Turn your road trip into a scavenger hunt

Nov 1, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. ET

When you're on your way to an exciting destination, the ride can seem to last forever. If reading loses its appeal early on in the trip and you've already watched a few DVDs, it's time for a scavenger hunt! It's a great way to pass the time, and everyone in the car can participate. Here’s how!

Road-trip map with pushpins

Choose your method

Are you hunting for particular road signs, or do you want a mix of marks? Before you hit the road, lay out the rules. Are you willing to interact with other people on the road, or do you simply want to spot a series of sights along the way? No matter which method you choose, be sure to lay out the rules clearly so everyone in the car understands them before taking off. That way, no petty arguments will occur.

Grab your camera

You're going to need a way to document that you did, in fact, see what you claim to have seen on your scavenger hunt. Say, for example, you're looking to scavenge a sign advertising frozen yogurt. Whip out your camera to capture the moment and hush all naysayers who missed their opportunity. If your crowd is willing to interact with other people on the road, you're going to need a camera as well. If you pull into a rest stop and you find a person wearing the green T-shirt on your list, you're going to need proof for the rest of your party.

Get other cars involved

Great marks include getting people from another car to give you a thumbs-up, getting them to crack a smile or getting them to give you something from their car. If you're at a stoplight, giving people a wave is usually enough to get them to crack a smile. Getting them to roll down their window and give you a gum wrapper from their car is a little more difficult, however. Test your scavenger-hunt fortitude by starting small and working your way up. You'll start to build your social confidence little by little. Eventually, when people in other cars start ignoring you, it won't be as hurtful.

Create a budget

If your scavenger hunt requires buying silly things at rest stops, set a budget of five to 10 dollars and give that amount to each player. That way, everyone (even kids) is on a level playing field and no one has to worry about spending money on an unaffordable souvenir shot glass.

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