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SUMMER SOLUTION - Travel games for the road

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 26th, 2012
Catholic Online (

Travel is normally part of any summer vacation, and for kids it can represent some of the best times of their lives. What could be better than taking in new sights surrounded by loving parents and without a care in the world? Unfortunately, the hard part for a kid is getting there. 

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - While most kids love trips, they also tend to dislike the travel. Kids are expected to sit still and refrain from distracting the driver as they make their way down long stretches of highway. In addition to sitting still, there are occasional battles with hunger, thirst, siblings, and the classic potty break. All these things can make travel a hassle for everyone involved, especially if the trip is lengthy. 

Catholic Online now has a list of activities you can do with your kids that will keep their active minds occupied while you focus on a safe arrival.

1.    The ABC Game - This game can be played by anyone who knows their alphabet. Everyone scans the buildings, signs, and vehicles around seeking words that start with each letter of the alphabet. Beginning with A, they work their way to Z. The first passenger to find a word starting with each letter from A to Z wins. However, be mindful of the rules. License plates and serial numbers do not count. The letter must appear at the start of a word. Names are okay. Only items outside the car count, and to ensure fair play the car must be moving with all players seated inside. You can add rules as needed to ensure fair play.

2.    Travel Bingo - Travel Bingo is a common game and many places, even dollar stores, sell travel bingo boards. However, kids may enjoy making their own. To make your own travel bingo board, kids will need a sturdy card such as a panel of cardboard, or a notepad. Create a 5x5 grid with spaces large enough to write in. (You can probably also download and print your own travel bingo cards from the internet.) 

Next, collect a list of 24 items you are likely to encounter on a road trip. Feel free to get specific, such as a particular kind of sign or color of animal. 

Randomly select the 24 items, and place them on the board in random order. Make sure the center space is marked as free. 

During the trip, kids can cover or mark the items they find along the way. If a simple bingo is too easy, make the winner the first one to get a blackout. Kids can also trade cards. The more cards you have, the better. This game can also be played as a solitaire challenge. 

3.    Travel battleship - This game was originally popularized in the Navy as sailors looked for a way to pass long hours with nothing to do. Begin by drawing a 10 by 10 grid on a piece of paper. Label the vertical axis with letters and the horizontal axis with numbers. Then, place your "fleet" on the paper by drawing the ships on the spaces you want to place them. Each player has 5 ships. The first covers 5 spaces, the second 4, the next two 3 spaces and the last one covers 2 spaces. Players then alternate calling out grid references to each other, producing a "hit" or a "miss." Play continues until one fleet is entirely sunk.

4.    Fun with maps -  Learning to read and understand a map is an important skill to learn, and giving your child a map can help. Before leaving, teach your child the basics about maps. Once on the road, ask your child to tell where they are on the map. You can ask questions, such as how far you have come and how far you have left. Ask which turn to take to reach your destination and so on. Tell your child to watch for signs. 

As an added activity, your child can make their own map along the way. Ask them to draw landmarks and important destinations along the route. 

5.    License plate game - Make a list of all 50 states and see who can find the most. This is especially fun on long trips where a large variety of plates will be seen. The game can be competitive with only the first one to see a plate marking it off, or cooperative with everyone sharing the credit for the sighting. As a bonus, see who can spot plates from other countries.

6.    Play cards. Kids can occupy themselves for hours with card games. Old Maid, War, and Go Fish are all easy-to-learn popular choices. You can either lay these games with custom decks made for the game or with a standard deck of 52 cards. For Old Maid, throw in a joker and use that, or designate a specific card. 

7.    Counting Cows - This game is fun if you travel through rural areas. Each kid counts the cows they see on their side of the car. Each kid must keep to their side! This is important. The goal is to get the highest count. You can only count the cows you actually count, meaning that if you pass a pasture with many cows, you must count quickly, you cannot estimate! However, if you pass a cemetery on your side of the car, you can lose all your cows. The rule is an opponent must say, "All your cows are buried!" then you lose your cows and must start form zero. 

8.    Scavenger Hunt - Make a list of items you may see along the way. Give each child the list and see who completes their list first. There are also printable lists of scavenger hunt items available online. 

Hopefully armed with these activities and a few stops, you can make it to your destination with your nerves intact and your kids entertained. Keeping your children engaged with their surroundings allows them to take in the sights and may instill a joy associated with travel that will last a lifetime. 


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