My family took a lot of road trips when I was growing up and we did not have portable DVD players, mobile phones, or handheld video games to keep us busy. My mom had to be creative to keep me and my sisters from destroying each other and annoying her for countless highway hours. Like many other families in the pre-digital age, we played road trip games to pass the time and we had a lot of fun, too.
Today, I play many of the same road trip games with my own children. Not only do they pass the time more peacefully, some of the games also have cognitive benefits (but don’t tell the kids). Here are eight classic road trip games to take with you on your next road trip. Feel free to print them out using this link so that you have the rules in the car. But also remember that your family can vary the rules to suit your particular dynamics as well. The important part is to have fun and enjoy the trip.
Eight Classic Road Trip Games
Probably the most popular road trip game today, I Spy is pretty basic. A player selects something that they see, either inside of the car, or outside of the car if it will be visible for a little while. The player then briefly describes something about the item, saying for example, “I spy something red.” The other family members then try to guess what the item is. If someone guesses correctly, they pick the next item. If no one guesses correctly, the player gets to go again, spying a new item.
I Packed My Bag
I Packed My Bag is a memory game. The first player says “I packed my bag and in it I put,” adding an item, for example a dress. The next player repeats the sentence, adding their own item to the list. Each person repeats the entire sentence including all the previous items, and adding their own to the list. Players are eliminated if they forget an item. The winner is the player left after everyone else is eliminated.
There are several variations of the Alphabet Game, but in the basic version players attempt to find the letters of the alphabet on road signs, in alphabetical order. Once a letter on a sign has been claimed, other players cannot use it, but they can claim other letters on the same sign. The first player to find all 26 letters is the winner.
License Plate Game
The License Plate Game is pretty simple and can be varied. Players try to find license plates from every state and other countries. Decide how long the game will last before it starts. For example, the game can last for an hour or the entire road trip. Play can be as a family or as individuals competing against other players. Keep a list of the plates seen, or check them off a license plate list you printed in advance.
The first player selects an object, either animal, vegetable, or mineral, and tells the others players which category the object is. Then the other players ask up to 20 yes or no questions. For example, “Does it fly?” Players can guess the object at any time. The player who properly guesses wins and chooses the next object. If no one gets the object correct, the player gets to select another object and the questioning begins again.
This game can be played with just about any complex object, but we play it with cars. Each player takes turns naming the parts that make up a car. Depending on how much auto knowledge is in the group, the game may last a few minutes or for quite some time. This game is more fun and challenging than it sounds.
This is not a competitive game but it can be very entertaining. The first player says the first sentence of a story. The second player adds the second sentence, and so on. This game is good for passing the time and can bring lots of laughs.
This is game is similar to Team Storytelling except each sentence after the first begins with either fortunately or unfortunately, alternating each time. For example:
Last weekend I bought a dog.
Fortunately, he was very cute.
Unfortunately, he ate my rabbit.
And so on.
Which games do you play on your family road trips?
More road trip tips.
Printable list to keep in the car.