If you’ve got kids in tow, it can be a long, noisy car ride to share holiday celebrations with loved ones. But one way to take the stress out of the equation and enjoy quality family time as you bid adieu to Libertyville, Mundelein and the surrounding area is to add in some fun travel-friendly games.
Here is our annual round up of the best car games to keep you and all the little ones—and all the tweens in between—entertained all the way to Grandma’s house, whether she’s in Libertyville, Mundelein or a warmer, sunnier climate at the southern tip of I-95:
Scavenger Hunt. Make a list of things you will see along the road. Think common roadside stops like McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts, but also add in things that are unique to the area in which you will be traveling: lobsters in Maine, cheese in Wisconsin, alligators in Florida. You can also add in some silly items too! Cross them off the list as you spot them. This can be done as a “team” activity or as an individual competition.
States and Capitals. Can you name all 50 states and their capitals? Those Ms and Ns can be pretty tricky. Set a time limit to list all the states and their respective capitals, giving one point for each. The person with the most points wins.
The Picnic Memory Game. There’s many versions of this classic. The first person names an item to bring on a picnic that starts with the letter A, such as an apple. The next person repeats “apple” and then adds something that starts with the letter B, such as bananas. If you forget an item you’re out. The game continues until there’s only one player left.
Name That Tune. Just like the old game show of yore. Hit the scan button on your car radio. The first person to guess the name of the song gets a point. If the guesser knows the singer, band or composer, he or she gets one point. If he or she knows the song name and artist, that’s worth three points.
The Map Game. One person finds a small town or point of interest on the map. The more obscure the better. He or she then hands the map to another player and tells him or her the name of the location. The other player has to find the spot on the map within 30 seconds.
I Spy. An oldie but a goodie. “I spy with my little eye, something that is green.” One person says the clue and the others try to guess what the item is. If you choose something outside the car, make sure it’s something that can be seen long enough for someone to guess what it is!
License Plate Game. Keep your eyes peeled for license plates from different states. Jot down all the different plates seen by each player. The player to spot the most out-of-state plates wins.
Words Within. Pick a longer word, such as Washington, and see how many other words you can make with letters of that word. Set a time limit of 10 minutes. When time is up, one person reads his or her word list. If the other players have the same word, they cross the word out so that only the unique words remain. The person with the most unique words on his or her list wins.
Hangman. Before there was Wheel of Fortune, there was hangman. Think of a person, place or thing and write down the appropriate number of lines for each letter. Then draw the hangman scaffold. The players guess one letter at a time, trying to discover the word before the body is complete. For the first wrong guess, draw the head. Each subsequent incorrect guess means another body part is added to the hangman.
Virtual Hide and Seek. To play this game, you have to use your imagination! Picture yourself in a particular place in your house, and pretend you are small enough, big enough or skinny enough to fit there. Any place is an option─your sock drawer, in the toaster, behind the refrigerator. Other players ask yes or no questions to guess the location (“are you in the bathroom?”). This is a great game because kids can pick hiding places they’d never really be able to use in real life.
20 Questions. One person thinks of a person, place or thing. The other players take turns asking questions that can only be answered in “yes” or “no.” Players can take a guess after asking their question on each turn. The player who guesses correctly wins.
Gooseberry Pie. This is a variation of 20 questions, but instead of answering just “yes” or “no,” every reply must mention the secret item. But the tricky part is that the item must be called “gooseberry pie.” For example, if the secret item is a shoe, someone might ask, “Can you wear it?” The reply is, “Yes, I can wear a gooseberry pie.” The next question might be, “Do you wear one of them?” The reply might be, “No, I wear two gooseberry pies.” This one is actually harder for the person answering than those asking the questions!