Back in the day, kids didn’t have smart phones, tablets, movies and game consoles to entertain them on a long road trip. There was a radio and your imagination. So if you want to go “old-school,” here are a few fun & free activities to keep the kids occupied while on the road.
One to One Hundred
Try to find all the numbers from one all the way up to one hundred outside the car. Call out the numbers as you go. If that’s too easy, see how high you can get.
The Bug Game
Try to spot all the Volkswagen Beetles you can find. When you see one, say the color of the Beetle you’ve found. “Bug Blue!” “Bug Yellow!” And so on. You get 2 points for old, classic Beetles, and 1 point for new models. Specially decorated Beetles are worth 3 points. This game sometimes has the twist of punching or pinching the person next to you on the arm if you beat them to the draw. Play this version at your own risk!
There are several different versions of the Alphabet Game. No matter which one you choose, the basics are the same – the alphabet.
Look for the letters of the alphabet on items that you pass. The one rule is the letters must be outside of your own vehicle. Use billboards, exit signs, license plates, messages painted on semi trucks or barns.
Look for things that begin with the letters of the alphabet. Again, items must be outside of the vehicle. “A” could be for the asphalt on the highway or an apple tree on the side of the road. “B” could stand for the bus that just passed you.
License Plate Game
Appoint one person in the car to be in charge of keeping track of this game. Begin by writing down every state. This alone keeps you occupied for several minutes. There’s always one pesky state that no one can think of. Then as you drive, every time you see a license plate from a new state, check that state off. You’ll be amazed at how many states you’ll be able to cross off your list. On a particularly long trip, I was able to check off all but three states. And don’t forget to add plates from other countries if you see them.
Pick five OOPS! words at the beginning of the trip. The idea of OOPS! is not to say the certain words. The more common the word, the harder the game is. If you say the OOPS! word, you get a point. The person with the fewest points at the end of the trip wins the game.
The Quiet Game
Kids screaming in the back seat? Then it’s time to play the Quiet Game. Someone says “one, two, three, quiet!” Everyone has to keep quiet as long as possible.
A player thinks of something, anything. The other players take turns asking questions that can only be answered with a yes or no. Whoever guesses correctly first is the winner. If no one guesses correctly after 20 questions, no one wins and the game starts over.
It begins with someone saying “I spy with my little eye something that starts with…” One player sees something. This time the inside and outside of the car is fair game. Knowing the first letter of the thing, the players have to guess what it is. Add a time limit to make it more exciting. Whoever guesses correctly gets to be the next spy.
The Country Game
One player says the name of a country, for example “France”. The next player then has to name a country that starts with the last letter of the first country’s name. (Correct answers for our example could be Egypt or Ecuador.) The game continues until someone is stumped. There’s a catch – no repeats on country names. If you don’t want to use countries, use another category.
One player thinks of a word and keeps time to see how long the other players take to find it. Make sure to pick a word that you will be likely to see – like exit, stop, rest, eat or mile. Whoever finds it first gets to pick the next word.