Nowadays, cars and vehicles often come equipped with televisions or even WiFi. With our cell phones in our pockets, it can be hard to imagine being on a bus ride without any electronics at all. But it does happen!
In fact, there are still long stretches of rural (or remote) roads where there aren’t cellular towers. Often, camps and schools restrict electronic use during events. Or, perhaps you’re participating in a retreat to disconnect from technology and decompress.
Whatever the reason, it can be a bit of a shock to end up without any electronics, especially on a long bus ride. So, without further ado, here is a list of 10 things to do on a long bus ride without electronics
There’s something about the lull of a long bus ride that makes it so perfect for falling asleep. Jackets can be turned into pillows, and you can prepare for the retreat or event you’re en route to so that you arrive refreshed. So often we try to work on bus rides — why not just relax instead and recharge?
Road Trip Bingo
Although this activity requires a little bit of preparation, it can really pay off in the end. You’ll need to think about common things you might see on your road trip. Are you traveling through a specific city? Maybe there are well-known historical landmarks your group will pass.
It can be fun to add obscure items to the bingo cards too: purple cars, a broken tree branch, and so forth. The sky is really the limit when it comes to what you want to include on the bingo card. At the end, you can even give participants prizes— who filled their card first, who got four corners, who got the first bingo, and so on.
There are so many things to write about when you’re on a long bus ride and don’t have any electronics! You can provide prompts for your participants, if you want to offer structure. Or, consider just journaling about what is passing along on the road outside. The bus time could also be used to do a writing activity that’s preparation for what comes later, whether it’s a field trip, a retreat, or a team building activity.
Word Searches/Crosswords/Puzzle Books
Do you remember when these used to be sold in all of the Borders and indie booksellers— sometimes, grocery stores even had these books. Well, have no fear. They still exist! You just have to look a little harder for them. If you’re a teacher or a youth pastor, consider investing in one book and photocopying activities for your participants. Sudoku, anyone?
Knit or Crochet
Another standard travel option, knitting or crocheting can keep your hands busy while you enjoy conversation during your long bus ride. Whether you use a hook, knitting needles, or pick another textile craft, like cross stitch, this is sure to keep you occupied. The best part? You may finally get to finish that scarf you started three years ago for your sister.
The classic game, “Twenty Questions” can easily be adapted if you’re trying to think of bus games for adults. Although most of us haven’t played it in years, if you pick themes, it could be ideal for a group of adults. Think about what type of trip you’re on. Is it a business trip? Maybe play Twenty Questions that are all tied to something in your industry. The key to Twenty Questions is that all questions have to have yes/no answers. Twenty might seem like a lot to have, but you’ll find that it goes much quicker than you’d have imagined!
Ghost in the Graveyard
Ghost in the Graveyard is perfect if you’re trying to plan what to do on a long bus trip with lots of elementary-age children. I like to think it was invented by a mother, somewhere, who wanted some peace and quiet. The game begins with a rousing chorus: “Ghost in the graveyard boo hoo. Who did it come from, from you!” On the final “you”, everyone has to freeze. One person gets to be the ghost and they watch all of the other players to see who moves. If a player moves, they’re out and have to stay quiet until the round finishes. At the end, whoever’s left frozen gets to be the next ghost!
The “License Plate” Game
Perhaps the original item on the things to do on a long “bus ride without electronics” list, the license plate game has been around since before portable electronics like the iPhone or iPod existed! How quickly can your group find all of the license plates? It’s simple enough to keep track: you can either use a preprinted sheet or you can just make a list with paper and pen.
Another variation of this game is to turn it into a competition and see who can get to all of the license plates first. In my experience the group version is more fun, but it all depends on who’s along on the bus ride.
I Spy With My Little Eye…
This is a great game to play if you’re stuck in traffic on your long bus ride. If your shuttle or bus is moving along quickly and you decide to play, be certain to set rules about where can and can’t be included. It’s no fun if you’ve already passed the I spy item! If you’re concerned about people picking things that are too hard to find, consider setting a time limit for the guessers (x number of guesses, or x minutes to guess it).
For me, reading is the perfect long bus ride activity. I like to bring a couple different books — maybe an easy fun mystery as well as something that requires a bit more brain power. That way, I have something to read no matter what my mood. There’s something quintessential about settling into a window, head tucked into a book. Plus, a book can be a great conversation starter with your fellow passengers!
So there you have it: 10 things to do on a long bus ride without electronics! Next time you find yourself without WiFi or en route to disconnect from technology, keep in mind the ten things listed above. You’ll find that the time flies by even faster than you could’ve imagined.