I am a create-a-game person. Time with people for me is more than just being together. I need action, energy, and something to do.
So games are my go-to. You can play a game with a lot of materials or none. You can play with young people, old people, in-between people, or a mixed-bag of people. You can play when you have 10 minutes or 10 hours.
On a side note – my games don’t typically include prizes because I strive to keep games away from being about winning or losing. I tend to focus on goals such as getting to know each other, passing the time, or learning something new vs. crowning a victor. If you can’t avoid a prize, I encourage rewards such as choosing the next song you listen to or being first in line for dinner. Easy awards that don’t require money or materials.
So let’s begin. Here are a few of the games that keep my family and friends on their toes when they ride along with me.
Instead of answering the classic “When will we get there?” question, I make my passengers guess. We all cast votes. Using your navigation app is optional. Sometimes this makes it too easy, but sometimes, it gives a good starting guess, and you never know what will come up along the way to change the destination time.
You can count almost anything on a ride: blue cars, cows, houses with garages, emergency vehicles, road signs, or out-of-state vehicles. Try to gauge what there actually might be a lot of on the ride. This game is a little more discouraging if you are counting Minis and you are in Eastern Washington, for example.
Would You Rather?
This is a simple game. Find an app with questions or have everyone create their own. There are no winners or losers, just a chance to get the conversation going.
I honestly don’t know what the attraction to this game is, but it has kept us busy on numerous road trips. Players simply pick a number. You then count cars (or houses or street signs) that you pass. When it gets to a participant’s number, they claim possession. For example, if I choose the number 4 and the fourth car we pass is a garbage truck, I’m the happy owner of an imaginary garbage truck.
Road Name stories
As you come to a street or road name or even city name, everyone comes up with a theory for why it was named that. Depending on your crowd, you may need to set a time limit for this one. Talkers really love to get going on this and can take advantage of their captive audience. For a bonus, look up the real answer when all the guesses are in to see who came closest. I love hearing the creativity and unusual stories that are generated.
Let’s keep the stories rolling. For this version, have each person say a single sentence of the story. For an added challenge, you can require a certain keyword or maybe a main character, but I wouldn’t worry much about rules. This one is great fun as you start with a preconceived notion of where the story might go and then are jolted into reality as your nephew turns the whole plot line in a completely different direction. The benefit of this game is not just in the ability to tell a great story succinctly – you only have one sentence – but it also develops flexibility. Participants need to roll with the story and be able to adjust their ideas to whatever turn the narrative takes.
The most common method for this game is to choose a topic and then think of a word for each letter of the alphabet. Variations abound. Instead of an alphabet, do the letters of your destination or a player’s full name. For topics, try animals, foods, city names, last names, Bible personalities, celebrities, cartoon characters, places-that-don’t-exist-yet, first names for a science fiction novel, or annoying habits. Need to kill more time? Have each player recite the answers from the previous players. This is one versatile game.
License plates were the thing to search for when I was younger. Depending on your route, this may or may not be an option. There are lots of variations, though. You can search for the letters of the alphabet. You can search for items that begin with the letters of your name. For example, I would look for a Mini Cooper, ice cream shop, lumber yard, lawn, irritated driver, sign, signal light, and an animal. You could also search for a number of items – one passenger, two trucks, three highway signs, etc. Or search by colors of the rainbow – something red, orange, yellow, blue, green, and indigo.
Twenty or So Questions
Choose something and then give your carmates a chance to guess by asking you questions. This is great with just the classic rules. I don’t like to count the questions, so we just play until an answer is found or everyone gives up. Another way to do questions is to ask them about each other. You can find conversation cards online or make up your own to fit your audience. Be thoughtful. What would you like to learn about the people you are with? What do you want them to learn about each other? Cater your questions to match your goal.
If you have paper, writing utensils, and smoothish roads, try this twist on the telephone game. Take a piece of paper, write a word on it, fold it in half, and pass it to the next player. This player looks at your word, draws it, and then folds it again before passing it to player 3. Player 3 only looks at the drawing and writes what she thinks the word is. Play continues until a player is unable to fold the paper, and you see if the last entry is anywhere close to the first entry.
Had enough of games? Need a break? The Quiet Game is here for you. Savor some moments of peace with this jewel. You can set a timer, or my preferred method is to alternate miles. First mile, no talking; second mile, you can talk; third mile, no talking. Be sure to set your ground rules early, so you don’t lose the game by having to explain why Player 4 was disqualified. Some ground rules to consider – Can I pinch another player? Does laughing count as talking? Can I fall asleep? There’s a lot to consider.
Send me your thoughts and reviews. What do you play in the car to help the miles tick by?
Who’s ready for a road trip? I’m ready to get out there and play some road games. I just need somewhere to go.