Listening to music in the car is all very well, but nothing beats a traditional driving game for all the family.
One person begins with a sentence that describes a situation, for example ‘One day I woke up in the jungle.’ Taking it in turns, each person then contributes a sentence to the story; however the beginning of the sentence must alternate between ‘fortunately’ and ‘unfortunately’. So, the second person would then add to this story with an unfortunate turn, e.g. ‘UNFORTUNATELY, I came face to face with a lion, which started to chase me.’ The third person would proceed with a fortunate event, e.g. ‘FORTUNATELY I had magical superpowers, and discovered that I could fly away.’
2. Who Lives There / Who’s Next Door?
This entertaining game requires a lively imagination! Make up stories about the lives of the people who live in the houses that you pass: who are they? What is their name? What do they do for work? Do they have hobbies, or pets? Try and do the same for the people in the cars next to yours - where are they going? Where have they come from?
3. Banana Game
Easy and entertaining, see who can spot the most yellow cars on the journey. You could even set up a points system depending on the type of vehicle that is seen – for example 5 points could be awarded for a yellow lorry, and 2 points for a yellow car. If yellow on its own is too infrequent, try looking for other unusual coloured vehicles too, like pink or even RAC orange!
Another fun colour game to try: assign each person a colour to find 100 items of (e.g. spot 100 orange items). For older kids, you could make it more difficult (and competitive!) by setting a time limit and giving each a different colour, so whoever finds the most objects of their colour in 10 minutes wins!
4. Yes and No
Taken from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, this game requires one person to think of a person, place, film, object (you choose!), and the rest of the players must ask a series of questions to find out what it is. However the challenge is that the person answering the questions can only answer with ‘yes’ or ‘no’, and those asking the questions can only ask one at a time. The first person to guess the answer wins and gets to be the one to think of something for the next round!
Take it in turns to count from 1-100, without making a mistake. Each time a number with 5 in it comes up, the word ‘Buzz’ must be said instead. If one person forgets to say ‘Buzz’, they are then out of the game and everyone must start from 1 again. For older children, this game can be made more difficult by adding rules, for example ‘numbers that are divisible by 7 must be replaced with a word’ (perhaps someone’s name, or something silly), or ‘numbers with a 2 in must be missed out’.
6. Road Sign Games
What alternate things could road signs look like? Create different meanings for the road signs that you drive past, and try and remember them as you go along. For example, the national speed limit sign could look like a burger, or the sign for road works could look like a man putting up an umbrella!
With a pen and paper (or a good memory), take down the last letter of road signs (such as the names of places) that you drive past. After you have collected 4 -5, put these letters together to try and create a funny sentence. For example, D S C S A could be ‘Dad, stop, chocolate shop ahead!’
When driving through a long tunnel, see who can hold their breath the longest!
8. Pub Cricket
This game is easily played during long car journeys in Britain, as it requires driving past pubs (of which we have plenty!) How many legs would the Horse and Groom have? Or how many arms The Old Duke? Alternatively, you could make up stories around the names of such pubs, for example ‘The tale of the Bear and Swan’, or ‘The story of the Old Queen’s Head’.
9. Squabble Solution
No lengthy car journey would be complete without a squabble (or two) between restless kids, but we’ve found a way to keep this to a minimum. Begin the journey by giving each child a number of sweets (or coins, chocolates – which ever reward works best!) Each time they fight, bicker or complain, charge them a sweet – the aim of the game being that they get to keep their bank of sweets if they are good throughout the journey. Add a reward to the game by doubling the original amount if they lose none!
10. I Spy
Last (but not least), I Spy is a fantastic guessing game for long journeys. One person chooses an object that is visible to all players (or has already been passed in your journey), and says ‘I spy with my little eye, something beginning with...’, stating the first letter of the object that they have spotted. Other players have to guess the chosen object, and the first person to guess correctly gets to start the next round.