Play these fun and creative free games with the family on long car trips. No supplies required. Playing games with the family on long car trips is a fun and creative way to pass the time. These games require no supplies and have simple, adjustable rules designed to keep all ages entertained. Additionally, these games can be easily paused during pit-stops, and do not require everybody in the car to play.
The first game is called “Beaver” and involves watching the scenery and counting. The players decide what will be counted, but here is an example of how to play. Person/Team A watches for animals on the right side of the road. Person/Team B looks at the left side. Every animal of small-to-medium size is worth one point. (Animals must actually be counted; no group estimates allowed. Passing a large herd, one must count very fast and when the herd can no longer be seen, the counting stops.) Very large animals are worth 10 points. Insects and wild birds should not be counted. A beaver is worth 100 points.
It is a good idea to appoint a non-playing adult to be a judge, in case a ruling needs to be made. When a total of 100 points is reached, the person/team shouts out the word “Beaver!” In some versions of the game, an old man with a long white beard also counts as “Beaver”. Depending on the locale, the family can decide which special and rare creatures will count as “Beaver”. After all, traveling through Amish country, passengers in the car might see an old man with a white beard every mile!
The fairness factor can be debated but a good suggestion is that when there are an uneven number of people playing, divide the teams so that younger children are paired up to compete against one older and more observant person. When there are two little children in the car, put one little child on each older team. If only two young children are playing, ask folks who don’t want to play if they would be willing to be scorekeepers. Happy counting!
The next game involves taking turns to create entertaining stories. Adults sharing the car with young children will need to remember that the stories do not always have to make sense or have great continuity. In fact, the more bizarre the twists in the plot, the sillier!
Decide on player order. It can be based on seating arrangement, but that might change, so a better idea is to take turns from oldest to youngest. Even the driver can play this game as long as the traffic isn’t too intense. Decide on a maximum time limit for a turn, because sometimes young children may not want to stop ‘creating’ and give up their turn to the next player. If time is running out and the child is feeling stressed, remind him that he will get another turn soon.
Don’t worry about finishing a story. Silly stories can be short and sweet or can develop into multi-trip, pan-vacation novels. It’s all up to the players and what they create together.
Like the game of 20 questions, the object of this game is to guess the item a person is thinking about. One person thinks of an item, and says a sentence including the name of the item, substituting for the name of the item the word ‘tea-kettle’. Then the rest of the group tries to guess what the ‘tea-kettle’ really is by asking questions.
The best feature of this game is that the person thinking of the item does not have to answer with a simple “Yes” or “No”, but can answer in whole sentences, only substituting the word ‘tea-kettle’ for the item whenever it is mentioned.
This is another game of substitute words. Warning – it could become so funny that the driver might have to pull over to the side of the road. Decide together on a noun that will be substituted for every major noun (or verb for verb) in a book, magazine, or travel brochure that someone brought along. Read a page or two of the book, while substituting the chosen word whenever possible. Some very funny word suggestions to start with are baboon, toothpaste, and shorts.
This musical game is for passengers only. The driver needs to keep hands on the wheel, but the entertainment will surely keep him awake. The first passenger starts a rhythmic beat by tapping or clapping. The next passenger joins in with a different rhythm that works with the original beat. The third person joins in, and so on.
If there are not many people in the car, then the first person can add a rhythm by making mouth noises. If little children are playing, don’t worry if they can’t follow the beat exactly. Let them do the best they can, and all will have fun.
To sum it up, there is lots of fun to be had while traveling with a family or group, and it doesn’t require lots of supplies or preparation. Have a great trip!
Author: Charlotte Walters. Degree in Music Education. Member of performing group “Good Company”. Designer of educational games for all ages.