You gotta love a good road trip: Friends and family piled in the car, eating food that has no calories (because road snacks just don’t, right?), stopping at intriguing road-side attractions, and figuring out fun travel games to keep your brains busy for hours on end. Hallmark Designer Hannah C. is happiest in the driver’s seat (“Because the driver gets to pick the music. Always.”), so it makes sense that she’d come up with these fun travel games.
I love road trips and driving. Our country is enormous and so much of it is drive-able. And the car is this great space to get to know people. I want people to remember the moments they have with each other while they’re on the road.
I’m the youngest child in my family by four years—a lot of my one-on-one time with Mom was in the car.
Now I have two nieces and two nephews. They’re young enough that they don’t fly places. So in the car, they’re glued to a portable DVD player or digital games. I wanted to come up with something more interesting for them.
HOW TO MAKE A CAR TRIP KIT FOR TRAVEL GAMES
Here’s what you’ll need to make Hannah’s kit.
Card and text-weight paper stock
Scissors or craft knife
Pencils, pens, or markers
Small stuffed animal
Instant camera and film
How to play Landmark Bingo
The license plate game—looking for and keeping track of all 50 states—was always one of my favorites. And the alphabet game, where you look for letters on license plates or billboards. It seems simple until you get to J and K, then it gets real dicey. This is another way.
Print out the bingo cards and keep an eye out for each item; when you see one, add a sticker. The first player to mark off a column wins and shouts “BINGO!” Whoever’s riding shotgun can make the rules and call new patterns: diagonals, blocks, corners, etc. In case of a dispute, driver calls it—after all, they should be paying the closest attention to the road, right?
How to make a travel journal
I include a travel journal with prompts to take photos in the car or at landmarks. You can do it on a trip to Grandma’s—it doesn’t have to be this big epic thing.
Slap the label on the front of your notebook and start making memories.
I created instant photo prompts because I wanted a keepsake, but something that’s out of your control: You can’t edit or over think instant camera photos. They feel a little more real and in the moment.
Cut them out, take pictures, and use washi tape and glue sticks to put them on the pages.
Turn journals into travel games by treating the list of prompts like a scavenger hunt and seeing who captures the most.
How to pick a photo buddy
I put in little stuffed animal “avatars.” You pick your animal for the trip: That’s your mascot, and you take photos with your mascot. It’s kind of like “Flat Stanley.”
There are so. Many. Options. To keep things portable, we picked this tiny mouse. Of course, kiddos could take a favorite Hallmark itty bitty, stuffed animal, doll, or action figure—or make their own travel companion.
Three rules for road trips
A lot of these were inspired by a lot of car trips growing up. We didn’t all have personal music, and we were crammed pretty tight in the back of a station wagon.
- The driver gets to pick the playlist. I have a couple of friends I’ll pass the baton to‚but it really depend on their taste. (I like Spoon and Cake a whole lot, because they remind me of middle school.)
- Communicate. If you need something, speak up. And don’t not stop at a rest stop. Once you park, do all the stuff you need: Stretch your legs, get gas, go to the bathroom, check out the regional snacks in the vending machine, look at the information desk for maps and attractions, see if there’s a scenic overlook.
- Stop for billboards. If you see a roadside attraction that looks really interesting and you can fit it in, do it! Those are the best parts of any trip. My family took a road trip from Pennsylvania to Maine, and there’s a place called Bryant’s Stove Works and Doll Circus & Museum. My parents stopped there years ago, and said if they ever drove by again they wanted all of us to see it. It’s one of the most terrifying and magical places I’ve ever been. This guy’s a mechanical genius—his wife would find toys and he would mechanize them. So you flip a switch on the wall, and everything starts moving and dancing. I love that kind of unplanned stuff.