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Road trip games for laugh-out-loud fun in the car (and no devices!)

Keep your sanity in the car with kids and try these classic and new road trip games

Family enjoying a podcast during a road trip
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Road trips can be a lot of fun for the entire family. From the scenic mountains to the majestic plains, no matter where you’re going, there’s always something exciting to see when you are on the road. However, when you have kids, sometimes, even 20 minutes into the trip, you may start to hear things like, “Are we there yet?” The other problem with road trips is that kids, especially tweens and teens, retreat into their devices. Instead of the scenery, kids are getting even more screen time.

So how can we help kids find creative ways to pass the time in the car that don’t involve electronics? It’s not any different from when you were a kid. Road trip games are a tried-and-true way to keep kids busy in the car without zoning out on their screens. Don’t remember car games from your childhood? We’ve got some classic road trip games and some new ones to help you keep the kiddos engaged so you can drive to your destination in peace.

Road trip games for kids

No one really knows when road games became a thing, but playing games has been around for centuries. Archeologists even found a pair of dice that were thought to be 3,000 years old. So, it stands to reason car games became a thing pretty quickly because kids haven’t changed much. They get bored easily, especially on long car trips. Road trip games are a great way to keep the kiddos occupied in the car, off their devices, and engaged with each other. Family bonding is a big part of a road trip, and the fun doesn’t have to start when you reach your destination.

Family on a road trip
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Classic road trip games

Odds are you have played a couple of these car games when you were a kid. Now, you get to share the fun with yours.

The Quiet Game

Your parents played this one. Who can stay quietest the longest? Sure, it’s for parents to get a few minutes of quiet, but if your kiddos are competitive, perhaps it will last.

Punch Buggy

Remember this one? Your shoulder might. The first person to spot a Volkswagen Beetle gives the passenger closest to them a light punch. Keep score to see who gets the most punch buggies and yes, you can play it without the punching part.

I Spy…

This is an oldie but a goodie. “I spy something with my little eye beginning with…” You know how this road trip game goes. Play it using letters, food, or the cool scenery you’re driving past.

20 Questions

Another classic road trip game, 20 Questions starts with a player choosing an object. The other players ask yes or no questions to try to figure out the object. You can also narrow down the objects before starting by picking a subject like foods or animals.

License Plate Game

An awesome way to get the kids’ heads out of their devices is to play License Plate Game. Players write down the license plates they see on the trip. When you get to a rest stop, compare and see who has the most.

A family taking a break from a road trip.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

More fun road trip games

These road trip games might not be as well known, but they are still a blast to play.

Rule

This is a fun game that the whole family can get in on! To play this game, every person in the vehicle has to make up a nonsensical rule. For example, the rule could be something like “every time we cross over a railroad, everyone has to bark like a dog,” or “each time we go into a tunnel, everybody has to tap the ceiling of the car.” There are many nonsense rules everyone can think of. Every time someone remembers a rule, except for the last person to catch on, gets a point. The person who has the greatest number of points when you get to your destination wins.

Picnic

This is a great game that will test everybody’s memory, so it exercises the brain, too. It begins when someone says, “I’m going to a picnic and I am bringing, (insert item).” The next person in the car then says the same sentence and repeats what the first person said, and then they add their own ingredient. Then, the next person to go has to repeat those two previous items and then add their item, and this goes on until the person who cannot remember all the items loses, and the game can start over again.

Triple Threat

This game involves both the adults and the kids. The parents have to come up with three totally random words. It could be sun, llamas, and telephones. The sillier the words, the better. The parents have to tell their kids the three words that they came up with, and after that, the kids have to come up with a silly story involving all three words. Watch how quickly this game goes from zero to laugh-out-loud funny in seconds! After the kids have succeeded in coming up with a great story with those three objects, keep doing rounds of the game until you get to where you’re going.

Cow on My Side

This game is very simple and can get competitive, too, but in the best fun-loving way. When you pass a group of cows, the first person to shout, “Cows on my side!” gets a point. Of course, if someone sees cows on the other side, which is their opponent’s side, they can shout, “Cows on your side!” and they will then steal the point from their opponent. Even better, if you pass a cemetery, the first person who yells, “Ghost cow!” steals the points from everybody’s side! It’s a silly game that everyone can enjoy.

Miles of Smiles

The premise of this game is very simple. When you leave the house and you see a car, you smile your biggest, cheesiest smile. Keep count of how many drivers will smile back at you. The person with the most smiles wins. There is a book of the same name filled with other fun-filled activities to do while you’re in the car. Waving is allowed in the game, but no funny faces that would encourage the person in the other car to laugh. This is best played when you’re on a highway and there are other cars.

Car Bingo

This game is a good one for younger kids but does involve some prep time. Make a list of the things you might see on your road trip. Kids have to cross them out as they see them. The winner is the person who crosses off all the items.

Drawing of road trip items
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Road trip games for teens

Keeping teens off their phones is tough. Try these car games if you’re hitting the road with your teen.

  • Guess That Song
  • Sing the Next Line
  • Would you Rather
  • Six Degrees of Separation

There are so many memories to make on the road trip to your destination. In this day and age, we can easily hand the kids a tablet, phone, or any other electronic and leave it at that. However, sometimes it’s healthier and better for them to disconnect from their devices. Road trip games are a great way to bond as a family and make lasting memories.

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Jennifer Passmore
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Jennifer has written two books on how to deal with living with chronic illness using the power of positivity. She has written…
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