Games We Play on the Road

Autumn foliage on the road in Great Basin National Park, Nevada

Autumn foliage on the road in Great Basin National Park, Nevada

What do you do when you’re driving clear across the country to a vacation destination?  How do you fill those long hours in the car without either going stir crazy or hating every moment of the ride?  We often read, but you can only read for so long (especially when your books have to last three weeks…and you decided not to bring all three Lord of the Rings books this time).  And we enjoy looking out the window, but again, just how long can you do that in Wyoming?  So we began playing games.  These are some of our favorites.  Some are pretty typical (20 Questions) while others are at least somewhat original (Sing that Word).  Most are aimed at children / teens age 8+, but most could be played by younger ones, as well.  All can be played with any number of players, from 2 to infinity.

Fall flowers at Corona Arch, Moab, Utah

Fall flowers at Corona Arch

That Reminds Me Of… This is one of my favorites, maybe because it takes so little thought and yet can go on almost indefinitely.  One person begins with a word, for example: “Rocks”.  The next player says the first thing that comes to mind when he or she things about the word “rocks”.  “Rocks remind me of creeks.”  Then the next player: “Creeks remind of forests.”  “Forests remind me of green hermits.”  “Hermits remind me of Narnia.”  And so on, on and on until someone finally decides to end it.  It’s always funny to remember what the first word was, then state what the last thing that was “reminds”: “Rocks reminds you of banana cream pie?!?!”

Warming hut on the slopes of Mount Hood, Cooper Spur Trail, Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon

Warming hut on the slopes of Mount Hood

Actually… This is just a variant of 20 questions, except that you can ask as many questions as you want without penalty.  Each player pretends that they are someone famous or someone everyone playing knows (or knows about).  We’ve been everyone from the composer Mozart to our grandparents to the one of our collage advisors.  The other players then try to guess who you are by asking questions, to which the answerer can only reply “yes”, “no”, “actually, yes”, or “actually, no”.  For example, let’s say that I’m pretending to be President Obama.  When asked if I’m a boy, I have to say “yes” (to the chorus of giggles from the back seat) because I’m pretending I really am him.  If I don’t know the answer to a question, I relate the question to myself but add the word “actually” to the answer: “Do you like applesauce?” (A favorite question for some reason.) “Yes, actually”, because I do like applesauce and I have to clue if President Obama does or not.  The game continues with everyone asking questions of everyone else until everyone knows the identity of every other player.

Palm trees in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California

Palm trees in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Sing That Word Another fun one that’s especially good at night and you can’t see to read or write.  One person says a word, say, “down”.  Everyone (including the speaker) then must come up with a line from a song that has that word.  Either after a specific time period, or after everyone has a song, each person sings the line of the song.  I might sing “Like a bridge over troubled waters, I will lay me down”, while someone else might sing, “London bridge is falling down” or “Down by the bay where the watermelons grow”.  Plurals are fine, too; if someone says “star”, it’s fine to reply “We will shine like the stars” rather than being limited to “Twinkle, twinkle little star”.  After everyone has sung their line, play passes to the next player to say a new word.

The Potash Road just inside Canyonlands National Park, Utah

The Potash Road, Utah

Draw Someone Saying… I’ve actually never played this game, but everyone else seems to like it so much I thought I’d include it.  Each person takes a piece of paper (or a spiral notebook – we pick them up for about $0.10 each at the back-to-school sales) and a pencil.  Then, going around in a circle, each player tells the next player to draw a picture with someone saying something specific.  For example, “Draw someone saying ‘I like ice cream’” or “Draw someone saying, “Buckle up.  It’s the Law” or “Draw someone saying “AAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!”  The players then have to draw someone saying that specific line or sentence.  When everyone has drawn their person, the process is repeated until everyone agrees that they are done.  Usually the players incorporate all their “people saying things” into a single scene; for example, people at a park or musicians on a stage.  Sometimes the players get creative, too.  I remember one picture where the player had drawn all of our favorite musicians saying crazy things while playing onstage; another time someone (who apparently didn’t want to draw an entire person) drew only the person’s hand and the speech bubble – the rest of the person was apparently off the edge of the paper!

Paper Doll Games Now, don’t think that this is only for little girls.  Although I did originally help make the paper dolls (rectangles of cardboard with friends and family drawn on them) for a young child, they have become playing cards of a sort for everyone from 3-year-old girly girls to 20-something guys.  We play all kinds of games with them, from go fish (go paper dolls?) to Pit to Uno to War to…well, you know.  For detailed directions for over 10 games to play with paper dolls, click here.

Examples of paper dolls for road trips of friends and family members

Examples of paper dolls

Pet homemade paper doll for road trips

Pets are fun, too!

So there you are…some of our favorite games to play on the road.  What are your favorite games to play while traveling?

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Still looking for something to keep the kids busy?  This little book is packed with facts, boredom busters, maps, and engaging content to keep the younger ones occupied during trips.

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