Long road trips with the whole family spell excitement and adventure, but potholes aren’t the only obstacle to a peaceful journey. The fastest way to ensure a headache in the car: your kids yelling “ARE WE THERE YET?” every minute on the minute. To beat boredom and restlessness and keep them (and you!) entertained for hours on end, hop into the car prepared with games that you can all join in on, no matter your age.
Themed Twenty Questions: The old standby can be passed down from generation to generation: One player picks anything from sandwiches to Beyoncé and keeps it to themselves; the rest of the family has 20 questions to guess who it is. Theme the game based on where you’re going (like Disney World) or on something your whole family loves (like Harry Potter). Whoever guesses correctly—or manages to stump the rest of the family—wins and gets to choose the next thing to guess.
Bedtime Story: If someone in the car falls asleep, start playing this game immediately. Each person in the car takes a turn making up a story about something you “saw” happen while the person was asleep. When they wake up, start telling it. If you fool them, you all get a point. If they fooled you and were listening the whole time, they get a point.
I Spy: A great game for even the youngest of kids as the family rolls on by and sees the sights (or at least some interesting cars on the highway). Players take turns spotting an object on the road, describing it with one adjective only (for example: “I spy with my little eye… something green”). The rest of the players take turns guessing.
Don’t Say It!: Before you hit the road, pick five words or phrases that are likely to come up during your trip, like “are we there yet?” or “I’m hungry.” Designate a scorekeeper, and whoever uses the words you can’t say gets an X. Whoever has the fewest Xs gets to pick the restaurant when you reach your destination.
Guess the Capital: You don’t just have to limit this to state capitals; try international countries, too. This is a great one to play with older kids, who, thanks to their homework, will probably do better than mom and dad (who aren’t allowed to cheat with Google)!
Moo!: Even toddlers can join in on this game. As you’re driving, when you see cows, yell “MOO!” Whoever says it first gets a point (though you may find you’re laughing too hard to notice the next batch of cows). The most points at your destination wins. In horse country? Change the game to NEIGH!
The Movie Game: They might do it grudgingly at first, but teenagers will quickly warm to this game. One player says a movie (i.e. Star Wars) and the next player has to name an actor from that movie (i.e. “Carrie Fisher.”) The next player has to come up with a movie Carrie Fisher was in (no repeats!), and so on.
The Silent License Plate Game: This is another good one to play with phone-toting teens. The goal is to spot license plates from the most states possible, but instead of calling them out, everyone (minus the driver, of course) has to take a photo of plates as they see them. Count up points at rest stops!
Riff-Off: Whoever goes first starts singing a song of their choice. Other carmates then have to jump in and connect the lyrics to another song that contains the same word (i.e. “Rockabye baby…” “…You’re a firework!”).
The Quiet Game: Whoever talks first loses! (Handing out a round of snacks might help here.) Sometimes this one is just worth a try, even if it only lasts 30 seconds.
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