"Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind."
Seneca, the Roman stoic philosopher who some believe converted to Christianity under the ministry of Paul, once said, "Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind." Though Seneca could have never imagined the means of travel available today, the same benefit of travel can be experienced by modern-day families. Family trips can stimulate the imagination, build familial bonds, and create memories that will last forever.
Traveling around the country by car can be one of the most fun experiences a family can have together. Whether you are just going a few hours out of the way to Grandma's house or traversing as many of the 50 states as you can, road trips provide a cheap alternative to flying and they can afford you close time as a family that you might otherwise never experience. After all, when else are you forced to spend hours on end sharing such close quarters with your loved ones? When the tedium of driving starts to set in on a long road trip, however, there are all kinds of activities you can turn to in order to pass the time. One of the most time-tested distractions is playing road trip games. Here are some great ideas for games to play in the car and a refresher on the rules in case some of them are new to you.
License Plate Game - One of the most fun road trip games to play while exploring America is the License Plate Game. Every state (and Washington, D.C.) has a different license plate, and your goal in this game is to find at least one car sharing the road with you that has a license plate from each state. This game can best be accomplished with a map in front of you so you can check off each individual state when you see its license plate. There are also smartphone apps available that allow you to keep track of which plates you've seen digitally. When you start out, you will likely see new plates everywhere you look, but once you've narrowed it down to just a few remaining states, the real fun begins.
I Spy - In this classic children's game, each person takes a turn "spying" something either in the car or outside. The person whose turn it is says "I spy with my little eye something..." and then completes the sentence with a descriptor of the object they are looking at. They could say a color, a shape, a size or any other adjective. It is then the rest of the players' job to take turns trying to guess what the object is. After someone guesses correctly, it is their turn to "spy" something. When on the road, it is not fair to "spy" something that zips by the car. Instead, you should choose something that will be visible for a while (like a mountain or a lake) so the other players have a chance at guessing.
20 Questions - Think of a noun (a person, place, or thing) and get your idea firmly in your head. Next, have your companions try to guess what you are thinking of by asking only "yes" or "no" questions. This is the basis for the game 20 Questions. Say you think of a cow. Some of the questions players might ask include "Is it an animal?", "Does it have spots", and "Can you eat it?". Before too long (hopefully before they ask a full 20 questions) your fellow players will be able to figure out what you are thinking of, and then it will be their turn to think of something.
Storytelling - This game requires everyone in your party to try to be as creative as possible. The whole group will work together to tell a story one sentence at a time. After the first person says a sentence, the next person will continue the story with a sentence of their own. Go with the flow and work off of the other players to make the whole story as wacky or interesting as possible. It can be especially fun to record this game on your phone so you can play it back later and remember the fun story you and your family created together.
The Alphabet Game - Pick a general category (like foods, animals, or cities). Starting with the first player, each person must think of an example of that category that begins with the next letter of the alphabet, going from A to Z. If they category were foods, for instance, the first player might say "apple." It would then be the next player's job to think of a food that began with the letter "B". This progression then continues around the circle until you have completed the whole alphabet. At this point, you can either start over again with "A" or pick a new category.