Time spent around the table with family, football, and way too much food makes Thanksgiving one of the best days of the year. The only problem? If you’re spending the day with family, you have to get there first. For some, this means a quick trip across town, but for others, it means driving busy highways for hours on end. When it comes to traveling over the holidays, you already have enough to consider, from getting everyone out the door and maneuvering traffic, to worrying you’ve forgotten the name of your third cousin twice-removed. name. Let us handle the backseat entertainment once boredom strikes and you hear the dreaded, “Are we there yet?” Check out ten of our favorite road trip games that won’t cost you a thing!
#1: Buzz Word
At the beginning of your trip, hand everyone 10-20 paper clips (or anything else small, handy, and not too tempting to eat!) and choose a “buzz word.” After that point, the “buzz word” is banned. If anyone in the car says that word, whoever catches them shouts “BUZZ!” and collects one of their paper clips. Whoever has the most paper clips at the end of the journey wins! Choose a common word like “car” or “it” to make this game even more of a challenge.
#2: Twenty Questions
There’s a reason this game is a tried and true classic. Not only is it easy-peasy for little kids to play, but it’s also super fun for adults! Players take turns choosing a person, place, or thing. Everyone else has twenty “yes” or “no” questions to try and guess the word and whoever gets it right chooses the next word. Try to come up with a word no one can guess—it’s harder than it sounds! Are you up for the challenge?
#3: Would You Rather?
Would you rather ask the president why the chicken crossed the road or ride an ostrich through Times Square? Jump into a volcano or be trapped in a room with 100 angry scorpions? Take turns offering various scenarios to your fellow travelers, the more bizarre, the better! You might be surprised by their answers…
#4: Counting Cows
Pitting car sides against each other, this is a great game to play over the course of an entire trip. Pick something you plan to see a lot of during your drive such as cows, barns, or McDonald’s restaurants. Compete to see whether your chosen object appears more on the left or right side of your car. A variation of this game even works if you happen to get stranded with a flat tire and are waiting for help to arrive. After you call your roadside assistance number, have each person choose a different type of car. While you’re waiting, will you see more motorcycles, Volkswagen beetles, or red cars?
#5: Lyrical Limits
How many song lyrics do you know? Enough to carry on a conversation? Spend half an hour talking (no singing!) solely in song lyrics. When your kids ask why you’re playing this game, just tell them it’s because “I want it that way.” Thanks, Backstreet Boys.
They say everyone gets fifteen minutes of fame, so here’s your chance! For fifteen minutes, each person will be a “celebrity” being “interviewed” by everyone else in the car. Not only does each person get to be the center of attention for a short while, but everyone else gets the chance to ask them fun questions. Your traveling companions get to choose the direction of your interview. Will you be telling your most embarrassing stories, sharing your favorite “expert” tips, or revealing your favorite color? They decide!
#7: Once Upon a Time
You know why Hansel and Gretel went into the woods. You also know the importance of faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust thanks to Peter Pan, but do you know how your own story goes? Play like the brothers Grimm and make up your very own fairy tale. Each person adds one sentence to the story, making it as exciting, unnerving, or as downright weird as they’d like. To make the game more challenging, feel free to add extra rules such as requiring lines to rhyme.
#8: The License Plate Game
First, see who knows their geography best and make a list of all 50 US states. Now you’re ready to play! Every time you see a car from a new state, cross it off your list. The game might start out easy, but try spotting an Arizona plate in New Hampshire! Hint: trucks often have tags from far-off states.
#9: The Alphabet Game
Here’s another great game for prolonged entertainment and getting everyone’s focus on something other than the confined space of the car. Start by finding a sign containing a word beginning with the letter A. Then comes B, then C, and so on. Who will spot the word Xylophone? Or Quest? Or Zebra?
#10: Beginnings and Endings
If you’ve ever been called a human dictionary or won Trivial Pursuit 17 times in a row, this is the game for you. As a group, choose a topic. For example, imagine your theme is birds. The driver would name a type of bird, then the next player would rattle off another which begins with the last letter of the previous answer. So, if the driver chose Flamingo, the next person could say Owl, then Lark, and so on. Continue until someone can’t come up with an answer, then choose another theme. Ice cream flavors, anyone?