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Going the Distance: road trip games for grown ups

April 19, 2018
Going the Distance: road trip games for grown ups

“Who’s up for some travel Scrabble?” Unless you’ve got a bunch of English teachers buckled into your passenger seats, the only response this suggestion is likely to get is the sound of proverbial crickets chirping. But the thing is, you’ve still got 300k’s to go. The car-aoke stoke was short lived, and there’s nothing worse than being behind the wheel when everyone else has fallen into a Pringle-and sour worm-induced coma.

Let’s face it: you don’t want to be stuck chauffeuring in silence as your friends and family leak sugar-drool all over your car upholstery. (Although it is a great chance for you to take unflattering pics of them to use in blackmail situations later on.) They’ll then wake up fresh and chipper four hours later while you rub your bulging bloodshot eyes and chug your fifth Red Bull – or is it your sixth? – wondering if your heart is meant to be beating this fast.

What you need, apart from something to settle your caffeine-related palpitations, is a bunch of good old fashioned road trip games to keep your crew in a state of entertaining wakefulness. Some are annoying, some require thinking, and there are some that sound particularly absurd but are strangely addictive, we promise. Best of all, every one of ‘em includes the driver. Let the games begin.


What: That Movie Game

Why: Easy to explain, easy to play and you finally get to put your encyclopedic knowledge of Ryan Gosling to good use.

How: Connect actors through the movies they’ve starred in until someone is stumped and they lose. Ha! If you’re a bit of a film buff this is your time to shine. If on your turn you can think of multiple options, always pick the most obscure one to make it hard for the next player. Say the previous answer was Elijah Wood – you wouldn’t pick The Fellowship of the Ring (which is basically like serving an Oscars guest list to the next player on a silver platter) if you also happened to know of his childhood role in North (a film that no-one else has probably ever heard of). Boom, next person loses.

What you'll need: Stealth access to the IMDB app if your competitive side borders on cheating. We’re not judging.

What: Smurfing

Why: Depending on your verb choice, you will hopefully expose shameful facts about your friends which you can archive for future use in wedding speeches. How: One player, who will be the guesser, covers their ears and hums loudly while the rest of the group agrees on a verb. The guesser has to figure out what the verb is by asking everyone a series of questions using “smurf” or “smurfing” in its place. For example: Do you enjoy smurfing? How often do you smurf? Do you ever smurf in public? When was the last time you smurfed? How would you feel if I smurfed right now? And so on. Based on the responses, you’ll then try and guess what the verb is, and as long as the maturity level within your group hasn’t progressed since high school hilarity should swiftly follow.

What you'll need: Gutter-minded friends and no shame.


Discover More: the great Australian road trip

What: The Green Glass Doors

Why: Because when you’re the only one who knows the secret you get to feel smug and superior as you bamboozle everyone with your pithy wordplay.

How: You’ve applied a secret rule to what can be taken through the Green Glass Doors and everyone has to try and figure out what it is. Players take turns saying what they will and won’t take and you’ll either allow or refuse entry depending on whether their items meet the rule. At least one player needs to not know the rule for it to work.

The traditional rule, which allows only words with double letters through the doors, is useless to your crew once everyone’s figured it out (if they ever do, muahaha) but you can always think up your own rule to continue playing, such as: the first letter of each consecutive item going through the door needs to spell out your first name.

Traditional rule: I’m going through the green glass doors and I’m taking kittens but not cats. Coffee but not tea. Chess but not checkers. Boots but not socks. Prince Harry but not Meghan Markle.

What you'll need: A clueless car load to make the game (and your power trip) last longer.

What: Cheers to the Governor

Why: It’s a counting game that takes a lot of concentration which means there’s no chance of anyone falling asleep.

How: Normally it’s played as a rowdy drinking game, which makes it awesome around the campfire too, however you don’t need to include the alcohol ‘penalty’ for stuffing up – be like us and get drunk on the power of BEING THE BEST instead. (Jokes… kinda).

The objective is to count around the circle and successfully reach 21, at which point everyone is supposed to shout ‘cheers to the governor’. The count starts again with the next person in the playing order, but first the person who landed on 21 gets to make up a rule that replaces a specific number, such as: whoever lands on 13 now has to say “pickles” instead of 13.

With each round the rules increase and the count becomes more complicated (ordinarily in conjunction with one’s intoxication). If someone forgets a rule and stuffs up, you can eliminate them or punish them in another way of your choosing. The count then resets with the next person in the circle. Rules can be anything that’ll really throw a spanner in the works: all multiples of 5 are replaced with a stupid word, 18 reverses the direction, 9 and 10 are switched, etc.

What you’ll need: An elephant-esque memory.

What: Would You Rather?

Why: ‘Cos your friends will hate you!

How: Players choose between difficult/nonsensical alternatives and then rationalise their preference through thought-provoking discussion. For example: would you rather be in a real life The Walking Dead situation or a real life Jurassic Park situation? The best part is that people almost never agree.

We don’t think we’ve ever heard stronger or more opposing opinions on how to stay alive than when this humdinger went viral: would you rather fight a horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses? Prepare for things to get heated! (But seriously horse-sized duck all the way.)

What you’ll need: To consult an app or have some curly q’s prepared ahead of time, but they can be as fun, filthy or philosophical as you like.


How do you like to kill time on a road trip? Leave a comment with your best driver-inclusive road trip games!

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