While many children these days have the luxury of in-car DVD players and mobile video games to entertain them in the car, there are other fun and stimulating ways to spend your time together while on the road. Here is a list of 10 good old-fashioned travel games that can help pass the time, improve memory skills and provide hours of enjoyment for the entire family on your next road trip:
1. Alphabet Game
The object of this game is to study the passing landscape (street signs, billboards, license plates, buildings, etc.) and locate each letter of the alphabet, in order, from A to Z. If you have younger children who are just learning to read, this is a great game play together as a family. With older children, you can take turns locating letters, or they may enjoy the challenge of a competition.
2. Animal Game
Have someone think of an animal. The remaining players can then take turns asking simple “yes” or “no” questions, such as “Does it have feathers?” or “Is it a mammal?” Guessing continues until either the animal is identified or players give up.
3. Grocery Store Game
This game is a good one for exercising memory. The first person thinks of something you can buy at the grocery store that starts with an “A.” and says, “I went to the grocery store today and bought (A).” The next person repeats the phrase along with the “A” item as well as something that starts with a “B.” For example, “I went to the grocery store today and bought an apple and a banana.” Participants take turns repeating the list and adding to it in alphebetical order until the list includes items from “A” to “Z.”
4. I Spy
Have someone pick an object that can be seen either in the car or along the road. To start the game, have that person say “I spy with my little eye... “ and give a description of the item without giving it away, such as “something round” or “something soft and white.” Have the participants ask yes/no questions until someone can guess what the object is. In subsequent rounds, have participants take turns selecting an item.
5. License Plate Game
Before your trip, print out a U.S. map or a list of states for each participant. During your trip, have participants mark off states as license plates are located. You can play this game individually or can work together as a family.
6. Spelling Bee
Make a list ahead of time and/or grab a pocket dictionary and see who can spell the most words correctly. To keep it fair, be sure to select words that match the difficulty level of each age range represented in the car.
7. Scavenger Hunt
Make up an age-appropriate list ahead of time of 10-15 things you might see while driving (e.g. 18 wheeler, black and white cow, rest area, etc.) The first one who locates everything on the list wins.
8. Twenty Questions
To play this game, have one person think of a general object. The game begins with someone asking a clarification question, such as “Is it a person, place or thing?” or “Is it animal, vegetable or mineral?” Players take turns asking additional questions that can only be answered with a “yes” or “no,” the object being to narrow down the ideas until someone is able to correctly guess the object. Players may only ask up to 20 questions to accomplish this!
9. Virtual Hide and Seek
Imagine you are playing real hide and seek in your house or back yard. The beauty of this game is that you can be any size you want in your imagination, so there is no end to where you can hide. Once you’ve established your boundaries, pick a creative place to hide (e.g. in the refrigerator, under the bed, behind the candlestick on the mantle, etc.) Have the remaining players ask yes/no questions until they can narrow down your location and find your hiding spot.
10. The Word Game
To begin, have someone say a word that starts with “A.” The next person says a word that starts with the last letter of that word. For example, if the chosen word is “ant,” the next word should start with a “T,” such as “truck.” The next person says a word that starts with “K,” and so on. Keep it going for as long as you can.
BONUS GAME: Mystery Writing
This is a great way for kids to occupy themselves during the trip. To play, one child holds out her hand and closes her eyes. A second child uses his finger to “write” on the first child’s hand. Depending on their age levels, writing can involve individual letters or 2-3 letter words.
Enjoy the ride!