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No More Whiny “Are We There Yet?”

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Road trip the summer after Covid? Yes, please! And let’s face it, a year of pandemic isolation changed everything. Families have grown closer and rediscovered the value of time together. Or, if not, a road trip stuck in a car for hours is the perfect time to force some family bonding, right? So instead of endless social media scrolling, YouTube bingeing or streaming movies for the drive, we suggest collecting all electronic devices and having some silly fun via vintage travel games. We think it will turn “Are we there yet?” to “Wow, how’d we get here so fast?”

Check out our list for some of our favorite family travel games to while away the miles!

20 questions

You know how your kids endlessly ask you questions? Now it’s your turn! You know how to play! Have your kid think of a person, place, or thing but keep it secret. You then badger them, er, ask them up to 20 “yes” or “no” questions to guess their secret word. If you don’t guess in 20 questions or under, you lose! Then, switch it up and let your child be the one to guess!

I spy

You can play this game in a few different ways. Ask older children to “spy” something that you will have to guess. It should ideally be an object that is in sight for a little while. Alternatively, give youngins something to “spy,” such as a cow or certain color of vehicle, and they must find it on the road. You may be surprised at how focused kids can be when trying to find something!

The license plate game

If your kids can read, they may find this game fascinating. They can look at all of the license plates on the cars around them and try to “collect” as many states as possible. If you want to make this even more fun, print out a map of the states and have them color in the state when they see the matching license plate. A geography and reading lesson all in one? Parenting road trip score!

The quiet game

If your kids are starting to get rowdy, try the quiet game. The rules are simple enough: Everyone in the car must be quiet, and the first one to talk loses. You may even add being still into the mix to make it a little bit more complicated for your wiggly passengers. You may find this game has calming results! Another twist is to offer a reward for the quietest passenger, but the caveat is that all must stay engaged. Having fellow passengers doing everything they can — silently — to get another passenger to laugh and break the peace only adds to the fun! (We suggest no matter who wins, everyone gets a treat in the end!)

The alphabet game

Again, this is a game that can be played in a few different ways, and all of them are fun! If you have a younger child working on letter recognition, ask them to find an “A” along the road. Once they find A, move on to “B,” and so on. Letters like Q, X and Z may be more difficult, but hopefully it will buy you some calm time in the car! For anyone older, they can search for objects that begin with the corresponding letter: apples, brown cow, cornfield, etc.

Older kids can also play this game with categories. For instance, someone names a category such as “animals” or “movies.” Then, all of the passengers take turns naming items in the category that begin with a letter of the alphabet in order. So, the first person may say “aardvark” in the animal category. The next person, then, will have to name an animal that starts with the letter “B.” If you take too long to name an item, you’re out!

Cows on my side

This is a great game to play with little ones. Whenever a child sees cows on their side of the car, they have to say, “Cows on my side!” Children get a point for each time they find cows on their side of the car. If you want to complicate it a bit, you can add in the rule that if you call out cows on your opponents’ side before they do, you get their point.

Story time

The whole family may want to get in on this one. You work together, weaving a story one sentence at a time. The first person starts with, “Once upon a time … ” and adds any details into their sentence, such as “there was a purple frog who loved rainbows.” Then, the next person creates the next sentence of the story by following what the person before them set up. This game can go on as long as you wish. Get ready to be surprised at the amazing and imaginative things your children come up with!

Would you rather?

Children love this game. Either you or your child proposes a question to all of the other people in the car. For instance, she may ask, “Would you rather have wings or super speed?” Then everyone answers with their choices. It seems simple, but the questions can be as personal or whimsical (read: gross) as you wish. This is a great way to get to know your entire family better.

Paper and pencil games

Pack some paper and writing implements and play games such as hang man, mad libs (yes, you can create your own, which is even more fun!), homemade version of Pictionary™, or even a scavenger hunt. Bring plenty of crayons and even a clipboard to help younger travelers have fun with it, too!

Many children today may seem to prefer video games to a simple word game, but we think once they see the fun of interacting and laughing with family, they’ll be hooked. No matter where you’re going this season, why not introduce the kids to some of these old-fashioned games that always deliver family fun? Every road trip provides an opportunity for family bonding, and laughter is the best way to make memories.

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