Road trip games to keep kids unplugged in the car

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road trip games, cows in field

When my husband and I were young, we delighted in taking Sunday drives with our kids. Such excursions often included impromptu stops by a creek or a playground, or car lots to look at trucks. ::makes snarky face but loves her husband:: Nowadays, there’s a lot more traffic on the road. Speed limits are 70 miles per hour on our local highways. An average ride to the store leaves me wondering how on earth half the people out there were actually able to obtain their drivers’ licenses. We no longer get into the car for pleasure rides, but when we have reason to travel, we still enjoy road trip games.

Road trip games are fun for all ages. Newer vehicles often come equipped with dvd players. I can understand how parents of toddlers and kids under age 10 might be tempted to let them plug in while they travel. Grown ups do the same thing on plane rides, right? If kids gazing into a glow of en route Disney movies cuts down on “Are we almost there?” comments, then I don’t blame you. Road trips can be minimally stressful and perhaps, even enjoyable without electronics though, especially if you know how to play, “Those Cows are Mine!”

Road trip games help pass the time

If kids have something to hold their attention, they’re less likely to whine while they travel. Road trip games keep young and older travelers alike entertained and content, especially when the journey is long. “Those Cows are Mine” is an easy, super fun game to play in the car. Those who are old enough to speak in sentences can play. Here’s how it works:

  • Anyone who sees two or more cows in a field shouts, “Those cows are mine!” and gets one point.
  • Anyone who sees a cemetery can shout, “(Insert person’s name), your cows are dead!”

The person with the most points by the time you reach your ultimate destination is the winner. If you play again on your return trip home, it is a whole new game — points do not carry over from the previous road trip.

Rules to remember

There are a few rules to remember when playing “Those Cows are Mine.” Make sure everyone knows these things ahead of time:

  • There must be at least two or more cows in the same field to claim a point.
  • You must have a witness, meaning, someone else sees the cows you say you see.
  • You must say the exact words “Those cows are mine” to get a point. You cannot say “Those are my cows” or any other version of the phrase.
  • When passing a cemetery, you must state the person’s name before saying his or her cows are dead.
  • You must claim a cow point or call cows dead before you pass the cow field or cemetery. If the vehicle passes the field or cemetery before you say what you need to say, it doesn’t count.
  • Someone other than the person shouting must hear a phrase that has been shouted to substantiate the claim.
  • An announcement of, “Cow game on!” or something similar must be made so everyone knows the game has begun.

Road trip games like “Those Cows are Mine” can turn an otherwise long, arduous journey into a fun time that creates happy travel memories. You can customize the game if you want to add challenges and perks. For instance, you might agree ahead of time that anyone who sees a yellow car gets a free point or doubles their points, etc. Maybe if you see a church, you can claim a cow back from the dead! LOL You can play teams if you prefer, which is great if you have younger and older kids traveling together.

Road trip games are fun for teens and grown ups, too!

I drive a 15-passenger van. My kids’ friends and other parents often travel with us. “Those Cows are Mine” is definitely our favorite of road trip games! The youngest of travelers can get in on the fun by helping big brothers and sisters find cows, even if they’re too young to shout the phrases. More road trip games you can play are included in the following list:

  • Playing the roadway alphabet game is another easy way to keep kids unplugged in the car. Starting with “A,” someone calls out something they see outside the vehicle that begins with that letter; the goal is to try to complete the alphabet as a team before reaching your destination.
  • A travel game that continues from road trip to road trip is the state license plate game. We’ve been working on our list for two years and only have two states left to find! (If anyone from Montana or North Dakota plans on driving through south central Pennsylvania any time soon, give me a heads up so we can meet up at a rest stop to see your license plates! ::winks::
  • While not really a game per se, you can borrow audio books from your local library and enjoy a good story while you travel as a family.

Why not try some road trip games?

I know it’s 2019 and it’s common for kids to watch movies, wear earbuds or scroll social media while they travel with their families. Parents, too, often plug in to work while they ride shotgun. Drivers, use Bluetooth, hands-free technology to carry on work meetings while they drive although I highly discourage it because it often leads to distracted driving collisions. Okay, so drivers must be cautious to not become distracted when playing road trip games, as well, hence the reason I typically lose at “Those Cows are Mine!”

Is travel made easy by popping in a video that will play for two hours? Perhaps, but there’s an old saying that life is just as much about the journey as it is the destination. Children thrive when provided ample opportunity for in-person human interaction. They benefit from games that engage their senses and draw their attention to the world around them. Did your family play road trip games when you were growing up? What were your favorites?


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