Going on a vacation is great, but sometimes the long car ride can be tiring for everyone. Here are some games to make the trip more enjoyable. (Some of them require paper and pencil for each player.)

One—Counting Cars Have each person choose a different color, and see who counts 100 cars of their color first. If you want to make it even harder, choose something specific like blue pick-ups or green compact cars.

Two—Going on a Trip The first player starts by saying, “I’m going on a trip and I’m taking artichokes” (or anything that begins with the letter A). The second player says, “I’m going on a trip and I’m taking artichokes and basketballs” (or anything beginning with the letter B). The game continues with each player repeating all the things being taken on the trip and adding one more item that begins with the next letter of the alphabet. With a bit of practice, you’ll find you can repeat all twenty-six items.

Three—Do a Play You can make one up or you can choose a familiar story such as Little Red Riding Hood, and let each actor improvise as he plays a certain character.

Four—License Plates Have one person write down different states you see license plates for.

Five—My Son John Owns a Store One person says, “My son, John, owns a store, and he sells something that begins with the letter P.” Then the others try to guess what it is.

Six—To Be Continued One person starts telling a story, the next person continues, and the next, until everyone has taken part. The last person should finish the story.

Seven—Categories Try to think of something in a chosen category for each letter of your family’s last name. Suppose your name is Smith and you have flowers as the category. Then perhaps you’d say sunflower for S, marigold for M, iris for I, tulip for T, and hyacinth for H.

Eight—Poetry Recite familiar poems or rhymes, or make up some of your own. Writing a haiku can be interesting, too, and fairly easy. It’s a 17-syllable nature poem, starting with five syllables in the first line, seven in the second line, and five in the last line. Here’s one:

Raindrops are splashing,
Dancing on my dark rooftop
Happy rhythm sound.

Nine—Fold-a-Picture The first person begins to draw a face on a piece of paper. He draws only the top of a head, then folds his drawing down so it is hidden, and passes it to the next player, who draws eyebrows and eyes. Then that person folds his drawing down and passes it to the next player. When the last player has finished, unfold the paper and see the crazy picture you’ve made.

Ten—Squiggle Lines Have one person draw any kind of squiggly line on a paper. The next person must use that line as part of a picture he draws.

Eleven—Vacation Bingo Before you leave on a trip, write a list of things on paper for each player to check off as he sees them. For example, airplane, railroad track, birdhouse, fire truck, brown horse, and police car. The person who checks off all the things on his list first is the winner.

Twelve—Keep a Journal Each day, write down where you went, the people you saw, and anything unusual. A journal can not only be fun to write, but it will be a lasting keepsake of your trip.

[illustration] Illustrated by Shauna Mooney