15 Ways You Passed Time on Long Car Trips as a Kid

For those of a certain age who suffered through the “National Lampoon’s Vacation” style/Griswold family station wagon experience, the following time-wasters were essential from the end of your driveway, to Wally World, and back.


1. The license plate game

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A running account of the 49 other states which will soon prove to possess far more desirable vacation spots than your impending destination.

2. I see something that’s…

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In today’s hyper-P.C. world, participating in a guessing game involving allusions to things by color, shape, size, category or function could potentially cost you a shot at hosting “The Oscars.”

3. The alphabet game

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Rest assured, whichever child ended up with their stab at the letter “f” was almost certain to have a horrendously rough start to the trip.

4. Mad Libs

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If not for these, no child under the age of 12 would ever have bothered to learn what an adverb is.

5. Ninety-nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall

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Or, if Dad had a drinking problem, the far less festive, “99 Bottles of O’Douls.”

6. Staring Contest

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See the above, pictured, creepy alternative for those who just so happened to be an only child.

7. Hands

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The only scenario in which you could avoid getting into trouble for violently slapping any part of your sibling.

8. Twenty Questions

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Your father, after only about 7 of these in: “How many more god-damned questions before this motherf*cking game of yours is mercifully over?”

9. I Spy

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Back in the mid-’80s, I had a sneaking suspicion that my brother may have been playing this for the Soviets.

10. Thumb Wrestling

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Decades upon decades of innocent family fun until performance-enhancers came along and ruined it for everyone.

11. Are We There Yet?

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When playing “20 Questions” with a parent, this inquiry represented approximately 18 of those.

12. Rock/Paper/Scissors

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Rock beats scissors. Scissors beat paper. Paper beats rock. Sore loser beats winner to a bloody pulp.

13. Hangman

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How quaintly morbid. What’s next? A spirited round of “Guillotine Operator”?…

14. Would You Rather?

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…be home in your room playing video games with your friends?

15. Padiddle

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If not for this game, odds are, Jakob Dylan and The Wallflowers would never have amounted to anything.