Put down the devices and play some of these classic car games on your summer road trips.
We asked readers and staffers to share the deviceless games they play to pass the time while on the road. Below are edited versions of seven that topped our list.
The rules: When you see a yellow vehicle you simply say canary; the goal is to reach 20. Once you’ve called it, it is yours. If you have new passengers in the car, you do not reveal the rules of the game or even hint that you are playing.
How to win: Reach 20.
Pro tips: Seeing how long it takes the new passenger in the car to catch on to the game is part of the fun. Small children love playing, but never like to lose!
The rules: When it’s your inning, on each pub sign you see, you count the legs and that equals how many runs you get. For example, Red Lion = 4 runs as it has 4 legs. But if you pass something with no legs, for example the Queen’s Head, you’re out and the next player is in.
How to win: The victor has the highest score at the end of the journey.
Pro tip: Brilliant fun for kids on a long road trip!
The rules: We design a bingo board before we go — cow, water tower, police car, unusual “fusion” restaurant — and cross the items off during the trip.
How to win: Cross off a whole row, and yell “Bingo!”
Pro tip: Think about what you’ll see before you design that board.
License Plate States
The rules: Check off each state as you see the plate go by on a car or truck, and you can refine it to count only cars, which makes it a lot harder.
How to win: Being entertained is a win for everyone.
Pro tip: There are now a number of apps for this.
The rules: Find the letters A-Z in order as you spot them outside the car in license plates, signs, etc. Say them out loud as you find them.
How to win: You can add scoring but you don’t have to.
Pro tip: Not ideal for long, isolated roads.
“Guess What I Saw?”
The rules: On your turn, other passengers try to guess what you saw. Once they do, move on to the next passenger.
How to win: Everyone’s a winner.
Pro tip: On long trips on remote roads, you may want to include things inside the car.
The Cow Game
The rules: You have two teams, one on the passenger side and one on the driver’s side. As you travel, each team counts cows on their side of the road. The catch: If you drive past a graveyard, all of your cows pass away and you have to start over.
How to win: The team with the most cows at the end of the trip.
Pro tip: Drivers, try to keep your eyes on the road more than on the cows.