Let’s face it: road trips can get a little long. For adults and kids alike, sitting in the same seat for hours and hours is pretty boring. Luckily, there are some tried-and-true road trip car games that we always turn to when conversation descends into whining. (And we do mean tried-and-true: one of us at Ginny’s once drove 18 hours from Chicago to Denver with some friends, and played the Radio Game for at least four of those hours.) When the drive gets a little too long, pull any one of these fun road trip games out for a guaranteed good time!
No list of road trip car games can be complete without this classic. I Spy involves one player picking an object within view of everyone in the car and saying, “I spy something that starts with the letter M,” or “I spy something red,” or even “I spy something big.” The object has to be something that will stay in view for at least a few minutes; it can’t just be a car that sped by your window! Then other players in the car will begin to narrow down the object by asking yes-or-no questions: “Is it on your right?” “Is it a manmade object?” “Is it an animal?” The Spy answers yes or no until the other players feel confident enough to guess the object: “Is it a water tower?” Depending on how old everyone in the car is, you can make the game more difficult by only allowing one guess about the actual object. If the players guess the object incorrectly, the Spy wins. For younger children, you can allow multiple guesses for the object.
Who Am I?
This is a fun twist on the game “20 Questions.” One player will pick a person to “become.” It can be a relative, a neighbor, a mutual friend of everyone in the car, or even a celebrity or historical figure. The other players in the car will then try to guess who the person is by asking yes-or-no questions like: “Are you a man?” “Are you famous?” “Are you currently alive?” “Do you have a beard?” The first player to properly guess the person wins. (“You’re Mrs. Jones, our next door neighbor!” “You’re Taylor Swift!”)
The License Plates game has a simple concept but can actually be pretty hard. The goal is to find license plates from each one of the 50 states by looking at all the cars driving past. It can be a group effort or a competition, and is better suited for longer road trips when you’re driving across more states. Finding all 50 states is a rare accomplishment that everyone becomes very passionate about!
Where’s the alphabet?
Again, this is a game with a simple concept: work your way through the alphabet by using road signs and billboards. The letters can appear anywhere in the sign, but the order you find the letters has to be alphabetical. For example, a sign that says “Sunny Acres Farm” could be A; the sign “Bear Crossing” could be B; and “Road Closed” could be C. The game gets tricky once the alphabet gets to X, but ends up being a lot of fun—and a great cure for carsickness since everyone is staring out the window!
Make excellent use of your car stereo: have the person in the passenger seat hit the “scan” button on the radio. The first person who guesses the song or artist that the scan stops on wins that round. It can get pretty competitive, and is even more fun as you start traveling through different states with unfamiliar radio stations. Watching friends and family trying to guess composers when the scan lands on the classical radio station? Priceless. If no one can identify it correctly, use a free music identification app like Shazam to figure out the right answer.
Test everyone’s ability to think under pressure with Categories. One person comes up with a category. The category can range from broad (“Cities”) to narrow (“Types of cheese”). The players then take turns in a clockwise circle around the car naming items in that category; for example, one person might say “Swiss,” the next would say, “Cheddar,” and the third might say, “Provolone!” If someone takes too long to name an item, names one that has already been said, or can’t think of another item, then they lose the round and the person after them comes up with a new category.
Similar to the last game, this game involves everyone taking turns in a circle around the car. However, instead of listing different categories, this car game is all about letters. The first person will say a word—any word! Then, the next person has to say a word that starts with the last letter of the previous word. For example, someone could say, “Panda,” and the next person could say, “Artichoke,’ and then the third person would say, “Eggs.” The words don’t have to be related at all, and the round goes until someone takes too long to answer, repeats a word, or can’t think of a word that starts with the last letter of the previous word.
With these fun road trip games, your car ride will fly by!