Road trip games, those boredom-battling tests of concentration and quick vision meant to speed the hours, are some of the closest things we have to auto mythology.
Like early tales of Zeus and the Chupacabra passed down by oral tradition, they mean a lot to us, some of them make us laugh and some scare the pants off us, and no one knows from whom, when or where they originated. All we know is that one day, when we were little, an adult turned to us and asked, “Do you want to play ‘A is for Armadillo’?”
With Volkswagen having thrown millions of dollars into Punch Dub (which is also called Punch Buggy and Slug Bug) to make a commercial and air it to the world during the Super Bowl, we thought we’d take a look at five other in-car games that have been handed down since the dawn of the car itself:
Perhaps the granddaddy of road trip games, this twist on Twenty Questions can be huge fun or hugely frustrating depending on the spymaster’s eye. The first head spy declares “I spy with my little eye,” and then offers one hint about the object in question, such as “something spotted.” Players the ask yes-or-no questions to determine what that spotted thing might be. Be careful if you end up playing with the kind of person who begins by spying things that are round, or narrow, or chartreuse, unless you’re driving to Chil?nd you have a lot of time…and patience.
Road Trip Bingo
A game of quick vision as opposed to Holmes-like deduction, we loved Road Trip Bingo but it was, admittedly, more involved as it required actual props. As opposed to good old classic Bingo that your aunt plays in Boca, Road Trip Bingo had objects (think cows, churches and stop signs as the gold) on its cards as opposed to numbers. The rules of the game were simple: when you saw an object out the window that was on your card, you marked it with a penny or the loose piece of animal cracker you’ve been saving since Ohio. The first one to fill up a card wins, yells Bingo and the top of her lungs and watches as her siblings seethe with jealousy.
A is for Armadillo
A test of concentration, this game runs through the alphabet with each person assigning a word to the 26 letters, and the following person has to repeat the previous letters and words then add another. Beginning with “A is for alphabet,” the next person says “A is for alphabet, B is for bowling,” and so on. Perhaps the only game we have never heard of being successfully completed from A-to-Z, you’ll want to beware of playing this game with Scrabble masters.
Another alphabet game that might appear to be much easier than A is for Armadillo, all this one requires you to do is find the letters of the alphabet in order on road signs or license plates. It can be played in succession-one person finds the letter A, the next finds the letter B-or concurrently, with the first person to find the letter getting the credit. It’s all fun and games until you get to fringe letters like Q and X, and you’d be surprised how hard letters like K and V are to find in some parts of the country. For added difficulty if you’ve got a long way to drive, play with numbers instead, finding them up to the number 30 in succession. This is especially fun to play in Florida, which has a ton of vanity and single-digit plates.
First off: this is only about counting cows. Players are divided into left side and right side, and the two sides count the cows they see on their side of the road. If you drive by a cemetery, then the team on the same side as the cemetery loses all of its cows and has to start over from zero. In its original bovine form, this game is probably best played in the remaining parts of the country where cows still roam. Nevertheless, you’re even less likely to find cows and cemeteries on the same stretch of highway anymore, so you can substitute objects like billboards or tractors for cows, and a particular-yet-rare gas station, like Esso or Gulf, for the cemetery. But keep the name Cow Poker. You can never substitute that.
What were your favorite road trip games? Let us know in the comments below.