The Best Road Trip Car Games for Kids

Having scoured the internet for years, as well as forums, and asking family friends, we have chosen these kids’ games and the particular versions described as they are favorites for our family trips.

If the kids are happy then everything else is easy! These kids car games are easy to learn, can be played on short or long journeys, and are sure to become talking points for years to come.

Speaking Games:

As it suggests these are games that use words instead of cards, boards, game pieces, or other paraphernalia.

There is a massive array of spoken word games like the old favorites such as I-Spy or 20 Questions or Who Am I. Here are some variations that our kids love, as well as others, to try.

License-plate-game

1. License/Number Plate Game

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A fun game where silly answers are to be encouraged. This is great for kids spelling and introducing new ways to describe things!

Simply spot a License Plate and then create a phrase/statement to match the letters and numbers. To make it easier for younger ones we write it on a whiteboard.

805 – YDR

Eighty year olds 5 Yard Dunkshot sets Record

or

CN61GFC

Cindy North who is 6 had 1 Gigantic Flipping Chocolate.

2. I’m Thinking Of…

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A simplified version of 20 questions, and offers more objects than I Spy.

General Play
  • Lead player “I am thinking of ….,” they then name a category (animal, food etc) or even just a feature or attribute of the object or thing. Eg “I am thinking of something that is made of metal.”
  • The other players then make a guess or ask for another clue and we go back and forth between clues and guesses until they work out the correct answer.
What animal starts with a Q!!

3. Same Letter

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Another well-known favorite, it can test general knowledge or be made more specific when choosing your category. Each answer must begin with the final letter of the previous answer; no repetition allowed.

General Play
  • A category is chosen; careful selection is what makes this game so variable. You could choose anything but they best categories need lots of possible answers (eg animals, names, places etc).
  • Player one states an answer eg Horse (for a category of Animals)
  • Player two then has to think of an Animal beginning with the last letter of the previous player. e.g E – Elephant
  • The next player then does the same e.g T – Tiger
  • Play continues until a player cannot think of an answer. No repetition!

The category selection and the sub-sections that are allowed can make this game even more interesting. e.g Category of Animals is Dogs an acceptable answer or only specific species of dog!

Variations
  • You can start the same way, but you have to repeat the animals that have already been called out, i.e. HORSE, ELEPHANT, TIGER etc. Whoever forgets an animal is out of the game.
  • Use famous names where the next player has to think of a name with the first name begins with the first letter of the second name eg John Wayne > Winona Ryder > Rachel Weiz
  • Movie Game – Where you think of a movie, the next player has to think of an actor in that movie, the next player has to think of a different movie that actor has been in etc etc
No time to think!

4. Think Fast / Think Quick

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This is all about thinking quickly and not getting tongue-tied! Note: The fun and fast pace of this simple game can lead to people shouting out their answers!

  • Player 1 says a Category of a physical thing e.g flowers
  • Having stated the Category, Player 1 immediately starts counting down from 10 to 0 as fast as possible or taking around 10 seconds
  • Player 2 has to name an object in that category/topic before Player 1 gets to zero.

 If Player 2 cannot think of something before the time runs out, they lose, and it is again the first player’s turn to call out a category. However, if they beat the clock, it is their turn to call a category.

Example Game:

Player 1 – Sports, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4
Player 2 – Tennis
Player 2 – Country starting with E, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6
Player 1 – England
Player 1 – Animal with spots, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0
Player 1 – I WIN!

Variations:

– If the counting is too quick simply start at a higher number or get adults to count down in groups of two or three (21,18,15,12,9,6,3,0)
– Change the number of items within the category that Player 2 has to think of e.g They have to think of 3, 5 or 10 items in say 30 seconds.

The same but different..

5. Common Quality

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2 or small groups Aged 4+

This game has no real ‘winner’ but simply challenges the players recall and general knowledge.

General Play
  • The first player starts by naming an object and a quality/characteristic about it. eg a furry teddy bear
  • The next player must then name a different object say what the same quality/characteristic is, but also mention a new quality/characteristic that this new object has. eg a dog is furry and has four legs
  • Play goes back and forth (or around, with multiple players). 

Player 1: A furry teddy bear
Player 2: A dog is furry and has 4 legs
Player 1: A zebra has four legs and is black and white
Player 2: A penguin is black and white and can not fly…etc

Words everywhere but are they in the right order?

6. Alphabet Game

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We play this as a family team but it works equally well if played individually against each other. The challenge is, starting with ‘A’, to spot a word on road signs, billboards, shop signs, adverts, bumper stickers etc. Having found an ‘A’ you then move on to ‘B’ and continue until ‘Z’.

When playing individually be sure to announce your letter and word quickly, usually gesticulating wildly(!), to show its source and to avoid others from using the same!

Can you think of a word for every letter?

7. Alphabetical Categories

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Similar to the Alphabet Game, however, this does not rely on having items to see from the car. Instead you simply choose a category (e.g Food) and then the first players’ answer has to start with an ‘A’, second player with ‘B’ and so on until you get to Z.

Depending on there age topics could be Animals, Movie Characters, Bands etc We usually let each kid have two ‘Passes’ whereby the same letter moves to the next player.

Its always surprising and educational as to what your children might come out with. Who would have guessed our 4 year old knew what a Narwhal was!

Supposedly random words but do they have a link…?

8. Word Association

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This is another game that brings up the most unlikely knowledge.

Player 1 begins with a word and then Player 2 has to immediately think of a word that is associated. Play continues from player to player and on until someone makes a mistake. If the next player pauses (often due to confusion or laughter!) or indeed if the word they state has no obvious association then that player is out.

The discussions around whether a word is associated and the ‘defence’ of such association can be hilarious and very enlightening!

Once upon a time..

9. Adventure Tales

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This is a simple non-competitive game whereby players take it in turns to add a few words to a story. We usually let each player add 5 words. The stories become as wild and bizarre as your imagination!

  • Player 1 – In a dark forest under..
  • Player 2 – there was a small green..
  • Player 3 – turtle sitting on a big..
  • etc etc
Eggs, Tomatoes, Bacon, Beans… Armadillo??!

10. I Went To the Shops and I Bought…

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This is a popular memory game that has lots of variations.

  • At the start of their go each player states the sentence ‘I Went To the Shops and I Bought..’
  • Player 1 makes the statement and then adds an item (eg I Went To the Shops and I Bought..A ball)
  • The next player then makes the statement ‘I Went To the Shops and I Bought..’ and then has to say all the items that have been purchased before their go and then add another one. (eg I Went To the Shops and I Bought.. A ball and A carrot)
  • Play continues until someone makes a mistake; either not remembering all the items or not stating them in the correct order.

Variations

  • For younger kids it can be easier to remember if the items bought have to follow the alphabet. eg Avocado, Avocado-Ball, Avocado-Ball-Carrot etc
  • Change the initial statement; I Travelled to The Jungle and I Saw.., I Went on Holiday To.., I Packed in my Bag a..,
Don’t just follow the flock!!

11. Simon Says

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This is a great game when kids are starting to get a bit restless. We have played it when we aren’t able to stop but need to get them moving.

How to Play

The lead player, ‘Simon’, will call out commands (eg ‘Simon Says wave your hands’)and the other players have to follow.

The game comes in listening carefully to what the command is!

  • If the lead player starts by saying ‘Simon Says….’ then all the players MUST follow the command.
  • If, however, the player simply states a command, WITHOUT saying ‘Simon Says’, then all the players must IGNORE the command.

Example Game

  • Lead Player says – ‘Simon Says Wave your Hands’
    • All players must wave hands
  • Lead Player says – ‘Simon Says Cover your Eyes’
    • All players must cover their eyes
  • Lead Player says – ‘Stamp your Feet’
    • Any players that stamp their feet lose a life! Simon DIDN’T say stamp your feet!

Not strictly a speaking game but this is another one to get kids moving and twisting in their seats..

12. Waving Competition

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The challenge is to get passengers in other vehicles or pedestrians along the route to wave back! You can do anything you want to encourage your target to wave, from pleading to pulling faces. The winner is the one who receives the most waves.

A variation is when the kids alternate in having a go, with a 1-minute time limit to achieve success. We sometimes add the rule whereby kid 1 can specify a ‘grumpy’ target for kid 2. Kid 1 gains two points if Kid 2 fails but Kid 2 gets 10 points if they succeed!

Tip: When you do stop get your kids to use as much energy as possible. Why not try some exercises (e.g. How many Star Jumps in 20 secs) or even some of the active Minute-to-Win-it type games.

Paper / Pen Games:

(or invest in a Whiteboard)

How about some of these addictive paper and pen games. They work brilliantly when mixed ages are playing. We have some basic ones that work for younger kids (like the old faithful Tic.Tac.Toe) but also some more devious ones where developing a strategy will challenge any age.

As these games may have new concepts for kids to initially understand they are best first played where it is easy to explain. However, having played a few rounds and kids can easily play independently.

13. Dots and Boxes

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Dots and boxes Example Game
Dots and Boxes Example Game

Players: Normally two but possibly more.

This game is more complex than it initially appears, and even on a 5×5 grid, there is plenty of opportunity for skillful play.

How to Play the Game

Set-up by laying out a grid of dots of what ever size you prefer (5 x 5, 6 x 4 etc etc).

General Play

  • The two players take turns to join two adjacent dots with either a horizontal or vertical line.
  • If a player completes the fourth side of a box they initial that box
  • If you complete a box you must draw another line.

When all the boxes have been initialed the winner is the player who has completed the most boxes.

Tip
The secret is to NOT claim all of the squares in a given run. Towards the end of many games, it may be obvious who is going to win. If you are going to lose then by not claiming the last two squares of a chain (three or more squares) you can change the sequence of who gets which chain. With two squares left to complete simply leave a gap and add your line on the last square, which you are not completing, so your turn ends. Your opposition might then claims the last two squares you left but in doing so gives you the next chain.

14. Triangles

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Triangles
Example of Triangles game

Players: Normally two but possibly more.

A variation of the boxes game above but more suited to those that prefer a less formal structure! It is much harder to see all the potential consequences when you draw your lines.

How to Play the Game

Set-up by drawing a series of random, well-spaced, dots, at least 8 to make the game interesting.

General Play

  • The two players take turns to join two dots with a line.
  • The line cannot cross another line or pass through another spot
  • If a player completes a triangle they initial that triangle (or one person might color it in)
  • If you complete a triangle you must draw another line.

When there are no more dots to join / triangles to make then the winner is the one with the most triangles.

15. Sprouts

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Sprouts; consecutive goes till Blue wins.

Players: Normally two but possibly more.

This game is easy to understand and play but can be devilishly challenging if you are up to it.

How to Play the Game

Set up by drawing two or more dots (more dots makes it harder)

Players take turns to draw a line according to four basic rules:

  • Draw a line that joins two dots together or joins a single dot to itself.
  • The line cannot cross another line or pass through another spot
  • No dot can have more than three lines
  • Having drawn a line you add a dot on your line.

The winner is the last person to have a successful go.

To make these games more suited to playing in a car you might want to invest in a white board. This gives an endless supply of ‘paper’.

16. Scavenger Hunt Bingo

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Can you tell what it is?

There are lots of variations of this game but this is the one we play. We use whiteboards for many of our games (as a table, scoreboard, drawing sheet etc) and we will draw 6 or so items on the board. Each time an item is spotted it gets crossed off, the first person to see all six items is the winner. The nice thing is for some journeys you may know of landmarks or particular items that will definitely appear but you can also give slightly harder or more items to more experienced players.

A variation is to get them to keep a tally of each item and then compare at the end of a trip. eg Cows – 8, Red Cars – 3, Campervan – 5 etc

Do you know of any other great car games?

We are always looking to add to our list as our kids grow older and they also get tired of the same games!

Do leave us a comment below! We try to reply to each and every one!

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