I spy with my little eye

It’s the age-old question. How do you entertain kids for an entire car ride? Long before backseat televisions and iPads, there was the good old car game. Some tested eyesight, others trivia knowledge and others your patience!

A go-to as a youngen for me was I Spy. I still remember the moment my two older siblings had to concede defeat and ask me, the baby of the family, for the answer! After a good 20 minutes of them guessing different words beginning with C and E, it was my great delight to reveal the answer as cat’s eyes (you know those reflective studs on the road?). I can still feel the warm buzz of victory!

After my brother’s first European bus tour, I was introduced to the delights of Hello Cow. A very technical game – each member of the car takes it in turns to yell out to a paddock full of cows and count how many turn their heads. Feel free to “beef” it up with more complex rules if you want to make the game your own!

With a mother who’s an English teacher, we’d try making words or phrases using the letters of the number plates of passing cars. We’d also pick a word and think of as many song or movie titles with that word in it. And in true Aussie spirit, we could never go past a game of cricket – car cricket that is. Here a person is nominated as batsman. They receive runs (points) for each type of vehicle that passes (think a six for a road train!) until a yellow car goes by. Yellow means the batsman is out and the next person takes to the crease.

Who can forget Punch Buggy? Spot a Volkswagen Beetle and punch your car companion (in the backseat please, drivers are off limits!). More complex games included Guess Who. Here, a member of the car chooses a character and answers ‘yes or no’ questions asked by the other passengers as they try to guess the secret persona.

When there was only one Game Boy and three kids to share it between in our family, playing an all-in game meant a break in negotiations over who could play Mario next. It also meant we all re-engaged in the journey and had some fun along the way. And what’s a road trip without a little friendly in-car competition?