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8 entertaining card games to play in the car with kids

Have a long drive ahead of you? Yeah, you could give your children a tablet pre-loaded with all their favorite movies and shows and then hit the road. However, if you’re wanting them to avoid adding yet more screen time to their lives, you might want to try some fun car games. After you’ve exhausted I Spy, the license plate game, Punch Buggy, and all the rest, pull out a pack of playing cards for kids (either a traditional deck or one of these game-specific card sets) and try your hand at one of these games.

And, yes, we know what you’re thinking — Card games? In the car? Won’t the cards go everywhere? Isn’t that a recipe for getting an ace of spades stuck beneath my passenger seat for the next five years? And not at all. With these card games to play in the car, no one’s sending their cards flying anytime soon.

happy family in the car
Image used with permission by copyright holder

That’s It! 

That’s It is suitable for older elementary-age children (10 and up) and is best for three or more players. What makes it ideal for car rides is that there’s no shuffling cards around between players, and there’s no draw pile that you’re forced to keep steady whenever you go around a curve in the highway. Plus, the driver can play, too. 

One player takes a topic card, gives the rest of the players the hint, and then waits until someone guesses the right word (so, for example, “a hammer” for “something you find in a toolbox”). The person with the most correct answers wins.

Sushi Go!

Sushi Go! does require you to pass along a deck of cards from player to player, secretly picking one card from each deck as you go along, but there’s no draw pile, meaning less risk of a mess. Each card corresponds to a number of points and whoever gets the most points from their secret card combinations (ie, builds the best sushi meal) wins. The game is suitable for two to five players, ages 8 and up.

A Scavenger Hunt for Kids: The Travel Card Game

For a travel card game that doesn’t rely on the cards too much, go with this scavenger hunt for kids card-based game. Each player takes five cards and then, as you travel, they look for the items on their chosen cards. If they spot an item, they discard that card. The first player to discard 10 cards wins. This game is great for younger players who might need to rely on visual cues to play a game, and it’s suitable for two to four players, ages 6 and up.

War

This long-standing card game is a favorite for two people and a good pick for when you’re ready for the kids to entertain themselves and either let you drive or help co-navigate from the passenger’s seat. 

Kids take a deck of traditional cards and shuffle and split them evenly, then take turns lying them down in the middle, one at a time. Whoever has the highest card gets to put both cards in their “keep” pile. The game is played until one player has all the cards in their possession.

Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza

If you have more than two children in the backseat, they can play this fun game that requires players to watch as the cards are thrown down, one on top of the other. The cards each show a fun illustration and a word, but most of the time, the words and the illustrations don’t match. When they do match, though, you have to hurry to slap your hand down atop the pile of cards. The last person to do so has to take all of the cards. The first person with all their cards discarded wins. 

Snip Snap Snorem

This old-fashioned game is suitable for ages 4 and up. So long as you can count, you can play. 

Deal out the playing cards and have each player organize their cards by number/rank. Then, one player places a chosen card on your central spot (maybe the car’s console?). The next player must play a card of the same rank (and say “snip” as they play their card); if they have another card of the same rank, they put that one down, too (and say “snap”). If they don’t have any cards of that number or rank, it’s the next person’s turn. Whoever plays the final card of that number or rank says “snorem” and gets to choose what number/rank to begin the next game at. Whoever discards all of their cards first, wins. 

Guess in 10 Card Game

The Guess in 10 Animal Planet card game requires players to take cards that list an animal, and then the other players can ask up to 10 questions to guess what the animal is. The first person who correctly guesses the animal wins the card. Collect seven cards to win. 

This game is incredibly easy for a car ride, as it requires no shuffling or swapping large quantities of cards, and kids can play it from ages 6 and up.  

Clue: The Card Game

Everyone loves the classic board game, Clue, but you can’t really take board games on the go. However, with Clue: The Card Game, your family can enjoy the same classic Clue game, only with cards. 

children in car
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Keep things fun during your next road trip, with playing cards for kids

Don’t let your next road trip (or any trip, really, as all of these card games can likewise be enjoyed during your next flight or train trip) be a bore. Give the kids something enjoyable to do, with one of these fun, interactive card games. Some are suitable for everyone in the car to play, while others are best for just the kids. Some require a lot of cards, while others won’t need that many. Whichever you choose, though, you’re sure to have a fun time. 

Need more travel tips for kids? Check out our article on packing the perfect kids’ travel bag. 

Editors' Recommendations

Holly Riddle
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Holly Riddle is a freelance food, travel and lifestyle journalist, who also dabbles in copywriting, ghostwriting and fiction…
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