How to survive long car journeys

Sarah West
15 December, 2016 : 13:57
0     0

I recently found myself on a long coach journey with 30 six- and seven-year-old children. This had the potential to be a very painful 2.5 hours, but as it turns out, with a few old school games and some new ones the children hadn’t played before, the ride was surprisingly painless!

With the holidays fast approaching, many people will be packing up the car to visit friends and family, so here’s a run-down of my top games to help you pass the time in the car! 

1. I Spy 
I Spy is a classic, and our go-to game for car journeys (long or short). One person (we start with the oldest in the car) chooses an object that everyone in the car can see (can be tricky when you are moving). They then say, 'I spy with my little eye, something beginning with...' giving the first letter of the object they have spied. Other players have to guess the object, and the first person to guess correctly starts the next round. As my daughter is still a little too young to know her letters, we also play a variation of this for her where we select something by colour… 'I spy with my little eye, something that is (colour).' So she can join in too!

2. Word association
We find that this is best played in pairs. It starts with one player saying a word and the other player has to respond with the first word that comes into their head. We usually end up having to explain some words to my son, so it’s educational too! The faster the game is played, the funnier the answers get! 

3. Fortunately – Unfortunately
A colleague shared this game with me and my children really love it. It gives them a great chance to really use their crazy imaginations!

One person begins with a sentence to start the story - for example, 'One day I was walking to the park.' Each player then adds a sentence to the story (taking it in turns). The start of each sentence needs to alternate between 'fortunately' and 'unfortunately'.  So, the second person would then continue the story with: 'Unfortunately there was an elephant blocking the road.' The third person would then add a fortunate answer, e.g. 'Fortunately the elephant also wanted to go to the park so carried me on his back.'

4. Who am I?
This is a great game for all passengers to join in with. One person thinks of a well-known person (real or fictional!), and everyone else has to guess who it is. The challenge, however, is that the person who answers the questions is only allowed to answer with 'yes' or 'no'. Those asking questions take turns and can only ask one at a time. The winner is the first person to guess who they are (on their turn)!

5. 'I went to the shop and bought…'
This is a memory game which involves an ever-growing shopping list. One person starts with 'I went to the shop and bought…' and lists one thing they bought. Then the next player has to recite the same sentence, including what the previous person bought, and then adding something else to the list. If anyone forgets something, then they are out of the game while the other players continue until there is only one person left!

We sometimes vary this by compiling the list alphabetically (it makes it a bit easier to remember!) so people have to include an object starting with the next letter in the alphabet. It’s always amusing to see who can be the most outrageous with their shopping.

6. Yellow car!
For us this game is always going on in the background…. with whoever shouts 'Yellow car!' first just satisfied with the glory of being first. For longer journeys, you can increase the competitive factor by setting up a points system depending on the type of vehicle that is seen. For example 10 points for a yellow lorry, 5 for a van and 2 for a car….

7. Yes and No Game
The aim of this game is to talk to each other in the car without using the words 'yes' or 'no'. Either select one person to play (and the rest of the passengers can try to catch them out) or make it a rule for the whole car, and see who is first to slip up! It's surprisingly hard to do, and encourages more a creative use of vocabulary!

8. Two truths and a lie 
Each player takes turns to present three statements to the rest of the passengers – two of them are true and one is false. The rest of the players have to guess which one is the lie, answer one, two or three! You can ask players to write the answer on a piece of paper, or just reveal the answer on their fingers at the same time (so there's no cheating, and in case the driver is playing!).

9. Car bingo
At the start of your journey, think of a list of 5 or 10 things to find (you may want prepare it in advance!). The list could include a person walking a dog, police car, phone box, post box, caravan, boat, horse.... etc. and then spend your journey trying to find them. The first person to identify something on the list then crosses it of their list (but everyone else still has to find it). The winner is the first person to cross everything off their list!

10. Pub names
Although not the ideal game for long motorway journeys, this game is great fun for more rural parts of the country, and children enjoy saying the often imaginative pub names. The aim is to spot pubs, and then add up how many legs (or arms) it has! For example - 'How many legs would the Horse and Hounds have?' or 'How many arms would the Poacher and Partridge have?' The winner is the first to shout out the right answer – and it’s not always as easy as it seems!

Do you have any tricks up your sleeve for keeping younger passengers occupied on the road? Comment below, like and share via social media. Keep up to date with our latest news and blogs on Twitter @Parentkind.

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Sarah West
In April 2015 Sarah joined Parentkind as Marketing Manager. She joined the charity following many years working within integrated marketing agencies across a number of blue chip clients. With her first child recently starting school, Sarah has enjoyed getting involved with the PTA and seeing first-hand the positive effect that an active PTA can have.

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