It's the stuff movies are made of. Everyone piled into the family station wagon with the optimistic notion of seeing new sights and spending time together without the daily distractions and preferred electronic devices to turn to. However, if your family is anything like mine, after about an hour, the snacks are gone -- isn't it amazing how hungry you get when you start a drive? -- and the "When are we going to be there?" begins.
Since you know this scenario is inevitable, don't fight it. Simply prepare for the vortex of boredom the same way you would pack your guide books, water, and extra clothes. If you have a range of games at your disposal -- some short term, some that can last for days -- you will all make it out of the car in one piece.
Here are a few options to keep everyone engaged and amused until you get to your next destination.
1. Road Trip Bingo. Kind of like I Spy and Bingo all in one. Instead of numbers, you're looking for things out the window to fill your game cards -- fire hydrants, traffic lights, garbage cans. You can print out game cards before you go (many websites offer down-loadable versions), make your own, or pick up handy disposable options that open like advent calendars.
2. Dry Erase Hangman. Or dry erase anything, really. The Melissa & Doug game is fantastic because the letters are tethered to the board and you simply flip them over. Nothing drops on the floor!
3. Re-Stickable Stickers. This is genius for little ones. Because you know you can peel them off, let your kids stick them to their car seats, the front seats, and use their window as a canvas.
4. Pipe Cleaner Crafts. A rainbow color pack of these will give kids something to "build" with that's also safe enough to hold while you're cruising down the highway. Ask them to create a creature, then you can guess what animal they intended it to be.
5. Who am I?/20 Questions. Once a player thinks of a person -- a family member, a famous actress, a cartoon character -- the other players ask "yes" or "no" questions to discover clues. For bigger kids, limit the number of questions allowed to 20.
6. Color Safari. One person picks a color (stay away from weird ones like lavender) and the players must spot 100 items -- or 25, or 10 for younger kids -- that are the chosen color. The first player to hit the magic number wins.
7. Name That Tune. Use the radio -- remember the radio? -- to sample a few beats of a song, then abruptly lower the volume. You'll find out just how many Top 40 hits your kids already know.
8. Billboard Haikus. Each player takes a turn picking out three words from three different road signs. The other players have one minute to turn the words into a three-line Haiku poem with five syllables in the first line, seven in the second line, and five in the third.
9. Two Truths and a Lie. Each player makes three statements to the group. The other players must guess which of the three is the lie. Hopefully they won't all be something like, "I am bored. I have to go to the bathroom. I hate my sister."
10. Punch Buggy. This is the game where you (gently) punch the other players when you spot a VW Bug on the road. Some folks say only vintage Volkswagen bugs qualify. Others allow for the modern kinds. One version also calls for the puncher to simultaneously call out the color of said vehicle. Debating these issues will eat up some travel time, so that's a good place to start.
Do you have any favorite road trip games?
Image via Solvo/Flickr