I love to travel. I love my children. But there have been occasions, as every parent will confirm, that the two don’t always go well together. Over the years, we came up with a few simple games to pass the time and keep them/us amused. They don’t need any equipment, can be played anywhere, in any vehicle or while walking around. These have all been seriously road tested over a number of years – this isn’t theory – this is writing up empirical evidence after the fact.

Game 1 – In

“In” is a simple movie quiz game. There are only three rules. The first is that your question has to start with the word “In”.  The second is that the game has to start with the question “In Finding Nemo what is the name of the Shark?”. The second rule is not necessarily essential. The third rule is that whoever gets the question right asks the next question. This is an ideal way for parents to spread the load, if you need a wee rest, you can sit out for a bit without causing a scene by being a little slow to the answer. The game ages with the child too, the watch more films, they remember more and the questions get more detailed. Until they win more often than not.

Game 2 – The Simpsons Game

An even simpler game. Everyone in the game takes a turn to name a Simpsons character. When you can’t think of one any more, you’re out. Last person standing wins. We have played this game a lot and it is always a winner. The only trouble is that kids like it so much they want to play again almost immediately after, which doesn’t work so well. And it doesn’t have to be the Simpsons. We have variously played this with Pokémon ( I was terrible ) and, more recently, Harry Potter characters ( I was marginally less terrible ). It will work with anything that has enough characters to make the game worthwhile. It can take a *long* time.  I’ve had the Simpsons Game last almost an hour – if you get a few people who really know their stuff, by the time you get down into Hank Scorpio, Blinky the Three-Eyed Fish and Frank Grimes you are getting there. For the Simpsons, you can’t use guest stars but you can have people that don’t really have a name like Bumble-Bee Man.

Game 3 – Naming Dogs

Bear with me, this will likely sound a little daft. A lot daft. The game is super simple, whenever you see a dog, you have to guess what it’s name is. Now, bear in mind you will never actually know the dog’s name. The fun thing about the game is that it can be really funny. One day, we were driving along, saw a dog and my daughter shouted out “Murray!” – I was crying with laughter. It’s not funny in and of itself, you had to see the dog. He so wasn’t a Murray. Dogs have a certain look and if you can subvert that look with the wrong name entirely it’s just funny. It is. No one will try this will they? It’s a shame. It’s funny.

Game 4 – Bananapants

The simplest of all games, whenever you see a yellow vehicle shout “Bananapants!” – whoever shouts first gets a point. I know what you’re thinking, that sounds rubbish. Trust me, it isn’t. Eventually you get to the stage where you are shouting it while alone in the car. Maybe. That may or may not have happened.