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We used to take road trips all the time because we lived away from family. When ever there was a family event, we were packing up and heading north. Seriously about 4 times a year at least. Even though it was only a 4 hour drive, my kids really needed something to keep them occupied. I didn’t like them watching movies and playing on their electronic devices the whole time, so we tried to play car games too. I’ve listed a few here for you so you can access them at any time during your trip. Just bookmark this page and viola! You have a ton of car boredom busters at your fingertips.
Before we start talking about games, let’s make sure you’re ready for anything while on a long road trip with kids. Here is a list of things we make sure are easily accessible in the car.
- A jug of water or waterbottles for each child. Be sure to NOT fill them with something sweet. If you do, you’re kids will drink it all right away and you will be stopping every 30 minutes to let someone use the bathroom. Water is something they won’t chug down so you won’t have to be worried about bathroom breaks.
- Some snacks are always a lifesaver. You don’t want hungry kids while traveling or you will never hear the end to the whining. Make it healthy snacks so they won’t eat them all in 10 minutes.
- A small trash bag. We usually just use a grocery sack for this so we can hang it from the handle on the back of one of the seats. This makes cleaning up the car much easier when you reach your destination.
- Pull-Ups for kids who might have a hard time “holding it in” or develop diarrhea while traveling. Trust me, you’ll want something to put on them after you’ve cleaned up the mess. Not pleasant.
- A bag with random small toys in it. Throughout the drive, you can give them a toy at a time when they say they are bored.
- Coloring books and crayons, pencils, colored pencils. Ask the kids to draw pictures of the things they see outside during the drive. Older kids could write stories about the things they see.
- Wet-Naps to clean up any messy faces, spills and to tidy up the car while traveling. I always keep Wet-Naps in my car. Not kidding. The container fits perfectly in my cup holder. I use them to clean dirty hands or feet before the kids get in the car, to clean the dust off the dashboard while I’m waiting to pick up a child from soccer or tumbling, to clean up spills and to clean my own hands after changing a diaper. Wet-Naps are more durable and softer than ever and they moisturize with aloe. They are the perfect accessory for travel. Now you can get $0.55 off using the coupon found HERE: http://wetnap.com/coupons/ I find my Wet-Naps at Wal-Mart down the paper goods isle. I know I’m always getting the best price by shopping at Wal-Mart too.
Now on to the games! These are so fun and hopefully there are some in here that you haven’t heard of before!
1. Treasure Hunt. Before leaving on the trip have the kids come up with a treasure hunt list. A list of things for them to look for while traveling in the car. Some samples may be: a burned down house, a lady in a purple shirt, a yellow car, a white dog, a hay baler, or a blue barn. Only about 30 items. When someone finds one of the items they call it out and mom adds their name next to the thing they found. The winner is the person with the most things found. Or you could just check them off and give everyone a treat when they are all checked off. That way everyone wins!
2. Sleeping Giant. The shapes of natural landmarks often remind the viewer of something. Lots of fun can be had playing this game looking for shapes in the landscape. Like two trees appearing to be shaking hands, a rock with a face in it, a cloud in the shape of a bunny etc. No points, just praise for this game.
3. Cemetery. In this game, the kids are divided into two teams. One side of the car and the other. Then as you travel you look for horses or cows. When you see one on your side of the car, the first to call it out get’s a point. If you pass by a cemetery, the kids on the same side of the car as the cemetery lose all their points and have to start over again. The first team to get to 100 wins.
4. License Plate Consecutive Numbers. This game is pretty self explanatory. You look at license plates and start at 0 and work your way up to the highest number possible. Include the license plates in the restaurant or gas station parking lots you stop at too!
5. License Plate Spell Out. Choose a word or a name of someone in the car and using license plates or bill boards, find the letters to spell out their names. You could do this for every member of the family. When my family plays this, it lasts about an hour to spell out all our names. 🙂
6. I Spy. This is a good game for younger children. One of them begins it by spotting something, like a blue truck, then he says “I spy with my little eye something blue” then the others try to guess what it is. If they can’t guess, he get’s another chance to stump them. The person who guesses correctly get’s to go next or you could rotate around the car to make it more fair. Mom and dad are involved too!
7. Time and Distance. When you are on a long stretch of road in the country, pick a landmark near the road and take a poll of your passengers. How far away is the top of that hill (or that water tower, or bridge etc.). How long will it take us to get there? As you do, make a note of the numbers on the mileage indicator and of the time. Give a prize to the one who guessed the closest time and a prize to the one who guessed the closest distance. Double the prize for someone who was right on the dot!
8. Round Robin Stories. In a round robin, everyone tells a part of the tale. Each person in the car, in turn, has a certain length of time in which to develop the story: a minute or two for younger children and 5 minutes for older children. Start the story with something seen along the way. When the first storyteller reaches his time, the next one picks up where he left off, and so on. A possible elaboration of the game is the requirement that when each player has finished his part of the story he then chooses something he sees outside the car, which the next narrator has to weave into his segment. The storytelling can go around the circle for as long as you want- until it either reaches a natural conclusion or becomes to hopelessly complicated to resolve. But generally, once around a four-to-six passenger group makes a good package and the last player should wrap up the story.
9. Straight Face. One child is It, and the others invent a phrase for him. Any phrase, try “the cat’s tail.” He must then answer every question they ask him with that phrase, and not laugh. They might ask him, for example, what his favorite breakfast food is, or what he uses to brush his hair or what would he hold onto if he wanted to make friends with and angry cat, or what instrument he would write with if he had his choice. The player who makes him laugh is It for the next round. Other phrases include: A bunch of fives, a diamond in the rough, a drop in the bucket, a red rag to a bull, the bread of life, the collywobbles, the last straw, thick and thin, tuckered out.
10. Round Robin Drawing. As a starter say there are three children in the back seat. One of them picks up a crayon and a piece of paper and declares a category. This might be as general as an animal or vegetable or as specific as a person, flower, machine, four legged animal or bird. He then draws the top, or the head of whatever he has chosen, and folds over the paper so that nothing of what he has drawn can be seen below the fold except the tips of the lines to which the next player must attach his part of the drawing-the middle. When the second player is done, he folds over leaving below the fold only the marks to which the last child must attach the bottom of the drawing. As many as four or five can play the game. Just make the assigned parts of the drawing small enough. It is a good idea when drawing an animal to think of it as being drawn from end to end, rather from top to bottom.
11. Paper Battleship (Salvo). This is a game for two.Each board having one hundred squares, ten down, ten across. The squares are numbered one through ten on way and A through J the other. Make sure all boards are marked the same. This makes it possible to identify each square on ta board. Now, on one of his two boards, each player “places” the ships of his fleet, without letting his opponent see where they are, He has one battle ship, and this occupies four consecutive squares-horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. He has one cruiser, which occupies three squares, and two destroyers, two squares apiece. Having arranged his fleet on the board, each player now plots out his first salvo on his other board, trying to guess where his opponent’s ships are. The battleship and the cruiser have two guns each and the destroyers, one, making a total of six shots. The first player calls out his salvo: say, A-6, A-7, B-7, F-3, F-4, F-5. He marks it on his attack board. His opponent must tell him if he has scored any hits. For example, “You have hit my battleship once and one of my destroyers once.” He doesn’t tall which shot hit which ship, however. The attacker notes successful shots on this attack board. Now the second player fires a salvo, and so on, back and forth. A ship is sunk and its guns lost when all its squares have been hit. The object, naturally, is to sink all of the enemy’s ships before your own go down.
12. Closing the Box. Starting with an empty grid of dots, players take turns, adding a single horizontal or vertical line between two unjoined adjacent dots. A player who completes the fourth side of a 1×1 box earns one point and takes another turn. (The points are typically recorded by placing in the box an identifying mark of the player, such as an initial). The game ends when no more lines can be placed. The winner of the game is the player with the most points. The board may be of any size. When short on time, 2×2 boxes (created by a square of 9 dots) is good for beginners, and 5×5 is good for experts.
13. Navigator. Now day’s when we have GPS, our children might now know how to map out a route themselves, or even know how to follow a map for that matter. So before your trip, go and print out a map of the course you will be taking (without any directions marked out on it) or get an Atlas book and teach your child to use it. Map out the way you will go by having your child use a highlighter to mark the way. Then while you are traveling, have them make sure you stay on course.
14. Car Colors. Choose a time limit such as 10 minutes or 30 minutes – depending on the length of the drive. Have each rider make a guess about how many cars of a certain color will be spotted during that time. The closest guesser wins. You can also do this in “sprint fashion” by using 3 -minute intervals as your time limit. Whoever is closest gets a point for that time segment. The first one to 5 points wins.
15. Hum Along. One rider hums a song and the other passengers try to guess. The person who guesses goes next. The first one to guess three songs correctly wins.
I am so excited for our road trips this summer. I know I’ll be prepared with our Wet-Nap wipes to get us out of all our sticky situations!
That’s it. I hope you find some of these games of use to you and your family. What are some of your favorite car games?
Brandy @ BD Design says
I am definitely pinning this! My brother’s and I would play “closing the box” at church when I was little! It’s a perfect game for the car!
LOVE this. Such cute, fun ideas to make road trips more enjoyable!
Aimee @ like mother like daughter says
So many great ideas! No kids old enough to play these games yet, but you can bet my husband and I will play some!
Vidya Sudarsan says
Great ideas Annette! I remember playing some of these games as a child 🙂
My family and I always play the sleeping giant game on our trip down to Orlando. This was great advice! Thank you : )
I think I’m in love with you. We’re taking a long car trip soon and I have been dreading being stuck in the car for four days with our young kids. I typically turn into The Hulk at the end and it’s fun for no one. But this actually has me looking forward to spending time playing and not just putting on more DVDs for them. Granted, there will be many DVDs played, but I’m hoping that now there will be more memories made as well. Honestly, thank you so much for this list. I love it.
Thanks so much April! I hope you have a great trip!
Byron Drake says
Thanks for sharing some cool ideas. These games in the car make my family trips more cheerful.
Tips From a Typical Mom says
So glad they helped make your road trip more cheerful!
Lance Newton says
Thanks a lot for sharing these amazing ideas. These games in the car make my kids perkier.
Tips From a Typical Mom says
So happy to hear that, Lance!