How do you keep your children occupied on long road trips? Do you open up an activity case? Do you set up a DVD player, portable video game, iPod or other device, and… you’re off down the highway?
Recent trips with friends and relatives prompted me to wonder whatever happened the conversational, interactive road trip games that would cure the car-riding doldrums? I was able to find a few sites and blogs that brought back some memories, no doubt produced by grown-ups in attempts to capture their youth or unleash part of their upbringing on their kids, as a last-ditch effort to steer them away from these vehicular, electronic babysitters. Shuffling through these sites brought me back to my own childhood memories of road trip games we’d play to pass the time – or more importantly, to keep Dad alert and awake.
Because we started playing road trip games when we very young, my family’s games were very simple. “I Spy” was a variation of the 20 Questions-type of game. We would usually pick an object from the passing scenery or vehicles, or even from inside our car. “I spy something blue,” someone would start. Sky? Nope. Big truck passing us? No. Mom’s handbag? No. We’d take turns until the selected objects or the guesses became too ridiculous.
We then graduated to an alphabet game for which we had no name, so I’ll just dub it the “Alphabet Sign Game.” It’s best for ages 3-7. The first player would start the alphabet by spotting an “A” in a warning sign, billboard or retail banner, etc. then each passenger would follow suit and continue through the alphabet. Naturally, many miles would pass before unlucky players assigned with the letters, Q or X or Z would see their signs.
My favorite was a car bingo game called, “Zit Zingo.” Now obsolete, it sometimes pops up on ebay.com. Each player would identify various objects along the road, such as cows, horses, birds, buildings, modes of transportation and people. The first player to complete a line or diagonal of objects would be the winner. “Zit Zingo” was fun for all but in the backseat between the three of us kids, the competition ran especially fierce. The hours in the car, as did the miles of highway monotony passed quickly. Another benefit – watching the scenery helped prevent motion sickness. You can find road trip games online including many bingo-type games. Or you can just make your own. On your next long road trip: rather than watching in the mirror as your kids zone out with a movie or music, why not break up the ride with an activity that is engaging, challenging and fun for everyone in the family?