“Are we there yet?”
Let’s face it, when travelling with kids, we are all likely to have heard (or said) this at some time. It’s the same phrase that parents the world over have heard ad infinitum. It could happen while travelling by plane, train, automobile or even walking to where you need to be… to be honest it can happen anywhere, anytime of day, on any mode of transport, usually preceded or followed by “I’m bored!”
Thankfully, these days, most kids have access to video or mobiles or iPads to while away the hours on long flights, journeys and oftentimes boring drives to get where we need to go. Occasionally they will turn their gaze towards the windows and peer outside briefly before returning to their hand held, hi-tech gadgetry.
For those of us who would truly like to spend some quality, computer-free family time with our most cherished, we thought we would put together the top 25 low or no-tech travelling games guaranteed to get those little faces smiling.
Imagination Only Please
These are the no batteries required, fun games from my childhood (and maybe yours too?). The games that our grandparents and parents played with us in the car, on airplanes, on hikes, waiting in queues, onboard trains, at lunch, or whenever those dreaded words came out of our cherubic mouths… “I’m bored, are we there yet?”
ISpy – This is one of the simplest and best loved game in any parents repertoire. I have spent many an hour playing this game with family and friends when the mood strikes. The game starts when the spyer picks something everyone can see, then recites “ISpy with my little eye, something beginning with…” (the first letter of the thing). Players then guess what it could be. T for tree, S for shoe for the younger players, a bit more tricky for older players SW for steering wheel, P for pedestrian. You will be surprised how long this game can go on for.
20 Questions – One player thinks of a person, place or thing and everyone takes turns at guessing. The questions can only be answered with a yes or no. (Hints and clues can be given if needed) Correct guess wins, and game starts again.
Hide and Seek – Similar to 20 Questions, youngsters imagine themselves hiding, and players ask yes/no questions to find them. Winner gets to hide next.
Alphabet games – This game comes in many forms, from guessing from A-Z in turn, or to make it more difficult (or longer) everyone must guess for each letter. Things to guess: boys and girls names, names of flowers, dogs, desserts, fruit and vegetables, cars, countries.
Memory alphabet – Extend the above game even further with an exercise in memory. “I went to the store and bought an Apple”, next child says “ I went to the store and bought an apple and a banana” then “… an apple, a banana and a can of chickpeas” and so on. Alternatives are, “When I got dressed this morning I put on a…”, “I went on a picnic and ate a…” “I went for a walk and saw a…”
Start a Story – One person begins the first sentence of the story and the next player carries it on. Eg Player 1: Today we went to the zoo and saw the lions. Player 2: The lion was loud and roared at us. Next: The elephant nearby trumpeted loudly too and then we went for ice cream… and so on.
Pick One – Warning this game may result in a lot of laughter as well as (constant) reminders throughout the trip. Everyone takes a turn at picking an either-or question – Would you rather swim in a pool full of honey or a pool of marshmallows? Or Would you rather eat a worm or pick up a snake? Neither is particularly tempting, yet one has to be chosen. The weirder it gets, the harder the choice.
Singing – singing along to the radio or CD (although the Wiggles can get a bit old after an hour) or singalongs from all the childhood nursery rhymes to the good old songs my nan used to sing me like “She’ll be coming round the mountain”, “Ten Green Bottles”, “Row, row, row your boat”, “Five Little Ducks”, “This Old Man…”, “Old MacDonald”, “The ants came marching two by two”, “The Wheels on the Bus”, “There was an Old Woman who Lived in the Shoe”(with 8 separate parts – who knew!)
Quiet Game – essentially, who can stay quiet the longest. Followed up by who can stay still the longest. Best for younger children, as the older children are not so easily fooled.
Keep ’em Coming
Most of the above can be played anywhere. Here are a few more ideal for those long car trips (even short car journeys too)!
Car Games –There are a few versions of this game – count how many green cars in five minutes, spot the state, shortest word made with the letters on the number plate, count the plate numbers 1-100.
Car Bingo – Organise a list of things to tick off or “collect” from things seen along the way – tree, yellow car, bridge etc. If time, you could print out a bingo card that the kids could colour in as they spot the item.
Mad Run Around – OK this is not technically in a car, it actually happens outside the car. It’s all about impromptu stops along the way. Preferably toilet breaks, and a quick break for you if you are driving. Stash a few “goodies” in a refrigerated bag to surprise the family with. Icy cold drinks, sandwiches, sultana & muesli bars, watermelon and a cool damp wash cloth or face wipes. The kids have a chance to run around for a few mad minutes to stretch their legs, and so do you.
When we Stop, we Swap – No one likes to be locked in the same seat for hours on end, so in our family we play “When we stop, we swap”. It can easily be combined with the Mad Run Around. All seats are in contention (front seats/drivers can be excluded if needed). Everyone more one to the left/right whenever we stop. That way everyone gets the “good” seat at least once. Make sure to remember who was in which seat when you start, so that everyone is returned to same seat by the time you get there. (This is essential for older children who remember exactly who was where and when, and the need to be fair to all.)
Got Paper & Pencil – You Got a Travelling Game!
These games need only pen, pencil or crayon and some paper to create a whole range of time consuming, family fun and friendly games.
Noughts & Crosses – or Tic Tac Toe. The game is kicked off with two vertical lines drawn with two evenly spaced horizontal lines drawn across them to form a set of 9 squares. One player chooses noughts and the other crosses. First player places their mark in a square. The second player adds theirs, game continues until one player has 3 in a row, horizontally, vertically or diagonally. This is especially good for younger players. Older players tend to know all the tricks with many games ending in a draw.
Hangman – One player picks a word and draws a line for each missing letter. The others guess letters. If correct it is marked in position. If not, a picture of a hanging person is drawn line by line. Game ends with either the word guessed or the hangman completed.
Battleships & Cruisers – each child draws up a grid with each square numbered across the top A-J and down left side 1-10. They then block out their “ships” 1 x Battle ships (5 consecutive squares), 2 x Destroyers (4 consecutive squares), 3 x Cruisers (3 consecutive squares), 4 x Aircraft carriers (2 consecutive squares). When ready, each child asks the other a coordinate, in turns and crosses the other persons guess off their sheet. Once a ship square is “hit”, the child gets a second go. If they guess a square they have previously picked, they forfeit their turn. Game goes on until one players ships are all sunk.
Connect the Dots – Similar to above except the grid is made up of dots – ten dots across, then ten down – giving you 100 dots on a page. The object is to take turns to draw a box, side by side. Player that adds last side to form a box colours in box, and that player gets another go. Most squared coloured in wins.
Map Making – children make a map of the trip, including landmarks of what they see along the way.
Bring the Travelling Props
The Obvious – Crayons, pencils, colour-in books, puzzle books.
Window Wash – Dry-erase markers can easily be used on windows! And erased when done. Also a great palette for Noughts & Crosses, Hangman etc. (WARNING: Make sure markers are the DRY-ERASE kind)
Cards – snap, pairs, cheat, go fish, patience & clock patience,
Jigsaw – best as a few large pieces, ideal for smaller children. Also requires a flat surface like an airplane tray table, or portable stable tables.
Necklaces – Give each child a box of large beads and some thread to string them on. For an edible version give kids a selection of snacks that they can thread onto a string. They can then create a necklace as well as munch along the way. Anything with a hole or that you can punch a hole in with an apple corer, and that’s not too messy – Dried apple rings, cereal, hoop lollies, lifesavers, carrots, celery, pretzels, biscuits, cheezels etc.
Finger puppets – Each child receives a finger puppet or two and they make up and act in a story.
And finally, a lifesaver for all… the Kid-Friendly Day Pack Essentials
Help the kids to pack their own day-pack with all their must have travel items and a few surprises too. Their favourite travel friendly toys/snuggle toys are a must as a reminder of home (and to assist with any tantrums or “issues” that may arise). A small book or two to read, colour-in or puzzle book and crayons/pencils to distract when needed.
A good supply of snacks to munch on is always a good idea, individually packed for less spillage. Snacks like sultanas, carrot & celery sticks, cheese & bikkies, smarties or m&ms, chips, and don’t forget a small bottle of water or a juice box (which will need to be purchased post-customs when flying).
Finally, make sure you bring along your child’s favourite hi-tech gadget with a power supply & any required chargers. I know, I know you now have loads of ideas to keep your young ones occupied, however let’s face it, we live in a digital age, and as we all well know, our gadgets are a “must take with” these days for many children (and their parents). Our suggestion? Use them as an addition to the no batteries required family fun games described above, and have yourselves a great family holiday!
Book your next family holiday with one of our Cruise & Travel Solutions Specialists today on 1300 657 948
What’s your favourite family game? Share and send to firstname.lastname@example.org