My family used to drive from Wisconsin to Delaware every other summer for the best family vacation an extrovert could ask for. We went to the beach with all our other cousins (20ish) for a week and it was always a blast. But the drive? It was 23 excruciatingly long hours.
Mom, Dad, and three boys, stuffed in a van. I was always delegated to the back seat with my middle brother, and as you would expect, a lot of hell broke loose. However, we also played a lot of games in the car. Sure, it did include the handheld amazingness that was an Aladdin or 101 Dalmatians game. But more than these video games, we played a lot of thinking games, searching games and word games to help pass the time. Now, as three competitive boys often do, we fought about rules a lot. Ultimately, we made a rule book. So, here are the Rules & Regulations of some of the best road trip games I know.
This game is one I play to this day. Many people play versions of this game, with different rules, but in general it’s pretty simple. If you see a car with one headlight out, you touch the roof of the vehicle and say “Padiddle” as fast as you can. You get one point for being the first one to say it.
Bonus Points: 2 points for a padiddle on a government vehicle (cop car, fire truck, ambulance, etc.), funky car (slug-bug, cruiser bruisers), or semis. You also can score 3 points if you see a full tail light out (known as a cyclops, not a padiddle). During long drives, you can get a lot of padiddles, so the game can get intense with big comebacks.
The ABC Game
Another classic. Most people know the ABC game, but that’s exactly why it makes my list. On a tremendously long drive, it’s going to be played. The game is very simple. You must find words on signs, cars, buildings, and whatever else you can see out of your vehicle that start with the next letter up. You start with A, then B, and all the way to Z. It’s fun to race other people in the car to Z. It makes difficult letters like J, K, Q, X and Z all that much more searched for.
When playing the ABC game, kids love driving through the cities, and this must take a little extra tension off the driver, as the constant fighting is likely paused for maximum gaming. If the “starts with a…” version is too much, you can play the easier, find the letter anywhere in the word version. Other classics I could include but won’t are I Spy, Categories and 20 Questions.
Kind of a little kid only game. Also kind of a midwest game. Basically, as you are on a multi-hour drive during the summer/fall, you try to be the first to spot the giant sprinkler systems that water big fields of crops. They are sometimes tucked back into corners around wooded patches, so it’s a game that keeps everyone looking around the car in different directions.
One Red Hen
From a rules standpoint, this is a tremendously easy game. You repeat without making mistakes. One person is the leader, and he or she goes around introducing the game to others. And it goes as follows.
1 Red Hen…. 1 Red Hen AND a Couple of Ducks…. 1 Red Hen, a Couple of Ducks, AND Three Brown Bear…. 1 RH, A Couple of Ducks, 3BB, AND 4 running hare….
Remember to say AND before the last thing of each round. As you keep going, here are the numbers.
5 fussy felines fidgeting on a fence…. 6 simple simons sitting on a stump…. 7 Sicilian Sailors Sailing the Seven Seas…. 8 egotistical elephants elevating in and out of existence…. 9 nibbling nubblins, nibbling nubblins…. AND 10 tiny tots, tentatively tinkering with tiny turds in a tiny toilet.
A victor is crowned if they make it all the way through without a mistake. If they fumble over some words, it goes to the next person in the circle, and you start over again!
Obviously you’re encouraged to make up your own version of the game, but for the first run-through, this one is the bees knees.
This might be my favorite brain game. It’s also great for around campfires, but it helps pass time on Road trips as well. Basically, this is a pattern solving game. It goes like this, “I’m going to treeland, and I’m going to bring a _____, but not a _____.”
Each new round brings about another pattern. Players then try to figure out the pattern to get into treeland. As the creator, you keep giving examples of ways in to treeland, until the other players think they know. When they have a guess, they ask in the same way, “Can I come to treeland if I bring __, but not __?” If yes, they’re in. If no, they keep trying
Here are a couple of examples of easy puzzles.
Green Glass Door Puzzle – the first word is anything without two consecutive letters (box, cow, red, brick, house, etc.) and the second word does, (balloon, green, door, glass, puzzle, etc.).
White Icicle – The two words in this puzzle combine to create the initials of a state. As I’m from Wisconsin (WI) we always use “bring a whale, but not an icicle” combination.
Opposite Letters – For this one, you need to know your alphabet. If the first word starts with an A, then the second word would start with a Z. B with Y. C with X. D with W, and so on. It’s pretty easy, but it’s tough to figure out right away.
You can do any type of basis for your puzzles, be it based off the words or based off situations. Using things like, syllables, number of letters, letter placement, and others are great. But you can also do things like living things versus non-living (fish versus water, tree versus concrete, etc.).
For a more advanced game, you can try to make your leads sound like they fit into more than one pattern. It throws the players off, and it in general, spices up the challenge.
This is included because it’s awesome. Also, this one time, in a truck, two buddies and I drove from Eau Claire to Green Bay in Wisconsin (3 hours-ish) with “500 Miles” on repeat. It was awesome.
Anywho, zitchdog is quite the easy game. You see a pooch, you say zitchdog. That’s it.
If you like my road trip games, check out, “Cruising USA.”