With the holiday season fast approaching, many families will be hitting the road for long trips.
As well as the stress of packing, route planning and dealing with holiday traffic there’s the ever-present spectre of boredom, especially among young family members..
While phones or tablets might offer a quick solution to the endless cries of “are we there yet?” sometimes it’s nice to take a break from a screen and embrace more traditional methods of tackling boredom.
Here, we take a look at some of the timeless games the whole family can join in to help pass the time.
An all-time classic that can be adapted for almost any age. One player spots something visible to everyone and declares “I spy with my little eye something beginning with…” stating the first letter of the object. The first person to correctly guess the object wins and starts the next round. With younger children you can change the clue to a sound or even a colour to make things easier.
A counting game ideally suited to Britain’s A and B-roads. There are various interpretations of the rules but the aim is to score as many “runs” as possible by counting the limbs in the names of pubs you pass.
Players take turns to “bat”, counting the number of legs. For example, the White Hart scores four, the King George scores two and the Coach and Horses 10 (two horses each with four legs, plus the coachman). Spot a pub with no legs and you’re out, likewise if it has the word arms or head in the name.
As simple as the name suggests, the first player thinks of a person or object and the other players have 20 questions in which to determine who or what they are. Players take turns to ask a question and make a guess. The only catch is that the first player can only answer yes or no to the questions.
Shopping list game/alphabet game
A game to test the memory. The first player starts “I went to the shop and I bought…” choosing something that starts with an A. The next player has to repeat this and add an item that begins with a B. Play then passes around with each player repeating everything that’s come before and adding something starting with the next letter of the alphabet.
Car colour race
Easy enough for even the youngest passenger to join in with. Each player picks a colour and counts cars of that colour. The highest score at the end of the journey or after a set period of time wins. For older kids/car geeks you can modify it and count makes or models rather than colours.
This takes a little advance preparation but is great for observation skills. Make a list or picture grid of things you might see on your journey – animals, types of buildings, types of vehicles, road signs or landmarks – and score them off as you spot them. Depending on your route and destination you can tailor the game to suit what you’re likely to encounter.
Name that tune
This has the potential to be very easy or impossibly difficult depending on how musical you and your family are. The first player thinks of a song and hums it to their fellow passengers. Their job is simply to correctly identify the tune. Expect arguments over how close to or far from the real thing everyone’s efforts are. If you really fancy a challenge, you can add bonus points for naming the album or year the song is from.
Word association game
Let your imagination run wild with this one. The first player picks a random word and the next player has to come up with a related word. For example, player one says “ship”, player two says “sea”, player three says “beach” and so on. Quick thinking is key with this one, too much hesitation or an unconnected word and you’re out.
Number plate game
This is one to be played with older children but has the benefit of being fun while making them think. Choose a passing car and come up with the longest word possible containing the three last letters of its registration. You can pick a car each or compete to come up with the best word from one plate.
Who’s next door?
One to fire the imagination, especially when stuck in slow-moving or stationary traffic. Take a quick peek – don’t stare – at the car next door and then invent a life for the person or people in it. Come up with a name, a job, a family. What does their voice sound like? Where are they going? What are their hobbies?