‘Rubberneckers’ Travel Card Game Review: A Timeless Road Trip Scavenger Hunt
When I was growing up, my family never flew on airplanes when we went on vacation. Instead, we drove to all of our vacations, spending many weekends in the car driving through adjacent states. To make our drives more interesting (and to discourage us from burying our faces in our Game Boys), our parents bought us Rubberneckers. Since its initial release, this travel card game had been a staple of our vehicular journeys.
As an adult, I still love road trips, and I revived the use of Rubberneckers on a recent family trip. How does “Everyone’s Favorite Travel Game” measure up 17 years later?
Rubberneckers: Everyone’s Favorite Travel Game Review
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Designers: Matthew & Mark Lore
Artist: Robert Zimmerman
Release: February 1999
Box Dimensions: 5.25 x 3.5 x 1.5 inches
# of Players: 1 or more (however many you can fit in the car)
Ages: 5 or older
Category: Travel scavenger hunt card game
Play Time: 45-60 min
Make the Most of Your Ride: 10 essentials you need for an awesome road trip!
How to Play
If you’re riding in the car and want to turn travelling into an adventure, have one person deal five randomly-drawn Rubberneckers cards to each participating player, keeping the rest of the deck in the box. Players must spot the items on their own cards in order to receive the point value associated with each card (either 5pts or 10pts). Extra points can be earned on some cards if extra requirements are met.
When a target object is spotted, the player announces it to the group, points it out, and is handed a replacement card by the dealer. Spotted cards are retained for tracking points until one person earns 100 total points and wins the game.
Special cards in the deck include Super Rubberneckers (rarer items to spot), Car Pool (anyone has a chance to spot it for points), and Share the Road (get someone in another vehicle to do something).
If you prefer a different method to play Rubberneckers, you can come up with your own variants.
Unboxing & Game Components Evaluation
- 68 cards
- 1 set of directions
The deck of cards comes in a thick, durable, sleeve-like cardboard box. It’s sturdy enough to have survived 17 years of use with only minor corner dents. Even the vivid colors on the box haven’t faded or scratched. The box top easily slides off, but the cards are packed in tightly enough that they won’t fall out (unless not all of the deck is it).
Similarly, the cards are high-quality and can withstand a tight grip without creasing. The cards are exceptionally big–much bigger than normal poker-sized cards–and too big to fan out in your hand, especially if you’re a child. I understand the importance of making cards large enough not to lose in the back seat, but we found these cards to be awkwardly over-sized.
Before You Go On a Road Trip… Make sure you put this in your gas tank!
Review of Learning Experience
The rules are pretty simple and don’t go into too much depth outlining specific procedural guidelines, so you’ll probably have to make some “house” (or car?) rules if your family likes having details clearly defined. Nevertheless, as long as you’re old enough to read, you’ll be able to learn Rubberneckers pretty quickly, with only occasional reminders of how the special cards work. Most of the items (such as a flag, cemetery, bus, road sign) are easy to find.
There’s honestly no problem with changing up the rules according to what you prefer, either. If you’d rather deal out less cards or more cards for each players hand, that works too. If you’d rather all work together or work against each other on the same collectively-shared hand of cards, that’s all good. It’s a flexible game you can switch up to keep it interesting.
Review of Playing Experience
If you’ve ever heard of a travel scavenger hunt card game, you’ve probably heard of the award-winning Rubberneckers game. It’s not the first game of its type (preceded by Are We There Yet?) and it’s not necessarily the best version, but it does still meet its objective as a game to make riding in the car more fun. Plus, it’s made some innovations to the “travel scavenger hunt” format with special cards that encourage players to interact with other cars on the road or gain extra points by meeting additional requirements.
What’s made Rubberneckers a big hit with families over the years is its appealing artwork and zany, cartoon design style. From the playful fonts to the wacky caricatures that accompany the text on the cards, Rubberneckers looks like a game that would be a lot of fun to play, especially if you’re a kid. The illustrator clearly put a lot of work into the overall style of the game, making it timelessly appealing even 17 years later. Honestly, I don’t see this design ever looking “outdated.”
But, for as much work is put into the cards’ designs, there aren’t that many cards in the deck. For us, after playing one round up to 100 points, we were already starting to see some of the same cards re-appear in the deck. If you play through the game twice, you’re probably going to exhaust the deck and return to already-used cards. 68 cards is a small number compared to the hundreds of cards other such scavenger hunt card games offer.
Also, I like the idea of the point value system, but it doesn’t impact the game very much since 90% of the cards have a value of 5pts. More variety in the point values would’ve given that aspect more pertinence to the game.
If the idea of Rubberneckers sounds enjoyable and your family spends a lot of time on the road, I still recommend picking it up. You might get bored with using many of the same cards each time you play, but if you don’t mind that or don’t play very frequently, it’s still worth having on your next road trip. Hopefully you’ll be able to use it to make as many fun memories as I did with my family.
Rubberneckers is available for purchase through the publisher’s website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Overstock, and other retailers.
- Aaron WidmarSenior Editor
Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a 1995 Saturn SC-2 (knock on wood). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing... See more articles by Aaron.