Let’s face it. Long road trips can be the bane of family harmony. Cooped up in the car for extended periods without a break is not only a guaranteed source of cramped legs, it’s also a recipe for grouchy kids and adults, quick to argue and much less happy with the driving experience.
There is a better way. Try some of the following road trip games that are actually fun – and can be instructive for all concerned. The fact that these games are ones parents might remember from their own childhood is a plus. There’s wisdom in sharing the classics, especially when they work to create peace and harmony during lengthy road travel.
License plate ID
The object of this game is for players to see how many different states you can identify on license plates. Kids learn to scan plates for recognizable identifiers, such as colors, images, slogans. A variation on this game is for players to come up with a slogan or sentence that relates to the license plate numbers. As an example, BZM 023 might be “busy mom of 23.” This encourages kids (and adults) to be creative to come up with something that fits. And it passes the time nicely.
The game starts with a person, place or thing that one player thinks of. Others in the car, mom, dad, other kids or passengers, get to ask the player 20 questions that must be answered with a “yes” or a “no.” If one player guesses correctly, it’s his turn next to think of something and the game continues.
Counting (Cows, Barns, Horses)
The counting game is good for stacking in between other road trip games. It can be cows, barns, horses or whatever is agreed upon. The idea is to count the number of those items on your side of the road and to have the highest number when the destination is reached (or where it has been agreed the game will stop). Pass a cemetery, though, and it’s back to zero.
A is for…
In this game, the idea is to begin with the letter A and each player (everyone in the car) tries to be the first one to spot and name three things that begin with that letter. For example, the child or adult (or just the kids, if the adults want to give them the chance to be competitive and encourage quick-thinking) who sees and says “apple tree, auto, auto repair shop” then gets to choose the next letter.
This one is a little trickier and might be better for adolescents. The idea is to start with any place in the country or the world (but be clear at the outset what the parameters are). Let’s say the place is California. The next person has to think of a real place that begins with the last letter of California, such as Arkansas. The next person has to come up with a place beginning with the letter S, as in Sacramento, and so on.
Of course, at some point the kids might tire of mentally taxing their brains and prefer to veg out with their video games. Whatever keeps the peace.