This past weekend I spent over four hours in the car, to only drive about 90 miles. Traffic in New York City, especially in the summer, is absolutely horrific. I sincerely would rather drive 200 miles while moving freely than sit in the amount of traffic I do to visit my in-laws in Eastern Long Island.
While my day-to-day life does not require much driving, my weekends have always been stuck in my car. As a result, I have come up with a few techniques you can use on long road trips to occupy the time and your mind. Some of these are great with other people, and can be adjusted for kids, and some will be just fine while you’re alone. The trick is to modify for your audience.
- The “Would You Rather…” game is one of my favorites and can be adjusted for different ages and categories. The premise is to pick two equally awful or amazing circumstances and pose the situation to another person to see how he/she would answer. An example: “Would you rather go on a date with Cameron Diaz or Jennifer Lopez?” The person answers, explains if he/she wants, and you have a laugh. A darker side: “Would you rather sit in a bathtub full of snakes, or be chased by a bear?”
- The “What would you do with…” game has a similar game-play, but you offer up different tools/situations and see how the person answers. For example: “What would you do if you were handed a million dollars?” “What would you do if someone delivered an elephant at your door?”
- The “How many can you list?” game is fun and can be very challenging. The object is to list as many of whatever category you choose and have people compete to see who can name the most. “How many hit Broadway musicals can you list?” “How many breeds of dogs can you list?” You can adjust the rules so that there can be no repetition, or if someone has a clear advantage, he/she must go first, etc.
- The “Alphabet” game. This one can get very challenging – the object is to use the alphabet to list different items. For example: “List as many US states that start with A.” Or, you can make it in order, so that the first person has to list an “A” state, and the next person has to list a “B” state. This also works with cities, countries, monuments, authors, etc.
- Radio karaoke can be a lot of fun. The rule is whatever song comes on the radio next, a person has to sing along as best as possible, and someone else counts the errors/omissions, and competes with the next song.
- Counting any type of object can be a way to search and occupy your mind. If you’re traveling longer distances, you can count different state license plates; you can count different color cars, etc.
- Sometimes I make up stories for different people in vehicles near me. Based on the car they’re driving, their license plate, or whatever I feel like, I create a fantastical reason for their road trip and a whole story attached to it.
- Picking a book you always wanted to read, but never had the chance, and downloading the audio version. You may be able to get through listening to the whole book while you’re in the car.
- The “Green Room” game is really a linguistic game, but the object is to see if someone can figure out what’s in the “green room.” So, any word that has double letters, such as “green,” would be IN the green room, while any word that doesn’t, is not. This is fun if the other person has never heard of it. You can say: “Cheese is in the green room, so is mozzarella, but gouda is not.” The other person has to figure out the rule of the game without it being told to him/her.
- The “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game is a classic, and probably best for audiences in their teens and older, but the objective is to pick any random actor/actress, and show how Kevin Bacon can be connected to it within six degrees. For example (Mila Kunis): Mila Kunis was in Date Night with Vivian Khouri who was in Crazy, Stupid, Love with Kevin Bacon. Of course, you can adjust this for different actors/actresses.
- “Twenty Questions” is another classic and easily modified for different ages. The objective is to pick an object, keep it in mind, and the other person can ask up to twenty yes-or-no questions to figure it out. A very easy example: “Does this thing have two legs?” (No.) “Does it have two wings?” (No.) “Does it have four legs?” (No.) “Does it swim?” (Yes.) “Is it a fish?” You win!
I hope you gleaned some ideas to make your next road trip a little more bearable! Do you have any suggestions for keeping your time and mind occupied while traveling?