Some of the most vivid memories I have from childhood are being in the car with my parents. I remember rocking out to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and waiting for that moment where we all head bang. Or sitting in the back seat with my dad’s atlas, learning how to read it properly and figuring out just where we were on the map. Or the silly superstitions my mom taught us, that I now teach our kids; along with the road games my parents played with us to keep us occupied. These memories are a part of me, and I now share them with our children. Road Games are essential to family road trip bonding, and I’m thankful I had parent’s that shared these bonding moments with my sister and I during our many family road trips.
As a full time RV family, we are constantly on the road, whether traveling in Miss. Reba to get to our next RV campsite, or driving in the Green Machine to explore what our new destinations have to offer, the road takes up a lot of our time. This also means the kids are sitting in seat belts for a long time, which isn’t always easy for them. Thankfully, due to my parent’s majorly cool road trip skills, I can share the joys of my childhood with our kids – keeping them occupied and happy, while bonding as a family. Here are our top 5 road games – and superstitions – that keep us bonding, and moving, down the road!
1. ABC Game – This game is harder to play with the younger ones, but is a great learning game! I remember playing this with my parents, and that the game could last forever since some letters are HARD to find. The gist is that you start with the letter A and go through the alphabet consecutively until you find a word that begins with each letter. Now this is WORDS only, not objects, so you find your words on road signs, billboards, cars, and buildings. When you find a word starting with the current letter, you shout it out, and get a point for that letter. It’s a great game that involves everyone, keeps everyone occupied and helps the little ones practice their letters.
2. Cemetery – This is really a superstition that my mother taught me when I was younger, and that I’ve now taught our kids. It has become a big deal in the car, and any one that doesn’t play will find themselves with some serious consequences! The idea is that whenever you pass a cemetery, no matter how big or how small, you must hold your breath. I know, this seems silly, but we are very serious about this game/superstition. From what I remember my mother telling me as a kid, if you don’t hold your breath while passing a cemetery, you open yourself up for a haunting or possession. I know, serious consequences! While we don’t really believe that this would actually happen if we didn’t hold our breath, it keeps the kids looking out the window and searching for a cemetery. As soon as someone sees one they shout out “CEMETERY” and you hear a loud intake of breath as everyone stops breathing. The fun part is when you pass a really big cemetery and everyone is fighting to see who can hold their breath the longest.
3. The Object Game – So this game actually started because Peyton one day brought up a game her older sisters taught her called “gigi.” We aren’t sure where this name came from but the essence of the game was that you had to find Jeeps on the road and call out the color of the Jeep. So let’s say a red Jeep drives by, you’d shout out “RED JEEP” and the first person to call it gets that point. We’ve had a ton of fun with this game, but it has evolved in our family. We let the kids decide what object they want to find, whether it is other RVs, animals, items of a specific color, etc., and then we play a round of trying to find the chosen object. It’s a great game, and can get quite competitive, so the kids love it!
4. License Plate Game – I remember sitting in the back seat with my sister, keeping track of all the states we’d seen license plates from. This game is great because it challenges everyone to remember all the states - you make a list of all the states first so you can keep track of the states you’ve found license plates from. This kept my sister and I occupied for hours, and it was fun to see all the different places people are traveling from. It also keeps our kids occupied and willing to participate in a learning activity!
5. Railroad Tracks – This last one is another superstition my mom taught us when we were younger, and our own kids are obsessed with it now. Whenever you cross over a railroad track you have to put your hands up in the air and raise your feet from the ground. If you don’t, bad luck will soon be yours. I know superstitions are silly and we don’t believe we are going to have bad luck if we forget to put our limbs up when crossing a track, but it is fun to play with the kids, and we have a moment to laugh and bond together.
While there are tons of road trip games out there, these are the ones we play EVERYDAY. They entertain the kids and do so without technology! There are some days when Greg and I are so tired of holding our breath, or shouting out the colors of Jeeps, but then I remember the fond memories that I had with my parents, and the fact that they still hold so strong with me that I’m passing them down to our own kids, means that every breath held and every hand raised is worth it for the bonding time with our kids. The open road seems so much easier to travel when we play fun, family bonding games.
What kind of games do you and your family play on the road? Leave a comment to share your fun road trip games!
I am a mother and stepmother, fierce slayer of mental illness, writer and traveler. I love the constant change of the road, and the experiences it brings our family.