When I was a child, my family took a lot of road trips. Since both of my parents were K-12 teachers, they had summertime months off from work. Inevitably, for at least three or four weeks of the summer, I would be on the road with my parents, brother and sister as we explored all corners of the continental U.S., and even ventured into Canada and Mexico. During these adventures, my multi-talented mom made sure we were engaged in a variety of activities, which kept us from fussing and bugging each other in the back seat. Often she would lead us in playing car games, many of which I’m sure she just made up. Most of these games were short and simple, and several were quite silly. But, they kept us talking to each other and laughing, and we didn’t really notice the time passing by. Here are a few that I remember that can be played by children (and grown ups) of all ages:
MY FUTURE HOME
This is a game I still play with my two kids, even though they are ten and twelve. This game is easiest to play when you are driving through residential areas or small towns. Each person chooses a number between 5 and 25. When the leader says begin, everyone counts out loud each house that you drive by, starting with "1" for the first house, "2" for the second house, etc. When the house that is your number comes up, then you’ve just seen your future home, where you will live when you are grown up! You can easily play the same game while counting cars that are passing on the highway (What kind of car will I drive when I'm grown up?). This game gets the kids looking out the window and noticing their surroundings. Children have fun with the anticipation, and once they see their future home or vehicle, they might make up an entire story about what things will be like when they grow up.
MATCH or UNMATCH
The leader decides if the game is going to be Match or Unmatch. Let’s say we are playing Match. One person suggests a category, such as “Fruit”. Then, everyone takes 20 seconds to silently think of a type of fruit, knowing that you are trying to match the answer of another player. Each person says the fruit they chose, and everyone who matches with someone else gets a point. Obviously, honesty should be emphasized! Take turns suggesting categories, and the person who gets five points first wins. The Unmatch version is just the opposite—you try not to match with anyone else in the car, by having a unique answer. Unmatch becomes more challenging when you have fairly limited answer options, such as “Colors in the American Flag” or “Name of Someone in this Car”. This game was entertaining for us as kids, and I remember being silly and staring into my siblings’ eyes while thinking of my answers: I believed that I could telepathically guide them to make the right choice to Match or Unmatch with my answer.
What are some of your best childhood road trip memories? What car games do you enjoy the most with your kids?