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Road Trip Games
Going on a Road Trip? How About Some Entertainment?
Before the advent of handheld game consoles and DVD players installed in vehicles, children and adults had to be creative in passing the time during long road trips. Staving off boredom and the constant inquiries of "when will we get there," can be accomplished with a few simple games. We still employ these from time-to-time, as they are good learning experiences for children learning numbers, letters and sequencing. You can also expand horizons with respect to geography.
The License Plate Game
Watch to see how many different states you can discover on the plates of passing vehicles. The person with the greatest number of states spotted when you reach your location wins. For older children, you can ask them to arrange the states by geographic location, or see if they know what the state's capitol is for extra points. With the number of special plates issued by states (to celebrate sports teams or to raise money for certain causes, such as protection of cultural resources, etc.), you can play a new variant on the game. Can anyone find 3 different California plates? This can be either its own game, or a bonus round in the traditional license plate game. Be creative! Your kids can help make up the rules, too.
The Alphabet Game
The object of this game is to find a word that starts with each letter of the alphabet, in proper sequence. It can be restricted to signs along the highway, or include commercial stops along the way (i.e., Texaco, Burger King, etc.). This is great for early readers, or even preschoolers learning to identify letters. You can vary the game by allowing letters on license plates to count, too. Or, it can be played by only looking for letters on plates. It can get really fun (or frustrating) looking for "X" words. We've sometimes fudged on the rules and allowed the "X" to be within the identified word (Exit - a very easy one to get). Once again, the rules of the game can be changed to fit your family and the players involved.
The Number Game
Yes, its a variation on the previous game that involves finding numbers in sequence. Unlike the alphabet, which only has 26 letters, this game can go on indefinitely! Restricted to license plates, the game may end sooner, though, as your children will likely only spot numbers 0-9. We've found that its better to expand the scope to include license plates, exit and directional signs, etc.
When all else fails, this one is my personal favorite....
The Quiet Game
The object is to see who can go without talking, singing or humming for the longest amount of time. Unfortunately, you need at least 2 kids to play. Your only child may not find competition with adults to be much fun. Alternatively, you can set a length of time (half an hour) and everyone that makes it can get an ice cream cone at the next stop.
Road tripping with the family can be exhausting, and you'll need to have a healthy dose of patience and humor to get through the day. When all else fails, you can always hope that the hotel has a great minibar at your final destination. Happy Trails!