Road trips with your children don't have to be difficult ordeals punctuated with a repeated "Are we there yet?" There are plenty of ways to make time in the car fun for both you and your child. Here are eight fun games to try the next time you're on the road again.
1. The License Plate Game
Ages 5 and up: Make a group effort to spot tags from all 50 states. Whoever sees and calls out a state's license plate first gets a point. Bonus points for the first person to spy a Canadian tag. The person with the most points wins.
2. Healthy Competiton
Ages 6 and up: Though not exactly a "car" game, this activity is perfect for lengthy road trips. To offset the day's sedentary nature, have kids compete in athletic challenges at rest stops. See who can do the most sprints, push-ups, or jumping jacks in a minute.
3. Story Time
Ages 8 and up: Get creative inventing a fairy tale. The first person starts with "Once upon a time..." and offers a complete sentence, then the second person adds to the story with their own sentence. This continues with each person until the story reaches a conclusion. You can either set a time limit (15 minutes) or make the goal to wrap it up after each person has a chance to say 3 sentences. Record story time on your phone and have someone transcribe it afterward to have a record of the story you wrote as a family.
Ages 6 and up: Get to know your kids a little better by having them answer hypothetical questions such as, "What would you do if you won the lottery?" or "If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Why?" Let everyone have a turn answering the question and give rewards for the funniest, most inventive, most empathetic, etc. answers.
5. The Alphabet Game
Ages 5 and up: One person chooses the right-hand side of the road, and someone else the left. Each player looks for letters of the alphabet that appear on signs or license plates on their side. The object of the game is to point out all the letters of the alphabet in order, from A to Z. The first person to spot the entire alphabet wins.
6. The Animal Name Game
Ages 6 and up: One person names an animal. Then each person in order has to name another animal (no repeating!) that starts with the last letter of the previous animal named. There are no winners or losers in this game. With older children, try the game with TV shows, or geographical categories such as cities or countries.
7. Twenty Questions
Ages 4 and up: One person secretly thinks of either an animal, mineral, or vegetable. The other players then take turns asking yes-or-no questions, such as "Can it fly?" or "Does it grow in the ground?" After the players have asked 20 questions, each player gets a chance to make a guess.
Ages 4 and up: A child whispers a story to someone else in the car. That person whispers the same story — as close to a word-for-word recount as possible — to a third person, and so on. The last person to hear the story repeats it out loud so everyone can hear. Invariably, some of the story will have been lost in the translation, and the resulting garbled message usually inspires a good laugh.
9. The Theme Song Game
Ages 5 and up: One person hums the tune to a favorite TV show, and everyone else tries to name the show as fast as possible. The first person to guess correctly hums the next song.
10. Memory Test
Ages 6 and up: The first person says "A is for —" filling in the blank with any word beginning with the letter A, such as "apple." The second person comes up with a word for the letter B, such as "book," but must also repeat the "A" word: "A is for apple, B is for book." Continue through the alphabet, each person taking several turns and reciting more and more letters and words. By the time you reach the letter Z, that player will recite the whole alphabet and its corresponding words. However, if you're playing with younger kids you may want to choose an earlier letter than "Z" to be the final one.
11. Secret Place Race
Ages 7 and up: One person looks at a road map and finds a small town, village, river, etc. That person announces the name of the place she has chosen. A second player has 60 seconds to look at the map and try to find the secret place.
12. Restaurant Race
Ages 5 and up: Each player chooses a restaurant, such as Burger King, Taco Bell, McDonalds, etc. Players earn points by spotting their restaurant off the road, on a billboard, on exit markers, on Food/Fuel signs, or by hearing it mentioned on the radio. Impose a time limit—say, 20 minutes—and then add up the points.