We like to take road trips. As often as possible. And we don’t like to have people playing electronics or watching movies while we’re driving. In our opinion, road trips are for spending time together and enjoying the scenery.
Which means that we find odd ways to entertain ourselves. We have several games that we play, and some of them run concurrently.
The License Plate game: This is one that is always running in the background. We keep track of the license plates that we see on the way to our destination, and then the plates we see on the way back. We compare the two lists once we get home. We shoot for all fifty states, and then keep track of the “bonus” plates like Washington D.C., Canadian plates, or Mexican plates.
Sign alphabet: Finding all 26 letters, in order, on signs or buildings. This game is harder in some states than others. Texas, for example, seems to like billboards. They’re everywhere. In Kansas, they might be illegal. There just aren’t any signs. In case you’re wondering: J/Q/Z seem to be the hardest letters to find. Which means that we get a little panicky when we see one of them. “I’ve got a ‘J,’ hurry up and find GHI!”
I’m Going alphabet: This is a progressive memory game. We always use the place we’re actually going. One person starts by using ‘A.’ “I’m going to Texas, and I’m taking an apple.” The second person has to add to it. “I’m going to Texas and I’m taking an apple and a banana.” It’s fun, but it gets a little complicated once you get fifteen or so letters in.
My Friend alphabet: This one isn’t as difficult in the memory department, but some letters can take a good bit of creativity. You have to use a male name, a female name, a location, and an item. For example: “My name is Anna, my best friend is Arthur, we’re going to Australia, and we’re taking antelope.” We take turns, moving one letter for each person. What’s funny is that our own letters seem to trip us up. “My name is Katie, my best friend is…umm…” We get so excited about having the first name ready to go that the rest of the information won’t come to the forefront.
Banana: Yeah, it has nothing to do with the fruit. This one also runs continuously. We count anything yellow, with a motor, that’s in motion. There are different point values, too. A car or pickup truck counts 1, motorcycle 2, moving van/big rig/trailer 3, etc. We have points for pretty much everything. (Last year, we even had two instances where we had a yellow plane fly over our heads. “Banana plane” became 20 points.) Before we leave, we write down everyone’s guess for how many banana points we’re going to get. My girls even like to include my parents, so we have to call and get Grandma and Grandpa to give us numbers. Grandpa has an uncanny ability to pick very close to the final total.
What do you do to keep your kids busy on trips?