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6 Car Games to Pass the Time During Holiday Road Trips

3 min read

I’m lucky enough not to have to travel very far for the holidays. A 20-30-minute car ride is all it takes to get to the festivities! But I know plenty of other single parents who aren’t as lucky. The holidays are a season of trains, planes and automobiles as parents and their kids travel from one destination to another.

When I was a kid, I absolutely hated road trips. Spending hours packed into a car watching the world go by outside was not my idea of a fun time. I’m still not a fan of them today. When my daughter and I do have to spend a few hours in the car, I try to make it as enjoyable as possible for her. More than cranking the tunes and singing along, I’ve found that a few games go a long way toward making the trip more bearable.

For all the single parents out there getting ready for long car rides this holiday season, here are a few fun games to help pass the time:

  1. The alphabet game: I spy something that starts with… A. It’s the alphabet game! Take turns going through each letter in the alphabet as you look out the window to spot things. The other person can ask for two clues to guess it. It’s a great game if your car ride takes you through the city and is mentally stimulating for kids who tend to get bored in the car.
  2. Rhyme time: Pick a word at random and go around the car saying words that rhyme with it. There are many variations, depending on how old your kids are and how many people are playing. It’s a great word association exercise and can get really fun as weird words come into play. No use of the word “orange” allowed!
  3. The license plate game: This is a great game to play any time you get in the car, and it’s one that can keep kids occupied for several road trips. Print off a checklist of all 50 states and see how many license plates you can check off the list. Our record in one car ride was 22! See how many you can get in one road trip and keep a running tally for all-time. Good luck on getting Alaska and Hawaii!
  4. Bingo: I love car-ride bingo because it’s a game my kids create for themselves. If I know there’s a road trip coming up, I have them make their own bingo boards. What do you think you’re going to see on our trip? There are easy spaces like “a red truck” but there are also some difficult squares like “a billboard with the word ‘magic’ on it.” I help them balance their bingo boards and as soon as we get in the car, it’s game-on!
  5. Who am I?: Also called ‘Botticelli,’ this game makes kids think. Each person in the car picks a persona but doesn’t tell anyone who they are. Next, you go around in a circle and ask yes or no questions about each person. First person to correctly guess someone else’s persona wins! It’s great for long car rides, since it takes some time to narrow down the persona. I usually pick a theme, like Disney characters or superheroes.
  6. Zitchdog: Made popular by the sitcom How I Met Your Mother, this game is a great holiday road trip game. So many people travel with their dogs for the holidays that it’s easy to spot them in other vehicles. When you see a dog, you need to be the first person to say “Zitchdog!” and name the car they’re in. Whoever sees the most dogs wins!

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