10 Games to Play on Car Trips

Car trips. They can be every parent’s worst nightmare when travelling with kids. No one can ever seem to coordinate wanting to stop to eat at the same place or the same time, everyone has to go to the bathroom at different times, and it’s inevitable that you will hear someone say “I’M BORED” at least a hundred different times. Not to mention even siblings who are the best of friends outside of the car can turn into the worst of enemies on car trips, enticing fights with each other by hogging seat space or finding various ways to annoy their backseat companions. Even the shorter car trips can seem inexplicably long when you have kids fighting with each other and endlessly complaining. And as much as we hate to admit it, after hours in the car listening to bickering and bantering, our worst sides tend to pop out and we utter phrases we used to hate hearing our own parent’s yell at us, such as “If I have to pull this car over sohelpmeGod…” and “Do NOT touch your sister again!”.

Yes, car trips. They’re an unavoidable fight just waiting to happen. So what can you do to pacify your kids and ease your own mental pain for at least part of the trip? Play car games, of course! When the hours of driving boredom are setting in it’s a great way to have some fun, break up the tension, and getting everyone involved. After a few minutes you’ll see even the most reluctant participants cracking a smile and chiming in with their contributions.

  1. I Spy… Probably the most famous of car games, I Spy has pacified kids for years upon years of car trips. It’s also incredibly easy to play – you just appoint the person doing the “spying” and pick out an upcoming object. In a sing-song voice you declare “I spy something… (insert color)” and your kiddos will start frantically looking around trying to figure out which landmark or sign you’re looking at that has the defining color, shouting out answers until someone stumbles on the right one.
  2. The Alphabet Game - This was a favorite from my own childhood. With this game participants start with the letter “A” and look for the letters on license plates, billboards, restaurant signs, and anything with words on it and call out the letters of the alphabet and the word you found in which you found the letter in order until they reach “Z”. While some letters are easier than others to find, it’s always a hunt as to who can find something with the letter “J” in it and other obscure letters not often used. For instance, if there was a McDonald’s sign and you were on the letter “M” you’d call out “M! On the McDonald’s sign!”
  3. The Counting Game - Playing the counting game is great for teaching small children how to count – you just pick a certain thing to count – such as cows, black trucks, number of Taco Bells, etc. – and then start counting as you pass by them. You’ll be amazed how many of the same things you see over and over on the roads.
  4. Celebrity Name Game - With this game you start with a certain celebrity, such as Angelina Jolie, and the next person has to name off another celebrity whose first name starts with the first letter of the previous person’s last name. So in the case, if you started the game with “Angelina Jolie” the next person could respond by saying “Jennifer Aniston”, and then the next person would say “Anne Hathaway”, etc. This game is good for older kids and you can apply the same principles to other things such as states or cities.
  5. The License Plate Game - Since there is an infinite number of license plates on the road this is an easy and fun game to play to pass the time. You start by calling out the letters on a license plate and then making up a silly string of words to go with them. So if the license plate had the letters WJQ on it you could yell out “Water Jumping Quickly”! Each person can come up with a different combination of words for the license plate’s letters, making it a fun game that involves everyone in the car.
  6. 20 Questions - Who doesn’t love a good game of 20 questions? Pick a person to be the answerer of the questions and then have them pick an object, animal, etc. Traditionally players will start off the game by asking if it’s an animal, vegetable or mineral. So if the question answerer picked a cow they would answer that it’s an animal. From there the other participants can ask questions that dictate a “yes” or “no” answer until someone guesses the correct answer.
  7. Fortunately-Unfortunately - This fun game also involves everyone in the car and is a good way to break up the time. A player will start by saying something ridiculous like “Unfortunately a dinosaur is coming to eat us” and another player will respond by saying “Fortunately I brought an invisibility cloak to hide us”. Players alternate who says the “unfortunately” scenario and who answers. Aside from being a fun way to pass the time, kids will also learn to look for the good in situations.
  8. My Father Owns a Grocery Store… You will have fun testing memory skills with this game. A player will begin by saying, “my father owns a grocery store and in it he sells (something that begins with the letter A, such as artichokes)”. The next person will then follow with, “my father owns a grocery store and in it he sells artichokes and (something that starts with the letter B, such as beets)”. The game continues with each player repeating what the others have said and adding on something that starts with the next letter of the alphabet.
  9. The Storytelling Game - One person will start this game by giving the first sentence of a story, and then the next person will follow with another sentence adding onto the storyline. Each person in the car will keep adding in their own tidbits to the story, and your family will love all the different twists and turns that each person will add to the tale.
  10. The Theme Song Game - A player will hum a theme song to a popular song – it can be a children’s song, one from a TV show, etc. – and the other players will have to guess which song it is. For example you could hum the tune of “Happy Birthday” for a few verses and then the other players would have to guess the song you’re humming. This is a great game for little kids to play with their parents on trips.

Car trips may invoke feelings of dismay when you first start out, but they don’t have to be something that everyone dreads. Instead get the whole family talking and laughing by playing one or more of these popular car games. Not only will it keep everyone happy, but it will make the time fly by and before you know it you’ll have reached your destination and everyone will still have a smile on their face.

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