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Road Trip Scavenger Hunt Ideas

Updated on February 22, 2016
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What’s more fun than a good, old-fashioned, family road trip? Unfortunately, these awesome opportunities for fun, bonding, and learning are often squandered with long, boring hours in the car and cries of, “Are we there yet?” Make your next road trip vacation a whole lot more interesting and fun by organizing a little scavenger hunt activity for the family or for the group of friends you are travelling with. Here is a list of great ideas for your next road trip scavenger hunt.

Sight Seeing Scavenger Hunt:

Sight seeing is the whole point of going on a road trip for a lot of people, so why not make a game out of the whole experience? Create a list of monuments and notable sights that you will encounter on your route and have everyone in the car search for them and tick each item off of the list. You can simply list the names of these monuments or you can get a little more creative by providing cryptic clues for your players to decode and interpret. These clues could be something like, “look for a statue that is tall, white, and covered in names.” Differing ages of players might require that you adjust the clues to make them easier or harder. Children would probably so better with simpler ones and adults and teens could probably handle something with more of a challenge to it.

License Plates and Cars:

Spending long amounts of time in the car on the way to some place can be so tedious. Make the trip a little bit easier by introducing a little scavenger hunt game in the car. Make a list of different types of license plates from different states that the players can check off on their way to their destination. You could also have them search for different types of cars. They could be cars of certain colors, cars that are made by certain manufacturers, or cars that have certain features to them, like convertible tops or trailers being pulled behind. Set up a competition so that the player (or players, if you are playing with teams) that finds the most things on the list gets a prize once they find the destination. This is a great way for the family or for a group of friends to bond while on a long road trip.

Virtual Scavenger Hunt:

If your family or group of friends that you are travelling with on this road trip are anything like most of them out there, chances are most of the passengers in your car have a smartphone or a tablet that they can’t stop playing with on the long journey. Use an online scavenger hunt or an online treasure hunt to get them to use this technology in a way that will help the whole group to come together and bond. There are several ways in which this type of game can be set up. One option is to make a list of clues that prompt players in your game utilize their favorite search engines to find bits of information online. These pieces of information can be names of famous people, names of movies, dates in history, or anything else you can think of. The more obscure the references, the more challenging the game will be. It’s a great option for teens or for adults. Another way to do this type of online challenge is to find some kind of virtual scavenger hunt that allows users to complete a virtual hunt as if they were actually outside somewhere looking for clues. This is a great idea if you want to convince the passengers in your car to pull away from their own phones and start connecting to each other with a fantastically fun activity.

Hotel Scavenger Hunt:

If you are staying in a hotel, this is a great option to help your family or friends connect with each other while having a whole lot of fun. Have the players of this game split off individually or group into teams and find items that respond to clues that are written down on a scavenger hunt list. The clues could be things like, “Find a brochure from the local area,” “find a paper cup with a logo on it,” “find a business card,” or “find something in the vending machine that has chocolate in it.” This would also be a great way to get to know a new area by allowing the players of the game to venture outside of the hotel and visit the restaurants and shopping places in the area. They could follow clues that lead them to these places so that they can get to know their new surroundings in a fun and dynamic way while playing an awesome game. The clues for this type of scavenger hunt could be things like “find a paper napkin from the restaurant across the street,” “find the store with pink letters in the window and get a piece of gum from there,” or “ask the person at the front desk where the nearest place is that serves burgers and go and order one there.” This is a very fun game and can really liven up a boring hotel stay while convincing a family or group of friends to peel themselves away from the television and computers and have some real, old-fashioned, face-to-face fun.


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Photo Scavenger Hunt Ideas:

Photo scavenger hunts are absolutely terrific ideas for road trips. Not only are you witnessing some gorgeous scenery on the way to your destination, but, chances are, your destination is also probably pretty interesting and photogenic, too. Take advantage of this nifty situation with a fun-filled photo scavenger hunt. Have the players in your hunt bring a digital camera, a cell phone with a camera, or something else that will allow them to take pictures of anything they find. Then, ask them to go on a hunt for items that are off of your list in response to clues. You can design clues that will encourage the players to explore the area around them and take in the beautiful sights. Clues can prompt players to snap pictures of historical monuments, beautiful natural wonders, or people and things that you might be able to encounter on a long road trip. You can do this type of scavenger hunt in the car on the way to your final destination, in the hotel where you are staying, or at your final stop. This type of game can be played either in teams or individually. It’s a great way to get the members of your family or your group of friends engaged with the environment around them while having fun with a scavenger hunt.

Educational Clues:

Road trips are a great way to expose yourself and your friends and family to new and exciting things. This is a great opportunity to educate young and old minds alike. Make your next road trip a teaching moment by making it educational. Design clues that will encourage players to learn a little something about whatever they are visiting or seeing on the side of the road. For example, a good educational clue might sound something like this: “Look at the historical monument on your right. For whom was it built and in what year? Why was it built?” This kind of clue will encourage kids and adults alike to chase after information and learn a little something about history. For non-historical sights, like lakes and mountains, you can provide clues that look something like this: “What color is the water in this lake? Why do you think it is that color?” This encourages the players in your game to find out more about the natural world around them. This is a great way to get kids and adults alike interested in what they are looking at and provide a little more educational fun along the way.

Some Tips:

Be Safe:

Of course, safety is, as always, the number one priority. Make sure that any children involved in any sort of scavenger hunt that you organize are supervised at all times and that they are not getting into trouble or doing anything dangerous. Small children, especially, should be escorted across streets if you are asking them to walk around outside of a hotel or somewhere else. It is also extremely important to make sure that whomever is driving has their full attention on the road and nowhere else. No amount of family fun is worth getting into a car wreck for.

Have Fun!:

This has got to be the most important part of the whole thing! Road trips are such great opportunities to bond with loved ones and to discover new things with them. Make sure that everyone has a safe and fun-filled trip on your next road trip vacation!


Road Trip Scavenger Hunt for Kids

From the back seat comes the words “Are we there yet?” That dreaded phrase! Parents the world over have grown long tired of it, some having grown sick of it long before they were parents and whilst they were still children themselves. Others once made use of it to torment their very own parents, but now they may find the sound of it to be a mocking testament to the guilt they feel for doing such an annoying thing. Whatever the case may be, the repeated use of “Are we there yet?” can test the nerves of the most relaxed and experienced parents. And if your child has a habit of using this little agitator as you are making a long car trip then you are likely hoping for a distraction so that they will stop doing it. Thankfully, there is always the option of employing a road trip scavenger hunt for kids who simply will not cease their trivial questioning.

You surely love your children, but even the best of us get annoyed. And it’s perfectly natural to make use of activities like scavenger hunts to try to get a child to focus his attention elsewhere whilst you need a moment to regroup. But you might not have ever considered using a scavenger hunt when you’re taking a road trip. And yet there are few better times – and few opportunities that lend themselves so well to scavenger hunt list ideas – to host a scavenger hunt than when you are on the road. After all, you are probably passing through multiple states and small towns on your quest to reach your destination. You’re going to end up stopping at a rest stop or two so that everyone can evacuate their bladders. You will be given ample opportunities to change the surroundings, thus changing the base of objects that can be found.

Preplanning Specific Items

When you are planning a road trip scavenger hunt for kids and you know the areas that you will be traveling through very well, you may be able to plan out what they should be searching for in a very specific manner. You might know the landmarks by heart, what kind of trees you will pass, and the various establishments that line the way. This is the perfect circumstance in which to plan specific items for your road trip scavenger hunt.

Of course, the items that were just mentioned are not the kind of thing that you can pick up and carry with you. And that is something that should be noted straight away. The goal is not to select things that the kids will want to stop and pick up. This would cause your potential pool of items that you have to choose from to shrink drastically.

Instead, focus on bigger and more noticeable items. Sometimes your route may take you by a large fruit shaped water tower, so why not mention that in the scavenger hunt? Or if there is an oddly shaped tree somewhere along the way then why not use it as a distance measure? Landmarks like this are a great way to make the kids feel like they’ve made progress without really doing anything.

Taking a More Ambiguous Approach

If you are less familiar with the route – or if you want to have a bit more fun with the situation and encourage your children to be more creative – then you may well consider making the clues on your list purposely ambiguous. This will allow your children to use a wide range of differing things to serve as answers to the clues on your scavenger hunt list.

For example: you could go as simple as a colour like “something purple.” picking a clour where there aren’t not too many things on the trip of that colour can make it more of a challenge, but there are still sure to be many ways in which this could be solved. A bumper sticker, a passing car, or maybe even something within your own vehicle, could all be used as a response.

Or, if you would like to be slightly more specific than that, you could choose a clue that read “something expensive,” or “something rare.” This style of clue will make your children think to get a good solution. And then, through their answers – which could really be just about anything – you will get a glimpse of how they think.

Tasks such as this can be nice windows into the minds of your children and it can help them develop more analytical thinking processes. So don’t hesitate to throw a lot of these ambiguous scavenger hunt clues to get your children’s mind going to new and different places. The more they have to think about it the better.

Lastly, you can make these types of clues really cryptic, which will pose an especially difficult challenge to the players. This could be done through the use of riddles that end in an answer that could have multiple applications, or this could simply be done through the use of strangely worded clues. Just don’t make anything so confusing or complex that it’ll begin to legitimately upset your child. Try to tune the difficulty to be just out of their natural reach so that they might have to work for it, but it won’t frustrate them into throwing any form of tantrum.

If you need to avoid the endless, repetitive, questioning that often comes with a road trip then these might be your best options. If you can get your child to focus on something else and to play a game whilst you drive then you are far less likely to hear the dreaded chorus of “Are we there yet?” It’s all a matter of how much effort you put into making the road trip scavenger hunt and how much effort your children put into solving it. Don’t do something that will bore them, don’t give them something too difficult, and offer them high levels of praise whenever they do something right. If you follow all of that then you may very well have a peaceful road trip after all.

© 2014 Brett


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