I remember a simpler time when family car trips rarely required much more preparation than packing your suitcases and pulling out a large paper map. Times have changed, and I have seen the now requirements of a traveling mother with children, it can be so much more complicated these days. There is nary a parent who doesn’t feel that she must provide hours of entertainment to her children during long car
Times have changed. Now traveling feels more complicated. There is nary a mother who doesn’t believe that she must provide hours of entertainment to her children during long car trips.
It’s not uncommon to have built in DVD players, electronic tablets, snacks galore and likely headphones so you don’t bother the media vegetation of the person sitting next to you.
Though this often results in a quieter car trip, there is some connection to the outside world and the family that’s lost in the journey. But don’t despair. You can bring back the unity and family laughter; they don’t cost you a thing and the battery won’t die out.
Fantastic Old School Creative Car Trip Games
The license plate game:
If you grew up before the digital age, you likely played this game. It happens to be one of my personal favorites. Adapt it to either a sudden death match with teams or an all-inclusive family event. Someone writes down the states that you see on various license plates as you’re traveling. No duplicates are necessary and the goal is to get all 50 states written down before your trip is over. When playing as a family, everyone’s eyes are peeled looking for the different states and trying to remember if you have already written it down. When playing on teams, there’s a quieter strategy where each team is attempting to beat the other in a race to get the most states recorded. Either way, it’s part education and part laugh-out-loud fun.
The cow game:
This one works best when driving across rural areas. It simply won’t work if you are driving in downtown New York or Chicago, for example. The family can divide up into teams–a group sitting on the right side of the car and the other group sitting on the left side. Each team looks out the window and counts cows. No horses, goats or other livestock, are allowed– only cows. In fact, if you have an older crowd of kiddos you can even institute penalties for counting the wrong kind of livestock.
The object of the game is to reach your destination with the highest number of cows. But, watch out. If you drive by a cemetery on the right side of the car, they lose all their cows and the count returns to zero. Same goes for the left side of the car. Dead cows are no good and you have to start all over again.
Car color bingo:
You may have to do some prep work for this one but it works very well for smaller children. Simply make up a bingo card full of colors and have your children try to get a bingo by looking out the car windows and finding the colors of cars that match their card. For an older crowd, you can make the bingo card to read make/model of cars as opposed to colors. Be prepared with “prizes” for your winners. A bag of individually wrapped jolly ranchers where the winner gets 1 piece will work just fine.
Animal letter game:
This one may have you rolling with laughter. Younger children go first, followed by older ones and, of course, adults last. Work through the alphabet and name an animal that corresponds. Have to pass on a letter because all of the animal names you can think of for that letter were taken? You’re out! The object is to be one of the last men standing. Sound easy? Try to come up with more than 3 or 4 animals that start with the letter Q. See what I mean?
We certainly have it easier when we travel, compared to our grandmothers and great grandmothers. But it doesn’t hurt to take away the distractions we have at our disposal and have some family reconnection. These games will help you create lifetime memories.
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