Driving games are the best. I’m not talking about video games, I’m talking about the things people do to pass the time on road trips with friends or family. These are things that you need other people in the car for. I guess you COULD play them by yourself but they’d be pretty boring, and you might end up going a little bit crazy.
The best driving game is Hey Cow. But before I get into that, here’s a few other ones that I enjoy.
The Alphabet Game
The rules of this game seem simple, but it gets a little more complex when you start nitpicking.
The object of the game is to see a word that starts with whatever letter you’re on, and call it out, which advances you to the next letter. For example, I’d see a sign for Allentown and I’d shout out “Allentown” which sends me to letter B. Then I see a Call Box sign and say “Box, Call” and now I’m on letter D.
You must physically SEE the word written out for it to count. You can’t see a cloud and count it as C unless the word Cloud is actually written somewhere. You also can’t say things like “oh I know there’s a sign back there that says Gettysburg, I’m using that for G.”
Here are some of the additional rules:
- Once you say a word, that word is done and can’t be used by anyone else. So in my example from above, nobody would be able to use Allentown, Box, or Call for A B or C.
- The word cannot be in the car you’re currently in. So, you can’t point to your radio display and say Styx for S (although props to listening to Styx).
- The word MUST be a real word, and cannot be abbreviated. This gets a little tricky. You can’t use UPS for U because it actually stands for United Parcel Service. Exit works for E, but Ex. does not.
- License plates count, IF it’s a real word. All of the state names count, but the plates themselves get tricky as well, since most are mashups, misspellings, and abbreviations. This could cause a fight within your group, so you may want to completely ban all license plates other than the state names.
- There’s a special exception for the letter X. It’s extremely rare to see a word that starts with X, so any word that has the letter X in it works. Examples would be both Next and Exit. Also, this is the one instance where you can re-use a word. If you used Exit for E, you can use it again for X as long as you see it again.
You are free to make other rules as well, just make sure you all agree on them, or you might end up in a massive brawl.
Here’s a little bit of a twist that my family does. We never announce that we’re playing the alphabet game. One of us will try to work the words into our normal conversation as long as possible before the others find out and have to catch up. Nobody’s ever finished the whole game without someone catching on, but we have made it to letter M before. Another time, my wife and I were BOTH trying to hide that we were playing, and didn’t figure it out until we were both stuck on J.
That’s the other thing about this game… there will be fast breaks where you’ll fly through letters, and then you’ll be stuck on others for a very long time. You’ll usually get stuck on J (look for Jeeps), K (any sign with KEEP in it), Q (the absolute worst letter) and Z, which makes for an exciting ending as other people make a comeback.
Yellow Car, I Win
I never knew this was a thing until two years ago, and it has sense dominated every car ride. There are apparently lots of variations but the idea is simple. You see a yellow car (or SUV, Bus, Van, Whatever) and shout out “Yellow Car, I Win!” before anyone else and… you win!
Most people play with points or even punches, but we don’t keep score. It’s a simple game but can get infuriating when other people consistently spot and claim the yellow cars before you.
We added a rule that says if you claim the parked yellow car 5 times, that car is no longer part of the game. Otherwise it gets old, especially if you drive past a house every day that has the same yellow car parked in the driveway.
Ok, here’s the reason I started writing this, and I got carried away with the others.
Hey Cow is simply THE BEST driving game there is. It’s so great that I made a video about it:
Yes, that is an absolutely true story at the end.
If you can’t watch the video, here are the rules:
- See a cow
- Roll down your window
- Yell “HEY COW” as loud as you can
- Get 1 point for every cow that looks at you
Yep, it’s that simple. And it’s also a lot of fun for some strange reason.
Other Driving Games
What are some other great driving games? There’s Punch Bug, where you punch someone every time you see a VW Beetle. There’s Green Light where the first person to say “Green Light” once the light turns green wins. What else? Let me know in the comments!