12 Games To Play In The Car
OUR GUIDE TO OLD-FASHIONED FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT WILL HELP THE TIME AND THE MILES FLY BY ON YOUR NEXT ROAD TRIP, WHETHER IT’S A HOLIDAY EPIC OR A TREK TO VISIT FAR-AWAY RELATIVES. NO SCREENS REQUIRED.
1. NUMBER PLATE GAME
Make each other laugh with the funniest or strangest phrase inspired by the three letters of the number plate on the car in front of you, like the one in the picture. No rules – it just needs to make some sort of sense. Hedgehogs Upset Elephants? Horrible Unpleasant Eggs? Helen Understands Esperanto? His Useless Excuses? You can probably think of a better one. Grown-ups tend to get rude if there aren’t any children in the car.
2. SHOPPING/ALPHABET GAME
Children love repetition and this game has it in bags. Test your memory as everyone in the car takes it in turn to throw something into the imaginary shopping trolley. But if you want to add something else you’ll have to remember what’s already in there. Come on then: I went shopping and I bought Apricots, Bovril, Cheesecake, Dishcloths, some Eggs, Fireworks…
3. TWENTY QUESTIONS
Logical thinkers and would-be detectives love Twenty Questions – another game that can be easily tailored to the ages of your family players. Each player takes it in turns to think of an object and someone else has 20 clever questions to try to work out the answer. It’s a game you can easily get drawn into and it can go on for a while. That’s exactly what you need on a long motorway stretch.
You can buy Hangman as a board game and of course there’s an app these days. But simple is best with games like this – pen and paper is all you need. Everyone loves trying to fill in the blanks while the hangman assembles his gibbet. Can you work it out in time and spare the noose? Just one drawback: it's too distracting for the driver to join in.
The original guessing game and still the best, especially for young children. Keep looking out for interesting and unusual sights though: it can get a bit boring if the grown-ups stick to obvious things like sky, tree, hedge or fence. And don’t forget to say whether it’s inside the car or outside.
6. NUMBER PLATE CRICKET
Look at the number plate in front of you and add together the digits it contains, then multiply that total by the number of vowels on the plate. If there is no vowel you lose a wicket. For example: L699 OTV 6+9+9 = (24), x 1 vowel = 25 runs; BT65 PZG 6+5 = (11), x 0 vowels = wicket. Play continues until you lose 10 wickets, then it’s the next player’s turn.
If number plate cricket sounds too complicated for younger members of the family, try Spotter! instead. The object is simply to see a yellow car before anyone else and shout “Spotter!” when you do. First to ten wins, or perhaps first to five if you’re on a quiet road. After all, not every long journey is on the motorway. It works just as well if you look for horses instead of yellow cars. Not yellow horses though.
8. CAMPERVANS V CARAVANS
This is another counting game but it doesn’t have to be competitive if tempers are getting frayed on the back seat. Pick a pair of vehicles – you could try motorbikes v coaches or green cars v orange cars – and see which is commonest. Keep it going by pitting the winners against each other: Minis v coaches anyone?
9. YES AND NO
Channel your inner politician by trying not to give a straight yes or no answer. You can buy a card game version of this, but relying on your imagination is just as much fun. One person can ask all the questions or everyone could join in. It’s harder than you might think, especially under high-speed questioning.
10. CAR BINGO
This sort of bingo is like a variation on I-Spy. Give the kids a list of things to look out for on the journey that they can tick off. For example a church, petrol station, horse rider, fire engine, pub. If you’re mega-organised you could design a smart printout before you set off, or simply scribble out a couple of lists en route.
11. ROCK PAPER SCISSORS
A great playground game that works well in the car too. Both players make the shape of a rock (closed fist), paper (an open hand) or scissors (making a V with their index and middle fingers) and show their hand to each other. Rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper and paper beats rock. They get a point for each win, and the first to reach a designated total wins the game.
12. SWEET OR SOUR?
The kids wave at people in passing cars or on the street. Sweet people wave back, sour people don’t. Which type will you see the most of on your journey? Keep a record and find out. Guaranteed to liven things up in heavy traffic.