Ralph Waldo Emerson is credited for the phrase, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey”, or some variation of it. I think he was talking about life, but the phrase can certainly be said for road trips. The Great American Road Trip is back this year, and I’ve got some ideas to make the journey just as much fun as the destination!
Road Tripping with Teens
Remember when kids looked out windows, played silly games, and talked to the other passengers in the vehicle? I do, because I was one of them! Yes, my family took road trips before the iPhone, DVD player, and GPS ever existed. I can’t recall much more than the license plate game and punch buggy (which is not nearly as fun growing up as an only child), but trips from the 80’s are definitely much different than the trips of today – with the exception of my beloved Walkman.
I’m going to be truthful, and tell you that I have a harder time leaving the phone alone than my teens. I’m fortunate not to have kids buried in their phones, but often that is not the case with many families. Mine just aren’t all that interested. My husband and I were purposefully late in giving them phone privileges, and have guidelines about phone usage and etiquette. “You better look up when someone is speaking to you!” is our main policy. But enough about that, let’s get to the fun stuff!
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Apps for the modern road trip
You didn’t think I meant no phones allowed on a road trip, did you? Now way! There are some amazing apps out there that put a technological twist on old favorites. Most apps come complete with their own score keeper and timers, because who really wants to be the one stuck with doing that job on a road trip? Check out a few of our favorites from the Google Play Store!
- License Plate Games – Road Trip Fun: A simple checklist of license plates to keep track of on your travels. Additional fun facts are included by clicking on the state plate. Games are saved, so you can begin a new game with each road trip!
- Car-tegories: Road Trip Category Game: Similar to the board game, Outburst. Gameplay is simple. Select a category “card” and read the category out loud. Everyone can play along to guess all 10 answers in one minute. Categories include: American Lakes, Famous Castles, Soda Brands, Hair Bands, and many more!
- The Travel Game Lite: Scavenger hunt style game. Look for car brands, road signs, license plates. Points are earned per item, and can be set up for multiplayer on one device, or over bluetooth.
- Sign Bingo: Just like Bingo, but no chips or markers needed! Select a city or highway board, but be careful – every few seconds one of the signs on the board will disappear and be replaced with a different one. That either adds excitement or aggravation. You decide!
Technology-free road trip fun
Time to put the phones away! Laugh, learn, and pass the time with old school styled new favorites!
- Shotgun! I picked this up at a bookstore on a whim, and it is a perfect game for teens! Compete for points by playing dares, trivia, challenges, questions, and more! Comes with 200 cards in a drawstring pouch. Bonus – the driver can also participate! It was an instant hit on our most recent road trip.
- Map It! I found this after our road trip, but purchased for a future one. How many people know how to read a map? This is a seek and find book based on locations on real maps. Comes with a checklist of things to find for a specific state such as names of towns, geographical features, state parks, and more. Be sure to grab volume 2 also – the states are split alphabetically in each book.
- Road Trip Kit This kit contains everything you need for your next road trip. Countdown cards, games, and a visual of “when are we going to get there”? It’s also reusable!
- Never Get Bored in a Car These wipe-clean cards are for the younger crowd. Includes mazes, things to spot, logic, word puzzles, and inventive games for one or more players. These would be great to split up and put on key rings to keep things fresh, as well as keep the cards contained.
- Pencil & Paper Games I love this tear off pad of 2-player games! Great for a wide age span, and all you need to play is a pencil.
- 100 Things to Do on a Car Trip It’s compact size make this book perfect to keep in the glove compartment, and brought out on the next road trip! Contains games, puzzles, some trivia, and more. I would recommend this to young readers up to tweens, although there are a few fun games for the entire family.
Printable (and free) road trip games
Usborne used to sell a pack of fun travel cards years ago that are no longer in print, and I still have them. I have chosen some favorites that require no prep and are suitable for multiple ages. Feel free to download the list with instructions in the Free Resource Library. Just print the list and slip it in the glove compartment to keep handy for your next road trip.
I hope these ideas are helpful to your family on your next road trip! I love to hear from my readers, so tell me: Where are you going this summer, and what are your favorite ways to pass the time?