How would you like to have a successful road trip with the kids? Yes, I mean it. Several hours in the car, and minimal drama, all without putting the portable dvd players in front of them the entire time. Sounds impossible? I don’t think so. With a little planning, and some patience, it CAN be done.
We just finished up a fantastic Spring Break with the kids. We took an eight hour road trip to Orlando where we visited with friends, family, and of course Disney. You might’ve read in this previous post, we didn’t overdo it on technology, and we enjoyed some good quality family time.
Before we left, I sat down with my fourteen year old and we brainstormed for some fun activities to do in the car. My ten year old tried to come up with a few, but gave up when I dashed his hopes of “Car Bowling”.
Anyway, I remembered several games we used to play when I was a kid, as well as some new ones my daughter and I came up with. Some of these you may have heard of before, they’re pretty classic, but some maybe not all of them.
The first thing, and most important, is to remember to have patience, patience, patience. The younger the child, the more frustrated they may be until they understand the rules. Help them along, or let them be on your “team”. With a little trial and error, your road trip can be successful!
1. Estimate the Arrival Time-
Beginning at the very start of the trip, before you ever pull out of the driveway, have each player guess the exact time to the minute`that you’ll pull into the driveway of your destination. Let the person who is the closest without going over be the winner, who gets to pick something special. Maybe the first ride everyone goes on, what movie they get to watch, etc.
2. Points for What You See-
This is one we played all the time when I was a kid.
Divide the riders into two teams, those sitting on the left side of the car, those on the right. If there’s riders in the middle, they can play for either team at any time. Make a list of different things you may see out the windows along the drive, and assign a point to each of those things, making the more common sights less value than those that will be harder to find (ie: a cow = 1 point a yellow stretch limo might = 50 points) One team captain is responsible for writing down the points. This is a great opportunity to be observant and learn about landscapes, farm land, etc for that part of the country you’re driving through.
3. Can’t Say a Word or You Lose Your Clips-
This is the road trip spin on a classic baby shower game. Each rider starts with one or more paper clips. A word is determined before the trip starts that will be taboo. If a player says it and another hears it, they can take that players clip. They can earn clips back by listening closely and catching another player when they slip up.
We played it with the word “Mom”. They could use any variety of the word to speak to me, but not “Mom”. This was a fun game until my six year old didn’t like that he lost all his pens. It wasn’t until he earned a few back that he really understood the fairness of the game.
*Variation- Substitute an uncommon word for a common one (banana for car) and the player loses the clip if they call it by the real word
4. Listen and Draw-
Everyone has a paper and pencil (or crayons) and one person is “it”. Without showing anyone their paper, “it” draws a picture, and explains what it looks like as they draw it. Everyone else draws their version of the picture being described without peeking at the others. In the end, the person with the drawing closest to the original by “it” wins and gets to describe the next picture.
5. Photo scavenger hunt-
Either play by teams or individually, and photograph items from a list. First team or person to photo everything on the list wins.
6. ABC memory (I went to the store and bought…) –
Starting with the letter A, the first person says “I went to the store and bought an APPLE” (or whatever word they want to use that begins with the letter A). The next player has to repeat what was said before, adding another item on that begins with the next letter of the alphabet “I went to the store and bought an APPLE and a BUTTON” Rotate around the car until you get to the letter Z.
7. Speak in Pig Latin-
Oo-day Oou-yay Ooo-knay Oww-hay Oo-tay Eak-spay N-ay Iglatin-pay?
*Variations: Create your own language. Speak for an hour with a foreign accent
8. Speak in Song Without Laughing-
Speak to each other using only the titles or phrases from songs. The first person to laugh or not speak with a song is out.
9. Anagram license plates-
Find a license plate, and each person takes a turn making a phrase using the letters and numbers on the plate
10. Fortunately, Unfortunately-
One person starts with the saying “Fortunately….” and the next person counters with the saying “Unfortunately….” (ie: Fortunately I found my shoes! Unfortunately, there was gum stuck to the bottom…) Rotate around the car and see what kind of silly stories you can come up with.
11. ABC sign game-
Try to find words on signs starting with each letter of the alphabet A-Z in consecutive order.
Variations: Find the letters to spell out a persons name. Find the letters to spell a certain word. Go through the alphabet backwards Z-A. Find every other letter of the alphabet.
12. Story telling in rotation-
One person starts a few lines of a story, then rotate around the car until each person has had a chance to tell a bit of the story. Let is go a few rotations and see how funny and wacky it can be. Mix it up a bit and so that the person telling the story has to use something they currently see out the window as part of the storyline.
13. I Spy-
Have the person who is “it” spy something in the car, and each player takes turns guessing what they’ve spied. This is great for little kids, it’s easy for them to play and they love guessing.
14. Who can find it?-
Similar to I Spy, but the person who is “it” thinks of something completely random (ie: a yellow jeep, a man with a ball cap) that’s not currently in the car, and the first person to spot that thing is “it” next. This one also works well when you’re in the grocery store or mall trying to keep little ones occupied, not just on a road trip.
15. Guess Who?-
Similar to 20 questions, but played about a particular person that everyone would know. It could be a family member, friend, celebrity, etc. The person who is “it” can only answer in yes or no. If it’s your turn, you can either ask a question, or guess the identity, but not both.
The person who is it asks silly questions, and the person answering can’t smile or laugh, and only answer with the word tomato. If they laugh, smile, or answer with anything other than tomato, they’re out. Last one in is the next to be “it”.
17. License Plates-
This is an old classic, where you keep a list of every state you see a license plate from, trying to find them from every state in the nation
18. Would you Rather?-
Someone asks a random question (ie: Would you rather eat a bug, or step on one with bare feet?) Each person gets a chance to answer and give their reasons why if they want. It seems the grosser the questions, the more the boys like them.
19. Bigger Than That-
Name a small item, and rotating around the car each person has to name a bigger item that would connect with the previous one named until you can’t think of anything bigger (ie: seed, flower, boquet, bush, tree…)
20. Radio Scan-
Set the radio to scan, so you only hear a few seconds of the song. The first player to say the name of the song and the artist gets a point
These may not be foolproof, you may still have a few meltdowns, we definitely did. But overall, these games helped the time fly, allowed some serious interaction between family members, and most important, we had fun!
What are some of the creative ways you keep your little ones (and big ones too) entertained in the car for several hours? Leave me a comment, I’d love to know!