Travelling in the car is tedious. Games that need nothing other than your voice, sometimes eyes and always imagination work best for road trips, especially if you have kids that get carsick! Lots of games can be adapted to suit younger/older kids. If competitions are liable to start in-car-fighting, eliminate this aspect (suggestions below). NOTE that drivers should keep their concentration firmly on the road rather than spotting the next purple car etc! Here are some ideas, all recommended by other families but feel free to add your own favourites below if I’ve missed them:
Car cricket – various rules but here’re 2 versions. Everyone who’s playing chooses a colour and then looks out for cars that are passing on the other side that are their chosen colour. Keep a running total for each person with a car scoring 1 ‘run’, a van or motorhome scores 4 and a truck scores 6. Alternative version: One passenger is the batsman. As cars pass by, keep a running total with a white car = 1 run, coloured car = 2 runs, motorhomes = 4 runs and trucks = 6 runs. When a red car passes the batsman is out and another passenger gets a turn. The batsman who gets to 100 first wins.
Continuing story – everyone playing says one line of a story. Continue going round listening to how weird and whacky the story gets!
Eyes Closed – The driver is the judge and calls out when a feature is coming up e.g. a bridge, a building at the side of the road, a train track, large tree etc. The passengers then shut their eyes and have to call out when they think they’re passing the object. The winner is the person who shouts out closest (or the winner gets to spot the next ‘object’ for the game).
Who can keep quiet for the longest – agree on rules beyond no talking, like no laughing or no coughing! An alternative is to give everyone a lolly and see who can keep it in their mouths for longest – no chewing or crunching allowed.
I went to market and bought….For younger kids it can just be random (‘I went to market and bought a horse, a Christmas tree and a doll’), for older kids make it alphabetical. Generally the second person repeats the first item and adds a second item e.g. I went to market and I bought an apple (from the first person) and a blue balloon (second person’s item). Keep going round until everyone is out or you’re bored! If this is too easy, make it adjective+item e.g. …I bought a slimy snake….
Alphabet items. Choose a category e.g. ‘food’ or ‘sports’ and a letter (for younger kids just choose a category). Go round the car saying a different item e.g. Food + ‘p’ might have people saying ‘pasta’ ‘popcorn’ ‘peas’ ‘pork’ continue going round until someone can’t think of another item to add. You can continue until you have a winner or just change the topic/letter to avoid the competition element.
I spy – play with colours for kids that don’t know how to spell or sounds rather than a letter. For older kids try and get them thinking about abstract / not visual ideas and phrases rather than just single words e.g. ‘air’ ‘oxygen’ ‘nature’ ‘M-T = milk tank’.
20 questions – Think of a person (start of with family members, characters from films or T.V. programmes your kids are familiar with). Ask questions starting with ‘Is he/she….?’ to get the answers ‘yes’ or ‘no’. If you want a winner, it can be the person who guesses with the fewest questions.
Spotty variations – pick a car colour or make – just make sure it’s not common e.g. orange, yellow or purple cars work well as do old style minis or VW beetles. Another alternative is old style car number plates (black background with white letters). Score 1 point for each car spotted under whatever category you’ve chosen. Rude word variation – everyone in the car picks a ‘rude’ word (think toilet humour) and if you see the car type you have to shout your rude word. This has everyone laughing and takes away the competition element.
Trivia questions – asking and answering questions about e.g. New Zealand trivia. Make the questions appropriate for those in the car or even take it in turns to think of the questions to get the kids more involved. Examples of questions might be: What’s the longest river in New Zealand? What’s a New Zealand town beginning with ‘L’? What is Ohakune famous for/What vegetable is Ohakune famous for?
Scavenger hunt (but only hunting with your eyes) – ask the other passengers to ‘find’ certain items. List as many as you think they can cope with e.g. find a bridge, an animal and a church. The first to spot all 3 then has to name 3 more things to ‘find’.
Car Bingo – for the seriously organised, this can involve drawing and writing up your own sheet of things to spot on your journey. This could be generic things like a horse, a 70km road sign and a church or if you are familiar with the route, it could include things tailored to your trip e.g. wind turbines, an L&P bottle because you’re going through Paeroa etc. If you’re not that organised, have a look on Pinterest or here for a printable bingo sheet. Make your own rules, perhaps the first to tick a line gets to choose the next song playing in the car and the first with full house gets to choose the next game!
For more ideas you could try looking at the AA website here.