Here’s one holiday you probably don’t already have marked on your calendar.
May 24 is National Scavenger Hunt Day. (They sure do come up with everything, huh?) But here at RVshare, we’re always down for a celebration and a challenge — which means that this is one “holiday” we’re all about!
Travel scavenger hunts are a fun way to pass long hours on the road or even explore your destination. Looking for specific items and artifacts can help you get up close and personal with the landscape and learn things your road atlas or travel guide won’t tell you.
Plus, making outdoor exploration into a game can help young campers get excited about the environment, and encourage them to learn more about what we need to do to protect it so it’s around for many more years of adventures to come.
So: on your marks, get set, read on! We’ve got plenty of scavenger hunt ideas below.
Road Trip Scavenger Hunt
Tired of hearing the kids ask, “Are we there yet?”
Even with the added legroom in a motorcoach — and especially if you’re pulling a trailer, bunched up together in the truck — long hours on the road can be difficult for young campers. Let’s face it: there’s not a whole lot to do while you’re traveling but sit still and look around.
But when you turn “looking around” into a game, even hundreds of miles can go by in a flash. You just have to get a little creative!
Since you’re on the move, a normal game of “I Spy” can be tricky. After all, whatever you see out there on the landscape will soon be out of view… and there’s only so much to spy inside your camper.
That’s why games like License Plate Bingo are a good way to pass the time on the road. How do you play? Easy: Just try to find one license plate from each state during your journey. (Or at least the lower 48 — Alaska and Hawaii can be tricky!)
Sick of scanning every plate you pass? You can try out this affordable alternative: Kid’s Travel Hunt, a simple set of road trip scavenger-hunt cards specifically made for “long, boring drives in rural areas.” (Let’s face it: mom and dad might think the scenic route is anything but boring, but for the kids, there’s not a whole lot of excitement or relaxation in the rolling green hillside.)
Available for less than $10 on Amazon, this scavenger hunt game will have your kids hunting down abandoned houses, specific vehicle types, and more. It’s a small investment to do away with endless whining!
RV Scavenger Hunt
Once the long journey’s over, the fun has just begun. An RV park is the perfect place for an exciting outdoor scavenger hunt!
You can easily devise your own scavenger hunt game at home — just make a list of common items frequently seen in campgrounds and send your kids off to find them. Whoever gets them all done first wins! (In today’s age of ubiquitous cell phones, you might even add pictographic evidence into the list of requirements, just to make sure no one’s cheating.)
Be sure to vary your scavenger hunt items depending on what kind of park you’re staying in. For instance, if you’re in a resort-style campground with lots of amenities like a game room and a pool, you might add in things like “someone playing pinball” or “a kid wearing water wings.” If you’re boondocking on BLM land, however, you’ll probably want to stick to environmental items.
Scavenger Hunt Ideas for Kids
An outdoor scavenger hunt can be a great way to get your kids more interested in the natural environment, especially if you’re staying in a remote or heavily wooded campground with lots of different types of plants and animals to discover. One great way to create your own outdoor scavenger hunt game is to grab a guide to the local flora and fauna and make a list of the most common flowers most likely to be found in the area. Then, the kids — and the adults, too! — can set out to see how many of those beauties they can find within a few hundred feet of the camper. Here are a few guidebooks for popular camping areas that can help you get started:
- Wildflowers: A Fully Illustrated, Authoritative and Easy-to-Use Guide
- Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast
- Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification
- National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America
Not the DIY type? You can also purchase premade scavenger hunt games for kids, many of which can be tailored to indoor or outdoor versions. That means your kids can play the game rain or shine!
Travel Scavenger Hunt for Adults
Think the fun is over for the older members of your camping group? Not so fast! Adults can get into the scavenger hunt spirit, too.
Mom and dad can revisit their own childlike wonder and curiosity by playing the games listed above right alongside their children, but you can also devise fun challenges even if you don’t have any kids along for your vacation.
One fun, adult-friendly idea: a travel photo scavenger hunt. Since we all walk around with uber-powerful cameras in our pockets at all times, it’s easy to host an impromptu photo contest. You can make a list of generalized items or themes, like florals, landscapes, and portraiture, and at the end of your vacation, sit down and compare photos to see who “wins.” (Spoiler alert: since all the players will have created plenty of quality images to remember the trip by, everyone wins — even more so since you’ll all share them!)
Or, you can take a broader approach to the scavenger hunt spirit: sit down with your vacation planner and road atlas and figure out where your next RV trip will take you, looking for your specific vacation interests like great food, challenging hikes, stunning views, or live music.
Now that’s a scavenger hunt that’s fun and productive — what more can you ask for?
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