Gadling Take FIVE: Week of Dec. 16-Dec. 26

Minutes after I wrote last week’s Gadling Take FIVE, giving a plug to Gadling’s newest blogger, Tom Johansmeyer, Kraig joined our mix of people who are wild about travel. Kraig Becker has been getting his feet wet this past week and is now not the newest blogger on the Gadling block.

Alison Brick joins us today. For any of you wondering if family travel influences children to travel, it did Alison. She has memories of searching out AAA hotel vacancies with her folks. If that doesn’t scare a person off from hitting the open road, nothing will.

Here are posts that caught my attention. They range from the serious to the whimsical.

  • Scott posted on a new rule that requires permanent U.S. residents who are green card holders to get fingerprinted upon entering the U.S. through an immigration check-point brought up an interesting question. Why?
  • If you’re heading to New York City, be prepared to pay more for a subway ride. The fare may go up. Jeffrey’s post tells just how much.
  • Aaron, who sniffs out controversy, and he’s such a nice guy, wrote a post on Burger King’s new ad campaign which has been called by some to be culturally insensitive. I’m with Aaron on this one.
  • Jeremy gives a thumbs up to the 2008 edition of The Best American Travel Writing.
  • If you’ve ever wondered where fruitcake comes from, check out Brenda’s post. She knows the scoop. Personally, I like fruitcake–all kinds.

If you’re traveling and bored, here are 4 pen and pencil games you can play. I’ve played them all.

Four paper and pencil travel games with a holiday twist

After reading the news about people being stuck in various airports and bus stations where hours have led to days because of the bad weather we’re having, I thought of travel games they might want to play in order to pass the time.

All a person needs is someone to play with, paper and a writing implement. A crayon will do–or a small nub of a pencil. If a piece of paper isn’t available, look to napkins.

These games would also work at a family or friends get together and can be adapted for any age group. You can make them as hard or as easy as you want. Each can be played by more than two people, but you’ll need at least two, except for the last one.

Each of the four games are games I’ve played at various times. To see what I envision this group playing, keep reading.

Game 1:. Hangman Santa- This is a version of regular Hangman, but you can see where I’ve added a Santa hat and sack.

  • To play this game, draw a rough sketch of a gallows as shown in the finished picture. One person thinks of a word and draws short horizontal lines, one for each letter of the word. I thought of the word “travel.”
  • The other person calls out letters.
  • If the letter is in the word, the player who thought of the word, writes the letter on the appropriate line. If the letter is not there, the player draws part of a person, starting with the head.
  • With each wrong guess, a body part is added. If the opponent guesses the word before the entire person and the Santa hat and sack are drawn, that person gets a point.
  • If the entire Santa is drawn, the person loses and the point goes to the opponent.
  • Then you switch roles, and it’s the other person’s turn.
  • I can see where hanging Santa might seem grim, so you could draw a sleigh instead, although the name of the game is Hangman. I don’t know why–it just is.

Game 2: Categories (with a holiday twist)– To play this game, give each player a piece of paper and a writing implement.

  • Players divide the paper into at least five columns.
  • Across the top of each column, write the names of categories like “names,” “cities,” “countries,” “holiday songs” and “food.” The last column is “total.”
  • Then one person starts saying the alphabet to him or herself until one of the players tells him or her to stop. Whatever letter the person stops at is the letter for that round. The person tells the players that letter and each person thinks of a word that fits the category that starts with that letter. The players write the words they come up with on their own paper.
  • For example, if the letter is “J”, my answers might be “Jerry,” “Jackson,” “Jordan,” “Joy to the World” and “jello.”
  • Whoever finishes first says “Stop.” At that point, everyone must stop writing.
  • Then you calculate points by sharing answers. Each answer no one else has equals 15 points. If one person has the answer, it’s worth 10 points. If more than one person has the answer, it’s worth 5 points.
  • Add up your points for each column and write that in total.
  • Keep playing rounds until you’re tired of the game. Whoever has the most points wins.

By the way, if the same letter is picked, pick again, or any of the repeat answers don’t count. To make harder, add categories. To make easier, remove categories, and think of easier topics.

Game 3: Dots (To make this one have a holiday theme, use green and red pens, pencils or crayons.)

  • Draw dots in rows. 10 dots across and 10 dots down as shown in the picture.
  • Each person takes turns connecting two dots with a straight line, either horizontal or vertical.
  • The object is to eventually start making boxes. If you can make a box by drawing one line, write you initial in that box.
  • Sometimes you’ll be able to draw more than one box. You can only connect two dots at a time, however, but if you end up drawing a line to connect two dots and then you only need to draw one more line to make another box, you can do that one too.

Whoever has the most boxes by the time all dots are used, wins. To make the game harder and take longer, add rows of dots. In the pictured game, the other person is winning. (O = other person)

Game 4: Word Creation

  • Write the word “Happy Holidays” on a piece of paper. See how many words you can make with the letters in Happy Holidays.
  • You can only use the number of letters that are in the word. For example, there are only two a’s so your word can only have two a’s.
  • You can use letters more than once with each new word.
  • Words have to be at least three letters, (if playing with small children, don’t use this rule.
  • Whoever has the most words by the time limit you decide on wins.

Here are three words to get you started.” happy ” “holidays” and “play.”

Play this free, on-line, animated travel game to compete for prizes

Never mind the prizes you might win by playing the interactive, animated game Race for the Sky at, a travel Website. It’s a fun way to while away time, even if you don’t win.

Ever since Emma Torry, a blogger at iloho sent us the link to the game, I’ve played it six times, trying my darnedest to get Marcos to his flight on time.

See, he has slept through his alarm, and with a couple other mishaps, he’s hoofing it to the airport by running down the highway dodging cars, tire spikes and bananas peels. I think those are banana peels. Along the way, he can pick up a key which puts him on a motorcycle for a brief while, and pick up “S’s” which put in a cape so he can fly. Watch out for the cars, though. Hitting a car puts him in bandages, and on crutches.

I’m not very good at this game.The first attempt was pitiful. Marcos was in bandages in half a second. Other people playing are great, though. There’s a leader board that lists the top 10 scores. Currently, the highest is 16870 points.

When the competion ends January 31, 2009, the top winner will win two round-trip business class round-the-world tickets. The next top two winners will win a Canon camera. Other prizes include USB sticks and iPod speakers.

Monopoly: The Updated Version–Play on the Computer

As if there aren’t enough ways to pass the time. I am up early (can’t sleep) so I thought I might write–not Gadling, other stuff like a prize winning novel. Instead, I have become sidetracked in the Here and Now version of Monopoly. I saw a link in today’s Marketplace section on YAHOO and clicked on it. There I was downloading the game and, in minutes, losing royally to the computer. I never download games–seriously, I never download games–you can see what a dodge this is.

By the end of the playing time, I did own three airports– including the Los Angeles International Airport– Pioneer Square in Seattle, Disney World and a few other properties. I can’t quite remember what all. I do remember that I foolishly let the computer buy Times Square in an auction, but I swear the thing was cheating. That prompted a whole mess of buying houses and hotels. LIke I said, cheating.

The Here and Now Monopoly game version has updated properties to reflect the current times. As the computer and I took turns zipping around the board, I noticed that Jacobs Field, the home of the Cleveland Indians is the cheapest property. That figures. It is a beautiful stadium, though, and if the Indians keep playing as well as they have done this season, perhaps that property ought to look sweeter.

I had grand plans to write down what properties I owned at the end of the game to see which places I have been in person, but the game stopped before I got the chance. My screen literally went black in a split second. I was playing the free version so perhaps the computer was bored with my efforts. Or, perhaps, the computer was worried I was making a comeback and just quit on me.

If you do have some time to play, this version is fun for the computer graphics alone. For example, the police siren goes off when you are carted off the jail after the police car nabs you. When my property was mortgaged and the computer’s hybrid car landed on my space, I heard snickering. That’s cold.

Here’s another person’s review as well. And, here’s the link to the downloadable version.