road trip games for kids

19 Amazingly Fun Road Trip Games for Kids (Hours Of Entertainment)

One of the biggest challenges a road trip poses is keeping the little ones happy. Road trip games for kids are the best way to keep them entertained!

Forget keeping the costs down or the mammoth packing list. It’s keeping the peace in the back seat that is the real issue. Especially if you’re driving a long way.

Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, I’m going to share with you my list of 19 best road trip games for kids.

The best part?

They won’t cost you a penny!

These games are free, easy to play, and will hopefully make “Are we there yet??” a thing of the past.

You can thank me later for this mammoth, easy-to-use list of car games for kids!

Road Trip Games for Kids

road trip games for kids on the open road

This extensive list of road trip games for kids has everything, from word games to road trip games for tweens.

They’re a great way to get everyone involved, pass some time, and keep the kids from simply staring down at their iPads!

The games are divided up into 4 categories which should make it much easier for you to decide which ones to play, depending on what your kids like, and how old they are.

For the adults, our page on Road Trip Entertainment will provide you with all the games you need!

Categories

Easy
Word-Based
Creative
Whole Journey

EASY ROAD TRIP GAMES FOR KIDS

1. I SPY

Ok, let’s start with one of the classic car games for kids. It’s super easy to learn and can keep the kids entertained for long periods of time.

HOW TO PLAY:

To play I Spy, one person will ‘spy’ something from where they are sitting and recite the line “I spy with my little eye…” and then end this with a clue, for example: “…something green” Or “… something round”

 Everyone else in the car takes turns trying to guess what the first person has ‘spied’. Whoever gets it right, gets to ‘spy’ the next mystery item. 

For kids who are learning to spell there is a great alternative version. As with above, one person starts by reciting the line, however, the clue would be: “…beginning with…” and then whatever letter the item starts with. 

For example: “I spy with my little eye, something beginning with… C” (for a car). Again, everyone takes turns to guess, and whoever guesses correctly, gets to ‘spy’ next!

2. 20 QUESTIONS

20 Questions is a nice and simple road trip game for kids, and can easily involve the whole gang during a car ride.

HOW TO PLAY:

  • The first player thinks of something – this can be a person, a place or just an object.
  • The other players all take turns asking questions that can only be answered with yes or no.
  • After the questioners have asked 20 questions, each player gets a chance to make a guess.
  • If no-one guesses correctly, the first player who thought of the mystery idea is the winner!

USE A SINGLE TOPIC TO MAKE IT EASIER

You can limit this game to one topic to make it easier. For example, the first player must think of ‘a famous person’, and the questioners have 20 ‘yes or no’ questions to guess who it is. You can use whatever category you like.

3. TIC TAC TOE (3-IN-A-ROW)

Tic Tac Toe road trip games for kids

Teach the kids tic tac toe, and they can play each other for hours in the back of the car!

WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO PLAY

This game only has 2 players. You’ll need a piece of paper and a pen.

THE AIM

The aim is to plot either 3 X’s or 3 O’s in a row on the grid.

HOW TO PLAY:

  • Plot the classic tic tac toe grid as shown in the below photo on the piece of paper
  • Decide who will go first
  • The first player places an X on the grid in any of the spaces
  • The second player plots an O
  • The players continue to take turns attempting to plot ‘3 in a row’
  • If neither player manages to plot ‘3 in a row’ the game is a draw
  • The second player begins the next game

4. SIMON SAYS

Simon Says is a fun road trip game to keep the kids occupied for a while during family travel.

HOW TO PLAY:

One player is chosen to be Simon (I suggest you start by being Simon yourself). Simon will then start to give out commands for everyone to follow, such as “Put your arms in the air”. But there’s a catch… There are 2 types of command from Simon. Simon can either say:

  1. “Simon says put your arms in the air” – in which case all players must follow the command.

Or Simon can simply say

  • “Put your arms in the air” – in which case all players must ignore it.

Simon will continue to give out commands with a mix of the above trying to catch out the other players. 

If a player doesn’t follow the instructions correctly when Simon has said “Simon says…” or does follow the instructions when they haven’t said “Simon says…”, then that player is out of the game.

MAKE IT ACTIVE

Alternatively, you could give the kids a set number of ‘lives’ before they are out. Everyone could have 3 ‘lives’ for example. This game also works great as a game for kids to play at rest-stops, as you can give out more active instructions.

For example: “Simon says spin around” or, “Simon says jump up and touch the sky”. And on that note, why not try…

5. REST-STOP MINI OLYMPICS

Kids playing road trip games for kids

Ok, this isn’t necessarily a car game, but it’s an awesome way to get rid of some built-up energy at rest-stops. That’s why it’s included in our this list of best road trip games for kids!

HOW TO PLAY:

Activities can include running races, jumping jacks, handstands… the list goes on. Set each player a target. See who can do the most jumping jacks in 1 minute, or see who can hold a handstand for the longest.

 You might appreciate the kids having a little less energy when you get back in the car!

WORD-BASED ROAD TRIP GAMES FOR KIDS

Word-based road trip games for kids

This list contains some of the best word games to play in the car with kids! You might also like:28 Incredible Word Games to Play in the Car

6. THE LICENSE PLATE GAME

Another classic road trip game for kids! The License plate game is super popular for road trips across the US.

WHAT YOU NEED TO PLAY

Each player (or team) will need a piece of paper and a pen. For younger kids, I would also recommend a list of all the US states. There is one provided in this article.

THE AIM

The aim, of course, is to score as many points as possible by seeing license plates from as many states as you can. If you’re lucky, you might get all 50!

HOW TO PLAY:

  • Set a time limit for the game – this could be the whole journey or it could be 30 minutes
  • Try to spot license plates from as many states as possible
  • One point is awarded for a license plate spotted from any state – mark these on your list once spotted
  • The player (or team) with the most points at the end wins.

VARIATIONS

There are also versions of this for the UK, Europe, and Australia as well as other fun variations!

License Plate Game for kids

7. SPOT THE CAR

This makes an excellent alternative for families with car boffins in the ranks! A scavenger hunt again, instead of hunting for different states on license plates, players look for different car models or brands.

WHAT YOU NEED TO PLAY

Each player (or team) will need a piece of paper and a pen. Decide if you are playing with car makes or models. (Makes are easier to spot but models provide the opportunity for more points!)

THE AIM

The aim is to score as many points as possible by seeing as many makes or models as you can.

HOW TO PLAY:

  • Set a time limit for the game
  • Try to spot as many different models of car as possible
  • One point is awarded for each model – mark these on your list once spotted
  • The player (or team) with the most points at the end wins.

8. THE (ANIMAL) NAME GAME

Animal Game for kids

This was always one of my favorite road trip games as a kid. It’s always fun to try and think of obscure animals, and what kid doesn’t love animals!

HOW TO PLAY:

  • The youngest player starts
  • The first player names an animal
  • The next player must name another animal that starts with the last letter of the previous animal
  • Once a player cannot think of an animal, they are out
  • If an animal is repeated by a player, they are also out
  • The game continues until there is one player left!

VARIATIONS

If your kids are a bit older, a great variation of this game is to try it with songs, movies or geography (such as cities or countries). Once you have decided on a category, the rules are the same as above. The first player names something from the category, and the next player has to use the last letter of that word, and so on.

9. I’M GOING ON A PICNIC.

This memory game is perfect for the whole family – it can be played with as many players as you like.

THE AIM

The aim of the game is to be the last player able to recite all the items on the picnic list!

HOW TO PLAY:

  • The youngest player starts
  • The first player recites the line

“I’m going on a picnic and I’m going to take…” And then ends it with something that begins with A, such as “…apples.”

  • The second player repeats what the first person said, and then adds something of their own choosing that begins with B. For example:

“I’m going on a picnic and I’m to take apples and a blanket.”

  • Each player continues by repeating all the previous items and also bringing something new, whilst working through the rest of the alphabet
  • If someone forgets an item, they are out
  • The game continues until there is one person left!

10. ALPHABET RACE

Another alphabet-based game that is great for killing some time on a long journey.

WHAT YOU NEED TO PLAY

For this game, each child will need a piece of paper with the alphabet written down one side.

THE AIM

The aim of the game is to complete the alphabet race first.

HOW TO PLAY:

  • Each player looks out the window and searches for something that begins with each letter of the alphabet
  • As they spot something, players write down that object next to the letter on the page
  • The first player to finish the whole alphabet wins

11. HANGMAN

Hangman is an excellent word-based road trip game for kids that only requires a piece of paper and a pen. This game has been around for generations and is always a hit with slightly older kids.

HOW TO PLAY:

  • Choose a category eg. Movies, TV shows, Books, Places, Famous People
  • The first player thinks of something in this category and writes an underscore for each letter in each word. For example:

‘The Lion King’ would look like:    _ _ _     _ _ _ _     _ _ _ _  

  • The other players take turns to guess one letter at a time
  • If the letter is included in the secret answer, it is written in the correct place
  • If the letter is not included, the first player draws one part of the hangman scaffold (see the picture below)
  • Each time an incorrect letter is guessed, another part of the hangman is drawn on the piece of paper
  • If too many incorrect letters are guessed, the hangman is complete, and the guessing players lose
  • If the guessing players guess the secret answer before the hangman is complete, they win!

12. I’M GOING CAMPING

I’m Going Camping is a fun word game to play with older kids that can bring up lots of twists and turns.

HOW TO PLAY:

  • The first player recites the line:

“I’m going camping, and I’m going to take…”

  • They then create a secret rule for the items that can be taken camping and state they will take an item that fits the rule.This is the fun part for the first player, as the rule can be anything. It can be grammatical, for example, it must contain a double-letter, or must begin with the same letter as your first name.ORIt can be something sneaky.For example, you have to finish your go by asking the next person “what are you going to take?”, or fold your arms after you’ve finished your go.
  • As an example, let’s say the rule is that the items must contain a double-letter – the first player could say:

“I’m going camping and I’m going to take an umbrella”.

  • The other players then take turns to recite the line

“I’m going camping and I’m going to take…”and figure out the rule by guessing what items they can take.

  • The first player will confirm whether or not the other players can take the items they have guessed.
  • Players continue to take turns to guess items, including the first player (as this provides a hint to the other players).
  • Once all players have guessed the rule the game is over.
  • A new player becomes the first player and chooses a new secret rule for the next round.

Recommended age group

Teens

Creative Road Trip Games For Kids

This section of road trip games for kids aims to get the creative juices flowing…

13. What if?

Getting everyone to think about a hypothetical scenario can be a hilarious car game for kids.

How to play:

The first player asks a hypothetical question such as,

“What if you had a million dollars, what would you buy and why?”

OR 

“What if you could be any animal, what would it be and why?”

The other players then take turns to answer the question. You can be as imaginative and ridiculous as you like!

This is a simple yet effective game to get the kids thinking creatively. After each player has answered, the next player gets to ask a question.

14. Storytime

road trip games for kids fun

Just as with What If?, Storytime is a fantastically funny car game for kids, that gets everyone thinking creatively.

The Aim

The aim of the game is to tell a story as a team.

How to play:

The first player starts telling the story, but only one sentence. For example:

 “There was a bear”

The next person then continues the story with one more sentence. For example:

“Who went to the shops”

The game continues with each player taking it in turns to add more and more to the story. You might be surprised where this story takes you!

15. Two Truths and a Lie

Two Truths and a Lie is an entertaining game to play with the family, and might just show you who the best yarn spinners are!

How to play:

The first player tells the rest of the players 3 statements about themselves.

But there’s a catch

Two of these statements are true and the third is either a fib or not entirely accurate.

Obviously, this can be a little difficult when the whole family knows each other well, so the trick is to get creative. Use opinions, such as your favorite or least favorite colors/foods, etc.

The other players take turns to guess which the lie is! Those who guess correctly are the winners!

16. Name the Song

This game is guaranteed to get some laughs, especially if some of your family are tone-deaf!

How to play:

The first player hums (or whistles or sings) the theme tune to a TV show or movie.

All other players try to shout out the name as fast as possible. The first player to correctly guess the tune is the winner.

The winner gets to hum the next song.

Road Trip Games for Kids That Last The Whole Journey

This group of road trip games for kids are played over the entire duration of the journey! You can play them whilst you play other games in the list.

17. Don’t Say It

This is a simple, fun and occasionally competitive travel game for kids.

You can play it for the whole journey; it works well as a longer game to keep playing in between the other shorter games!

How to play:

At the start of the journey, choose 5 words at random.

No-one is allowed to say these words for the entire drive.

If anyone says one of those words, they receive a point.

The person with the least points at the end of the journey is the winner.

Make Things More Difficult

To make things more difficult, choose words that the kids are likely to use.

For example, if they know you have apples in the car and are likely to ask for one later, choose the word ‘apple’!

This will get them thinking and describing and can be funny for everyone. “Can I have a round, red piece of fruit please?”

18. Banana!

The Banana Game is another great road trip game for kids you can play for the whole journey. Just like ‘Don’t Say It’, it works well as a longer game to keep playing in between the other shorter games!

How to play:

Every time a player sees a yellow vehicle, they shout out “Banana!”.

For every yellow vehicle, a player sees they are awarded a point.

The player with the most points at the end of the journey wins.

19. Tunnels

Tunnels is another funny game the whole family can play which helps break up the journey. It’s very simple and is also played for the entire drive.

How to play:

Whenever you enter a tunnel during your journey, all the passengers in the car must hold their breath.

The aim is to try and hold your breath the entire duration of the tunnel.

Obviously, some tunnels are super long, so in that case, whichever player can hold their breath the longest is the winner!

Did I Miss Any Road Trip Games for Kids?

Now I’d like to hear from you..

Which game are you going to try with your kids first?

Do you know any other awesome road trip games for kids?

Either way, leave a comment below and let me know!

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