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Pirates of the Caravan

How to Have a Jolly Good Time in the Car

by Laurel Smith

Aaarrrrrrrrrr we there yet?   Make the time pass quickly on your long car trip by  pretending to be a crew of pirates for the day! 

The Interstate is your ocean!  To make it even more fun, surprise your crew with this traveling theme, and don't tell them until just before you leave. Then pass out the pirate bandanas and "order" everyone aboard!

Pick a Pirate Persona
The driver is the captain, obviously. Other passengers in the car are always referred to as "the crew".   Crew members are not allowed to call the driver "Mom" or "Dad", but can only address them as "Captain" or "Captain Mom", or whatever you order them to call you.  As captain, you can give orders that everyone MUST follow. 

Assign a First Mate, Navigator, or Lookout. Crew members can all choose pirate names if they wish.  Your vehicle is your ship. Be sure to name it too.  Then refer to it all day by it's name. For example,  "Shiver me timbers! It's time to refuel for The Black Pearl!".

Speak like pirates 
Refer to your fellow crew members as "mates", and be sure to get refills on your "rum" (whatever you happen to be drinking on board your ship).  Say things that pirates would say, such as:

  • Avast! (Looky there!)
  • Ahoy! (hello)
  • Aye Aye!  (yes sir!)
  • Abandon Ship!  (everybody get out of the car for a pit stop)
  • Land Ho! (when you can see your destination)
  • Shiver Me Timbers! (when you are shocked or surprised)
  • All Aboard!! (time to get back in the car)
  • This sounds like mutiny! (when disagreements break out for not listening to the captain!)
  • Scallywag (a bad rotten no good person!)
  • Sea Rover (a pirate ship)
  • Sea Dog (experienced sailors)
  • Jolly Roger (pirate flag with skull and crossbones)
  • Land Lubber (a person not familiar with sailing)
  • Aaaaarrrrrr!!!  (whenever the mood hits. Say this after nearly everything)
For example, "Avast ye mates! It's the Starbucks drive-through that the captain has been seeking! Thar she blows right off the starboard bow !"    and,   "Yo ho ho, we need to stop and go... the bathroom."

Sing Pirate Songs
Have an old fashion car sing along, or download pirate themed songs onto your iPod before your trip and play them in the car.  See the pirate song lyrics (below) to a few of good ones that we love to sing, or print this printable page with some pirate song lyrics (link will open in a new window).

Dress Like Pirates
This is easy. Get some cheap pirate themed bandanas, or any old bandana will probably do. Wear them on your head or around your arm.  Make some eye patches with paper and crayons. Designs all kinds of jewelry or a hook with a roll of tinfoil (see my article on aluminum foil art for ideas). 

Tell Pirate Jokes

  • Why couldn't the little kid see the pirate movie? (Because it was rated Arrrrr!)
  • What is a one-legged pirate's favorite place for breakfast? (IHOP)
  • What happened when the man shook hands with Captain Hook?  (He got the
  • point!  Aaaaargh!)
  • How much does it cost for a pirate to pierce his ears? (A buck an ear!!!   Aaaarrrgh!)
  • What's a pirate's favorite socks? (Arrrrgyle)
  • What has 12 arms, 12 legs and 12 eyes? (A dozen pirates.  Aaaarrrrrrr!)
  • Make up your own. For example:  What is a pirate's favorite fast food restaurant? (Aaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrby's!) 

Watch Pirate Movies
If you're going to watch movies on your portable DVD player, stick to the theme. Some great pirate movies for kids could include: 

  • Pirates of the Caribbean (I, II, and III)
  • Peter Pan
  • Hook
  • Muppets Treasure Island

Play Games with a Pirate Twist
Play lots of traditional car games, but keep the pirate theme. For example, if you're playing Hangman, choose words that are meaningful to pirates such as "Davy Jones Locker" or "Dead Man's Chest" or "Booty".   If you're counting cows or doing a travel scavenger hunt, announce "Thar she blows!" whenever you see what you are looking for.  Draw pictures of pirates and ships. Draw treasure maps, and pirate flags to decorate the inside of the car.

Use your imagination for every aspect of the journey.  Take no prisoners, follow the captain's orders and you'll be there in no time. Land ho!

For more fun with swashbuckling children, see my article Pirates of Kentucky Lake to read about my family's adventure on the high seas!

-- Laurel 

~ ..· ´¨¨))   -:¦:- 
        ¸.·´  .·´¨¨)) 
      ((¸¸.·´  ..·´   Road Trip Mom -:¦:- 
     -:¦:-    ((¸¸.·´* 

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Here are some pirate song lyrics:

Click here for a printable page of these Pirate Song Lyrics!

Pirate Ship (and old Camp Song)

When I was One I sucked my thumb the day I went to sea.
I climbed aboard a pirate ship 
And the captain said to me
We’re going:
This way, that way
Forward, backward, 
Over the Irish sea.
A bottle of Sprite took care of my fright, and that’s the life for me!

When I was 2, I tied my shoe... 
3- Skinned my knee
4- Shut the door
5- Did a jive
6- Picked up sticks
7- Went to Heaven
8- Had a date
9- Broke my spine
10- I said The End!


A Pirate's Life for Me (Yo Ho)

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me. 
We pillage plunder, we rifle and loot. 
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho. 
We kidnap and ravage and don't give a hoot. 
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho. 

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me. 
We extort and pilfer, we filch and sack. 
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho. 
Maraud and embezzle and even highjack. 
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho. 

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me. 
We kindle and char and in flame and ignite. 
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho. 
We burn up the city, we're really a fright. 
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho. 

We're rascals and scoundrels, we're villians and knaves. 
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho. 
We're devils and black sheep, we're really bad eggs. 
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho. 

We're beggars and blighters and ne'er do-well cads, 
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho. 
Aye, but we're loved by our mommies and dads, 
Drink up me 'earties, yo ho. 
Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me. 

(Download the  MP3 "A Pirate's Life for Me" )

What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor
There are many different versions of the lyrics. Feel free to make up some of your own!  Note that "early" is generally pronounced as "earl-eye." We like to sing this one while sipping root beer!

    What shall we do with a drunken sailor, (3×)
    Early in the morning?

    Hey Ho (or Hoo–ray/Wey–hey/Heave-ho) and up she rises, (3×)
    Early in the morning!

    Stick him in a bag and beat him senseless, (3×)
    Early in the morning!

    Put him in the longboat till he’s sober, (3×)
    Early in the morning!

    Put him in the brig until he's sober, (3×)
    Early in the morning!

    Slap him around and call him Suzie, (3×)
    Early in the morning!

    Put him in bed with the captain's daughter, (3×)
    Early in the morning!

    You haven't seen the captain's daughter, (3×)
    Early in the morning!

    Keelhaul the man until he's sober, (3×)
    Early in the morning!

    Put 'im in the crow's nest and watch him fall down, (3×)
    Early in the morning!

    Put 'im in a leaky boat an' make 'im bail 'er, (3×)
    Early in the morning!

    Put him in the bilge and make him drink it, (3x)
    Early in the morning!

    Pull out the plug and wet him all over, (3×)
    Early in the morning!

    Give 'im the hair of the dog that bit him, (3×)
    Early in the morning!

    Put 'im in the back of the paddywagon, (3×)
    Early in the morning!

    Take 'im and shake 'im and try an' wake 'im, (3×)
    Early in the morning!

    Soak 'im in oil till he sprouts a flipper, (3×)
    Early in the morning!

    Put 'im in charge of an Exxon tanker, (3×)
    Early in the morning!

    Shave his belly with a rusty razor, (3×)
    Early in the morning!

    That’s what we’ll do with a drunken sailor, (3×)
    Early in the morning! (Amen) 

Print these Pirate Song Lyrics!

Laurel Smith is a former schoolteacher and currently a stay-at-home-mom who has logged thousands of road trip miles both as a kid and a mom.  Visit her website for more than 101 travel games and activities for kids at

You might also enjoy other articles I have written.

Don't miss all the Printable Car Games at, or Lots more Car Games for Kids , Road Trip Games, and Travel Activities for Toddlers.


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