Skip to content

Travelling with children

June 20, 2013


Well, despite the rather dodgy weather, we, on paper at least, are in the middle of Summer. This means a variety of things; time to dust off last year’s coagulated suntan lotion, time to cremate some meat on the barbecue as if attempting to appease a Pagan god. Time to start sentences with, “Can’t believe the weather for the time of year!” or, go on a trip.

Now, your journey may be a long one, you may be going on holiday in a plane, a car or a train. Or simply just travelling a distance to visit friends or family. Whatever the reason for your forced confinement in cabin, car or carriage, the challenge of how to keep the children occupied remains one of mankind’s most puzzling, chin scratching and thought provoking questions.

So, let me give you a handful of ideas in the form of word games you can play with your inpatient charges. Games that I hope will allay the age-old drone of, “Are we nearly there yet?”

What Am I?

The classic parlour game. Simply think of a thing and invite your children to work-out what you are by asking closed questions. If they receive a “No” it is somebody else’s turn to ask a question.

Yes And No

The mind-numbingly dull game that kids seem to love. Simply try to catch them out by asking them questions and making them say “Yes” or “No.”

Don’t Finish The Word

This game is for slightly older children. Take turns to say a letter, but do not complete a word. The person to complete a word is out, and if the word seems to be nonsensical the person who said the last letter maybe challenged and asked what they were attempting to spell. Example:

Rob: “S”
Sue: “T”
Rob: “R”

Rob has lost. But he could have attempted to extend the word by choosing a different letter.

Tip: Allow two or three letter words to go unchallenged otherwise it gets a bit daft.

Last Letter

Simple and fun. Simply take turns saying a word that begins with the last letter of the preceding word. Anyone who repeats a word is out.


Grub, Band, Day, Yak, Kangaroo, Oxen, Nerves, Supine

Word Association

The age old game of subjective thought. You know how this works – simply make a chain of associated words, thus making a stream of consciousness. If a word seems not to associate, or the word has been repeated, the perpetrator maybe thrown out of the car at the next service station.


Sea, Salt, Fish, Rod, Emu, Australia, Didgeree-doo, blow…


This is fun. Again utilising the last letter of the preceding word take turns making up characters from this template:

Name, Location, Job, Pets

Samuel Sackbut from Gizzard Grove, is an Oceanographer and has a hamster called Nessy.

The next person starts his. her character with the last letter of the surname of the previous character. There are vague literacy elements here. It does help with spelling and imagination, at least one of which is essential for a full and fruitful future!

Story By Words

Potentially very messy but lots of fun. Simply make up a story by saying one word at a time. This needs no example or further explanation, just take turns saying one word at a time and make it into a vague story. Try it, it’s fun!

I Packed…

Great for younger children and wonderful for the memory. This ancient and slightly nauseating game involves packing a fictitious suitcase, filling an imaginary shopping basket or simply collecting things. Each person adds an object after reciting the current list. A feat of memory and patience.


Rob: “I packed in my suitcase a pair of binoculars
Jo: I packed in my suitcase a pair of binoculars and a replica 18th century duelling pistol.
Sue: I packed in my suitcase a pair of binoculars, a replica 18th century duelling pistol and a pink and yellow scarf.

And so it goes on…

I Spy

Yes, I can’t very well leave out this little gem. If spelling is a problem or the children are really young, it can take a long time to work out the answer! I urge you to stick to your immediate environs for this. If little Daisy says “I spy with my little eye something beginning with C” and the cow she was thinking of disappeared ten minutes ago it can cause a problem.


This is the most taxing game as it relies upon you, or me in our case to come up with the goods. Done well, this can be a roaring success. I once did this from Euston to Wolverhampton and the children loved it. Simply make up a story but give your audience the opportunity to make decisions – simple as that, and very effective.


You reach a hallway. Do you want to go up the stairs, take the door to the left, the door to the right or go straight on?


You reach a clearing. On the floor there is a dagger, a green jewel, a red jewel and a bottle of potion. Which one do you take with you?

Guess What?

This is a little bit like I Spy but better. It involves some cryptic thought, but it’s fun. Simply think of something… anything, an object, animal, vegetable or mineral and provide a simple descriptive clue. Sit back and invite closed questions, and/or guesses.


I have buttons and batteries – (Remote control)
I collapse when not needed, and am long and straight when called upon – (Long cane)
You put me up when it’s hot and put me down when it’s cold – (Parasol)

These are just a few ideas. I hope you find at least one of use, and can manage to entertain a child or two for longer than three minutes. If anyone has any word games to add, please e-mail us.

From → Culture, families, Society

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: