So you're taking a long car ride, gas prices be damned. Think about this a moment, and then look into the shining faces of your loved ones. You didn't opt for the DVD option on...

Share story

So you’re taking a long car ride, gas prices be damned.

Think about this a moment, and then look into the shining faces of your loved ones. You didn’t opt for the DVD option on the minivan, did you? And you will be trapped for hours in an area roughly the size of a kitchen table with the people who know how to push your buttons better than anyone.

Anyone for “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”?

Of course not. How about some car games? Try these:

I Went to the Grocery Store (or Grandma’s house or the mall): This memory game involves participants remembering what the other players bought or took or found, in order, and then add their own. Example: “I went to the grocery store and I bought apples,” followed by “I went to the grocery store and I bought apples and bananas.” This can also be recast as “I went on an extremely long car ride, and I brought air conditioning,” etc.


Getting car-games info

For more involved on-the-road games, see “Gladstone’s Games To Go,” by Jim Gladstone (Quirk, $9.95).

For more car games — including ones you can print out to play on the road — see and

License Plate : See how many different plates from different states you can find on the road. Might require paper and pencil if your memory’s not good enough for, say, Grocery Store.

Restaurant Magnate : Each rider chooses a chain restaurant and then counts the number of signs along the road advertising his chain. The most signs wins. This works best on major highways, and you might well eliminate McDonald’s, where the company’s Web site includes a trip planner that marks the restaurants along the way.

Name That Tune : Using prerecorded cassettes, the game master plays a few notes of a song and then the participants try to guess the tune. Or you can hum the tunes, but that opens the door for cheating.

Name That Sound : Before your trip, record everyday sounds, like a match striking or a door closing or a refrigerator humming, and let participants name the noise.

I Am Psychic : Just before pulling away from the house, have each rider predict how many red (or white or whatever color you choose) cars you’ll come across. Or guess how many times one of your fellow riders will curse or whine for a bathroom break.

Bury Your Horses (for rural routes only, please): Every horse a participant spots is worth one point. Every cow takes away a point. When passing a cemetery, someone yells “bury your horses” and everyone loses their points. Yeah, it’s weird but strangely intriguing.

Slug Bug, Beetle Bug : For every VW Beetle spotted, the spotter will administer one sharp rap on the arm of each of the nonspotters.

Sweet and Sour : Caution — this game involves interaction with travelers in other vehicles. Wave to the passing cars. For every smile or wave, that’s one point for sweet.

For every glare or worse, that’s sour. If your travels take you far, this could be the basis for a study of regional friendliness.

See food (not for the squeamish): Adult or responsible child distributes equal amounts of food (a Cheez-It, for instance) to participants.

Participants then see how long it takes for that food to break down in their mouths. To add to the excitement, other participants can call out “see food” in order to get a look at the digestive process.