There are those road trips when getting to your destination is a big part of the holiday – the drive is particularly scenic, or part of your journey involves a boat ride – and there are those road trips that just have to be endured. Think long hours spent on grey motorways.
And if you think the boring journeys are bad, you want to try being a kid stuck on the back seat with nothing to do, and no sense of where they are or how long this ordeal will last. (“Are we nearly there yet?!”)
So before you go on any road trip with the kids, as well as packing an assortment of books, comics and games to keep them entertained, it’s also worth arming yourself with some alternative games to keep both the kids and adults sane.
1. Pay the Penalty
This is a good one to start playing as soon as your car leaves the driveway as, all being well, it could keep the kids in check for the entire journey.
Just before you leave, tell each of the kids they have set amount of sweets, coins or whatever your preferred bribery currency is, that they will receive at the end of the journey.
However, each time they are heard to be fighting over anything, or they argue with you, they have to pay the penalty and are docked a certain amount of sweets, meaning they’ll get less than they’d bargained for once you reach your destination.
You could even raise the stakes by promising to double the haul of anyone who gets through the entire journey without being docked any sweets.
This is a game that will have everyone’s imagination running riot and hopefully tickle a few funny bones along the way.
To kick the game off with a sentence that describes a situation, so it could be something like:
“So there I was, clinging on to this raft, floating down the Nile”
And then each person takes it in turns to add a sentence to the story, the only rule is that the beginning of each sentence must alternate between ‘fortunately’ and ‘unfortunately’.
So the second sentence could start: “Unfortunately, I was surrounded by crocodiles”
And the third sentence: “Fortunately I had my crocodile repellent handy”
And so on…
3. Road Sign Catchphrase
There are a couple of ways you can use road signs in car games, the first is to simply ask the kids what each road sign means as you pass them – it’s probably a good idea to keep the driver out of this one as they should get them before anyone else.
Alternatively, when you see a road sign, you can ask everyone in the car to ‘say-what-they-see’ – for instance, the sign for ‘roadworks’ looks like a man struggling with an umbrella, or the ‘no motor vehicles’ sign looks like a motorbike stunt rider vaulting a car. A good one for the imagination!
4. Pub Watch
If you’re driving anywhere in the UK, you’ll no doubt pass loads of imaginatively-named pubs, and although stopping off for a pint in all of them isn’t an option you can still put them to good use with this imaginative game.
When you spot a pub, shout out the name of it and ask someone else in the car to make up the story of how it got its name. So, for instance, if you see a pub called the “Eagle and Crown”, whose crown is it and how exactly did it end up in the hands, well, talons, of an eagle?
5. Through the Glovebox
The idea is a bit like ‘Through the Keyhole’, but you pick a car, look at the driver and decide what sort of person they are – give them a name, a voice, a job, their favourite pastime, football team and whatever you can think of.
This one is ideal if you’re stuck in a traffic jam – just don’t make it too obvious and keep the pointing of your fellow motorists to a minimum. A great one for people-watching lovers!
6. 20 questions
An old classic and one you may also know as ‘Animal/Mineral/Vegetable’ – one player thinks of a person, place, film or object and the other players have to ask a series of questions to find out what it is.
The challenge is that the other players only have 20 questions and the player who thought of the object can only answer either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The winner is the person who gets the right answer and their prize is to think of an object for the next round.
7. Yellow car
Another old classic – you simply have to see who can spot the most yellow cars on the journey.
You could start a points system linked to the type of yellow vehicle you see, or you could set up a ‘billiards’ system whereby players get one point for a red car, two for a yellow car, three for a green car, four for a brown car, five for a blue car, six for a pink car and seven for a black car.
A word of warning though, although it’s an easy game to play it can cause a lot of arguments as to who saw what car first – and if it gets out of hand you’ll be glad you suggested Pay the Penalty before you set off.
Have you got any travel games that can keep the kids entertained on long car journeys? Let us know in a comment!