6 Fun Road Trip Games to Keep the Kids Entertained
Holidays mean family road trips. But as every parent who’s ever taken one knows, cries of “Are we there yet?” usually begin even before the first rest stop.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to pass the time without resorting to endless movies and mindless, solitary screen time. Here are six kid-pleasing car games the family can play together that will keep backseat bickering, shoving, caterwauling and finger pointing to a minimum — and ensure everyone arrives ready for fun.
A classic that still helps the miles go by. Each passenger takes turns spotting letters in alphabetical order on signs, license plates or whatever passes by (for instance, the first player might point out the A on a sign, the second might find a B on a license plate, etc.) For a tougher challenge, set the rule that only the first letter of a word counts – so a sign for Subway could be used to play S, but not B or Y. Or start from Z and go backwards – and if you're the first player, hope that you find a zoo soon!
This road-trip version of the popular outdoor game will entertain your kids while sharpening their observation skills. Before hitting the road, create a written list of ten items that each child needs to find along the way: animals, types of vehicle and so on. For younger riders, keep it simple – a gas station, signs for familiar restaurants, a bus. Older kids can search for trickier finds: three pictures of animals, a billboard advertising a casino or theme park, a NAPA AUTO PARTS store, four cars with stick-figure family stickers on the rear windshield. First one to finish their list is the winner.
Going on a Road Trip
How good is your family's memory? Test it out by playing this progressive list game. The first player starts by announcing, “I’m going on a road trip, and I'm bringing apples.” The second player repeats the previous item, then adds another beginning with the next letter: “I’m going on a road trip, and I’m bringing apples and broccoli.” Each player has to recall all the previous items before adding a new one; anyone who skips a letter is out. For a tougher version, limit the list to a particular category (only fruits or animals). By the end of the game, you should have quite an assortment of oddities for your trip!
Down by the Bay
Does the thought of hearing every refrain of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” make you want to gulp down a few of those bottles yourself? Try this far more tolerable alternative. Familiarize yourself with the refrain (you can hear it here):
Down by the bay
Where the watermelons grow
Back to my home
I dare not go
For if I do my mother will say
Did you ever see a moose kissing a goose
Down by the bay?
Then have every family member take turns coming up with new rhymes for the “Did you ever see” line. You're limited only by your imagination. The sillier, the better. (Did you ever see a frog sitting on a log? An egg with a broken leg? Did you ever see Darth Vader working as a waiter?)
Good news/bad news
This improv storyline game is not only lots of fun, it’ll also boost your kids’ writing ability when they return to school. Start off with a simple introduction and a “good news” prompt: “One day, I decided to drive to the beach. The good news is that it was a hot, sunny day.” The next player adds a “bad news” plot twist: “The bad news is that I got a flat tire on the highway.” The next player continues with a “good news” line (“The good news is that Superman was flying by, and he picked up the car and fixed the tire”). Keep alternating lines until the story comes to a good conclusion or until everyone is laughing too hard to go on – whichever comes first.
If your kids grumble at the thought of putting their phones and tablets away for the duration, suggest a compromise: They can use their electronics to look up interesting facts about the area you're visiting: the best ice cream shops, museums, parks, historic sites, etc. If you're hitting a theme park, let them visit its website and make a list of the can’t-miss rides, or check the park’s Facebook page to look at visitor feedback. Give them a limit – say, half an hour – and have them give a report when the time is up.
Along similar lines, you can have each child create a “dream day itinerary” based on what they learn about the destination. For example, one child might want to hit the snow tubing park or beach right after breakfast, see the aquarium in the afternoon and try the local Japanese hibachi restaurant for dinner. After the kids share their wish lists, everyone can decide on a plan that works for your schedule (and budget).