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Five stuff-free games to play in the car during long trips

It’s almost the end of the school year, and, despite the soaring cost of gas, you likely have some travel in store for you and the family during the coming months. Here are five ideas you can keep at the back of your mind when the “how much longer?” questions start coming fast and furious.

1. Twins and triplets – Use “twins” to have everyone name one thing that comes in twins. Think “mom and dad,” “soup and salad,” “stop and go.” When it’s your turn, you can shout out an answer. If the next person doesn’t have an answer in three seconds, the following person can fill in. Players keep score by how many they have come up with. It’s obviously easy at first, but gets harder after a few times around. “Triplets” is even more challenging.

2. Horse – The first player says a letter and the following players have to add letters until a word is formed. The player who adds a letter that forms any word loses. The trick is that players must have a word in mind that could be created as they add a letter. So spelling H-O-R and adding an S might lead to forming “Horse” for the next player unless they could form a word that starts with H-O-R-S but does not have an E next.

3. Which would you rather be? – Choose odd combinations of things to quiz people on their inner selves and true desires. “What would you rather be: a whale or a shark? A theatre usher or a candy counter attendant? A professional singer or a librarian? A dog or a cat? ” The list goes on and on, only limited by your imagination and curiosity. You might actually learn something about your kids or spouse!

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4. License plates – This is an old chestnut, but can keep kids busy for a few minutes at least while they realize that license plates come on cars from all over the country. Some kids wait years before seeing one from Hawaii or Alaska.

5. Alphabet soup – I almost hit a truck looking for an R during a recent car trip so I’m cautious about this game. In this game, each player has to find letters of the alphabet in alphabetical order starting with A. Each player keeps track and tries to avoid cheating. Little kids love to hunt for letters while they ride, and this game can be safely played from the back seat.

That should be enough to keep them at bay for at least ten miles.

For other travel activities with kids, there are some good ideas in “Travel Wise with Children though many require extra props or preparation.