Travelling with Children – here is ways to keep them amused.
It’s All Fun And Games
By Rose Cooper
No law and order in the car? Been to the well one too many times with “I Spy”? Looks like your stock of travel games could use replenishing.
The boot’s packed, the bikes are fixed to the rack and the kids are buckled in for the long, long drive. You should be relaxed, but your heart is filled with dread, thinking of the endless hours of tedium ahead. Your budget doesn’t quite stretch far enough for backseat DVD players, and your usual car games have been played on so many past trips, you fear that if you hear someone utter the words “I spy, with my little eye” one more time, you might just go a bit postal. The task looms like cruel and unusual punishment. Is there no way out?
Fear not, dear put-upon road warrior – AT has come to the rescue with some brand new alternative car games to make your travelling time evaporate so quickly and enjoyably that when your little angel in the back asks “Are we there yet?” your reply might just be: “Holy crap, I sure hope not.”
1. Name That Road Kill
Here’s a game that’s both fun and educational. Test your kids’ general knowledge of Australia’s native fauna. Exactly what was that dark-brown-and-red smear on the side of the bitumen? And what did that grey furry thing with the big black tread marks running through the middle of it used to be?
How to play: The driver of the car controls the game. As soon as he or she spots the road kill up ahead, they call out “What was that?” – at which time everyone else in the car tries to guess what the poor defunct creature was before it had that fatal attraction to a Mack truck. Points are awarded on a sliding scale from zero to five, depending on how unrecognisable the carcass actually is. Let’s say Skippy dies of old age on the roadside the day before you happen along and is laying there silent but completely unmarked – that’s half a point to whoever yells out their answer the fastest. As for the unrecognisable blotch that’s clearly been there for six months (something even a well-groomed forensic expert from CSI New York couldn’t identify), the driver then takes a wild stab in the dark as to what it used to be and awards five points to the person who hits closest to the mark.
NB: An alternative version of Name That Road Kill for very young or extremely sensitive older travellers goes this way: instead of trying to ID the species, players simply give the cuddly cadaver a name – ie “Kevin”, “Derwood”, “Shoshanna”, etc. The driver then awards the most points to the name they personally like the best.
2. Spill The Beans
Version 1: Can only be played by parents with two or more teenagers.
Are you sick of your sullen teens sitting in the back seat attached to their iPods, their conversation limited to “when’s lunch?” Here’s the ultimate icebreaker to trigger hours of engrossing debate.
How to play: Pick a child (it doesn’t matter which) and get them to sit up in the front passenger seat. Then tell the child in the back to tattle on the child seated in front – revealing their deepest, darkest secrets (now you know why the kids have been separated). Before you know it, enlightening conversation flows freely as you find out just which drugs your kids have been fooling around with. This gives you the perfect segue into that hypocritical/pious lecture you’ve been saving up. Once one secret comes out, the domino effect will take hold and it’ll be on for young and younger as each child vies for the winning title of Super Spiller. The lucky Super Spiller will then get to be the parents’ favourite for the duration of the holiday.
Version 2: For long-term couples only.
So, you think you’ve come to know each other so well there’s nothing left to talk about? Is all that companionable silence making time drag so much you just want to scream? It’s time to play Spill the Beans! Now’s the moment to confess that minor/major indiscretion at last year’s office Christmas party – or divulge the real cost of that new pair of “distressed” jeans you bought “on sale.” You’ll be yabbering away for the rest of the trip like it’s a first date (only with slightly shriller voices). Hours will melt away and before you can say “cold shoulder” you’ll both be tucked (as far apart as possible) into a cramped motel/caravan bed arguing about who should turn out the lights. Killing time has never been so easy.
3. Whose word is it anyway?
Okay, we all know our famous cinema catchphrases: “Frankly my Dear, I don’t give a damn”; “You can’t handle the truth”; “Wait till they get a load of me” etc. These are all a little too easy. And if you’re a movie nut, chances are your travel companions are too. So we’ve invented a game that’ll sort the Pomeranz’s from the Pomeranians.
How to Play: Think of a famous catchphrase from a movie, but only give one word as the clue. For example, the word “at.” When uttered with just the right amount of breathiness while shedding a tiny tear, it’ll be a gimme to fellow players. (For those playing at home, the obvious answer is: “You had me at hello.”) The game lasts heaps longer if you give absolutely no vocal inflection whatsoever. Uttering the word “to” in a droning monotone will keep your hapless companions guessing for hours. Although true film buffs will have the answer in seconds. (Answer: “Mrs Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me . . . aren’t you?”).
So there you have it. That drive across the Nullarbor is looking like a day at the beach now, eh? Ask any one of those deliriously happy spiritual guru types and they’ll tell you: life is all about the journey, not the destination. Happy motoring.