Upgrade Your Car's Road Trip Entertainment With One Simple Paper Hack

You can say what you want about Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, but they certainly were innovators with a solution (no matter how half-assed) to every problem. In the early '30s, when car radio was a novelty and not a standard feature on their Model T-Ford, they devised an ingenious hack in the 1933 classic short "Busy Bodies." All you need to do is hook up a gramophone with a selection of records under the hood, and you've got music for your journey to work!

Fast forward now, keeping yourself and your passengers entertained on long road trips is still a perennial challenge, especially in a fast-paced world where attention spans aren't what they used to be. This is even more the case if we're talking about family vacations with children; the classic staples of playing "I Spy" or having a competition to see who can spot the most red cars have lost their luster now; kids are more tech-savvy and online.

It's a job to keep their faces out of a screen these days, but there is no denying that putting a film or favorite show on a phone can keep them quiet for a while. This can cause other issues while on the move — looking down at a screen can trigger motion sickness.  Luckily, this simple hack of using a magazine paper to prop up the phone can solve that problem.

Creating a makeshift smartphone holder for the car

Watching a movie or show while holding a smartphone is never the most satisfying viewing experience, especially when traveling. That goes double for younger kids, who tend to drop it often, which can add further frustration on a car journey. How many parents have found themselves stretching back from the passenger seat for a device on the floor that remains agonizingly out of reach for both them and their child? Often, the only solution is to pull over and retrieve the phone before setting off once more, only for it to happen again 10 minutes later.

This simple hack from Tiktoker @orange_belgium can eliminate the issue. As demonstrated in their video, all you need to do is tear out a page from a magazine, fold it to the right size, and snap one end into your phone case. You can then tuck the other end into the seatback pocket in front of a rear passenger for comfortable viewing. Now, your child is ready to binge-watch their favorite Netflix show and leave you to drive in peace while keeping their head up to reduce the risk of motion sickness. This hack is similar to a trick you can perform with an airline sickbag and seat tray for personal viewing on a flight.

What if the hack doesn't work?

This car entertainment hack isn't completely foolproof, especially if you have two children and your car only has one seat back pocket on the passenger side. If so, don't despair; another Tiktok travel hack suggests using a transparent Ziploc bag to hold the smartphone instead and securing it in place with the headrest.

If neither of those hacks suits you, a few cheap, out-of-the-box solutions are worth investigating. Smartphone holders that clamp onto the headrest rods of the seat in front are a good option, and some more advanced models pivot so more than one passenger can watch. Another alternative is a stretchy mount holder that fits over the cushion instead, although they are only really suitable for the passenger sitting directly behind the seat. Both options cost a few bucks, but they are worth every penny to keep kids quiet on long journeys.

If the hack doesn't work for you and you don't feel like forking out the extra expense for a holder, there are still plenty of other ways to keep kids entertained without their eyes glued to a screen. Podcasts and audiobooks are a great way to pass the time while still enjoying the scenery, and loading snacks is a surefire way to kill a few minutes with some happy munching. If the worst comes to the worst, you can always fall back on a game of "I Spy!"