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Road trips with children can be fun with some simple games

June 24, 2011|By AMY DULEBOHN | amyc@herald-mail.com
  • Games such as 20 Questions can keep kids engaged and having fun during car trips, no matter what time of the year.
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Mention summer road trips, or any-time-of-year road trips, and many parents groan and sigh at the thought of spending hours cooped up in a vehicle with their children. But not Carrie Plezia.

The Greencastle, Pa., woman is the mother of "three well-traveled children," she said. Plezia, her husband Pete, and their children, Nathan, 11, Ian, 7, and Jacqueline, 4, travel by car several times a year to visit Carrie's family in Lancaster, Pa. The family also drives to Florida twice a year.  

Plezia says that particularly for longer trips, watching DVDs in the family minivan are an easy way to pass the time. But using modern technology isn't always the only way to go. Plezia says they allow their children to watch a video for the first third of the trip, read or color for the second third, and then play a game.

For many families, summertime means travel. And in this era of staycations and belt-tightening, car travel is becoming the transportation method of choice for many families. And Plezia keeps her brood busy with games that are both fun and maybe even a little educational.

The Plezia family often plays a version of the license plate game, where participants keep track of license plates from various states, making a game of how many states are represented.

Another game that is popular in the family is 20 Questions. In this game, one person thinks of an animal, and the others ask no more than 20 yes-or-no questions to try to guess what animal it is. Because she is younger, Jacqueline will often pick a character from "Dora the Explorer," to encourage her family to guess.

Plezia says that the games aren't limited just to the children. "(My husband and I) participate in all the games with them. We like to try and really stump them with animals that aren't exactly easy to quickly identify, like a platypus, or an animal that shares characteristics with other animals," she said.

Val Rough of Hagerstown also used the 20 Questions theme when her children, now ages 25 and 29, were young. Rough, who is a bus attendant for special-needs children with Washington County Public Schools, says the game was a hit with her children when they were school-age. Her game consisted of each player thinking of an "animal, mineral, or thing," and the rest of the players having the chance to ask 20 questions in an attempt to guess what the object was. The person who guesses correctly then gets to choose the next object for the rest of the family to guess.  

Rough said that her family often traveled to Ocean City, Md., Meadville, Pa., and occasionally to Myrtle Beach, S.C. While the family made these car trips, they kids could often play 20 Questions for two to three hours at a stretch. A simple game that can induce hours of fun helps a family trip go by much more quickly, Rough said.

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