26 fun road trip games the whole family will enjoy
Road trips can be exciting adventures, but they can also mean long hours in the car with little entertainment. When music and movies aren’t curing boredom, use these 26 car games to liven the mood.
Family road trip games: A list from A to Z
Play these road trip games as-is or make your own rules and customize them for your family.
Alphabet Hunt. Take turns finding items that start with each letter of the alphabet. You can play independently and race to get to Z, or you can play as a team. For example, dad might spot an Audi and mom might find a basketball goal.
Buzzword. Before the trip, create a “taboo word” and pass out five pennies to each person. Each time someone uses the buzzword another person can take away one of their pennies. Whoever has the most pennies at the end of the road trip gets a prize. Make it harder by picking a word like “bathroom” that will be used often.
Counting Cows. This fun car game is great for families with younger kids who are learning to count. Simply count the cows on your side of the road and see who can reach a certain number first. Create a challenge by choosing a location (like a cemetery or gas station) that will erase the count when you pass it.
Don’t Open That. Especially great for long road trips with young children, this activity prevents kids from getting bored with the items they packed. Get some brown paper bags, and put toys, coloring books or other items in each one. Mark them with a particular state or destination and make the kids wait to open them until you reach it.
Even or Odd. Here’s another fun travel game for kids who are learning their numbers! Guess how many of the next 20 license plates will end in an odd or even number and keep a running score on a sheet of paper.
Find the Vehicle. Choose a type or color of vehicle and keep children on the lookout for it. First one to spot it wins!
Grocery Game. Play this one by thinking of foods for each letter in the alphabet and having each person remember the foods mentioned before. This means 25 items will have to be named from memory before the “z” food can be added to win!
Hide and Seek. This version of hide and seek is very similar to the original, but takes a little more imagination. Pick a location everyone is familiar with and have someone “hide.” Everyone else can take turns guessing where the person chose for their hiding spot. This one can get silly since you don’t have to pick places you would normally fit.
I Spy. Take turns finding an object that is either in the car or will stay in everyone’s line of vision for several minutes. Say, “I spy with my little eye, something that is ___” and describe the object by color. Other passengers take turns guessing the item.
Jelly Bean Sampling. What makes road trip games better? Snacks! Grab a bag of mixed-flavor jelly beans at a gas station, then have everyone (except the driver of course) take turns taste-testing with their eyes closed. The person who correctly guesses the most colors and flavors wins.
Knock Knock Jokes. See who can come up with the best (or worst) knock knock joke.
License Plate Game. There’s two ways to play this. The first is to keep track of how many different license plates you see on the trip. The second is to take a look at license plates and decode them. For example, ELT 245 could be “Extra lettuce on my tacos, 24 hours a day, 5 days a week.”
Make a Map. Give the kids blank paper and something to write with. Have them map out your drive as you go.
Name That Tune. This is a fun car game for music lovers. Take turns whistling/humming a song or shuffling from your personal music while everyone tries to guess the tune before the first chorus.
Only in song. Speak using lyrics only — what makes it funny is that there’s no singing allowed!
Presidents. This game is a group effort. Try to name all of the presidents. Bonus points if you can do it in order.
Questions. Try speaking only in questions. Anyone who hesitates, laughs or answers loses.
Road Trip Bingo. This travel game is a great way to keep children engaged throughout the trip. Need ideas on what to have them look for? Print out these free road trip bingo cards.
Sweet or Sour. Take turns waving at other cars. If the people are “sweet” and wave back, you get a point. If they’re “sour” and don’t wave back, you don’t get a point.
Twenty Questions. One passenger thinks of a person, place or thing. Everyone else takes turns asking yes/no questions, trying to guess the item. After twenty questions, everyone has to give a final guess.
Unfortunately, Fortunately. A game of contrasting statements. Make up an “unfortunately” statement like, “Unfortunately, a tiger is chasing us.” Then someone solves the problem with a “fortunately” statement such as, “Fortunately, I am a certified tiger tamer.” This game is sure to cause some laughter during a long road trip.
Volkswagen Spotting. Be the first to spot a Volkswagen Bug and yell “Slug Bug.” Keep track of who sees the most Beetles.
Who Are They? Make up stories about people you pass. To make this more fun, each person has to build on the stories, one sentence at a time. So the driver may say, “That lady lives in a purple house.” And the next person says, “She has a pet goldfish named Scooter.”
X Marks the Spot. This is a great travel game for older kids who are learning map skills. Give each child a map and have them keep track of the route. Place an “X” when you stop or they recognize an intersection you’ve passed. See who can spot the most locations during the trip.
Yellow Car. When you see a yellow car, shout “yellow car, one point!” Keep track of who spots the most yellow cars during the road trip. You may want to ban commercial vehicles (taxis) and school buses.
Zitch Dog. Fans of the show “How I Met Your Mother” may recognize this car game. When you see a dog in a car, yell “Zitch Dog!” If the dog sighting is confirmed by other passengers, the player gets a point. At the end of the car ride, the player with the most points wins.
Looking for more car games to play?
If you’re looking for car ride activities that are a little quieter, try these:
- Reading (especially brochures or other factual pieces about where you’re traveling)
- Gel clings for windows (kids will have a blast decorating your car windows)
- Educational worksheets (or a travel journal for older children)
You may also be interested in this resource on planning a road trip.
If we missed any of your favorite car ride games, let us know in the comments!
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