Road trips can be a blast, but if you’ve ever experienced them before you know that they can also be slightly boring and maybe even painful. Kids in the backseat begging for a restroom stop or food. Then there’s the whole “Are we there yet” cliché that even if you don’t come right out and say it, you as an adult are often thinking the same thing. Cars can be claustrophobic, they can make one dizzy; they can put tension on your muscles from sitting in one place all day, they can force you to eat food you ordinarily might consider off limits. And sure, there are many aspects of the typical road trip that are wonderful too, like time to bond with your family or friends, the ability to sightsee and long opportunities to think or sleep in silence. But for those times that driving long distances might be less than thrilling, especially for your children who have probably less patience than you, the art of road trip game playing can be a family’s best traveling friend. There are a variety of little games that have been invented for the whole family to play together. Much of them can be discovered by simply using your imagination. In case you need some clues to jumpstart some fun creative activity planning for your next long family car trip, though, consider these few popular games. You can adapt them to your family’s preferences as you go along but here are some general tips and guidelines to get you started. Hopefully, you will find one your family really enjoys that not only passes the hours of prolonged sitting, but also serves to establish some great family memories.
Sing In Sync
The Sing In Sync game is probably one you are already familiar with. Chances are you’ve played a version of the game to either play a funny trick on a friend or family member or you’ve done it on your own to test your musical rhythm and timing.
The game is one of the simplest car games because all it requires is at least one person and some music. Whether you prefer to use the radio, a CD, or your favorite cassette tape, it usually works best with songs you are at least moderately familiar with. In some cases though, especially with the popular country music or pop rock hits of today, you can get away with songs you’ve never heard before if the chorus is catchy enough to pick up on fairly quickly.
Either way, play some music and take turns, one at a time. Or, if you are alone, challenge yourself. There’s no shame in that. Driving gets lonely, this is a fun game to make you smile to yourself at life’s various amusements like singing, as a healthy break from the deep pensive trance you are likely in most of the time while staring at the road. So, choose an order of who goes when. Then, when a song comes on that you feel you can successfully guess the words to, or at least the melody of the chorus by humming, the person whose turn it is must begin singing. Now he or she must concentrate hard on the rhythm and pace of the song as the singer sings it, because at any given moment, another player, preferably one who is in the front seat near the radio dials, will have to turn down the volume so you can no longer hear the tunes. The volume monitor will leave the dial down for at least a good 7-10 seconds before turning it back on, being careful not to switch stations or to another song, as the active player keeps singing. The goal would be for that player, when the music comes back on, to pick right back up the melody and/or lyrics right in sync with the natural progression of the song without stumbling over words, losing his or her train of thought, or being forced to skip an entire verse or two in order to catch up with the singer’s pace. It will be quite obvious whether or not this is achieved and as mentioned previously, the skill of each player is more telling if you use songs that they know.
This game can be a blast and it makes for a lot of great family or friend shared laughter. Watch as people get caught blaring out the lyrics off key before the volume is even turned up or before they realize it has been turned down. Find out which member of your group has the best concentration to keep in sync despite the break in music. The Sing in Sync game is a great way to let go of your bashfulness, swallow your insecurities and belt out your favorite songs as if you are at home alone in front of your mirror pretending you’re a rock star. Chances are you will find out things about your friends or family you never knew, such as their keen ability to memorize rap lyrics or to sing with a country western twang. Play as long as you’d like and either play strictly to pass the time with amusement or keep track by developing a simple point system.
This game can either be done with a known nursery rhyme, some kind of known tongue twister (She sells seashells by the seashore), or with a popular, easy song that everyone in the car knows the words to. The aim of this game is to work collectively as a team to keep the beat of the song going, the rhythm consistent and the words correct, without getting distracted. It takes much concentration on the part of each individual player. Here’s what to do: Once you have the song picked, this time it should be one that you sing on your own, without the help of the stereo, the first person should start singing. After he or she sings a few words, or gets the next verse in the song, the second player must start singing as well. Then when this player gets a few words into it, the third player must start, and so forth until all of the players are singing at once.
The catch to this game is that each player will be singing different sections of the song in unison. Since the first player started, he or she will be ahead of the bunch and the second player right behind and again, with the third, fourth, etc. For example if the game song or riddle is the popular “Ring around the rosy, pocket full of Posey, ashes ashes we all fall down”, the first player will start from the beginning and continue through to the end, and if the group can keep it up, continue singing, starting again from the beginning. Once he or she starts singing, the next player should begin the exact same words to the exact same song or rhyme, only they only can start singing when the first player gets to the part that starts with “ashes, ashes we all fall down”. And then, the third player should do the exact same thing, starting at the beginning only when player two gets to the “ashes ashes” part of the song. What you will end up with is a group of people singing the same song in different parts at different times and the challenge is to keep your concentration and rhythm well enough to get the sing-along lasting as long as you can.
A Story to Remember
This game is a classic for groups of all ages. Adults and children alike can play together, for this isn’t a test of brains but of memory. The rules are simple. Designate an order in which each player will take his or her turn. As with most games it works best to go around in the circle, or in the case of a car, from right or left front seat to the same direction in the back. Once you know who goes when, the first player must start the game with a short sentence, such as “I like to go to…”, being sure to leave it either incomplete or an open enough topic to allow the next person to easily build off of it. The next player, then, must add to that sentence with a few words of their own, but the trick is he or she must repeat your sentence or words first, before adding the new phrase on. And each player takes his or her turn going around the group as many times as you can until someone messes up. Messing up would entail forgetting to repeat the beginning of the story or missing part of the middle. Depending on the number of players, you might choose to eliminate people one by one as they lose the round until one winning player is left. To make this game even more advanced, try listing unrelated objects as you go around the group instead of forming a story. By calling out random terms, with no similarity to each other, the hardest it will be for each player to remember all of the items that were mentioned before them because it will be more challenging to make memorable associations.
The colored cars game is another great way to have fun on a road trip and pass some time. Each player should choose a color, ideally, a color that is not so hard to imagine as a common automobile color. Together you should all come up with a number that will signify the winning spy. Most families feel that the number ten allows for an appropriate game duration. Then, as you are driving along, each player will be challenged to find and point out as many cars or trucks as they can whose color matches the one they have selected. Someone should be the scorekeeper and give each player one point for each car they spy of their designated color and the other players should confirm the properly colored car. If you choose to award the winner with some sort of fun object or treat, it is up to you, but the game in itself is quite enjoyable without any monumental awards.
License Plate Game
This one is great because it takes a keen eye, much attentiveness and it usually, at least during most parts of the game, allows the driver to have some often needed quiet time to think or pay attention to directions. The game requires a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. It is up to the group whether or not you want to compete against each other individually or simply strive to win the game as a group. This particular game is probably more fun and practical if done collectively. The rules are that as you drive (this especially good for longer trips where various state lines are crossed) you must be on the lookout for license plates that are from different states than your own. When you see a new one, write it down on your pad of paper. The goal is to see if you can get all 50 states. This is quite tough to accomplish, so if it seems to difficult to motivate your family to even attempt it, you can change the game’s goal to simply beat your previous findings. In other words, play the game twice; once to your destination and the second time as you are driving home from your place of travel.