Driving to tournaments and on vacations can be the most torturous part of any trip. To make the time fly by here is a round-up of the best road trip games to keep the kiddos entertained for hours on end.
1. 20 Questions
One player picks a person, place or thing and the rest of the players have 20 yes or no questions to figure out who or what it is.
Starting with the letter ‘A’ find a word that begins with ‘A’ or ends with ‘A’ on a road sign such as Avenue or Florida. Each person in the car plays for themselves until one person gets to ‘Z’.
3. The Car Next Door
Invent fun stories about people in the car next to yours. The more ridiculous the better.
One player picks a category. Then each player takes turns naming something from that category. Players are eliminated when they can’t name something from that category. Example categories can be:
- Car Models
- Famous People
- Movie characters
- Professional Sport Teams (can even specify a sport)
Depending on the age of the participants, there are a couple of fun variations which can increase the difficulty:
- Pick a letter – everything in the category must begin with the same letter
- ABC – The person who start names something from the category that begins with ‘A’, then the next person’s answer must begin with ‘B’ and so on.
- Dragon Fruit
- Beginning & End – One person starts with any item in that category then the next person must answer with an item that begins with the letter the first answer ended with.
One player acts like a famous character and answers questions from the rest of the players as if they were that person. The first player to guess correctly wins.
6. The Compliment Game
Starting with the letter ‘A’ give a compliment to someone in the car. The person who received the compliment will now give a compliment to someone else beginning with the letter ‘B’. Keep going until you are through the alphabet. For example, “A is for Stacy’s Athletic ability”, “B is for Julie’s Bagpipe skills”.
7. The Counting Game
One player starting counting something out loud. However, they don’t tell anyone what they are counting. The rest of the players try to figure out what they are counting.
8. Fruity Patooty Game
One player picks a fruit or you can draw a fruit from a hat. Once a fruit is picked, each person who spots a passing vehicle of that color gets points. Points are awarded based on the size or make of the car:
- Sports Car – 1 point
- Regular Car – 2 points
- Pick-up Truck or SUV – 3 points
- Bus – 4 points
- Semi – 5 points
The winner of the game is the person who gets the most points of the chosen color in 30 minutes.
9. The Geography Game
Similar to the Categories game but with an educational twist, the Geography game begins with a player naming geographic location. The next person names something related to the first geographic location.
Here is a sample chain: Louisiana > Mississippi River > Tennessee > Appalachians Mountains > Maine > Atlantic Ocean > England
If your carmates are a competitive sort, you could even score the answers. Here is a sample scoring system you could use: Continents are 1 point, US States and Countries are 2 point, Cities and Towns are 3 points and National Parks, Waterways and Mountains are 4 points.
10. Guess the Number
One player picks a number within a range and rest of the players try to guess the number by asking if a certain number in that range is higher or lower to narrow down the guesses. Whoever guesses the right number gets to pick the next number.
11. Guess the Word
One player writes out a common word one letter at a time on the palm of another player with their finger. That player must then figure out what the word was.
One player asks a hypothetical question such as, “If you could live anywhere, where would you live and why?” or “If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?” Go around the car and let everyone answer. For a list of hypothetical questions, check out Google for ideas.
13. I Spy
This game is a road trip classic. The game starts when Player 1 says, “I spy with my little eye….” and then vaguely describes something they see. For example, “I spy with my little eye something wet”. The other players will then turn asking yes or no questions until someone can guess what the item is.
14. The License Plate Game Variations
License plates games are a great time waster. There are several games which require keeping an eye out for license plates. The first is to use letters on the plate to come up with sayings which represent the letters. For example, if the plate is FPW 1945, using the letters you might come up with “Fluffy Pussy Willows” or “Five Perfect Waffles”. The second variation is to find letters in passing license plates in order for each letter of the alphabet.
A little further down you will find the classic license plate game where participants identify plates from different states.
15. The Memory Game
To begin, the first player names an object available in the chosen category that starts with the letter A. The next player has to repeat what the first player said and then add another item that starts with a B. For example, if player one says “Applesauce,” player two would repeat “Applesauce” and then might add “Brownies”. Player 3 repeats “Applesauce, Brownies and Chili. If you forget an item you’re out. The game continues until the player with the best memory wins.
16. The Movie Game
This game is for movie aficionados. Player 1 names an actor then Player 2 names a movie that actor was in. Player 3 then names another actor who also appeared in that movie. Player 4 names a movie that actor was in. If a player can’t think of an answer, they are out. The last player who can name the next answer wins. Here is an example:
- Player 1: Robert Downey, Jr.
- Player 2: Iron Man
- Player 3: Gwyneth Paltrow
- Player 4: Country Strong
- Player 1: Tim McGraw
- Player 2: The Blind Side
- Player 3: Sandra Bullock
- Player 4: Congeniality
17. Naughty or Nice
This is more of an activity than a game. Riders in the car smile and wave at people on the street or in other cars. If they wave back, they are nice. If they don’t they are nasty. Keep score to see if the journey had more Naughty or Nice people.
The game starts when one player names three nouns. The rest of the players take turns making up sentences which include all three nouns. For example, the three nouns could be ‘house’, ‘pickle’, and ‘cat’ which could lead to the sentence: “The HOUSE smelled like PICKLES because the CAT knocked the open jar off the counter.”
19. Off in the Distance
The driver picks an object they can see off in the distance. The rest of the players guess how far away the object is down to a tenth of a mile. Once the car arrives at the object, the driver announces the distance. The player who guessed closest to the real distance gets one point.
20. People Watching
As you are traveling find a vehicle with people in it and make up a story about the people in the car. Where are they going? What are they going to do when they get there?
21. Place Your Bet
The players make bets on things which might happen in a certain period of time on the trip. Whoever’s bet is closest to the truth wins. Here are some examples of bets:
- In the next two minutes we will pass a double trailer semi.
- In the next minute a blue car will pass us.
22. Punch Buggy/Slug Bug/Cycle Slug
Talk about old school, this game has been around for generations. Every time you see a Volkswagen Beetle, the first person to see it gets to punch someone else in the arm. Watch out because this game can get out of control.
There is a variation which has become popular lately which players identify motorcycles instead of Beetles. This helps children begin to identify motorcycles which are historically hard to see once they become drivers.
23. The Quiet Game
This can sometimes be as fun for the parents as it is for the kiddos. It’s as simple as this, the players each try to be quiet the longest. The last player to make a sound wins.
24. Road Trip Math
Using constants like miles-per-hour, gas prices and distance, have your kiddo figure out different math equations. This game features endless possibilities. Here are some examples:
- Figure out the gas mileage you’ve been getting.
- Calculate how long it will take to get to your destination given your average speed.
- Predict how much it will cost to fill up the tank at the next gas station based on the price per gallon and the number of gallons the tank holds.
- Have them read a map and figure the distance to your destination.
All the players create a crazy rule such as “every time we go over a bridge everyone has to scream” or “every time we go through a toll booth stare at the toll booth worker creepily”. Every time a rule comes into play the last player to follow the rule gets a point. The player with the least points when you arrive at your destination loses.
26. Spelling Bee
Have one player look up a list of hard to spell words. The rest of the players have to take turns spelling the words until only one player is left.
27. Taboo Words
The rules are simple. The players in the car think of five words they can’t say during the road trip. If a player says one of those words, they will receive a point. The player with the least points wins. If you want to make the game really interesting choose words that are often said during a road trip. Words like car, road, toll, restaurant, gas and tire will be VERY hard not to say.
28. Team Story Time
This game can be played one of two ways, but the concept remains the same. The participants craft a story one player as a time. The first variation of this game is to go one world at a time. The second is one sentence at a time. The game is over when one players says, “The End”.
Beware of this game, it can end up being so funny your driver might be unable to see from the tears in their eyes from laughing.
29. Two Truths and a Lie
Each player takes a turn making three statements. Two are true, one is false. The rest of the players have to guess which one is false.
In this game, one person will make an unfortunate statement, and then another player will counter the statement with a positive response. For example, one player could make the statement, “Unfortunately, there’s a shark swimming right in front of us.” A second player might say, “Fortunately, we are at an aquarium.” The more exaggerated and silly the statements are the better!
Road Trips Games That Take Some Pre-Trip Preparation
Some road trip games require a little bit of pre-trip preparation by either buying games or printing sheets. Below are some games to consider before you leave so you can have everything ready.
31. License Plate Game
Another game that is generations old and the premise couldn’t be simpler. Each player has a map of the United States and colors in each state they see a license plate from. The winner has the most states filled in.
The classic game is a great way to waste time. Below is a link to how to play the game with all the printables you will need.
33. Tic Tac Toe
It’s a classic game and easy for back seat riders to play.
Another classic game which makes a great time killer. In the car version on Hangman, one play thinks up a word less than ten letters. They tell the other players how many letters the word has. Each player takes a guess. If they get the letter right, it goes in the appropriate slot. If they get it wrong the letter they guessed is crossed off and a piece of the Hangman is drawn. The pieces of the hangman are a head, a body, two arms and two legs. If you are playing with smaller children you can add body parts such as hands, feet, facial features, etc.
35-42. Purchased Road Trip Game
Below are some games which you can buy but they are WELL worth the money and are hours of road trip fun.
Do you have a favorite road trip game? Leave a comment below and we will add it to the list.
Sue Nowicki is an alumna of the 2014/15 Disney Parks Moms Panel. She is a team mom extraordinaire who has filled her time serving as secretary, navigator, head cheerleader, treasurer, athletic trainer and team psychologist for her daughter’s travel sports team for over 15 years before becoming a team owner. She is also a travel consultant for Looking Glass Travel specializing in Disney destinations. You can follow her on Twitter at @JazzinDisneyMom.