On vacation? Let the games begin!

Vacations are a great time to explore new surroundings. And what better way to have fun exploring than on a scavenger hunt? For a traveling scavenger hunt, all you need to do is think up a list of things that might be where you are – anywhere! Searching for the things on your list with your parents, brothers and sisters, and others who are along adds to the fun.

Here are some ideas. When traveling by car, you could look for a bald eagle, a sign with the letter "Q" on it, a cowboy, a llama (you never know!), a police car, a billboard with a picture of a dog on it, or a truck that is pulling double trailers.

If you're on a plane, you could search for a person with red hair, a golf magazine, someone playing cards, a bridge on the ground below, the pilot as you board or exit the aircraft, or a cat in a carrier.

At an art museum, you could look for a painting by a woman, a sculpture of a bird, the smallest painting, a picture with tulips in it, the oldest artwork in the building, a painting that includes a soldier, and so on.

In a park or nature preserve, you might look for certain birds native to the area, five different kinds of wildflowers (please don't pick them!), a lizard or salamander, berries, something with a rough or scratchy texture, a rock with a fossil in it, an animal paw print, and so much more.

If you have trouble thinking of things, an adult may be able to help you. Then work with your companions to find the items.

Explore a new place with a game

Are you going camping with some other families? Are you invited to a family reunion, a wedding, or a holiday get-together? If so, a picture-this hunt is perfect.

You will need several groups of searchers, each with at least one adult, one camera, and possibly a car. Although it is a lot of effort to prepare (you will need to work with an adult on all aspects of this variation on a scavenger hunt), this challenging game will turn out to be a wonderful vacation memory for everyone.

Begin by thinking of five places near where you will be staying that you would like everyone to discover. Consider sites such as museums, libraries, waterfalls, ice cream parlors, churches, bridges, parks, stadiums, and historic monuments. Check with an adult to make sure that the places on the list are reasonable choices for your teams to find.

Next, substitute a riddle for the name of each place on the list. This way team members will have to work together to figure out what they are looking for. Instead of writing "the Washington Monument" on the list, for example, you could write, "What is a giant white toothpick near a mirror pond?" Instead of "The New York Public Library," you could write, "What is a huge building that is guarded by two lions and filled with words on shelves?"

After each riddle, tell the teams how you would like them to pose to have their pictures taken once they get to the right place. For instance, you could ask them to become a human pyramid at the monument. At the library, you could ask them to pose with a librarian (but write "a person who works there" so you don't give the riddle's answer away).

Make a copy of the list for each team.

On the day of the hunt, assemble the teams. Make sure each team has a camera and the transportation it needs to find the places on the list. Before the teams start, tell them how much time they have to find the places and take the pictures. The amount of time you give them will depend on how long or complicated the list of places is.

Then give each team a copy of the hunt's riddles and send them on their way.

The winning team is the first team that finds all of the places and returns with the pictures to prove it. It is up to you to give each member of the team a prize such as lollipops, a funny trophy you make yourself, or make-believe gold medals.

Have a grown-up help you print copies of the photographs from all of the teams. Then make the best prize of all – an album of memories for everyone to treasure.

Make time fly – in a car or plane

Will you have to spend hours in a car or plane before you get to your vacation spot? Create a never-bored hunt to make time fly. Work with other family members to come up with a list of about 20 things that you might find during the trip. Although the items will vary depending on where you're going, some examples include ladybugs, birds with white feathers, a cannon, a frog, an ocean, a drum, and a statue. You could even include how many different state flags you might spy. Be sure to take a picture of each item to show that you've seen it. You can even list a few silly items – you never know what you might come across.

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