Games for trips in the car

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games for trips

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Games for trips in the car

It is holiday time and we are heading off to Sydney to visit family. As I will also be attending a conference while I’m there, we are going by car. Which means 10 long hours on the road…..with no ipad or in-car dvd player to keep my boy amused. So, it’s time to come up with a few games for trips by road. I’ve been collecting and collating. Maybe you can use them too!

  • Play I-spy but use colours or shapes instead of letters


  • Inspired by bingo calls, where the attending audience call out particular things after a number is called (for example, quack, quack when the number 2 is called out – the shape of a 2 resembles a duck if you use a bit of imagination-, when number 3 is called, people shout out ‘a cup of tea’, or when 24 is called, ‘knock on the door’) you might set up a calling car game.  When you spot a letterbox, the children must call out ‘postman’ or if you see a telephone box, ‘ring ring’, or a pedestrian crossing, ‘clickety clack’. Make up your own calls too. (The things you see will be different depending on where you travel too. If you are on a country road, you might see a sign warning you of kangaroos. Children might call out ‘jump, jump, off to town, jump, jump, up and down’.)


  • Play ‘spot the animal’:  Keep a look out for neighbourhood cats, dogs walking on leads, flittering birds, or in country areas, goannas, kangaroos, echidnas, or emus.


  • Play guessing games:  Ned often sees ‘speed limit’ signs and is fascinated by the speed I’m driving.  Perhaps you can encourage your passengers to guess your speed.  Or guess how long it takes you to travel 10 kilometres, or how far it is to the next road sign?  I like this one- ‘Guess which way I will turn next?’


  • I remember the game where we had to spot a ‘mini’ car.  And call out when we did see it. Perhaps you might look for kombi vans…they are probably a little bit more recognisable and findable these days.


  • You can spot Woolworths or Aldi trucks (pretty common on Australian roads- substitute these with your local supermarket haulers), or look out for huge roadway machinery.


  • Tic tac toe (noughts and crosses) is a simple pencil and paper game for two in the passenger row. Or that one where you draw 100 dots on a page (10 rows of 10 dots) and take it in turns to draw one line between two dots anywhere on the page in either up-down or left-right motion. The aim of the game is to make a box. When you do, claim the box by putting your initial in it. Person with most boxes wins the treat of the day – perhaps this is choosing your bed first, or choosing a tourist attraction to visit.


  • If you are a bit more prepared, you can cut out a few magazine pictures of types of cars and put them in a surprise bag. Pull them out one by one and let the children try to spot them.  Don’t move onto the next one until the first has been found. You could also do this game on the run, by drawing simple illustrations of classic vehicles such as kombis, motorbikes, motorbikes with sidecars, VW beetles, range rovers, small sedans, or vans.



  • When you are worn out from games, audio CD’s are a winner. Borrow some from the library before you leave home.


  • And I do love a surprise bag treat. Long car trips or airplane travel are one time I employ treats as a tool!  It is amazing how well behaved children can be with the promise of a treat or gift.  Fill a bag with wrapped up goodies (the game lasts longer when things are wrapped, especially if they are tied up with string too!). Golden books, a small notepad and a pack of new wind-up crayons for drawing time, packet of sultanas or yoghurt drops, pocket sized puzzles, a chupa chup or pack of tic-tacs, individual bags of crackers, plain chips or sweet biscuits are good too- especially if the children don’t have this kind of food in daily life.


Have you any ideas to add to help me keep my sanity?




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