We drive a Volvo XC-90. When we purchased it in 2002, we had the option of getting a DVD player installed that would enable passengers to enjoy their favorite movie while traveling. I was adament that we did not need such a luxury. Both DH and I had grown up without one and I didn't feel it was necessary. I still don't. Of course, this option came as a package deal and as a result, declining the DVD player also meant passing on the in-dash GPS. Bummer. I'm an excellent navigator, however. So in my mind, this is no big loss. But this is a story for a future post.
A year after our daughter was born, we moved to Central Oregon. As a result, we travel frequently to see friends and family. Regardless of where we are going (to Portland, the Willamette Valley or to the Southern Oregon coast), we drive anywhere from 3-5 hours. The kids have grown accustomed to long car rides. Generally, we are able to time our departure to coincide with 'nap time' (neither of our children are big nappers at home - but put them in a car in the late-afternoon or mid-morning, and they are out within the first 10 miles) which assures us of at least 2 hours of 'alone time'. :)
When they are awake, they generally entertain themselves with the few toys they may have selected to bring along. The princess always brings along her fairy dolls and her unicorn plush 'lovie'. The little guy brings Diego and a collection of small animal figurines, as well as his 'kitty lovie'. Other times, we enjoy playing games together as a family. Perhaps you've played a few of these yourself...
- Alphabet Game ~ Using road signs, license plates, billboards and other sights along the road to come up with all the letters of the alphabet. The first family member to 'Z' wins. When I played this growing up, we added the rule that each individual could use each sign for only one letter. In other words, if you saw a STOP sign, you would not be allowed to use it for both 'S' and 'T'. I enjoy playing this one with my daughter now... however, due to her age (she's 4 1/2), she searches for letters randomly while we (DH and I) search for the letters in order.
- Add A Word ~ The goal of this game is to tell a story one word at a time. Each family member takes a turn adding one word to build a story.
- Botticelli ~ One player thinks of a famous person and says the first initial of that individual's last name (for Lance Armstrong, you would say 'A'). The other people try to guess the person by asking yes or no questions. Whoever guesses correctly wins or a player who stumps the others after 20 guesses wins.
- Going On A Trip ~ One person begins with the phrase, "I'm going on to the beach and I'm taking a ..." then inserts an object that begins with the letter A (apple, for instance). The next person must say the 'A' object and list his or her own 'B' object. The list rotates through the vehicle with everyone trying to remember all of the items and listing off their own. Families can vary this by choosing to go to a different destination.
- I Spy ~ This game is a classic. One player says "I spy with my little eye something that is..." and then names a color. The other players try to guess the item by asking yes or no questions. We've tried playing this one with our daughter but things tend to go by too quickly for her. For young children, it's best to choose objects inside the vehicle.
- Name Game ~ One person says a famous person's name (Johnny Depp, for instance) and the next person has to name another celebrity with the first letter of that last name ('D' in this case).
- Name That Tune ~ Just like the classic game show. One player hums a tune that everyone else knows and the other participants try to guess the song. The game ends when people tire of it. With today's modern technology, you could also use an iPod through the car speakers (you will need an adapter) and play just a short part of the song. This option would be ideal for younger players assuming you use children's song or movie themes. My daughter calls the Counting Crows' "Accidentally in Love" the Shrek song.
- Number Game ~ This game is very similiar to the alphabet, except in this one, players look for numbers instead of letters. The first player to 21 wins.
- Color Game ~ My daughter invented this one when she was just beginning to recognize colors. Each player takes turn pointing out something in a color of choice. "I see a green tree." "I see a the blue sky." This one gets quite mundane for older players. :)
- Two Words ~ This a good storytelling game for younger children. Kids can pick out any two words and then parents have to tell a story that involves both of the words. Families can also switch up the storytelling by letting the adults select the words and the children make up the tale.
- Movie Game ~ Our friend, Bef, made up this game while we were on a road trip one weekend in college. One player thinks of a movie and gives the other participants 5 successive clues, beginning with a rather vague clue and gradually more specific. The goal is to correctly identify the movie with the fewest clues.
- State Game ~ Each player races to find the license plates for all 50 states (or the greatest number of states by the time you reach your destination.
- Animal Vegetable Mineral ~ Another classic. One player begins by saying, "I'm thinking of a ...." and completes the sentence by stating which category (animal, vegetable, or mineral) the item they are thinking of falls. The other participants then take turns asking yes or no questions. Whoever guesses correctly wins or a player who stumps the others after 20 guesses wins.
Happy travels. :)
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