When I was a kid we used to drive 14 hours every summer to visit my grandparents in Indiana. This was long before iPads, iPods, or other “i” devices existed.
In order to pass the time, we played road trip games. I still use these games with my kids in the car, around the dinner table or waiting in line. Here are four games from my childhood that go beyond the classic "license plate" game.
1. Name that Tune
The game: Music trivia for the whole family
The rules: Select a radio station that works for your family (or an iPod on shuffle). Play the song. The first person to “buzz in” guesses the song and artist. If the player guesses incorrectly, other players have the opportunity to guess. For each correct answer, players are awarded five cents. The winnings can be spent at the next truck stop or travel center on your journey.
The game: A category game for all ages.
The rules: Select a category that everyone in your car can participate. For example: school, the park, Disneyland, Christmas, Harry Potter, food, etc. Then you take turns going around the car naming something that begins with the letter assigned to the player. See below for some examples:
If you choose school: Player 1: “Apple.” Player 2: “Backpack.” Player 3: “Chalk”
Variation: Each player has to say something for each letter before moving on to the next.
If you choose Christmas: Player 1: “Santa.” Player 2: “Snow.” Player 3: “Stocking.” Player 1: “Tinsel.” Player 2: “Tannenbaum.” Player 3: “Treats.”
3. Magic If
The game: Imagination and creative thinking.
The rules: You can designate one question asker (parent) or go around the car taking turns. One player asks the question “If you were a _______, what would you be? And why?” Each player (even the asker) fills in the blank with an answer and gives their explanation. Examples:
Q: “If you were a beverage, what would you be? And why?”
A: “I would be coffee, because I have a strong personality and am an acquired taste”
A: “I would be Sprite, because I’m sweet and bubbly”
Q: “If you were a color, what would you be? And why?”
A: “I would be yellow, because I’m always cheerful”
A: “I would be bright orange, because I’m loud”
4. What’s Your Favorite/Least Favorite
The game: Getting to know you. Self-discovery. Good for all ages.
The rules: You can designate one question asker (parent) or go around the car taking turns. One player asks the question “What’s your favorite _______? And what’s your least favorite _______?” Each player (even the asker) fills in the blank with an answer. Examples:
Q: “What’s your favorite season? What’s your least favorite season?”
A: “I love fall and I dislike spring.”
A: “Summer is my favorite and winter is my least favorite.”
Variation: You can always mix this one up by giving an either/or option
Q: “Do you prefer dogs or cats?” “Rain or snow?” “Books or movies?”
Any other great road trip games you play with your family? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Shea Saladee lives in Papillion with her husband, Brent, and their three children. She works as an instructor at the University of Nebraska Omaha.