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13 Best Road Trip Games For Families

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As a family we have a long history of taking road trips going back to each of our childhoods. Some families took airplanes to far off places for vacations, we grew up vacationing on the open road. So it was only natural that we continued that tradition with our own children. We have so many amazing memories of our family road trips, but we also have plenty of experience entertaining bored children in the car. So this is a compilation of the road trip games that we have enjoyed over the years. Hopefully the next time you have restless kids something on this list will help pass the time.

Imagine the giggles, the friendly competition, and the shared stories that turn hours into moments. From spotting license plates from different states to weaving tales together, every game is a chance to connect and create moments that last a lifetime. Whether you’re navigating winding roads through majestic mountains or cruising along serene coastal highways, our roundup of family-friendly road trip games promises to keep spirits high and boredom at bay. Or, at the very least will help pass the time between rest stops.

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Games on the Go by Continuum Games - Portable Roadtrip Family Games to Challenge and Entertain for 2+ players

Games That Require No Planning

AI generated image of a happy family on a raod trip

Finding Wild Animals

Let’s start with a special game that’s a family favorite, but it’s kind of a secret because not many people know about it. We don’t even have a name for it! In this game, we look for wild animals (not pets or animals from farms) while we’re driving. If you’re the first to see a wild animal, you get to choose the music or another fun treat until someone else spots an animal. This game is awesome because it gets everyone to look out the window and notice the nature around us. You’d be amazed at what you can find! We’ve seen deer running, coyotes sneaking around, and lots of other cool animals we might have missed if we weren’t playing.

In the Midwest where we are from red-tailed hawks are very common and we compete to find these. They have white bellies that make spotting and identifying them easy. In an hour of rural driving it isn’t uncommon to see 25 or more of them. You should check and see if there is a similar wild animal where you are.

20 Questions

Next up is a classic game that’s perfect for road trips: the 20 Questions Game. This game is all about guessing and using your detective skills. Here’s how it works: One person thinks of something—it could be anything, like an animal, a vegetable, or even something super random like a famous landmark. Then, the rest of the family turns into detectives, asking up to 20 yes-or-no questions to figure out the secret.

For example, you can ask, “Is it something alive?” or “Can you find it in a house?” Every question gets you closer to solving the mystery. The best part? You can play it over and over, and it never gets old because the answers can be anything you can imagine. It’s a super fun way to pass the time and you will be surprised at how creative your kids will get trying to stump you.

I Spy

This one is the classic road trip game and it’s great for kids of all ages. Someone starts by choosing something they can see around them. It could be a cloud shaped like a bunny, a blue car zooming past, or even a funny sticker on a suitcase in the backseat. Then, they say, “I spy with my little eye, something…” and give a clue, like the color or shape of what they’re looking at.

Everyone else takes turns guessing what it could be, based on the clue. The person who guesses right gets to go next, choosing a new mystery object for everyone to figure out. I Spy is awesome because you can play it anywhere—inside the car looking out, or during a pit stop to stretch your legs. It’s a fun way to really notice all the cool stuff around you and make even the longest trip fly by with laughter and good times.

The Alphabet Game

We love games that get the kids looking outside so this is another of our favorites. Here’s how you play: Everyone starts with the letter A and looks for words that start with that letter on signs, billboards, license plates—anywhere outside the car. Maybe you spot an “Applebee’s” sign or an “Exit” sign for your A. Once you find an A word, you move on to B, then C, and so on, all the way to Z.

The catch? You can’t use the same word as someone else, and it has to be outside the car. This game can get pretty exciting as you get to the trickier letters like Q, X, and Z. It’s a great way to keep everyone engaged and looking out the window, plus it can be a fun way to practice spelling and learn new words.

The License Plate Game

As much as we try to avoid highways this is a great game for those times you can’t avoid them. The goal is to spot license plates from as many different states as possible during your trip. Each player keeps a list and marks off each state as they spot it. Since moving to the Southwest we have started to offer extra points for plates from Mexico.

Name That Song

This is one of those games that our family plays pretty much all the time now. We all love music and try to encourage our children to listen to as much variety as possible. So when we are in the car we will often turn on the radio and channel surf to see who can name the songs we hear first. If your musically inclined you can also compete at singing/humming a tune to see who can guess it. There’s a reason we stick to the radio lol.

We’re Going on a Picnic

The premise of the game is simple. The family is going on a picnic and each person takes turns adding an item to a list, remembering all the previous items as well. The game starts with someone saying, “I’m going on a picnic, and I’m bringing…” followed by something that starts with the letter A, like “an apple.” The next person repeats the phrase, includes the “apple,” and adds something that starts with the letter B, like “a banana.” This continues with each player adding a new item in alphabetical order, while also repeating all the items that came before.

For example: “I’m going on a picnic, and I’m bringing an apple, a banana, and a carrot.” The game gets trickier and more fun as the list grows longer, and players try to remember all the items in order.

This game isn’t great for little kids who may have trouble remembering, but our kids loved it when they were in middle school. To keep it fresh we allowed the kid who started it off to change the activity. Sometimes they came up with really creative (and goofy) ideas.

Categories

Next on our list of road trip entertainment is the Categories Game, a fantastic way to keep minds active and engaged while the miles roll by. This game is all about quick thinking and creativity, making it a hit for players of all ages.

Here’s how you play: First, decide on a category. It could be anything from “animals” to “foods” or “movie titles.” Someone starts by naming something within the category, like “elephant” if the category is animals. The next person has to name another item in the same category that starts with the last letter of the previous word, so in this case, “tiger.”

The game continues with each player adding to the chain, but here’s the twist: you can’t repeat words, and you only have a few seconds to think of your answer. This keeps the pace lively and the challenge level high. If someone gets stuck, they’re out, and the game goes on until there’s only one player left or you decide to start a new round with a different category.

Games That Require Some Prep

A happy family on a road trip

Car Bingo

This game requires either some DIY prep, or some shopping in advance but it is a lot of fun. Before you hit the road, you’ll need a bingo card for each player, but these aren’t ordinary bingo cards. Instead of numbers, they’re filled with things you might see on your trip, like a red stop sign, a yellow school bus, or a fluffy white cloud.

As you drive, keep your eyes peeled and mark off the items on your card when you spot them. The first person to get five in a row—up, down, across, or diagonally—shouts “Bingo!” and wins that round. You can make the game even more exciting by having small prizes for the winners or playing different versions, like looking for specific types of cars, animals, or roadside attractions.

product image from Amazon

Travel Bingo Game, Make Every Drive a Happy One! Car Game, Includes 4 Bingo Pads & 4 Pencils, Develops Observational Skills, Patience, and Simple Logic, for 1 to 4 Players

Mad Libs

Ever since I was a kid I have loved Mad Libs and I have passed that on to my kids. Every time we take a long road trip I pick up a booklet of Mad Libs for the car and we go through as many as we can. If you haven’t played the idea is that you have the kids fill in the blanks in a story with different types of words (noun, adjective) then you read the story back. Since you don’t know the context the result is almost always hilarious and surprising.

product image from Amazon

Vacation Fun Mad Libs: World's Greatest Word Game Mad Libs is the world’s greatest word game and a great gift or activity for anyone who likes to laugh! Write in the missing words on each page to create your own hilariously funny stories all about going on vacation.

Hangman

Once our kids got older we would play this game a lot. We actually started playing it to work on their spelling but don’t tell them that. To play one person thinks of a word, and others try to guess it by suggesting letters. It helps to have some way to take notes so you can keep track of what letters have been guessed and the progress. We found that with simple words this wasn’t necessary but seeing the word with the correct guesses filled in did help the kids out.

Tic-Tac-Toe

We went through a period where we played a lot of tic-tac-toe on road trips. We found the small magnetic sets to be great to keep in the car all of the time. Eventually the kids all discovered that almost every game was a tie and they stopped playing. This game pretty much requires either a pad of paper and pens or some other way to see the board. The game kit below is very similar to the one we had that worked so well for us.

product image from Amazon

Take N Play — Tic-Tac-Toe — Easy to Use, Hard to Lose — Fun on the Go! — For Ages 4+

A Bonus “Game”

The Quiet Game

Ok, this one isn’t really a game as much as it’s a chance for the adults to relax. If you can get your kids to play along it might be the best game on the list, sadly they will catch on fast. It’s nice while it lasts though.

AI generated image of a happy family on a raod trip

Conclusion

I really hope you found this list helpful. I didn’t realize until I started putting it together how many of these games we have played over the years. It brought back a lot of really good memories. Hopefully these road trip games can become a part of your families memories in the future. If you have any additions or stories you would like to share we would love to hear them. Hit us up on social media any time.

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Summer and Bill are the dynamic duo behind Adventureite.com, a blog dedicated to inspiring others to explore the great outdoors. With a combined lifetime of experience traveling and adventuring across America, they have a wealth of knowledge to share. From hiking to camping, kayaking to travel, Summer and Bill are passionate about helping others discover the beauty of the natural world.

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