What are Some Good Games to Play on Road Trips?

Jessica Ellis

Road trips are a family-friendly and often budget-friendly way to vacation without missing a single mile between your home and your destination. Whether traveling across a state or country, road trips allow time to get a feel for the landscape and environment of your journey. Although staring at the passing sky and sites around you can be enjoyable, boredom can also set in, particularly when traveling with children. Before the whining and irritation of a long car ride can set in, divert attention with some good games to play on road trips.

Hunting for license plates is a game that can be played while on a road trip.
Hunting for license plates is a game that can be played while on a road trip.

Because of the unstable nature of most vehicles, traditional diversions like board games are not easy to deal with on the road. Instead, the best games are often very simple, sometimes requiring a pen and paper or merely just a good memory. To prevent several hours spent hunting for game pieces under the seats, avoid overly complicated games.

Due to the unstable nature of travelling in a vehicle, games with loose pieces are impractical on a road trip.
Due to the unstable nature of travelling in a vehicle, games with loose pieces are impractical on a road trip.

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Many people enjoy playing word games as they travel. For example, you can take a story and cut key words out of each sentence. Without looking at the story, players fill in the blanks by choosing answers that match the part of speech of the missing words, such as nouns, verbs and adjectives. When “Mary had a little lamb” becomes “Mom had a gigantic baboon,” the laughter often begins. These games are fun for adults and kids, and they are also a great way to teach children about language and parts of speech.

Mental games involving memorization can also be good for the car. In “I am packing grandma’s trunk,” each player must add an item to put into the trunk. The next player must then repeat all previous items in order before adding his or her own. This is a game that allows families to work together to create the longest, silliest list possible. Offer hints to younger players if they get stuck, and stress that the game is a team effort rather than a competition.

Long drives across the United States offer particularly good games to play on road trips that can even turn into a permanent testament to your journey. In the license plate hunting game, keep a camera handy or provide each participant with an inexpensive disposable one. As you travel, try to snap photographs of license plates from each of the 50 states, or at least of each state you pass through. At the end of the trip, make these into an album or collage as a living memory of your trip and how you prevented boredom along the way.

Games played on a road trip require a sense of fun and willingness to be silly more than anything else. While they can serve as great diversion from sibling squabbles or break the tension after a family fight, games can also help bring families together with laughter. An arsenal of fun, car-friendly games can make a trip truly memorable, and often even those members of the family who consider themselves too cool find themselves being drawn into the fun.

Games can be a good diversion from sibling squabbles.
Games can be a good diversion from sibling squabbles.

Discussion Comments


@irontoenail - We used to sing country songs with my dad and Christmas songs with my mother. I remember our cousins drove with us somewhere once and were completely embarrassed that we were singing Christmas songs in the middle of the year.

Most of the games I've played with kids in the car have been educational ones though, I've got to admit. It's usually some variation of looking for different colored cars or mimicking the farm animals we pass.


@Ana1234 - My nephew always takes his iPad with him when we go on long road trips to visit my mother, but we still manage to get him playing games with us if we're persistent. Eye Spy is particularly fun if you've got a lot of Wise Alecs in the car who are willing to try and make it as difficult as possible.

Mostly, though, we just sing together, since there aren't all that many opportunities to do that in public without getting into trouble! I am just a bit sad that my nephew is starting to outgrow his love of bubblegum pop, because I thought it was adorable to sing that kind of song with him.


We went on a road trip across several states when I was a kid and I vividly remember trying to play the license plate game. No one else in the car would take it seriously so I made up a check-list and wouldn't believe any of them unless I saw the plate myself. I took it way too seriously, but I think I got most of the states in the end. I know it was over 40. And it was something that kept me busy at least, back in the days before kids could watch TV and play video games in the car.

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