Three Car Games for Carsick Kids

posted by Gina

As a kid, my family drove to Tahoe every summer. That’s a long drive from Southern California, and we stopped roughly three times each way for me to throw up. Oh, the magic that is carsickness. Family car trips were rough on me, since everything that might entertain me – books, crayons, notebooks – was out of the question.  Especially in the backseat.

My friend Aliza and I just drove from North Carolina to New York, closing out a delightful mountain vacation. The drive is both lovely and long, and since we both have the carsick issue, there was very little reading, facebooking, texting, or any kind of looking anywhere but straight ahead.

So, for those of you with kids that suffer similarly, I present to you: The Car Games Aliza and I Played While Driving to New York That Were Actually Kind of Fun.

Gina and Aliza leave North Carolina, counting cows.

1. Count the Cows

This game sounded stupid. We did not think it would be fun. But it provided constant, consistent hilarity when interjected throughout the trip and amongst the other games. Why? I don’t know. Cows are funny. Here’s how to play:

  • Keep an eye out for cows. If players are prone to arguments, assign cow spotting to specific sides of the vehicle.
  • When a player spots cows, she shouts “COWS!” and counts the cows out loud. (Note: obviously, the shouting is optional.) (Additional note: if your kids are prone to cheating and/or accusing each other of cheating, cow spottings in general may be counted, as opposed to individual cows.)
  • Horses mistaken for cows result in a deduction of points.
  • The first player to spot a cemetery yells (Note: see above note) “BURY YOUR COWS” and all other players lose all their cow points so far.

Why is this fun? I don’t know. But it is. If you’re traveling on a route sans cows, you could easily substitute something else: billboards, semi trucks, roadkill. As noted above, it’s particularly fun as an ongoing game that adds a shakeup to whatever else you’ve got going on.

2. Infinite Questions

This is 20 questions without the pressure. And I have to say, this is one I had forgotten about and was impressed by its ability to distract, entertain, and kill relatively long periods of time.

To play:

  • One player thinks of something – an object, a place, an animal, a person, etc.
  • The other players try to guess what the first player is thinking of by asking questions that can be answered by ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
  • Some questions to use as a base that help a lot: Is it manmade? Can I hold it in my hand? Can I pick it up? Can I wear it? Can I eat it? Are there many of these things or just one?
  • The knower-of-the-object should feel free to expand their answers from a mere ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to include more information, such as: ‘yes, but I see where you’re going with this and it’s leading you down the wrong track’. Or ‘technically yes, but thinking about that is just going to be confusing and not help you.’
  • Items Aliza and I guessed correctly: a shovel, a roller coaster, a charm bracelet, Argentina.

3. The More Impressive Alphabet Game

Sure, you could play the traditional alphabet game where you look for letters on signs. But if you’re traveling without signs, that’s tough. And there’s something very dull about all of the waiting. Especially for Js and Zs.

To play:

  • In turns, players name objects/activities/sights that begin with the appropriate letter of the alphabet.
  • Bonus points for cleverness and/or inside jokes.
  • For example: A is for automobile, B is for blue van, C is for car, D is for dour looking grandmother staring at me from that window.

It’s a game; it’s a vocabulary lesson. Yay! Aliza and I found “O is for ominous clouds ahead”, “L is for limited visibility”, more words than we knew we knew for ‘car’, and several rude phrases for the heavy traffic we hit around New Jersey.

Carsick kids, rejoice! Now ye shall be entertained. I’m on the lookout for more, so add what you’ve got to the comments!

Author: Gina L. Grandi

Moderately well-read. Fairly socially awkward. According to Greg, 'a sentimental cynic with artistic sensibilities.' Somewhat nifty.

2 thoughts on “Three Car Games for Carsick Kids”

  1. I, too, with car sick kids play the “Alpha Word” game – I start with a word and then the next person has to start a word that begins with the ending letter. Ex. person 1: Apple; person 2 has to start with a word starting with “E”. and then you add players or go back and forth. It helps them with sounding letters and spelling. Bonus points if they can spell difficult words.


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