It’s a familiar cry heard by parents as children bellow from the back seat of long car journeys. It’s a common concern for parents on how to keep the children entertained before they get to the end of a journey, whether it’s a holiday or visiting family.
In modern times DVDs, MP3 players and iPhones have helped alleviate the boredom factor, but at the expense of good old fashioned fun and interaction with adults and children alike. There’s something about the confines of a car’s interior that can bring the family together.
We’ve put together some of our favourite car trip games and time passers to help you get through the holiday car trips.
Favourite games can’t go past that of I-Spy, especially when the objects being looked at can become a little obtuse such as ‘I Spy something beginning with Z’.
2. The Number Plate Game
Another favourite is the simple number plate game; looking out for all cars with a number plate going from A to Z. Another variation is if you have adults versus the children with one going from Z to A. It’s a good way to get the younger ones to practise reverse alphabet. The game gets to be a bit frantic in busy city and town centres, with constant cries from the backseat as a multitude of vehicles go whizzing by making the game pretty quick to complete. Motorways and highways bring little opportunity bar from passing vehicles and thus prolong the game.
3. The Alphabet Memory Game
A variant on the number plate game is to start from A and say a word beginning with A with the next person doing the same for B…until you reach Z when that person has to recite all the letters and words to win the game.
4. The Number Plate Acronym Game
Another fun variation on the number plate game is to make acronyms from the letters and numbers on number plates. So ‘DGA 549’ becomes ‘Doug Gets Apples’ or ‘AWF 459’ becomes ‘Always Walk Fast’ or ‘Arthur Was Famous’. There is no real winner except maybe the person who makes everyone laugh the most.
5. Last Letter, First Letter Title Game
Reciting film, song or book titles is a good way to entertain older children with the last letter of the movie or song becoming the first letter of the next one. It can be even better if it’s a song and you have to sing it aloud.
6. Car Trip Treasure Hunt
Treasure hunts are popular with children, so why not one in the car? Before the trip, write a list of items they have to find; such as a dog, give way sign, man in a hat, baby, newsagent, Q in a number plate and a yellow car.
7. Single Word Story Game
Creating a story word by word can be a fun and creative way to break the monotony of a longer trip, often with hilarious results.
8. Geography, History and Biology Lesson
Not technically a game, but taking the time to talk to older kids about the countryside and the towns you’re driving through can be a really rewarding way to wile away the trip. Telling your kids about how you’re driving through a particular type of forest or rock formation, or maybe talking about your own experiences in the particular area or any local history can be a great way to teach your kids something that has a practical application.
9. Place Name Story Telling
Again, this is one for the older kids but might also work well with younger, imaginative minds too. As you drive through certain areas ask the kids to make up stories to explain how that particular place got its name. This can be a lot of fun and result in some very creative thinking, helping kids develop their language skills.
10. Counting Games
One for the littler ones who are developing their counting skills is a simple “count the [insert item]. Here are some creative items to count:
- cars that are yellow, red, green etc
- certain types of motor vehicles like utes, VW Beetles, motorbikes, trucks etc.
- animals like birds or cattle depending on where you’re driving
- how many traffic lights, give way signs or stop signs you drive through
Long trips with children – and sometimes just adults – can be really enjoyable, it just needs a bit of imagination.