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Fun & Free Travel Games for Kids (and adults)
A Father of Six...and not afraid of long drives.
Have you ever been on a long, or sometimes even short ride, with a couple (or more) kids and thought to yourself, "Why can't they occupy themselves and not kill each other?". And, wanted them to do it without the need to be buried in a video game? I have found and created a few games to do just that. I play them with my own kids and they enjoy them all. Below are 6 simple and easy to play car games that require nothing but imagination, concentration and a pair of eyes...ok, two need paper and pencils...but, nothing more.
I hope these games give you and your children hours of fun and an equal amount of peaceful drive time. Please comment and vote useful below if they are helpful and if you have any to add, feel free. oh, and by the way...they might accidentally learn some things, too...but, I won't tell if you don't. :)
Game One : Yellow Car
Yellow car is a simple travel game that can be used on short trips to the mall, longer trips to granma's house or even longer trips. Game play is simple, and is pretty much open to any passenger in the car that can see outside the car.
Points are scored by being the first to spot each yellow car encountered along your route. A player calls, "yellow car" to claim each yellow car that comes into view. The game can be started simply by one passenger seeing and "claiming" a yellow car. Play continues until the car stops at it's destination. We usually play between any 2 stops and not one continuous game if it is a long trip or a day out with multiple stops. This game can be played concurrent with any other game listed here, as it is only a sporadic game based on a limited amount of Value Vehicles. There are a few easy to remember exclusions and bonuses.
1. Any passenger vehicle counts as a point...even those used for commercial purposes. A pick-up truck or mini-van with signage still counts.
2. Any commercial vehicle, such as a back-hoe, 18 wheeler, box truck or bus do not count.
3. Taxi cabs don't count (regardless of rule 1)
4. A yellow Hummer wins automatically...and the game resets and begins again until the drive is finished.
1. Purple and Pink Cars count for 2 points. (must be definitively Purple or Pink)
2. Orange and Neon Green Cars allow you to steal a point from another player.
Game Two : The Alphabet Game #1
This game can be played with-in the car by any passenger and does not require the ability to see outside the car. For this reason it is available to play at night as well, while most of the other games are better during the day.
First you pick a topic. Topics can include, but are not limited to: foods, cars, animals, movies, actors, songs etc... Each player, in turn, calls out an answer to the category based on the letters of the alphabet. You start with "A" and player one names something from the category that starts with the letter "A". The next player has to name something different from the category that starts with "A". Play continues until, one by one, players "pass" because they can not think of any more answers for the letter in the category. The last player to answer wins the round and the point. Play then continues to the letter "B"...and so on through the alphabet. Most points at the end of the trip wins the game. This game can, and should be played from the beginning of a trip to the end regardless of intermediate stops along the way, as it can take quite some time to get through certain letters.
A few "rules" and qualifiers to determine before game play begins to avoid the dreaded..."that's not fair".
1. Are you allowing proper names. If you are playing the category FOOD, will it be only types of food such as apple, artichoke etc...or will you allow brands of food such as Apple Jacks.
2. Will you allow applesauce to be played after apple has been played? We usually don't allow derivative variations like that, but would allow egg and eggplant as they are completely different foods. The reason for this is because you could end up with a long list of nothing but derivatives like apples, applesauce, apple juice, apple pie, apple fritters etc...We usually play FOOD to include drinks, but not brands...and then play a separate game with only brands.
3. When playing actors, musicians etc I recommend playing the letters for the last names, but they should know the first name as well. If it is someone who is only, or primarily known by only one name then that will count. This would include Aesop, Bono, Cher, Jesus and any Biblical character...use your judgement.
4. OUR FAVORITE VARIATION - Usually ages 12 and up. Famous & Dead. Game play is exactly the same, but every answer must be a famous person who is also deceased. Hold back from the thoughts of morbidity for a minute. This game allows them to recall famous inventors, writers, political figures, Biblical characters and more. And, if you play along as I do, they may learn more about history from you...or you from them.
Game Three : Alphabet Game #2
This alphabet game requires the ability to see outside of the car for the most part. Each player races from A to Z by finding items that start with each letter of the alphabet. Each player must find an "A" item before moving on to "B". I on player uses "cat" for "C" another player can also use cat, just not the same cat. Colors are permissible, as in a "blue sky". Determine before the game begins if you will allow words on signs. We usually do not allow these, but you can if you choose. Variations below.
1. Do not allow the same item to be used even if it is a different "cat".
2. Work together to get through the whole alphabet before the trip is over.
3. Only use words on signs and buildings.
Game Four : Licence Plate Game #1
This is the simplest game in the group and, like yellow car, can be play during any other game listed here. Each passenger tries to find the most licence plated from different States and countries. In this game it doesn't matter if someone finds a certain State first, because each person is building their own list. In other words, if on passenger finds a car with a licence plate from New Jersey they add it to their list. Other players can add New Jersey to their list, but only if they find another car with Jersey plates. Licence plates from other countries count for 2 points. Play continues until trip is finished. This game can be played on a trip on any distance, but is better suited for longer trips. Two variations exist and are listed below.
1. Work as a team to find the most State licence plates during your travels instead of competing.
2. Keep the list in the glove compartment and make it an ongoing game over the years.
Game Five : Licence Plate Game #2
This is another game using licence plates, but totally different (except for the licence plate part). When you look at many licence plates they usually have a 3-letter component to them...something like RDI-152 or GSO-1T4. Your job is to each come up with funny or poignant acronyms for the 3 letters. Think along the lines of CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System), USA (United States of America) and NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). Get creative in making either legitimate sounding organizations and companies or silly descriptions of people and places. There is no real winner, but you can vote on the best for each plate attempted. They can just be said at random as someone come up with a good one and then other players can try to top it. Examples below:
1. ACT - American Council on Toenails
2. UPG - Unified Pickle Growers
3. DCC - Delicious Cheese Candy
A fun Variation on this game is finding as many "vanity" plates as possible...and trying to figure out the more cryptic among them.
Game Six : Scavenger Hunt
This game does require a little pre-trip preparation, but can be done over time. It is also more likely to be played on longer trip, but can be used on any length. Make a list of "to finds" for the player to look for during the drive. They can include certain types and colors of cars, certain color houses, certain types of animals, signs or billboard for specific types of products etc. A list of at least 20 items is best, but can be longer of shorter. Each player is given a copy of the list and a pencil and proceeds to mark of each item as they find it. The first come first point rule applies. If on player finds the "motorcycle with sidecar" then the other players must find a different one to mark it off. Who ever has the most items at the end of the trip wins. Variations below:
1. All passengers work together to find everything on the list.
2. Give each player a different list to avoid the "first come" rule.
3. Give an "Instant Win" Item...similar to the Yellow Hummer in yellow car, but make it something ridiculously hard...It's basically never going to appear, but it's fun to watch them look for it.