Six games to play in the car on the way home
So the holiday is over, the car’s loaded up again and you and the family are facing the long drive home. Hours sitting still in a confined space can be every child’s (and adult’s) nightmare, but with a few fun games planned the miles will fly by. Here are some of our favourites, but firstly, for your sanity, remember these three important guidelines:
- Make the rules very clear before the game starts. There’s nothing worse than a road trip tantrum because there’s been a misunderstanding about a time limit. Equally, ‘I Spy’ is a tricky one when you haven’t stipulated that the object must be in view at all times and your four-year-old has picked the balloon that she saw three miles ago.
- Make it age appropriate. You may be able to spell onomatopoeia in a snap, but have a bit of heart for your six-year-old.
- If someone doesn’t want to play, don’t force them. They’ll be miserable and grumpy and that will then affect everybody else. It’s more likely that having sat out they’ll see how much fun everyone else is having and want to join in again.
Back Seat Bingo
To play this game you need to create a list of ten things you are likely to see on your journey, for example; a caravan, an irrigator in a field, a policeman, someone wearing a hat, anything that’s probable, but not too easy or common. Distribute a copy to each player and when one of these things comes into view, the first person to shout it out claims it for their ‘bingo board’. Points are awarded to the first person to get to three items, six items and bonus points for the complete list. You can play this as a timed game or until someone triumphs with all ten.
Counting the colours
This classic is an easy one to play; everyone picks a colour then every time they see a car of that hue, they score a point. To add some complexity, extra points can be won for different types of vehicles, such as buses, motorbikes, trucks, etc.
One for the creatives. Choose someone to start telling a tale, taking inspiration from something they’ve just driven past, perhaps another family in a car, a diner that’s closed down, a strange street name. They then weave their story until a suitable cliff-hanging point and then pass the narration to someone else who has to continue the story. The last person must finish the story (or alternatively you could go round again if you’re really getting into it)!
Ah, the alphabet. Where would we be without it? Bookshops would be dens of anarchy, postmen would wander aimlessly up and down the streets and we wouldn’t be able to play the alphabet game. All you have to do is spot something, in order, that begins with every letter of the alphabet – so Andover, Bridge, Car, Dinosaur Park, etc. You may wish to rule from the beginning that you’ll be ignoring Q, X and Z to make it easier (unless you know of any good xylophone shops on your way home).
This one’s good for older children - give them a detailed road atlas, have them turn to the page that corresponds to your location, and then one person finds a place on the map. Once they’ve announced it, the others must find it within thirty seconds. It’s an engaging game and a brilliant way for them to get to know the country.
Cows on My Side
An easy one this. You pass a field on your side of the car with cows in it, you shout ‘Moo!’ and score a point. This is something that can last the entire journey and be played while other games are going on. Warning: this is fiendishly addictive and becomes reflexive so you may find yourself doing it on the commute to work a couple of days later – fine if you drive on your own, not so good if you take the bus…(Variants: you can have a point for every cow you spot on your side. Extra points can be awarded for cows laying down, brown cows etc. It’s up to you how complicated you want to make it)!