Travel Games can enhance any road trip, and the game of bingo has been adapted as a type of I-Spy travel road game for more than twenty years. I can remember road trips with my family where as kids we would be squabbling over who saw items on our lists first, in the race to get five in a row before starting all over again.
Think of this as a combination of advice, ideas, and shared experiences where your goal is to complete as much of the board as possible!
PEOPLE-WATCHING – Whether at home or abroad, one of my favorite (and free) past-times is the endlessly engrossing spectator sport of people-watching. Some savvy travelers seem to blend in seamlessly to new settings, easily adapting to the dress, mannerisms and dialects, while others stick out like a sore thumb. There are also the equally fascinating folks going about their daily lives amidst the tourist traffic to speculate about.
One giveaway that says, “Look, I’m not from here,” is the person reading a map or travel guide. There’s usually a slightly perplexed appearance, as they attempt to correlate the symbols and street names on paper in relation to where they actually are.
Another action that you’ll see and hear is someone is trying to speak the local language. It can be entertaining to observe as they compensate for lingual familiarity, with increased volume, and/or speaking very slowly, accompanied by much gesticulating and pointing, in attempts to bridge the language barrier. Having been on the both ends of these exchanges, the results can be hilarious.
Busking is a hobby for some, and a full time occupation for others. Street performers are an economical tourist attraction that adds a bit of spontaneity to your travel itinerary when you make an unscheduled stop to watch. These performances can be found in practically any city and town, featuring a panoply of talents from lithe dancers and acrobats, to lively troupes of singers and actors, to name a few. On the metro in Paris, I’ve seen many people walk on to the train hauling a cart loaded with a karaoke machine trying to earn a few Euros. These folks are usually only off key if you’re lucky, off tempo if you’re not, and typically tipped to stop playing. Sadly, you can’t find famous faces, like Joshua Bell’s, playing the violin incognito in every train station, but keep your eyes peeled.
One of the most tug-at-your-heartstrings people watching sights is partings and reunions . From couples at the airport, or a group of friends gathering with many hugs and smiles, it’s a poignant moment of people watching that can easily bring a smile to your face.
UNPLUGGED – Your vacation whisks you away from the daily grind to spend time with your friends and/or family, but how much of it is quality time? Even if it’s for only one day, put away the cellphones, laptops and other electronics. Set no specific goals except to enjoy the excellent company of your companions, with faces kissed by rays of bright sunlight, or silver moon, not illuminated by a backlit screen.
With a limited amount of time to fill, it’s understandable that you want to soak up every experience available, but it’s important to carve out some alone time to relax and unwind as well. Get reacquainted with what leisure time feels like and pick up some casual vacation hobbies like finishing the book that you’ve read the first chapter of a dozen times before getting pulled away to something else. When you’re finished, leave it in a café where someone else is sure to find it. I like to leave a brief review of my thoughts on the book written on the inside cover, ask the next person to do the same, and pass it on! A vacation is also the perfect time to treat yourself to something that you’d consider an unnecessary indulgence in your everyday life like a spa treatment. Go ahead, you deserve it!
Get away from the trappings of technology by exploring the outdoors of your chosen vacation destination. Take a hike out in the wilderness, find a hill or mountain to climb, or one of any number of physically exerting activities—who knows what kind of interesting sites and expansive views you’ll find as your reward!
Have you ever gone through a box of old correspondence and had that feeling of nostalgia as you remembered the excitement you first felt at getting that letter, postcard or other physical sign that someone was thinking about you while they were away? Electronic communications with friends and family offers immediate gratification while traveling in today’s society, but not much in the way of personalization. Next time you’re abroad, send a letter or postcard home by snail-mail to a close friend or family member and share the memories!
CARS – Instead of watching through the window of a bus or train, you’re asserting independence over your driving destiny! Your car rental with Auto Europe opens you up to a world of opportunity, traveling beyond the limits of public transportation. Take the road less traveled and satisfy your curiosity by discovering what lies down its winding path. When you’re taking the high road road , it’s humbling to realize that you’re crossing rivers, valleys and spaces in minutes what were once a lengthy and likely arduous process for others to traverse. A leisurely, scenic drive through mountain passes, along coastal routes and across open plains changes with every season. The bare winter branches of the Black Forest in Germany become a dense canopy of infinite mystery in spring and summer, before bursting into a colorful profusion of red and gold as autumn sets in.
Auto Europe offers car rental pick-up locations internationally at more than 8,000 locations. Our services extend outside of traditional car rentals to providing a little luxury to enhance your trip. Our prestige department provides high-end car rentals and chauffeured drivers throughout Europe. We even offer Peugeot long-term leases out of France and other select European destinations.
HISTORY & CULTURE – It’s impossible not to form preconceived notions of what a destination will be like before we get there, and the inevitable faux pas that come when you presume to assume. I have a Dutch friend who in our youth, scathingly disabused me of the notion that she must own a pair of the quintessential wooden clogs, when I innocently asked why she never wore hers! It’s a conundrum of curiosity sometimes whether to ask a question and make your ignorance apparent, or to find the answer by less direct means. She did, however, give me a polite lesson afterwards on the history of klompen, and the experience has made me more thoughtfully cautious in my cultural queries since then!
City and site tours are available as pre-recorded sessions, read as a step-by-step process from a pamphlet, or lead by a guide. While the first two may be informative, they’re also mostly rather dry; whereas guided tours are open to varying degrees of truth and creative interpretation! Join an interactive city tour that’s got pizzazz! Themed, guided tours, such as Robin Hood escorting you through Nottingham, or a legionnaire through Rome, provide much more in the way of entertainment and education, in a manner that you’re absorbing facts, while able to ask questions without feeling as though you’re back in history class. There’s often a combination of contemporary and historic sites, with true tales and rumors open to speculation told in a lively and engaging manner.
You can acquire a wealth of knowledge about a place when you attend an event or festival like the Monte Festival on the island of Madeira in Portugal, which honors the islands patron saint. Folk dances, food and music are all a glimpse into traditions and heritage that has been carried down from generations, or adapted from prolonged contact with other cultures.
Galleries and museums offer an extensive series of art and preserved artifacts from ages past for perusal in one convenient location. Places like the Zwinger Museum in Dresden, Germany, or the Louvre in Paris, France, offer the dual services of stunning architecture, as the collections are housed in former palaces, plus the collections themselves.
FOOD & BEVERAGES – Food and beverages are not only the fuel that keeps us going, but refined for enjoyment. Quaff notable local libations like the delectable array of wines available while visiting France and Italy, take a whisky tour through the distilleries of Scotland, or sample the frothy, deliciousness that is a Belgian beer in city of Brussels. Hopefully it doesn’t ruin your enjoyment of the same item down the road. There has been many a beer lover who has found, once they’ve tasted Guinness in Ireland where it originated, they can’t drink it back in the states any longer.
At the next level of pleasurable food pursuits are pairings of drinks and authentic fare. Fine dining restaurants commonly have recommended pairings, and if you’re purchasing items directly from specialty shops, or the source, it doesn’t hurt to ask for suggestions.
A great way to get an eclectic sample of what a variety of places has to offer is to visit multiple places that you’re interested in trying and get only a few small things to share and bar/restaurant hop. Doing this with just desserts and drinks is a pairing that I personally recommend.
It’s not all about dining out; Europe still has an exceptional assortment of open-air, locally sourced markets from which you can supplement your diet. Purchase foodstuffs to make up a picnic lunch to throw in the back of your car rental for a long drive, or for a quiet afternoon in a nearby beach or park.
Take a cooking class and bring a taste of Europe home with you to stay. Learn to make pasta from scratch in Florence, delve into the regional specialties of Spanish Andalusia, or Grecian Mediterranean style on the island of Poros. Share your new-found knowledge by hosting a cooking party at home, or dazzle your friends at a dinner party.
Adventure and discovery are on the horizon, set your vacation up for success with Auto Europe! Rent a car using our secure, online booking engine in three easy steps. Want more information? Please view our Europe Travel Videos, and download a Travel Guide from our top destinations! Celebrating sixty years of award-winning customer service, why would you go anywhere else to rent a car in Europe?