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Different games to play to pass the time on a road trip

(Marilyn M/Flickr)

Road trips are one of my favorite pastimes. Whether it’s driving along old winding roads or soaring down a four-lane highway, there’s just something about spending long periods of time cramped up in a car that bring people together. There could be moments of mind-numbing boredom before reaching your destination or genuine budding friendships, but either way it’s likely you’ll develop memories that will last a lifetime. In fact, some of my best memories in college came from road trips. But we all know the feeling of an exhausted Spotify playlist, so next time you find yourself itching for a road trip, check out some of these funny, slightly sophisticated car games.

Sing-alongs

These are such a classic. It’s always best if you find some good late 90s or early 2000s songs to jam to. I would highly recommend “Life is a Highway” by Rascal Flatts and “Closing Time” by Semisonic. Any good, classic rock songs would do the trick as well. You can introduce a competitive nature to the activity by making a game out of it: Every time someone sings a line from a song, you have to listen to that song.

“Zitch dog”

If you’ve ever watched “How I Met Your Mother,” you’ll immediately recognize this. To play the game, you simply have to be the first person to call out “zitch dog” when you see a dog.  This game is a fun and easy way to notice dogs doing dog things and put the whole car in a positive mood. You can play this game pretty much anywhere at any time, too.

Alphabet categories

You begin with the letter “A” and try to find something that starts with that letter within the category the group decided on such as animals, food or street signs. As you progress through the alphabet to some of the lesser used consonants, the true challenge of this game will become apparent to you. Beware, this game can get extremely competitive among a group of “mature” adults.

Radio roulette

This activity is pretty straightforward. Shuffle through the radio like you normally would (in the event the aux cord has suffered irreparable damage) but stop on a station most people in the car wouldn’t typically listen to. Then listen to this station, uninterrupted, for the next 10 minutes. I would recommend using the FM tuner instead of AM. Major props if can listen to talk radio or an unfamiliar station for that long.

“Who’s the celebrity in the car next to you?”

Look at the cars next to you (if you aren’t the driver) and try to see which celebrities people in neighboring cars look like. This game is a fun and silly way to discuss people’s personal attributes and even attention to detail. Bonus points if you can find Shia Labeouf on your next trip.

“Never have I ever”

This is an oldie, but a good one. While it is typically known as a drinking game, but in the car without alcohol, the game takes on a new life. Play with normal rules, except you are binge drinking non-alcoholic beverages to see who can hold it together the longest before using the bathroom. The first person who uses the bathroom, loses.

Tell a story

For this game, you need to be a little more creative. Look at whoever is in the car next to you and make up a story about them. Develop stories using what others have told you about their childhood, or scenarios with their pet peeves at play. For example, the driver could be a mechanic by day and a clown by night. This car game is a funny way to get to know the group as they all work to debunk or elaborate on their own stories and versions of peoples’ lives they’ve imagined up.

Noun

This activity works best with four people. Two people in the car brainstorm two random nouns. Then they say their nouns aloud. The third person then has to think of a noun that matches the theme of the other two nouns — so on and so on. This game is similar to the alphabet categories game in the sense that it gets more challenging the longer the game goes on. This game is best played when the car has a good sense of humor.

Despite how magical the idea of road trips can be, the truth of the matter is they can get pretty boring. Hopefully you can adopt some of the car games mentioned above on your next spontaneous road trip, and before you know it you’ll have reached your destination with a few laughs under your belt. Chloe

Trepanier can be reached at ctrepanier@umass.edu.

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