Traveling can be a ton of fun, but first there's the torment of reaching the destination. To while away the endless miles and quiet restless nerves, many turn to the relief of travel games. Good at distracting passengers, these tried and true time killers can make long car rides loads more relaxed.
Read on to explore some of our favorites...
The License Plate Game
Looking for vehicles with license plates from different states is one of the simplest ways to pass time in the car. Passengers can work together in teams, compete individually, or the game can be a group effort. It helps to print out a list of states beforehand so you can check ones off that have been spotted.
If it's a shorter trip, save the lists to keep the game going later. For longer travels, offer a prize to the person or team who spots the most states. Try keeping travel journal, so that players can log in the time and place where they caught a glimpse of each plate.
Another way to play is to use a blank U.S map to color in states as they grow further from the places you're driving through. Perhaps each color could be assigned a point value, with license plates from more distant spots earning players more points.
Bingo is a neat travel game, but you'll want to be sure to prepare for it before the trip begins. Bingo cards can be homemade or printed out for free from a variety of Web sites and they can feature lots of pictures of things that might be seen along the drive.
Some good examples are different types of road signs, vehicles, plants, animals, buildings and people. Once an item is spotted, players can cover it on their bingo card with a penny or other form of bingo marker. Cards can also be laminated or placed in Ziploc bags, and dry erase pens could work as good markers.
Bingo, like the other games on this list, serves a useful purpose beyond simple entertainment. It can also help lower the chances of car sickness because it keeps kids looking up and ahead to the horizon.
There are plenty of games that can not only help kids grow more comfortable with the alphabet, but also help them pass the time. One way is to take turns watching signs, license plates and other roadside lettering for each letter of the alphabet. The game can slow when tough letters come up, but eventually even a Q crosses the horizon.
Another game involving the alphabet is one that can get kids thinking about all kinds of topics, from animals to countries to kinds of food. Again taking turns, go through the alphabet thinking of an example of whatever topic you've chosen for each letter.
If you're looking to build a little vocabulary, another way to play around with license plates is to challenge children to make words out of the letters on each one. UIN, for example, could be unicorn, unite or interrupt. You can use variations of these games for different aged players.
It's a classic: 20 Questions is a game that can get kids thinking about something other than if you're there yet. Players take turns coming up with an answer -- typically a person, place or thing -- and get ready to be quizzed.
Then the rest of the participants think up yes or no questions and try to narrow down what the answer could be, getting more specific as the game progresses. If no one can guess correctly by the end of 20 questions, the answerer is the winner. If a questioner is able to figure it out, they win and get to respond to the next round of 20 questions.
I spy is another kids' classic. Players take turns spotting an object and the others try to guess what they've got their eye on.
There are a number of ways to play this game, but here's a short rundown of the basics. The thing spied can be inside the car, outside the car or either. If outside the car, the person who's picked might need to inform the other players if the object has gone out of sight.
Usually there's a hint -- the person might tell the other passengers what's the color of the thing they've chosen, for example, or perhaps the shape or the first letter of its name. ("I spy something green" or "I spy something that starts with the letter A".) The questioners then typically look around for potential objects and take turns querying whether they too have spied correctly.