7 family bonding ideas for car trips


*Featured image courtesy of tookapic

Do you dread family car trips? Fighting, shouting, incessant boredom complaints.. (and that’s just the adults).

There is a bright side. The humble car trip is increasingly being recognised as an excellent vehicle (pun intended) for family bonding. Perhaps it’s the sharing of close quarters, fewer distractions and the lack of direct eye contact.

Car activities are a fun way to encourage family bonding. They can enhance literacy, numeracy and creative skills, as well as instigate a mad case of the giggles. Furthermore, games can – often unintentionally – stimulate disclosure, serious discussions and the teachable moments that are best reserved for a (literally) captive audience. Think that 90s show, Taxicab Confessions, minus the naughty bits.

The Stuck on You Crew have compiled a list of activities that will provide bonding opportunities on that next road trip – whether it’s a quick jaunt to ballet class or an hours-long odyssey to Grandma’s beach house.

giphy (17)

Hopefully our game ideas are more sophisticated than this. (Via giphy)

Fictional families

Fictional families involves looking at another group of people, e.g. passengers in a passing car or a family at a roadside stop, and creating a story about them.

This game is terrific for the imagination and sure to inspire a few laughs.

The licence plate game

There are many variations of this classic, including letters or numbers bingo for younger children (see this Stuck on You printable) and arithmetic games for older kids.

My family’s personal favourite is stringing together short phrases using letters on a licence plate. For example, STL can become Sally Talks Loudly.

Not only does it exercise literacy and quick thinking skills for children (and adults) of various ages, it’s also a sneaky way of finding out whether your children know any swear words. Perfect for those times when every second licence plate has an F on it. Fiddlesticks anyone?

licence plates

Image: Burning_Feet_Reiseblog

Never have I ever..

They say kids are like drunk adults. For some surefire hilarity, why not re-purpose those old drinking games  – removing the alcohol and other adult content of course!

The premise of Never have I ever is simple. Each person says something they have never done before, for example, “I have never eaten apples dipped in chocolate”, and other players who have done this gain a point.

Would you rather…?

Another re-purposed drinking game, this involves each person asking other players to choose between two scenarios. It can be as easy or difficult as you like, for example, “would you rather have to say aloud everything you read, or sing everything you say?” When choosing an option, encourage players to discuss why they have made that decision.

This game is great because it promotes lateral thinking and engages communication and persuasion skills.

Sweet and sour

This one is simple. Wave to people nearby. If they wave back, shout SWEET. If they don’t, yell SOUR.

For a more competitive version, you can make a tally whereby getting a wave earns 4 points, a smile earns 3 points and so on. For the less polite responses this game might inspire from other road users, you can either incorporate these into the points system and/or turn it into a teachable moment for how not to behave.

This game is perfect for when your family is a tad bored of each other and wish to bond with other people – whether they like it or not.

waving bear

Everybody say SWEET!!! (Via giphy)

Family interview

Have one child interview another member of the family while recording their responses on a recorder. (For a tech-free, literacy-enhancing alternative, consider getting your child to transcribe responses on a gorgeous notepad or journal from Stuck on You’s stationery range).

These questions can be anything from “What’s your favourite animal?” to something more controversial and complicated, like their opinions on Donald Trump’s presidency. Even if they don’t fully understand the question, you may get some funny and no-holds-barred responses. Better yet, you’ll have tangible cringe fodder for your next social media post or their 21st birthday speech.

Family interviews are great for a number of reasons. You can gain valuable insight into your child’s psyche and learn more about their hopes, fears, who their friends are, and whether they are struggling with any subjects at school. You may be heartened by the realisation that they are kind, imaginative and witty human beings. On the other hand, you might also discover that they are potty-mouthed, judgmental and politically incorrect. But we can blame that on the day they spent with Great Aunt Edna.

cranky kid

You’re asking me what?? (Image: tshirtevolution)

Mind the gap

This game involves playing a song everyone knows, then turning down the volume and continuing to sing (in your head or out loud), then turning the volume back up to see whether you are still in time with the music.

This game is perfect for those moments when you don’t feel like in-depth conversation. Furthermore, it provides a great way to subtly inflict your musical tastes onto your children. I personally find that kids can be tricked into singing almost anything in the name of competition, from Barry Manilow to S Club 7.*

*Not (really) a true reflection of the author’s musical tastes.

barry manilow

Share the love. (Via giphy)