45+ BRILLIANT ROAD TRIP GAMES THAT MAKE TIME FLY

Road trip games can save your sanity when the path is winding and there is no end in sight. As a family of five, we often travel by car, and although I do allow my kids screen time on long car rides, playing travel games can make memories along the way, and many have a hidden educational agenda too.

Here’s a list of 45+ awesome travel games to play in the car, that are guaranteed to make time fly!

45+ BRILLIANT ROAD TRIP GAMES THAT MAKE TIME FLY

BEST ROAD TRIP GAMES USING ONLY YOUR IMAGINATION

  • I’m going on a picnic. This game used to confuse me, but now I think I’ve got it!  Here’s the gist:  you can go on a picnic and take something that begins with the first letter of of the alphabet. The next person repeats all the previous letters, and then adds an item that corresponds to the next letter. If you’re the fourth person in the game, you might have to say, “I’m going on a picnic and I ‘m bringing an apple, a bronco, a candle and a dog. Not only is this our favorite road trip game, it’s also the one we play in restaurants that take a while to bring out the food!

  • 20 Questions. You have 20 questions to figure out what somebody else in the car is thinking. Start broad and get more specific as you go – Is it an animal, vegetable or mineral? Is it furry, green, or hard?

  • Fortunately/Unfortunately. This one is pretty simple and fun. It’s a progressive story with a catch – each person adds a sentence to the story, but must start that sentence with fortunately or unfortunately, alternating as you go. So Jim went to the store for a drink. Unfortunately it was closed. Fortunately he found a soda machine. Unfortunately it didn’t take dollar bills. Keep alternating fortunate and unfortunate situations. You get the idea.

  • Word Association. What do you think of when I say Spiderman? That’s how you start word association. The first person says something and the next person has three seconds to associate the word with something else. So, Spiderman, Batman, Robin, Bird, parakeet, pet. See? If someone takes longer than three seconds, or the word they say doesn’t make sense, they are out.

  • Cows on my Side. This one is my father’s favorite game. It also sharpens your math skills. Count the cows on your side of the road. Pass a cemetery, lose all your cows and start over.

  • Name that Tune. For the musically inclined family, hum a little tune. Can you guess this tune in 10 notes? 5? The person who can name that tune in the fewest notes wins.

  • Rock, paper, scissors. It’s an oldie but a goodie, and my kids can play forever. Pound your fist three times than come up with a fist for rock, index and middle finger for scissors and a flat hand for paper. Rock crushes scissors. Scissors cut paper. Paper covers rock.
  • Team Story Telling. One of my favorite memories with my kids was telling a progressive story around the campfire. It involved an elephant that laid cheesecake eggs. To play this game, have one person start the story and then the next has to pick up where they left off. You never know where things will go.

  • Slug Bug. Punch buggy. Beetle. Lesli’s kids call it Slug Bug. My boys say Punch Buggy. When I was little my brother and I called it Beetle. No matter what you call it, this road trip game is all about spotting Volkswagen Bug cars. My boys have added elements too, like ‘punch buggy, no punch backs” then “security safe in a shell,’ whatever that means. And for some reason, a convertible is worth two punches. Unless my husband is involved and he says it only counts as one and vintage bugs are the only thing that counts as two.

  • Who am I? This is a guessing game where players use yes and no questions to guess the identity of a famous person. So you might ask Is it a woman? No. Was he ever president? Yes. Was he a general? Yes Did he live in Virginia? Yes. Is he George Washington? Yes.

  • Animal Name Game. Each person says their name and an animal that starts with the same name (Sue the salamander). The next person says all the names before them and adds their own. If they mess up – the game starts a new.

  • Alphabet Game. This classic road trip game is a fun game to play for all ages, because anyone can play as long as they can identify letters A-Z outside their window! The game is played by finding all 26 letters of the alphabet on things that you pass as you are going down the highway, in order, from A to Z.  Check out billboards, roadside signs, license plates, restaurant signs — anything! — and once you see the next letter, call it out.  You can work together as a group, and play as long as you want.

  • Telephone. Tell the person next to you a secret, and have them pass it on. When it gets to the driver, have him say it out loud. You’ll laugh at how the message has changed.

  • License Plate Game. You can play this a number of ways. Go through the alphabet A-Z or Z-A using the letters on the license plates you pass on the road. For more advanced players, try to spell words. You can also do this with road signs.

  • City, Country, River. Pick a letter from the alphabet and come up with a city, country and river that start with the letter. For example ‘S’ could be City: Salzburg, Country: Sweden, River: Shenandoah.

  • Bob the Memory Builder. Can you remember all the items needed at the store? The first person goes to the store and gets something that begins with A – probably apples. The second person goes to the store and gets apples, but also something that begins with B – bananas anyone? The third person goes to the store and gets apples, bananas and so on.

  • How Long is the Tunnel. When I was a kid we visited my grandparents in NYC and always had to go through the Holland Tunnel. Right before we’d all pick a number, then as soon as we got into the tunnel, we’d start to count. Whoever got closest without going over won. Of course, my brother the cheater would always slow down or speed up so he’d be the winner. This is one of my favorite games to play with my kids.

  • First One to See it Gets a Nickel. This game is quick and works best on familiar routes. My father would announce the first person to see the Delaware Memorial Bridge gets a nickel. (Not sure how many kids would do anything for a nickel now, so you may want to up that amount.) Of course, my dad knew exactly where to look and was the first to find it every time, but we always looked and it broke up the boredom for a tiny bit.

EDITOR’S TIP: Still trying to figure out where to go on your road trip? I recommend a stop at the beach, or one of these East Coast destinations.

FUN ROAD TRIP CAR GAMES THAT ONLY REQUIRE PEN AND PAPER

  • Connect the Dots. This was always one of my favorite games and you can make the board as big or small as you want. Just put dots in rows and try to make a box. When you do, put your initial inside. As long as you can make a box, you keep going. Person with the most boxes wins.

Note: Looking for some games that will work once you arrive at your destination? Check out 100 Games to Play on a Family Vacation from our friend Kirsten.

FAMILY ROAD TRIPS GAME PURCHASES YOU WON’T REGRET

  • Spot It! On the road. Spot It! is one of our favorite games and we play it with just adults too. This simple card game uses symbols, no words, so even small children can play. There are five games you can play with one set of cards, but our favorite is just spotting the symbol that matches. Sounds easy, but not so much.

  • Personalogy. Not all card games are for kids. Personalogy is like the Newlywed game on the road. Predict your opponents answers to questions and you win. So If your opponent could be a fly on the wall – which event would they listen in on and why? a. A war room plotting the capture of Osama Bin Laden. b. The birth of Prince William and Kate’s son? c. Michael Jackson’s last concert rehearsal d. Judges panel of a finale of a reality show?

Need help packing? Try this Road Trip Essentials List from my friend Kim.

ROAD TRIP BOOKS

  • LeVar Burton Kids Skybrary. If your kids get sick reading in the car, or are too young to read yet, try getting books from the former Reading Rainbow host. For adults you might want to try LeVar Burton’s podcast – billed as Reading Rainbow for adults.

  • Audible. Lately I’ve found that books on tape keep me glued to the car seat even after we’ve reached our destination. If you download audible, Amazon has a special where you can Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks. In addition to adult titles, they also have children’s books, as well as popular young adult series.

And if you need a break on your road trip, here are some ideas to find the perfect pit stop. 

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