As a family we have a long history of taking road trips going back to 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.
Counting Wild Animals
I’m going to cheat and start this list off with a game that I’ve never seen on any of these lists. It doesn’t have a name but we count wild animals that we spot. Whoever spots a wild animal (not pets or farm animals) gets to pick the music or some other perk until someone else spots something. We love this game because it encourages the kids to look outside and pay attention to the countryside as we drive. It is also pretty cool what your keen eyed children will spot. We have spotted so many deer, coyotes, and other critters playing this game that we would have missed otherwise.
I’m sure you are familiar with this game. The rules are simple, one person thinks of an object and others ask up to 20 yes-or-no questions to guess what it is. My favorite thing about this game is that it teaches logical thinking skills as you play. This is one of those games our kids never grew tired of and they can get very creative when they are trying to fool us.
This one is the classic road trip game and it’s great for kids of all ages. One person selects something they see and says “I spy something with my little eye, and the color is…” Others try to guess what it is. Your milage may vary on how enjoyable this game is but our kids loved it and wanted to keep playing long after we were ready to stop. At least it keeps them happy which is what’s important.
This game requires either some DIY prep, or some shopping in advance but it is a lot of fun. Each person gets a list of things that you might see on a road trip and then marks them off as they find them. The one who marks the most off wins. The best part is that the lists can be specific to the place you are visiting and it will get the kids looking and exploring as you drive.
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
The Alphabet Game
We love games that get the kids looking outside so this is another of our favorites. Take turns finding words in alphabetical order on signs, license plates, or billboards. We are often in areas that don’t have a lot of signs so we will mix it up and try to find things that start with the letters instead.
The License Plate Game
As much as we try to avoid highways sometimes they are necessary when traveling. So when we are on one this is a game we like to play. Everyone tries to spot different license plates from various states or provinces and try to collect as many as you can.
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.
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 and it is usually hilarious and amazing.
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.
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.
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. To keep it interesting you can change the activity, for example you can try “We’re going on a Road Trip”. We put this in the intermediate list because younger children may have a hard time remembering many items. The driver may also have a hard time paying enough attention to play along.
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.
Take N Play — Tic-Tac-Toe — Easy to Use, Hard to Lose — Fun on the Go! — For Ages 4+
This is another fun game that will stretch your children’s creativity. One person picks a category of things and then everyone, including them, takes turns thinking of a new thing from that category. The first one to repeat an item or fail to think of something new loses.
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, however they will catch on fast. It is nice while it lasts though.
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.
By Summer and Bill
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.