On the road with the family – there’s nothing like it.
Traffic jams, backseat quarrels, constant “Are we there yets?”, spilt drinks – you can’t beat it.
These days any escape is a good escape. However, there’s the dreaded drive.
The easy option of course is to hand out devices to everyone then put the foot down as legally possible and hope for the best.
But let’s face it – car travel is the perfect chance for some good old-fashioned family bonding, not unlike at the dinner table.
Even better than the dinner table really, because nobody can escape.
Why not balance screen time with games all ages can get into? They’ll call for imagination, humor and intuition.
We started off with “I Spy” but this alleged classic has bored people witless since early Homo Sapiens so we tried harder.
Here are some tried and tested pearlers.
Classic hints game with a challenge. One or two people have to guess a mystery word while others give hints. However, when giving hints you’re not allowed to say some taboo words. Strictly forbidden.
For example if the mystery word is “ice cream” maybe you can’t say “summer”, “chocolate” or “vanilla”.
Huh? “It’s a sweet snack we like eating in summer. You have to eat it fast or it melts…”
“Do you like eating ice? I said snack. With a spoon or…cone”
“Aha – ice cream!”
You get the idea. Be creative.
A range of 2-5 taboo words is a good rule of thumb. There are plenty of ideas online or you can make up your own.
“Toilet paper” works well, as does “zombie” but it’s entirely up to you.
Estimated Quality Family Time (EQFT) : 20 minutes / 30km
Not same / Same answers
A free-thinking game where everyone has to match answers with another passenger.
Give a random question: “What’s a sport girls and women can’t stand?”
Everyone writes down one answer – maybe “boxing” or “golf” (writing prevents the old sudden-answer-change trick).
At 3-2-1-Go, everyone holds up their answer. A matching answer/s gets a hearty round of applause and bonding for life.
An alternative is to not match other answers. Original answers only are safe.
Dubious Answer Alert: If the category is something like “Name something blue” then answers such as “a blue hat” or “a blue pen” should be discouraged.
EQFT : If playing both versions 20 -25 minutes/ 40km.
We all know psychiatrists earn fortunes simply by having clients lie on a couch and saying whatever comes into their head.
No reason why it won’t work in the car. The possibilities are endless for this and you can stop whenever necessary to clarify certain answers.
“Summer – sun – shiny – Dad…sorry what? Why?”
“He’s bald so he’s got a shiny head.”
“Nice work. Continue”
You can also throw in time limits for added thrills.
EQFT: 15 minutes / 25 km (best in short bursts)
Original Answer With Same Letter Categories Game
We’re sure there’s another name for this game but for now let’s run with OAWSLCG.
Starting with the same letter, everybody has to name one thing from several categories.
For example if the letter is “S” and the categories are Sport, Animal, Country and Word to Describe Someone the answers might be soccer, seal, Switzerland and stupid. Make up any categories you like.
Here’s the twist -you can’t have the same answer as anyone else.
If two or more have the same answer then do Rock Scissors Paper or toss a coin to decide the loser. They have to think up a new word or face punishments ranging from pulling a silly face to walking the next 5kms.
The beauty of this game is that it requires prolonged quiet periods as everyone brainstorms. Brainstorm being the key word, not looking up answers online which is brain-neglecting.
EQFT: Allowing for 3 rounds then around 30 minutes / 50km.
Spell with Hints
Great for all ages. Spelling might not be everyone’s idea of fun but it can get you ahead in life and the car doors are locked, so let’s play.
Choose a word that preferably has several different letters. Then give hints for each letter until the person listening can guess the word.
For example if the mystery word is “dream” then you might start with:
“Huge creature that used to live on earth…in Jurassic Park!”
“Yes – first letter is D. Next hint – blood and ketchup’s color”
“Nice. Second letter is R.”
And so on.
Some words to get you started could be party, women, hospital, shower, monkey, donate….over to you!
EQFT: At least 20 minutes / 35km
There’s a Liar in the Car
Great for teaching children how to deceive people and be flexible with the truth. Take some playing cards and include one joker card.
Deal out the cards, each member keeping their card secret. Whoever gets the joker is The Liar. They must answer every question with a porky pie.
Start by going around the car asking random questions. Open-ended questions work best such as “Where do you want to go on vacation?” or “Who would you love to meet and why?”
This can be played two ways.
First is for anyone to guess the Liar at any time. If correct, they win. If not, they are out.
Second is to finish answering a set of questions, say 5 or so. Then everyone guesses who is The Liar.
Not only fun but great for discovering physical cues used by people when lying, which can prove useful in the future.
EQFT: Try at least 2 rounds to get the hang of it so 25 minutes / 40km.
There are plenty of other games you can play but these are tried, tested and recommended. Just don’t forget to give everyone a break from games to use their phones and screens.
They should help soak up at least 2 hours of travel time and if you need more you can simply do the favorites again or think about flying.