How We Got Through Road Trips

Summer isn’t quite over yet and that might mean you still have a road trip ahead of you. Do you have kids? Or do you just have a very short attention span yourself? Tonight I want to offer up the five techniques/devices that my parents offered us kids when we went on multi-hour drives. Now please understand that these tips are now over two decades old. Back then we didn’t have televisions in cars or ports to plug smart devices into. What you are about to read is totally old school.

Road BINGO – Now I am guessing that half of you probably played this at one time. You receive a card that is laid out exactly like a traditional BINGO card except for one thing…the numbers are replaced with objects. For example, instead of B5 or G57 you have an image of a bridge. That means that once you cross a bridge on your travels, you get to close that slot. Other possible items you might find on your card include a horse, various road signs, a gas station, power lines, specific vehicles, and whatever else you might encounter while traveling. My parents always had a few Road BINGO cards to entertain us with.

This is what a travel BINGO card looks like!

This is what a travel BINGO card looks like!

Gameboy – My parents flat out refused to buy us game systems when we were young. No Nintendo, no Sega, no Playstation. However, they did cave in and buy us Gameboys. Thinking about it, they probably bought  them solely because of road trips. While driving in the car, we played our Gameboys non-stop. I can still picture my Gameboy case loaded with my favorite games…Mario Brothers, Tetris, and Donkey Kong.

Pepsi and Coke War – This road trip game is a Reser Family Original. At any given time when we were traveling, my parents would give us a pen and paper to keep track of Pepsi and Coke advertisements we would see on our voyage from Point A to Point B. We would keep tally of sandwich boards, window decals, signs, and anything else that carried the logo of the soft drink giants. If we could see it from the window of our car, we recorded it. Looking back now, after countless trips of us keeping track, it was probably a dead tie when it came to total victories for the two brands.

2-XL – You can blame my love for Jeopardy and my knack for useless information on a robot named 2-XL. This was an educational toy from the mid-1990’s. Built as a miniature robot that could rest on your lap, you fed the thing cassette tapes that would offer educational lessons followed by trivia questions on the particular lesson. To answer the questions, you would press 2-XL’s buttons. We literally wore out these tapes because we listened to them so much. Because 2-XL made it necessary for the car radio be turned off, my parents most likely hated life as they sat up in the front and had to listen to the painfully terrible robotic voice.

Did anyone besides us enjoy 2-XL as a kid? This is what it looked like.

Did anyone besides us enjoy 2-XL as a kid? This is what it looked like.

Name That Tune – Along with my sister and brother, I would plead at my dad to whistle while we were driving in the car. He was great at it and he would whistle theme songs to television shows. That was the game right there. My dad would perform theme songs from shows on Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, Saturday morning cartoons, and even random shows we didn’t know. The first person to blurt out the song he was whistling earned a point. Over time the random shows weren’t random anymore. They kept coming up trip after trip that we knew them well. Because my dad’s theme song whistling repertoire was quite large, this entertained us for a good amount of miles.


Again, I understand these methods are a little dated but perhaps you might purchase a Gameboy or try your whistling skills to entertain your kids. Perhaps you should do a “throwback road trip” where all you do is utilize old time tricks to make that drive go by faster. Just always make sure to wear your seat belts. Don’t Blink.

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  1. Pingback: Getting Nostalgic About Game Boy | Don't Blink

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