Road trips usually go something like this: You pack up your car and set out, you and your traveling companions feeling ready for all kinds of adventure. Two hours, one pit stop and a radio dead zone later, you're dying of boredom. What to do?
Well, you could put on headphones and tune everyone out; the strong-stomached may choose to read; and everyone but the driver could nap. But if you really want to make the most of your road trip, play some games. They can be as uncomplicated as counting certain items or they can require major concentration from the participants. Regardless, they make the time pass, and can provide a nice mix of education and fun for children or adults.
- Googling "road trip games" will lead you to websites with instructions for lots of simple games with few to no accessories needed. You can count license plates from different states, play I Spy or Twenty Questions, or tell stories requiring each participant to make up a section in turn.
- Bring coloring books and pencils to keep kids occupied when you're too tired to play. Blank paper can turn into impromptu Pictionary (choosing a word and defining it with pictures). Also good: Mad Libs. These small pads of paper contain short stories with multiple blanks that players must complete. The writer asks the other players only for the type of word desired (i.e. a verb, a noun, something you'd find in a refrigerator) and fills in the blanks. Once finished, the writer reads the story aloud.
- Pop into your favorite bookstore--the one around the corner or an online retailer--and pick up a book of games in the travel section. Sometimes the best ones are the simplest, though, so don't feel obligated to buy multiple volumes, or anything that looks particularly complicated. Remember, if it's too much, no one will want to play, and you may end up with a carful of bored, grumpy passengers or exactly the scenario that road trip games were designed to avoid.
- Many board games also come in travel versions. The sets are miniature and often magnetized, and classic games can be found in box sets, so that when checkers is played out, you can try out Snakes and Ladders or chess. These are good for keeping the backseat occupied while the driver and navigator attend to the road.
- Ask friends for recommendations, and get your fellow passengers involved. If you're riding with kids, assign them to find a couple games each. Actually, you can create this rule for road-trippers of all ages; the more other people feel invested in the entertainment, the better the chances are that you'll all have some fun.
- Tired of reading and writing? Turn up the music and have a sing-a-long, or create a road-trip karaoke mix and have a little competition.
- Make sure to give everyone breaks. Entertainment is necessary, but relentless participation is not. The road is a great place to nap, too, so after you've exhausted your passengers, let them spend an hour or two in dreamland. Sometimes the best sound from the backseat isn't laughter, but silence.