10 fun family games for travel time

by on June 30
in Tips

“Are we there yet?” morphs into cries of “He’s looking at me!” Then it’s incomprehensible screaming with flailing arms and desperate parents (OK, me) wishing the car had one of those nifty privacy screens like the limos have.  Ah, the road trip with no games for travel planned.

A small arsenal of travel games can save your skin, not to mention your sanity and your eardrums, on a long road or plane trip.  These are a few of the games that work for us.  Breaking the monotony of the travel and the temptation of pinching a sibling are the goals here.  Sometimes we play for ages, sometimes 10 minutes or so.  It doesn’t really matter as long as it works!

1. I Spy

That old favourite, I Spy pretty much gets rolled out every trip.  So our youngest can play we do a colour version every now and then.  Otherwise we end up trying to guess something that starts with “C”, “M” or “S” all of which are “tree”.

2. Places

Our 9 year old loves this one and the 7 year old is just beginning to enjoy it.  We start off with a place in Australia, Melbourne for example.  The next person has to name another Australian place beginning with the last letter of the previous place.  So in this example we’d be looking for a place that starts with “E”.  Places can’t be repeated.  It’s fairly easy at first, but gets harder as the games goes on and more places are off limits.

You could expand or restrict this game to to suit – Victorian towns, include rivers and mountains, countries of the world and so on.

A tip:  brush up on places starting with “E”.  They come up a lot.  Alternatively, you could use the second last letter for places ending in “E”.

3. Guess the distance

When we’ve been driving a while without seeing any roadsigns (no, we’re not lost) I usually throw in a Guess the Distance to the next town.  We check on the next sign to see who’s closest.  The winner gets the pride of being the cleverest in the car for the next 15 minutes or a lolly if I’m feeling generous.

4. Road trip bingo

This one needs a bit of forethought, at least to print out some bingo sheets.  I guess you could come up with some on the fly if you were desperate.  I like this game because the younger kids are on an even footing with the bigger kids.  Again, you could offer prizes or just the satisfaction of winning.

5. I went on a road trip and I packed …

Another old favourite from around the campfire can be used in just about any incarnation.  Each person lists the items packed by those before them and adds one item to the list.  How many items can your family pack before someone forgets something?

6. Car tally

Each person picks a colour car (or object like windmills, bridge and so on).  During a set time the person that spots the most cars in their chosen colour wins.

7. Number plate alphabet

This can be an individual or family game.  The aim of the game is to find number plates starting with each letter of the alphabet.  This is a game that can continue on in the background while other things are going on, as it usually takes quite a while to get all the letters ticked off.

8. Cricket

No, I’m not endorsing swinging the willow in the backseat.  Certain objects are allocated runs; say 1 run for a red car, 4 runs for a windmill and 6 runs for a tractor ploughing a paddock – whatever suits the area you’re travelling through.  The two “batters” get runs by finding the chosen objects out their windows (left or right).  The first to 50 or 100, depending on how long you want to play, is the winner.  If there’s more than 2 kids you could allocate an object that’s out, so the others get a go.

9. Tongue twisters

Someone needs a repertoire of tongue twisters for this one.  If you’re all feeling creative you could make up your own.  We keep going around in a circle each taking turns to say the tongue twister faster and faster until someone mucks up.  They sit out while we try a new tongue twister and so on, until the tongue twister champion is found.

10. Quiet as a mouse

I keep this one up my sleeve for when mummy needs some quiet time.  The child that can go the longest without uttering a single word, not one, is winner and is thenceforth first named in my will.

These are just a few of the hundreds, if not thousands of travel games out there.  What are your favourites?

Happy travels,

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12 Responses to “10 fun family games for travel time”
  1. Jacq says:

    We have a 10 hour road trip coming up (each way) so very timely for us. Will print off and pop in the glove box thanks!

  2. Linda says:

    I just wrote a blog post that involves an eye-spy game of finding the 27 animals on our Map Journals and/or Mail-It Maps with two downloadable/printable pdfs, one listing the animals by name, and one illustrating them (so they can see what they’re looking for when they get stuck)
    Also great for marking off the animals actually seen on the trip 🙂

  3. Leanne says:

    10 hours – I’d forgotten how long it was! I’ll be thinking of you Jacq 🙂 Safe trip

  4. Leanne says:

    Oh, great fun Linda. This reminds me of the post office game you suggested a while back, too. Collect post marks from each town you pass through on one of your map journals

  5. Kristine says:

    It’s hard to find games for the very little on the very long drives. We have two imaginative ones we do. First is we tell circle stories. We take turns telling a story and then the next person continues and so on. The second is we roleplay. It started out as phonecalls in character. One person says ‘ring ring’ and then the other answers and takes on a a character. This involved into elaborate games where we actually pretend to be characters and have adventures.

  6. Leanne says:

    Great suggestions, thanks Kristine. I imagine you’d have some pretty funny “phone” conversations

  7. Tina says:

    Great list, my kids will definitely enjoy this. Thanks for sharing it with us…

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