One of the trigger areas for my well-read life is on road trips. You are off to explore somewhere new but you haven’t quite got there yet. You are seated but not quite comfortable. You have choices but are still contained.

Here are a few of the ways I keep my mind occupied when I’m on a trip (specifically with a few young people along with me).


I can’t read in the car because it makes me car sick but I can listen to a good audiobook. On our most recent road trip my husband and I matched our book choices to the locations we traveled through and it added a whole new element in the trip. Be sure to do research well in advance of your trip and ask for help at your local library. Searching for books by location can be a bit tricky.

Claim it!

This is a game with no need for materials or complicated rules. Every participant chooses a number. The higher number the longer the game lasts so use your judgement. Then you count something and when it gets to your number you “claim it.” Typically, we do cars for this but you could also do houses, animals, street signs, semi trucks or retail stores. Just depends on your trip and your surroundings and the interest of the participants.

Street history

I started this one with my nieces and nephews on the way to grandma’s house. Whenever we came to a street name, they each had an opportunity to tell us a story about how the street got its name. Now depending on your audience, you might want to set time limits but if the idea is to kill time, just let them rattle on. In my case, a lot of streets seemed to be named for explosions. For a bonus, look up the real reason the street got its name. For longer trips, you could do this with the names of towns or stores as well.

Quiet Game

Need some peace in the car? Challenge your passengers to stay still and silent. This again can go as long as you want. The shenanigans can get elaborate as they wave their arms and attempt to communicate without sound but it is well worth it for some time with your own thoughts.

Would you rather?

This one promotes conversation and an opportunity to get to know each other. You can use an app or just have participants come up with their own questions. Be sure to ask the all-important follow-up question – why? – to really get to know your company.


You can count anything on your drive. Cars, animals, plants, signs, or out-of-state license plates. My 20-year-old son still remembers choosing a brand of car and counting how many he saw on the six-hour drive to his grandma’s house.