Remember the awe and wonder you felt as a kid? When a simple game of “I spy” could keep you joyously occupied for hours? Road games are a great way to keep children of all ages entertained during long and boring road trips. In addition to preventing road fatigue, they make the experience more pleasant for everyone--especially mom and dad. Here are 10 simple and fun games anyone can enjoy.
One: Bottled Treasure
Fill a two-liter bottle about 3/4 full with rice or birdseed. Add a variety of small household objects like paperclips, buttons, marbles and toy soldiers. Make a list of everything you hid and seal the container. Have your kids shake the bottle and hunt for all the treasures you buried.
Two: A Map Mission
Give your children a map and have them mark it up to chart your journey. As you pass different towns and landmarks, help the kids note them on their maps. Fun for the kids and also educational, this game is a win-win and one that the whole family can get involved in.
Three: Counting Cars
Come up with fun, age-appropriate challenges. For example, be the first to find five green cars or ten semitrucks. Or keep count of how many different types of cars you can spot in an hour. Or how often you see a Toyota pass by. This simple game keeps kids occupied and teaches them how to stay alert.
Four: License Lookout
Before you hit the road, ask everyone how many different state license plates they think they’ll see. Write down their guesses. Keep a running list of the ones spotted along the way and fill time in between plates by talking about the 50 states, what their capitals are and what they’re famous for.
Five: Games Galore
Simple card games can keep children occupied and entertained for a long time. Games like Go Fish, Solitaire, Uno or even just practicing shuffling can be a fun way to pass the time. In addition, most favorite board games come in magnetic versions that are designed for travel and are perfect for road trips.
Six: Media Savvy
Have your kids pick a new book or movie, something they can get into and spend some time with during the long ride. Interactive games are a good means of entertainment and education. For electronic gadgets, make sure batteries are charged and that you have headphones.
Seven: What Do You See?
"I Spy" is a classic car game. Find a fixed object that everyone in the vehicle can see and say, "I spy with my little eye something that is …" Then give a clue as to what the object is.
Everyone takes turns asking “yes" or "no” questions about the mystery object. The asker then guesses what the object is. This repeats until someone gets the right answer. That winner chooses the next object.
Eight: Rest Stop Athletics
Pack some small athletic gear in your car like squishy footballs and Frisbees. If you don't have room, when you’re at a rest stop, create races where everyone has to run from tree to tree in different ways: run to the first tree, hop to the second, jump to the third and run back to start.
Nine: Scavenger Hunt
Create a list of items you think you'll see along the way. Make copies for everyone. As each person sees an item, he or she calls it out. Another person verifies it. The first one to cross off the entire list wins. Once you’ve finished this list, try and make another more challenging list and keep going.
Ten: Alphabet Game
As you pass signs, find each letter of the alphabet in order. You can only get one letter from each sign. When you see the letter, call it out. For example, you'd say, "I see an 'A' on 'Dairy farm this exit'." Keep going all the way through the alphabet until the first person finishes it entirely.
These car games are fun and keep young passengers occupied in safe, healthy and educational ways. Be sure to reward the winners by letting them choose the next DVD, hour of music, place to stop for lunch, etc.