There’s something eerily bone-chilling about the purgatory that is a long car ride, especially when you’re riding with other people that’ll make you nuts after 15 minutes. Driving in that looping insanity of mile-markers and whining children can drain even the strongest soul. Fear not, brave traveler, for there are many games for you and your family to enjoy while you blow on down the dusty trail.
The Alphabet Game
This one is a classic steeped in storied tradition. The mechanics of the game are elegantly simple. Begin on the letter A. You must now search for words that begin with the letter A outside the confines of your vehicle. America, apple pie, Anheuser-Busch, avenue, and Alabama are all viable options. Once you find the word, point it out and say it, then move to B, then C — all the way to Z (J, Q, and X are killers).
While your children improve their reading and pronunciation skills, they’ll also develop focus-sharpening mental abilities they can use during time-sensitive challenges they face in the classroom. Also, using license plate letters and sticking objects out the window (like a Quicksilver hat) are against the rules.
This one can get kind of ridiculous if you’ve got children with stellar imaginations. Starting with the driver, each person will have about a minute to develop a story about anything. Once his or her minute is over, the next clockwise person will continue the story however they see fit. Stories about whaling captains starting a margarita bar on a moon of Saturn, after finding and selling a giant gold mermaid statue to Abraham Lincoln, are not uncommon.
This game helps cultivate creative thinking skills in your children as they navigate the twists and turns of their fanciful stories. Need inspiration for your first game? Always check the mysterious compartments of the rental cars you use and imagine who might’ve used them, and for what.
The “Other” Alphabet Game
First, you pick a category. Car makers, dog breeds, movies that won best Oscar, and flavors of ice cream are just some ideas. One-by-one, players name items in the category (like “Pitbull” for dogs) and the next person names something that started with the last letter of the last thing (like “Labrador” for dogs). You can’t repeat any items or you’re out.
The last person standing becomes the victor. Categories like United States Presidents, Elements on the Periodic Table, or Countries of the World can add an educational twist, as well.
Here’s a great pick if your kids have an inquisitive side. One person thinks of another person, dead or alive, real or imaginary. Other players have only 20 yes-or-no questions to figure out the identity of the mystery person. This game is especially useful in developing problem-solving skills and intuitive conclusions while all players use discrete clues of facts to solve a mystery.
Not all car rides have to be drab and boring. You can crush the curse of boredom while having a good time with your family and learning something new.