoming road trip, and if I saw that I was #25 in line, I knew there was no chance we’d be getting it on time for this trip.  Just a helpful hint.


See #2.  All those things apply.  This is my favorite thing about the library.  I love audiobooks.  I am big on multi-tasking.  So I love being able to listen to a book while doing something like driving across the country.  It makes all those hours seem worth something more than sore buns and lots of arguing in the backseat.  I will admit, this was much easier before having kids.  I actually enjoy the audiobook option when I’m ALONE in the car.  But there have been a few books we have listened to as a family, and it actually went better than I thought.  My top recommendation for a family road trip is the audiobook, “WONDER.”


As if providing audiobooks and books wasn’t enough, the library also offers a downloadable option. You don’t even have to leave your house, people!!  For our library system, you just download an app called Overdrive, and search audiobooks just like you would normal stuff.  There are also waitlists on downloadable things, so it’s not necessarily an immediate book every time.  The selection definitely isn’t as big as the physical ones, but it’s decent.

But if you have headphones of any kind, and a cell phone with an audiobook on it, you can do this!  I am living proof!

11 Sneaky Ways the Library Can Transform Summer & Road Trips - this girl has tons of ideas for FREE resources to make road tripping with or without kids EASY! #travelhack #summerfun

Tyler and I took a really wacky 24-hour trip across the country a few months ago.  It was super last minute and super rushed.  As we were walking through the airport, I honestly started to tear up when I realized this was the one chance I had had in YEARS to read a book without being interrupted, and I hadn’t even thought about bringing a book.  I went into a few of the shops in the airport and nothing was grabbing me.  Then, the library popped into my head.

11 Sneaky Ways the Library Can Transform Summer & Road Trips. Tons of FREE resources to make road tripping with or without kids EASY! #summerfun #travelhack

Within 10 minutes of scrolling on my phone, we had both agreed on a downloadable audiobook.  We bought a pair of earbuds, and listened to the entire book on our flights there and back, each listening with one ear bud.  How romantic, right?  But seriously.  How cool is that?  And the only cost was earbuds because we were too lame to think about it ahead of time and bring some from home.  We don’t get out much…


Free soundtracks to movies AND to your favorite Broadway shows, like…..HAMILTON! DEAR EVAN HANSEN!  WICKED!  FINDING NEVERLAND!  Just to name a few.  USE THIS FREE RESOURCE and listen to these musicals that everyone is talking about.  They are AMAZING!  I do love the Broadway channel on Pandora, but it’s super frustrating to hear random songs that aren’t in any sort of order, when you don’t know the story.  So check out the entire original cast sound recording of a particular show, and let yourself escape to the theater for a couple hours while driving.  LOVE THIS!

Sidenote: if you haven’t listened to “Hamilton” all the way through, I would highly recommend it.  But use earbuds if you have kids in the car.  There is definitely some strong language throughout…

11 Sneaky Ways the Library Can Transform Summer & Road Trips - Tons of FREE resources to make road tripping with or without kids enjoyable!  Can't wait to try #6!


I didn’t know this until about a year ago. For those who aren’t local, just go ask your librarian if they have any passes available to check out for any cool stuff around.  Some libraries do, some don’t.

For all you locals – the Rancho Cordova Library has FREE PASSES to the Sacramento Children’s Museum off of White Rock Rd and Prospect Park.  Yes, I said FREE.  So here’s the scoop.

  • You can check out ONE pass that gets 4 people into the museum for free.
  • You may not check out more than 1 pass at a time. So you can get up to 4 people in for free.  Even if you have more kids than that, it’s still a deal.  I’ll take 4 free passes over none.
  • It costs $8.50 PER PERSON to get into this place. So this saves you $34.  Woot woot!
  • ONLY the Rancho Cordova branch has these available. You can’t go to the Folsom branch and get them there.  They don’t have them.
  • These are not on a shelf. You have to go to the checkout desk and ask for them.
  • The librarian just scans a code, and prints out a receipt. That IS your pass for free admission.  You show that to the person at the museum, and they let you in for free ?
  • Even though there isn’t a physical card that you have to return, there IS a limit on these. I think they only allow 3 or 4 to be “checkout out” at a time.  Before going down there, I would recommend checking online to see if there are any available.  It’s a waste of a trip if they’re all “checked out.”
  • Each pass is good for one week. If you don’t use it within a week, you would have to go back to the library and check it out again.


Yes, there are lots of free summer reading rewards programs and fun things to do with your kids on Pinterest, but this is free, already thought-out, and you don’t have to print anything, cut anything out, or come up with any rewards. Even if you ARE going to do your own sort of rewards system for reading this summer, why not add this free one to the mix?  Just go to your local library and follow the signs!  And if there aren’t signs, ask a librarian.


I mean, have you really THOUGHT about that?!?  How many books have you bought on Amazon?  It’s like throwing money down the toilet.  Kind of.


One thing my kids are required to do every day of the summer is read for 20 minutes. This takes care of that!


Today we went to pick up our movies and audiobooks for our road trip, and there was a magic show going on.  Check online, call, or pick up a schedule from the front desk at your local library.  There’s always stuff going on.  Most libraries have a weekly story time.  Some of them have a separate one for toddlers and another one for older kids.  I used to take my little babies Every. Single. Week.


Again, look for a flyer, check online, or ask the front desk what classes are being offered at the library. You just might be able to learn a new skill for free!

And if those weren’t enough for you…

It’s FREE!  Like, just walking in the door is FREE!  And it’s AIR CONDITIONED!

11 Sneaky Ways the Library Can Transform Summer & Road Trips - Tons of ideas on how to use the library for road trips, airplane trips, and just plain summer fun!  And hardly any of these ideas have to do with books!

So…go to the library!  The end.

For more awesome ideas to do with your kids, click on the KIDS category.

2 thoughts on “11 Sneaky Ways the Library Can Transform Summer & Road Trips”

  1. You’ve inspired me! We are totally hitting up the library this week! Thanks for the awesome tips, they’re genius!

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