Written by Ashwin Dewan and published on 13 July 2021.
It is a challenge to keep children cranky-free during a road trip or a long wait at the airport. Well, how about some simple and fun ways to keep them entertained? Check out our list of travel games!
Sameer Anand, father to a six-year-old, loves to travel. The possibility of exploring new places combined with the opportunity of sampling the local cuisine gets him going. Of late, he is facing difficulty, not with the travel plan but with his son. His little one Adarsh has started throwing a fit whenever they are on the road or up in the air. Adarsh tends to get bored easily. He gets restless if he is not occupied with one thing or the other.
This case is not an isolated one. Be it a long road trip by car, downtime in hotel rooms or waiting at the airport or railway station - parents everywhere face the challenge of keeping their children engaged, as they tend to get restless and bored easily. Fortunately, there are some simple and interesting games for children that adults might love just as much. The plus point about these games is that they require little to no equipment to play and thus no added load to the luggage.
Today, times have changed drastically. Gadgets like portable video games and the ubiquitous smartphones keep children occupied during a trip. But, what about earlier times? What, if during a trip, for some reason or the other, one cannot use gadgets?
Rajesh Viswanathan, VP of a parenting organisation, is a father who prefers doing things the old-fashioned way. Whenever he gets some time off from his busy schedule, he does not think twice about going on a trip with his son. It is a fun-filled adventure for the father and son every time they head out.
"Whenever we take a short train ride, it pains my heart to literally see everyone hooked on to their phones and this includes young children as well. At these moments, thoughts run through my head. What were we doing before phones came into our lives? We used to talk, read and play games like Antakshari, play puzzles and book cricket. What's more, we used to look out of the window to see the passing scenery. Perhaps, it is time we tried to rediscover this for the benefit of our children."
So, take a look at these creative and imaginative games that require, at the most, a pen and paper. These can be played anytime, anywhere. A quick google search of these games will show up videos on how to easily play them.
Tic Tac Toe
Tic Tac Toe is an easy and simple game that is played between two people. On a piece of paper, draw a grid, 3 squares by 3 squares (two vertical lines and two horizontal lines). One player chooses to draw X in the grids and the other chooses to draw an O. They take turns to do so. The objective of the game - players have to try to outwit each other to be the first one to get three Xs or Os in a row either horizontally, diagonally or vertically.
Dots and boxes
A popular pen and paper game, Dots and boxes is absolutely simple to play! In this two-player game, rows and columns of dots are made on a plain sheet of paper. How many rows and columns you want depends on how long you want to play. Each player takes a turn and joins two dots by either making a vertical or a horizontal line. The aim of the game is to make a closed shape - a square or a box. The objective is to conquer 'land' by closing the squares. The person with the maximum number of 'claimed' squares wins. It involves a bit of strategy and just a pen and a paper.
Game of sprouts
This is another connect-the-dot-game. The game begins with two or more dots drawn on a piece of paper. Fun and challenging for children, two players take turns drawing curved lines to connect numerous dots until any one of the players is unable to do so. No line can pass through another spot or cross another line, lines can be drawn by joining two spots and no more than three lines can emerge from any spot.
Children will love playing this classic word game. It is a great way to learn spellings and new words, and a fun game to keep the family engrossed. The game begins with a player drawing an empty gallows and rope. Also, the player draws blanks for each letter of a word below it, leaving some space in the gallows to complete the full drawing of a hanged man. The other player must guess each missing letter of the word. Each wrong guess results in the drawing of a part of the hanging man's body such as the head or torso or arms or the legs. If a player is successfully able to guess the word before the hangman is completed, the player wins. Else, the player who chose the word in the first place is the winner.
Sim pen and paper game
A player begins this game by drawing six dots in a hexagon that is a six-sided geometric shape. All players take turns drawing lines between each dot. One can either use two different coloured pens or a pen and a pencil for this game. The main objective of this game is to avoid making a triangle. The first player whose line completes a triangle loses the game.
A perfect word game to drive away boredom blues during a journey. Everyone begins the game with a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. One player picks out an unusual word from the dictionary and says it out loud. Everyone must write their definition of the word according to their understanding. Once done, all definitions are read out one by one and players must guess which is the correct one.
This is a classic game to play while on a trip. It develops your child's imagination. The game requires one player to spot an object and say, "I spy with my little eye something beginning with the letter B/something that is blue in colour..." and give a clue about the said object. It is up to the other players to quickly look around and figure out what the object might be. The person who guesses correctly starts the next round. If no one can guess the object, the person who spotted the object gets another chance. Players must keep in mind that the object should be in the child's line of vision for some time for them to 'spy' it and guess the right answer.
Guess the song
Guess the song is a fun game which require players to correctly guess the name of the song playing in the radio of the car or the music player. Whoever is the first to say the correct name of the song gets certain points. If more than one person says the song name at the same time, then the points are divided among them. The one who has the maximum number of points at the end of the game is declared the winner!
Going on a picnic/memory game
A story memory game, it begins with a player saying, "I am going on a picnic and I am going to bring some apples.." and lists any item. The next person continues by saying, "I am going on a picnic and I am going to bring some apples and a bedspread.." Here, the person must list the first person's item before adding their own item. The game continues with the list increasing until a player is not able to correctly recollect all the items, and loses the game.
The licence plate game
On a road trip, children can play this engaging and fun game to keep from getting bored. Whenever children see a licence plate of a car or vehicle on road, they must interpret each letter of the licence plate. For example, if a car's licence plate reads MDI, the player can make his own interpretation, and say the letters stand for 'My Dear India'. An adult can keep count. The player with the maximum number of interpretations at the end of the trip wins.
A game that will get your children thinking hard! A child is challenged to name five things of a certain category - it could be five space-related movies, five kinds of musical instruments or five words to describe the sun, etc. They should be able to do so within 3 minutes. If he is unable to do so, the next child must complete the task and so on. The player who is able to name the maximum in different categories wins the game.
This is a fun game for the entire family. Every member of the family can make one rule such as all the people in the car have to make a meowing sound when passing under a bridge. Or whenever a family member whistles, the rest must whistle one by one, etc. The rule can be funny, weird or crazy! Be creative!
The movie game
This game is ideal for movie buffs. The game begins with a player mentioning an actor and the next player must connect the actor to a film. The next player should then name another character from the film and so on. The player unable to connect, loses.
One of the most popular games that has been around since decades is Antakshari. A surefire entertainer - the game is based on popular movie songs. The game starts with a player/group of players singing a song and may stop at the end of any line. The player/group of players from the opposing team, must use the last letter of the last word sung to sing the next song. Each group/player takes turns.
The player/group who cannot come up with a song with the right consonant is eliminated if the opposing player or players come up with the right song. For little children, you can make it fun by singing nursery rhymes.
Start the story
As the name of the game suggests, Start the story begins with a player starting a story with a single word. The word could be anything. The next player adds one word to the story and says the two words to the next player who then must add his own word to the story and pass to the next player. The objective is to avoid being the person who finishes the sentence or the story.
Travel board games
Children love board games. But unfortunately, they are too big to carry with you on your trip or fit into your luggage. Well, now there are travel-friendly sizes of these board games that you can easily carry with you. Few examples include, Snakes and Ladders, Ludo, Chess, Mad Libs Junior Game, Tic Tac Toe, Bingo, Catch 4, etc. Do look out for these!
The best travel games are those that can constantly keep children engaged and which involves lots of fun and creativity. The next time you are planning a vacation or a road trip, take you pick of games from the above list and just lie back without having to worry about bored and irritated children. After all, a vacation or a trip is about making memories and taking pictures and not tending to bored children most of the time.
Written by Ashwin Dewan on 13 February 2020.
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