Have you avoided long road trips with the family because you aren’t sure how to keep everyone occupied for hours in the car? Worry no more and start planning. We’ve pulled together a full list of road trip games that your whole family will enjoy. From teenagers to toddlers, we’ve got something on the list below that will keep your kids occupied and provide fun for everyone.
Remember the journey is part of the adventure and you should all have fun on the commute to and from wherever your next travel destination is. These travel games will help you connect with your kids and share a ton of laughs while cruising down the highway. Get ready to make some memories and enjoy the ride.
Make a Pit-Stop for a Scavenger Hunt
If the road’s getting blurry and the kiddos are restless, download the Let’s Roam adventure app and find a nearby scavenger hunt to reinvigorate your clan! Each experience includes a riveting tour of local attractions with interesting tidbits, trivia questions, and photo/video opportunities. In just a couple of hours, you can learn about a new place and bond as you complete challenges. Split into teams and compete against each other or work together to try to beat the city’s high score. Either way, your family is bound to have a blast!
Road Trip Games for the Whole Family
The road trip car games listed below will keep you and your family entertained for a good chunk of any car ride you have coming up. These games engage everyone and will help break up screen time kids in the backseat. Plus, any family games are good for connection and bonding. Start your trip off with a little fun on the way.
1. I Spy With My Little Eye
I Spy is an easy car game that kids of any age can play. Pick a person to go first and they find something that they can see. The game kicks off by saying I spy with my little eye something that is (fill in the blank). Usually, you describe the color or an obvious descriptor of the item to get people to start guessing. Everyone in the car can take turns asking yes or no questions about the object or making guesses.
This game helps younger kids be more aware of their surroundings. While you are driving, you might need to set some ground rules since you’ll be going through various areas. If someone picks something that you passed by 15 minutes ago, it might be a bit more challenging. You can also pick up I Spy books or other popular books where you can search for things, like Where’s Waldo.
2. License Plate Game
A fun game for highway driving is the license plate game. Keep an eye on the cars and trucks that you pass by and note the different license plates. Set a goal and see if you can achieve it on your journey. Can you find 20 states? Maybe even more? Will you spot any foreign license plates from outside the country?
Give someone in the backseat a notebook or use the notes app on your phone to track the license plates you spot along the journey. This game can last for your entire vacation, so it’s a good filler for time.
3. The Alphabet Game
This game is easy to play and will have everyone actively watching out the window to play along. You start with the letter A and everyone checks billboards, license plates, and anything outside the car with letters on it searching for that letter. Once it’s spotted, the person shouts it out and you move on to the next letter of the alphabet. Some letters will be much easier to find than others, but you can keep playing and cycling through the alphabet for as long as you’d like. It will help everyone in the car practice their observation skills.
4. Memory Games
Memory games are a fun way to pass the time and there are many versions. This might be difficult for very young kids, but you can offer a few hints to anyone struggling. It’s a great game that can pass a lot of time, and you can change up any of the games to make each version feel unique.
One popular version is I’m Going on a Picnic. The first person starts by saying, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing ________,” then you fill in the blank with a picnic item that starts with the letter A, like an apple or apricot. The next person repeats exactly what the first person said and adds something that starts with the letter B. For example, they would say I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing an apple and a banana. It continues around and around until someone can no longer remember all of the items.
Another option is listing things you’re picking up from the store, things you want to see at the zoo, or things you can find at a baseball game. Pick any location and have some fun personalizing it for your whole family. It will get the whole family laughing and paying close attention to each other for a good chunk of your time on the road.
5. Road Trip Bingo
Bingo is a great road trip game for kids, but adults will have plenty of fun as well. You can find bingo cards available at online retailers, like Amazon, or you can DIY your own. Each card should be unique to minimize the chance of multiple people getting bingo at the same time. The spaces should have pictures of road signs, common roadside spots, and even automobile types.
As you drive, each player will watch for the items on their card and check them off when they see them. If you’re worried about any cheating, you can require everyone to call out things that they see when they are crossing spaces off throughout the game. The first person to get an entire row calls out Bingo and the game starts over again. You can play various versions of bingo, like a postage stamp where you need to collect all the spaces in the same corner of the board or a “blackout,” where the entire board needs to be filled in.
Want to teach your kids something new but make it fun? Put together a trivia game for the backseat passengers. The adults can come up with some trivia questions, either off the top of their head or from an online resource, and take turns asking the kids in the backseat.
This is a great way to help them learn more about the destination they are heading to or the places they are passing along the way. Everyone will enjoy testing their knowledge and when they don’t know the answer, they are learning something new.
You can also deep dive into some of the things that your kids have learned in school recently like simple math problems, facts about animals, or even host a spelling bee in the car. You can split questions up into categories or direct certain difficulties to specific players to help younger kids have a chance to answer some of the easier questions.
Trivia can be done in so many ways that you could be entertained for hours. If you want some help coming up with ideas, take advantage of the free apps available to provide questions. You could even turn the tables and let the kids ask the adults questions, like a version of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
7. Name That Tune
Families who love music will love this game. There are two ways you can play it. The modern version is when someone is holding the phone and controlling the stereo in the car. They pick a song and play the first 10 seconds or so, then pause it and see who can guess the song title or the artist.
The other version requires the first player to hum or sing part of a song and see who can guess. This might be a little harder depending on whether or not the first player can carry a tune. But it will have the whole family laughing and having fun.
If the game becomes too easy, you can add on song lyrics and challenge everyone to finish that lyric. You can play the beginning of a song and then just pause it at a random moment and whoever’s turn it is must keep singing and see if they know the lyrics.
8. Who Am I?
This guessing game is a perfect game for the whole family. One person starts by thinking of a famous person. Everyone else takes turns asking questions about that person to start to narrow it down. Use only yes or no questions. You’ll start with general questions, like is the person real or fake, alive or deceased, and man or woman. As you start to get a better idea, people can take turns guessing. Whoever guesses the person correctly will be up next to pick a famous person.
If you have younger kids, you can play with characters from cartoons they love. It’s more fun if everyone playing knows the person that they are trying to guess, so consider that when you’re deciding who to play with.
9. The Movie Game
Movie buffs will love this game, but it’s best for older kids who know the names of actors. You start with someone saying a movie and then the next person takes a turn naming one of the actors in that movie. The game continues with the next person naming a movie the same actor had been in, then the next person has to come up with a new actor who was in that movie. It goes back and forth until someone can’t come up with an answer.
If this is too hard, you could come up with something instead of actors’ names, like the location or subject of the movie and it might be easier for younger kids to play. For example, you could say Star Wars, and the next person could say aliens (because they are featured in the movie) and a correct follow-up would be any other movie that had to do with aliens.
10. Scavenger Hunt
This game takes a little prep work before you leave. Have each person in the family come up with a short list of things that they want to see or think they might be able to spot while in the car. Once everyone has a list, you’ve got what you need for a scavenger hunt.
There are a few ways you can set this up for the car ride. You can take the full list and give everyone a copy so they know what they are looking for and work together as a team. Or you can randomly assign part of the list to each person to play for themselves. Because each person submitted a few ideas, you can mix them up and make sure that they didn’t set their lists up to be too easy. Another way to make it even more difficult is to require that the items are found in the order that they are listed.
When coming up with things to watch for, you can look for a certain breed of dog riding in a car, different types of farms or roadside stands, or funny roadside attractions. See if you can find a specific price for gas on a sign or a billboard for something random and funny. Get creative and make it difficult to make the game last a little longer because the celebration will be worth it.
If that all sounds like a lot of work, ScavengerHunt.com has ready-made app-led scavenger hunts in hundreds of cities around the world! They can be done on your time, so search for one on your route! It’s a great way to stretch your legs and learn about nearby landmarks!
11. Word Games
If you have a car full of people, you can incorporate some word games when you need a little quiet time on the drive. Games, like Hangman, can be played on a notebook and passed around between the passengers to play. These are definitely games that the driver cannot participate in, but it’s perfect for everyone in the backseats.
For hangman, someone chooses a word and draws the number of blank spaces that match the number of letters in the word. Each player takes turns guessing letters and if they are not in the word, another part gets added to the hangman. If you have too many incorrect guesses, you lose, and the player that came up with the word wins. This is a game that helps work the brain a little bit, so it’s a great option for kids who need to be entertained for a while during a road trip.
Mad Libs is another fun word game for the card. Pick up a book filled with prepopulated stories and fill in the blanks using words supplied by everyone else and read them out loud for some laughs. A simpler notebook game is TicTacToe and even younger kids that are not able to read yet can participate in a round or two of this popular game.
12. Never Have I Ever
See if you have done more interesting things than the rest of the car by playing a game of Never Have I Ever. Each player puts up five fingers to start. Someone begins by sharing something that they have never done and if anyone else in the car has done it, they need to put one finger down. The goal is to get people to put down their fingers before you do, so it’s good to think of things that you think others in the car have done.
This is a game that isn’t easy for the driver to play because both hands should be on the wheel while driving, but you can get creative and have someone hold up their other hand for you.
13. Would You Rather?
This classic conversation starter makes for a great game for a family road trip. You pose a question to everyone in the car with two options. Both of the options are usually not great, so it provides funny conversation. Questions range from disgusting to hilarious to thought-provoking. There are decks of cards with pre-populated questions or you can check out a great online list of would you rather questions to play with kids.
14. Punch Buggy or Slug Bug
This game might not be a favorite of every family, but most kids will find out about it at some point. While there are many names, the object of the game is still the same. The first person to spot a Volkswagon Bug gets to yell out Slug Bug or Punch Buggy and punch the person next to them on the arm.
You can see why it can be problematic, but you could always change the rules a bit for your family. Maybe you keep a special snack in the car and whoever sees a bug first gets a piece of the snack. Get creative with it or prepare to have a sore arm during your road trip.
Another popular game like this is Padiddle. In this version, you are watching for a car that only has one working headlight and when you spot it, you yell out padiddle. There’s no real point other than racing everyone else in the car to say it first.
15. Rock Paper Scissors
This simple, classic game is an easy backseat entertainer during a road trip. All you need to play is your hand. Countdown by three and then throw up one of three signs. Rock is a closed fist, paper is a flat hand, and the scissors are done by making a scissors shape with your index and middle finger.
Both people will throw up their signs. Paper beats rock, rock beats scissors, and scissors beat paper. You can play best of three rounds or make an entire tournament out of the game. If you really want to kill some time in the car, you can make up other signs and define how they fit into the game.
16. Word Association or The Name Game
Playing a word association game is a good way to get everyone’s brains working while cruising along the highway. The idea is that one person throws out a single word and the next player has three seconds to rattle off something related to that word. If the person takes longer than three seconds or says a word that doesn’t make any sense, they are out. The game can continue until there is only one person still standing to be the winner.
You can use any type of category. We will give you some examples to help get you started. Think of an animated TV show, a fruit or vegetable, a person that you all know, a subject in school, or an animal. This game can be especially fun because you never know which direction it’s going to head. Each answer only needs to be associated with the last word spoken, so you might end up with a totally separate topic by the second or third round.
17. The Silent Game
Need a break from everyone talking and singing and bouncing around? Challenge everyone in the car to the Silent Game. The name of the game describes it perfectly. Once the game starts, everyone must stay silent. The first person that breaks the silence loses the game and it’s over. It’s the best way to help settle everyone down if the energy levels are high. It’s pretty difficult for kids, but there will be some suppressed giggles as they try to stay silent.
18. 20 Questions
This classic group game is perfect for a family in the car for a long period. Each person picks something to think about and then everyone takes turns asking yes or no questions to try and figure out what it is. The first questions are general and they get more and more specific to narrow down the endless options for the answer. The person with the answer wins if the rest of the car cannot guess the correct answer within 20 questions. Then, it goes to the next player to come up with something and do the same process all over again.
19. Rest Stop Olympics
Taking breaks from long road trips is important. Your body isn’t meant to sit in one spot for hours on end. People will need bathroom breaks and snacks, plus you’ll need to refill the gas tank. Whether you are pulling over on the side of the road or at a rest stop, you can take full advantage of those breaks from your car.
Come up with a few physical activities that you can do when you get out of the car. Some ideas include 100 jumping jacks, 10 push-ups, racing around certain obstacles, the long jump, or other activities inspired by Olympic events. By making it a little competitive, it’s more fun than just being told to stretch your legs. You can even offer prizes for the fastest or the MVP.
Taking advantage of moving around a little on these short breaks will make the entire ride more comfortable for everyone and will allow kids to settle down for those stretches in the car where they have to sit still.
Other Items to Pack for Entertainment on the Road
Travel games are great for a little family bonding time, but most parents also want a little quiet time to just sit back and enjoy the scenery. This list below includes a few things that will help bring you some quieter moments even if your car is filled with young children.
Audiobooks and Podcasts
A popular road trip option is to listen to something interesting while you’re driving (or riding). Podcasts have become more and more popular in the last decade and you can find podcasts about any topic. You can practice foreign languages, listen to stories about historical events, or learn about unique topics.
Audiobooks are like podcasts, but longer. You can choose a book that everyone has already read or something new and press play when the road trip starts. Harry Potter books are great options because they are popular with a wide range of ages, they last for hours, and even adults can enjoy the stories.
Music is a great add-on to a road trip. If everyone in your family has diverse tastes, you can take turns adding songs to a shared playlist and let everyone get a taste of each other’s tunes. Most families probably have a few songs that they love doing a singalong to and there’s no better time for this than on a road trip. Roll the windows down and sing loudly and be open to whatever songs pop up on the playlist. You might all find a new favorite.
Screens and Tablets for Movies and TV Shows
Movies and TV shows can help make the time pass quickly. Some cars even come with screens built in behind the front seats. Even if you don’t have that, you can still pack iPads or portable DVD players that can keep the kids entertained for a few hours watching their favorite Disney movies or a few episodes of their favorite TV show.
Streaming services allow you the ability to download a few options to your device so you can watch them even when you don’t have any service. Download a few before your trip so you have them ready to go for those long stretches when you want something easy to keep kids occupied.
Handheld Video Games and Apps
If movies and TV shows aren’t good for your kids, or you want an additional option, you can download a few games on a phone or iPad to play while on the road. It’s possible that they already have a favorite game, or you can download a few new ones to keep things interesting.
Some games are educational and some involve solving puzzles. It’s just good to have a couple of options in case the kids get bored. Screen time should be kept to a minimum, but it can be a nice treat on a long road trip to give everyone a little break from talking to each other.
Activities for Young Kids
If you have kids that are in car seats and too young to get involved in the games we listed above, we’ve got a few ideas to help make car rides a little easier on everyone. Try one of these to offer the kiddos something fun and unique.
Each holiday, you can usually find some festive clings that stick to your windows and can be easily removed without leaving any marks. These are perfect to entertain little kids while on the road. They can decorate the window next to them and move the clings around without leaving residue on your car window. It gives them a little color, plus their little hands have an activity that they can do from their car seats.
Pill Boxes with Snacks
When trying to occupy young kids, snacks are an easy and effective way to go, but if you just dump everything out on the car seat tray, it won’t last very long. Consider putting their road trip snacks into a pill container or something that has multiple compartments. They will have fun opening each cover and discovering the snacks. Mix it up with some healthy options and maybe some cookies or candy in some of them.
Coloring Books and Sticker Books
Another activity that kids can do in their car seats is activity books. Coloring books are one option that works great for kids who are a little older. If balancing too many crayons or markers is too much, you can find the new coloring books that just require one marker and it uses water to turn the page into different colors.
Sticker books are also super popular. Young kids love pulling stickers off the sheet. Just be aware of where the stickers are being placed, because, unlike window clings, stickers will leave a mark and you don’t want to have to pay any fines if you have a rental car.
Ready to Hit the Road?
Think about all the places you’ve been wanting to explore with your family and get to planning. Take a road trip through some of the country’s most beautiful National Parks or explore some historical sites like Washington DC or Boston. No matter where you’re going, you’ll have plenty to keep you busy while you’re en route. Use the comment section to let us know which game your family loves the most!
Frequently Asked Questions
Download the Let’s Roam app along with a few audiobooks and movies for the road. Pack up some snacks and have road trip games ready. When you need to stretch your legs, try a walking scavenger hunt in a nearby town!
There are tons of road trip games that don’t require any supplies. Play the Alphabet Game or the License Plate Game where you’re searching for items as you’re on the road. You can also play trivia or bring up a list of Would You Rather questions.
When you travel with the whole family, you’ll want activities that are fun for everyone. A vacation doesn’t need to be all about a specific destination. Consider an unforgettable road trip packed with games and scavenger hunts in various cities!