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family road trip games

Road trip with kids on your calendar?

Relax. It doesn't have to be a sanity-testing experience if you're prepared for the inevitable restlessness of little passengers.

And easy way to keep whining to a minimum and pump up the fun factor is to know a few road trip games that don't require anything more than everyone's attention.

Here are some easy games to play in the car to make the drive fly by:

1. the silly sentence add-on game.

This is one of the road trip games that is great for kids of different ages to play together.

The game starts with someone saying a single sentence, and generally ends in a free-for-all laugh fest among tongue-tied passengers.

This game is also great for getting everyone’s mind off the clock and the odometer, and on listening to each other.

My 10-year-old daughter and her friend, Stephanie, played this game on the way to Disneyland for my daughter's birthday.

Each girl offered up a descriptive sentence; which the other had to remember and then add a sentence to.

It began with Lyndsay saying: "The car in front of us is taupe."

Stephanie repeated the sentence, and added: "It's a Yukon." And on it went.

Here's what the final round sounded like:

“The car in front of us is taupe. It’s a Yukon. Stephanie is wearing a bandana. There’s a really big plane flying into LAX. The call box is blue. There are surfboards in front of us. Lyndsay (she had choked while laughing and drinking from her water bottle so this too became a sentence), are you okay? Yes, I’m fine. Happy birthday, Lyndsay. The Disneyland castle needs to be repainted. The sky needs to be taller..."

Much laughter ensued, and at least 30 minutes had elapsed. Success on the road!

2. counting cows.

Things get crazy when you pass a field full of ‘em in this road trip game.

The goal is count more cows than anyone else in the car. If you pass a cemetery on your side, you lose all your cows, but only if the other side calls it: “Cows buried.”

Pretty much, you can make a game out of counting anything. Try billboards, red signs... You get the picture.

3. the license plate game.

Print a map from the Internet and have the kids color in the states as they see a license plate from each. Add to the interactive factor by having the kids (and adults) call out or `claim' a license plate - requiring everyone else in the vehicle to spot and call their own plate from the state.

4. navigation challenge.

Let older kids help navigate. Give ‘em a copy of the road map on a clipboard and a highlighter to chart your progress. You can award points (or the winner's choice of restaurant for dinner on the road) to the passenger who can correctly chart the vehicle's next interstate highway, freeway or exit correctly - before you take it.

5. talking game. (yes, talking can be a game.)

This is one of those road trip games where each person gets a chance to lead. One family member gets to choose a topic every 15 minutes. (My choice is usually silence.) Or, you could all listen to someone else talk. Bring along books on tape in that case.

Visit the Clean Organized Home Store for road trip games, car organizers, on-the-road safety products and more.

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About the Author

Tara Aronson

Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.