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9 Fun Games To Play In The Car On Your Next Road Trip

people on roadtrip

Whether you are traveling with your family and children to your latest summer vacation destination, or heading up to the high country for a relaxing and long overdue camping weekend with friends, long road trips can be very arduous, monotonous and draining to say the least.

However, there are some great games you can play in the car that will help take some of the boredom and monotony out of these long drives and help pass the time until you arrive at your destination.

To illustrate this point, in the following article we have compiled and briefly explained several of the best and most entertaining games to play in the car during long drives—games that will keep your mind off of the long road trip and otherwise engaged in a fun pursuit.

1. License Plate Game

Andy at Driving Geeks recommends the oldie, gut goodie, the license plate game. This is one of the oldest and still best games to play in a car during long drives. This game, which can be played by children and adults alike, is very simple and involves nothing more than a keen eye to be successful.

The object of this often fast-paced game is to have the riders in the car collectively spot as many state license plates as possible as you drive along the highway—the license plates from each of the 50 states. Each time a new state license plate is spotted, the person responsible for seeing it first earns a point.

The game ends when all 50 state license plates have been spotted—or when the drive finally comes to an end. The person who earns the most points—by pointing out the highest number of out-of-state license plates—wins the game.

2. 20 Questions

Twenty Questions is another game that is a tried and true favorite in the car. To play this game, one person in your group thinks of a person, place or thing—real or fictional—or an animal, vegetable or mineral.

Once this player has thought about it, he or she will keep the answer to themselves. The other players in the car will then take turns asking “yes or no” questions en-route to an ultimate answer.

Examples of these questions can range from “Is it a famous person,” to “Is it bigger than a loaf of bread.” The ultimate goal is to narrow down the possible answers by asking yes or no questions that build on one another. After all 20 questions have been asked, each person playing the game will have an opportunity to guess the answer.

If a person answers correctly, a point is awarded and that person will think of the next “person, place or thing” to be guessed. If nobody guesses correctly, a random person will think of the next answer and the game continues.

3. Story Time

Although the game Story Time can be played by adults and children alike, it usually works much better with the latter thanks to their imaginations. In this creative game, the ultimate goal is to create a unique story or fairy tale via everyone’s input.

Here is how it is played: The first person begins a story with the words “Once upon a time” and continues until he or she has said a full sentence. Then, the next player says a sentence, followed by yet another sentence from a different player, and so on.

This will continue on, with each player adding to the story when their turn comes around. At the end, you will have a new story or fairy tale to which everyone in the car contributed. You can set a time limit for the game, say, 15 minutes, or you can stop after each player has added five sentences to the story.

You can even preserve this story as part of your family’s memories by having someone record the story as it progresses with their smart phone.

Frequent traveler Riley at Unlock Adventure loves this road trip game when traveling with kids or with good friends because it really lets you see how creative everyone is when you hear their stories.

4. Hypotheticals

How well do you know your kids? Your friends? Well, after you play the game known as Hypotheticals you might find out that you don’t know them quite as well as you thought you did.

In this fun game, you can learn a lot about your passengers by asking them a series of hypothetical questions. Examples of these questions include: “If you could have any job on the planet what would it be?” Or, “What’s the first thing you would buy if you won the lottery?”

If playing Hypotheticals with children, you can award points for this game based on the funniest and most inventive answers. And if playing with friends you will come away knowing much more about them than you did previously.

5. The Alphabet Category Game

The Alphabet Category Game is another great way to pass the time during long car rides. The game is very challenging and forces players to think on their feet, and best of all, there are a wide range of categories from which to choose.

To play this game, one person in the car calls out a category. These categories can range from “cars” to “animals” to “famous people.” Once the new category has been established, passengers in the car take turns calling out things that fit the category. However, they must do this in alphabetical order.

For example, if the established category is animals, the first player must name an animal whose name begins with an “A,” such as “aardvark.” The next player will then call out an animal whose name begins with “B” (beaver) and so on until the category reaches “Z” (zebra).

This might sound easy, but just wait until you have to name an animal that starts with the letter “Q.” To change the game up, you can set a time limit in which the players have to come up with a name that fits the category and the letter. Failure to do so will result in those players dropping out of the game one by one until a champion is crowned.

6. Telephone

Telephone is a great game to play with kids in the car, especially because it involves a lot of whispering, giving mom and dad a momentary break from the yelling and shrieking.

In the game of Telephone, one person thinks of a sentence or secret and whispers it to the next player. Then, that player will whisper what he or she heard to the next player, and so on.

This will continue until everyone has heard a version of the story or secret. At the end, the last person to hear the story will repeat out loud what they have heard, which invariably turns out to be much different from what the first person originally whispered.

As the words continue to get lost in translation, expect to hear some fun and raucous laughter from the back of the car.

7. The Theme Song Game

If you enjoy music, then Audio Listed‘s Brandon thinks that you are going to love playing the Theme Song Game on those long car rides. In this game, the first player begins to hum the theme song from a well-known television program.

As he or she hums, the other participants in the game take turns guessing the show to which that theme song refers. The player that guesses the correct television show is awarded a point and earns the right to hum the next song.

Although this game is great to play with children and adults alike, the game seems to find more momentum with older passengers—passengers who know a wider range of television theme songs dating back to when they were children themselves.

8. The Fitness Game

Long car rides can wear people out, especially children who are not accustomed to sitting for long stretches. This is where the Fitness Game can come in handy.

Although not technically played “in” the car, it can still be considered a road trip game because it is played at rest stops along the way. When it’s time to pull over and rest a bit at a rest stop, start a healthy competition between your kids to see who can do the most jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups or sprints in a given time period.

Not only is this game very good for your young children, it just may tire them out enough to sleep during the last leg of your journey.

9. The Alphabet Game

Last but certainly not least, the Alphabet Game is a great car game when you have restless children in the car, as it gives them something to do other than fighting with their siblings.

In this game, players will be looking out the window at road signs and license plates, and they must try to spy each of the letters of the alphabet in order, starting with A and ending in Z. Each time a letter is spotted, the player who saw the letter must say where they saw it, afterwards they are awarded a point.

The game ends when the last player finds the letter Z on a road sign and yells out its origin. This game can be repeated as many times as possible until it no longer holds your children’s attention.


About the author

Sam Frazier

As a child of the 80's, my fondest gaming memories are playing Pitfall, Frogger, Kaboom! and Chopper Command on our old Atari 8600. These days I've been rocking the Nintendo Classic and learning some new card and board games with the family.

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