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Is your family traveling at all this summer? Are you looking for activities that will bring fun to long car rides and plane trips, and help the time pass more quickly for the kids traveling with you? Here are 14 games to consider, all of which can be done affordably, or free of charge.

Scenery Games

 

  • Travel Scavenger Hunt. Passengers have a list of things they’re looking for along the way, and they cross off items on the list as they see them. If you use a grid instead of a list, you can turn this game into Travel Scavenger Hunt BINGO.
  • The License Plate Game. See how many license plates from different states you can find on your road trip. You can buy an app, a board game, or a workbook to facilitate this game, or you can create your own state log with pen and paper.
  • I Spy. Fellow passengers choose an item in their field of vision that other passengers can see. The other passengers try to guess the item, using as few questions and wrong guesses as possible.
  • Car Search. There are lots of variations on this game. Each passenger can be looking for a different make and model of a car, and tallying up their sitings throughout the journey. Or passengers can be working together to find a specific type of car, or a number of cards. Add car colors to increase the challenge.

Storytelling Games

 

  • Story Cubes. Passengers roll 6-sided cubes with images on them, then make up a story that includes all of the face-up images. You can buy story cubes to facilitate play, or you can make your own cubes with paper, pen, and tape.
  • I’m Going on a Picnic. In this storytelling / word game, passengers list all the items they’re bringing on a picnic from A-Z, working their way through the alphabet. A more challenging version of this game requires players to name all items up to the next item they’re bringing.
  • Tag Team Story. Passengers create a story together, with players taking turns adding one sentence at a time, and building on what players before them have said.

Word Games

 

  • The Name Game. This game starts when one player says a name, any name. Then players take turns saying names, with the next name always starting with the last letter of the last name that was said.
  • Word Association. One player starts the game by saying a word. Another player says a word that is somehow related to that word. Play continues indefinitely, with pauses and resets when someone says a word that other players don’t think is related to the last word that was spoken.
  • The Alphabet Game. Players look out their windows for a sign or a license plate that has the letter “A” in it, then continue working together to find all the letters of the alphabet, from A to Z.
  • Mad Libs. Non-driving players make a list of words based on prompts (1. a noun, 2. a proper name, 3. an action, 4. a color, etc.), then another player inserts the words into a narrative. It is possible to create this game on your own, but you can also buy pre-made Mad Libs.

Guessing Games

 

  • 20 questions. One passenger thinks of an item (traditionally identifying the item as an animal, mineral, or vegetable), and the other passengers try to guess what it is, using 20 or fewer Yes/No questions.
  • Taboo. Players take turns trying to get each other to guess certain words, without using a number of specific “taboo” words in their descriptions. This is a game that you can purchase or make on your own.
  • Contact. The rules are a little complicated for a first-time player, but once you understand how to play, this is a fun game that can get you through many miles. One player thinks of a word, and tells the other players the first letter of the word. The other players can earn additional letter clues by getting each other to guess words that contain the letters they know so far, without the first player ruling them out. For example, Player 1 decides to try to get everyone to guess the word Pumpkin, and says, “P.” Player 2 says to all other players, “My favorite kind of pizza.” Player 3 says, “Contact! 1-2-3…” then Player 2 and Player 3 say, “Pepperoni.” If the word were pepperoni, then the game would be won. In this example, the word is not pepperoni, so there are two options: (1) Player 1 says, “Not Pepperoni” before Players 2 and 3 say “Pepperoni,” then the game continues with P as the only letter clue. Or (2) Player 1 is not able to say “Not Pepperoni” before Players 2 and 3 say “Contact! 1-2-3 Pepperoni,” so Player 1 has to give the next letter in the word – “u.” Now the other players in the game have to try to get each other to guess words that start with “Pu.”