Ready for a road trip? Don’t forget the games! Spending hours in the car can drain anyone, but fortunately, people have developed numerous road trip games to help the hours go by faster.
Here are the best games to play during your next road trip.
20 Road Trip Games Everyone Can Enjoy
The driver usually gets left out of road trip games. They can’t participate in card games or paper activities while paying attention to the road.
However, imagination, seeing, and memory games don’t need any special equipment. Here are 20 road trip games that even the driver can play!
The Name Game
The name game puts your memory to work! Although there are multiple variations, the classic games asks users to remember the first and last names of celebrities and other famous historical figures.
After someone gives a name, the next person must think of a celebrity whose first name starts with the first letter of the original celebrity’s last name.
For example, if the first person said “George Washington,” The next person must name a celebrity whose first name starts with “W.”
George Washington. Will Smith. Sally Field. Fiona Apple. Keep it going!
The punch buggy game asks users to punch their neighbors whenever they see an old-school 1970s-era Volkswagen beetle.
There’s no need to throw punches. Instead, keep tabs on a score sheet.
Volkswagen bugs aren’t common anymore, so although the game is fun, it might be hard to spot them.
Paddiddle is a great road trip game to play at night. Watch out for cars missing a headlight, and when you see one, shout, “Padiddle!’
Each padiddle is worth one point, but if you ever glimpse the elusive Volkswagen bug missing a front headlight, you should shout “Spuddiddle!” for ten points.
20 questions force participants to don their thinking caps to determine what the top player is thinking about.
In the game, one person thinks of something. It could be an item, a place, a person, or anything you can imagine. The other players take turns asking questions, trying to narrow down the field, and guess the item.
Ask questions like “Is it alive,” “Is it manmade,” or “Can you eat it” to figure out what the mystery object is.
In I Spy, a player picks something they saw on the trip and offers clues to help the other passengers guess what it was.
For example, if you saw a red barn out the window, you could say, “I spy something red,” or “I spy a place where animals live.”
Some like the full rhyme “I spy with my little eye,” but it isn’t necessary.
Who Am I?
Who Am I is similar to 20 Questions and I Spy, but the answer is always a celebrity or historical figure. One person chooses a famous person, and the others must guess who it is.
You can play it like 20 questions and have players ask questions to narrow down the possibilities, or like I Spy, drop hints about the person’s accomplishments.
Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon
Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon tests your ability to match actors to movies. In the original game, one player names an actor, and the next needs to connect that actor to Kevin Bacon in six movies or less using other actors that starred in films together.
For example, if one player says Will Smith, the next must find a way to connect him to Kevin Bacon. Will Smith was in The Legend of Bagger Vance with Matt Damon, who was in Ocean’s 11 with Julia Roberts, who was in Flatliners with Kevin Bacon.
As time passes, connecting modern actors to Kevin Bacon may get harder and harder. You can also name and try to connect any two actors through film.
The License Plate Game
The License Plate Game is the traditional road trip game. On a long trip, try to see how many different state license plates you find.
Hawaii and Alaska are always difficult to spot, but if anyone can get all 50, they should win a prize.
Name that Tune
Name that Tune is a perfect road trip game for families. One player will whistle or hum a song, and the others must guess what song it is.
Name that Tune was my family’s go-to game on long road trips. My dad whistled Beatles songs, and us kids would rush to guess which song he was trying to perform.
What Song’s On?
Another musical road trip game has players trying to remember the name and artist of songs playing on the radio.
Turn your radio dial to the search function and let it automatically scroll through the stations. Players must guess the name and artist when a song comes on, getting one point for each correct answer. In areas without many radio channels, consider playing a random Spotify playlist instead.
A to Z
There are many variations of alphabet games, but one fun version has players listing off items in a specific category according to the starting letter.
For example, the category can be animals. The first player would say anteater, the second beaver, the third cat, etc. The first person to get stuck loses.
An anagram is a word you make by re-arranging existing letters in a word or phrase. The road trip version of anagrams has users trying to make as many words as possible from billboards or trucks they see along the journey.
For example, if you’ve been following a Chevy Trailblazer, see how many words you can make from the letters. Tail, tale, blaze, and bit are all great options! It’s a fun game that also helps your kids with spelling.
There are hundreds of counting road trip games you can play. Count how many cows, blue cars, gas stations, mile markers, or brown signs you see on your trip.
Creative parents can turn anything they see on the road into a counting game, and the kids will be occupied by staring out the window, searching for any sign of the target item.
Trip bingo also includes spotting items during your road trip but requires a little extra planning. Create bingo cards that list various things you might see during a road trip, like a motorcycle, camper, truck stop, or farmhouse.
The first one to get a full line gets to yell, “Bingo!” and wins the game.
Going on a Picnic
The most common iteration of Going on a Picnic has players listing things they bring alphabetically. The first player would say, “I’m going on a picnic and bringing apples,” the second would say, “I’m going on a picnic and bringing bread,” and so on.
However, you can put a spin on the game by changing the rules of what you’re bringing. Two players must be “in the know” on the rules to do so. The other players have to guess things to bring that follow the rules, using what the first two players bring as hints.
The rules can be whatever you want. You may want only to bring things starting with a particular letter or items with five letters in their name. Changing the rules of what you can bring on the picnic keeps the game engaging.
Would You Rather
Would You Rather is a thought exercise asking users to choose between two awful situations. Would you rather eat raw beef brains or let spiders crawl all over you?
Players learn about their friend’s biggest fears while trying to come up with the worst experiences they can imagine.
Story rounds is more of a road trip activity than a road trip game, but it offers hours of entertainment. A story round is an activity where everyone helps craft an epic story by taking turns telling the story.
The person who starts the story may have a horror tale in mind, beginning with the epic words “It was a dark and stormy night,” but the next person can twist it into a comedy by adding, “and I slipped in a puddle, dropping my keys down the drain.”
No one knows where a story round may end up.
Another take on an alphabet game has players trying to find things on the trip that start with each letter of the alphabet.
Automobile should be an easy place to start, but what will you see that begins with the letter B? Find barns, boxes, or bushes along the route to move on to the letter C.
Those with great memories and a love for film will love the movie quotes game! Players take turns quoting a line from their favorite movies, and everyone else has to guess which film it’s from.
Expand the game by quoting television shows and plays, and reward bonus points if someone can name the character who says the quote.
Road Trip Scavenger Hunt
Take your road trip game to rest stops and gas stations with a road trip scavenger hunt. Make a wild list of 100 things to see, say and do while on your road trip, and the first person to achieve them all wins.
Items can include making a truck honk with the traditional tugging hand signal, seeing a baby on a leash, or winning a prize at the truck stop crane game. The possibilities for your scavenger hunt are endless.
Road Trip Games that Keep the Kids Occupied
Sometimes, the adults driving don’t care about road trip games. All they want is something that keeps the kids occupied during the long drive.
Grab these games and activities to keep the back seat quiet during your next long car ride.
Crosswords test your trivia and critical thinking skills. Grab a pack of easy travel crossword puzzles and let your kids work through the clues to solve the puzzle.
Word searches are great for younger kids. The jumbled mess of letters leaves them searching for hours, looking for the right combination to discover all the hidden words.
Mad libs are a perfect start to a story. The great thing is everyone can participate. Charge the kids in the backseat with recording the answers, and let them read the silly story you create with a random choice of words.
Tic Tac Toe
Tic Tac Toe Games can keep kids occupied for hours. Give them some pencils and paper and let them have at it!
To sweeten the deal, you can reward whoever wins the most matches.
Picture search games have two basic iterations. In one, you must find the hidden shapes in a given picture; in the other, you must find the differences between two images.
Many travel activity magazines have picture searches, a great way to keep kids occupied during long hours on the road.
Hangman is the generic version of Wheel of Fortune. One player picks a word or phrase, and the other has to choose letters to figure out what that word is.
Careful though! Wrong choices add parts to the hanged man, and you lose once he’s a full figure.
Although not a game, coloring is a road trip activity that occupies the kids for hours. Fill their backpacks with coloring books and crayons to give them something to do during the long drive.
Older kids may prefer to sketch on the trip, so get them an art journal and see what they come up with on the journey.
Connect the Dots
Want a competitive game to keep the kids occupied? Give them bullet journal pages and let them play Connect the Dots.
A bullet journal has a graph of small dots covering the page, which lets users draw charts, lines, and calendars. However, it can be transformed into a travel game with Connect the Dots.
Each player takes turns connecting two bullets with a straight line. The goal is to make a whole box. Once you make a full box, you can put your initials inside. Players who create a whole box get another turn.
The person who has the most boxes on a full page wins.
Bring a deck of cards for the ride, and let your kids occupy themselves with card games. They can play War, Go Fish, Black Jack, or make up their own.
If you only have one child, they can entertain themselves with the single-player card game solitaire.
Hand-held video games keep kids occupied for hours. The Nintendo Switch is a great option designed to “switch” between home and on-the-go use. Your kids can continue playing their favorite games while traveling!
Old classics like Tetris on Gameboy, Nintendo DS, and other handheld electronics work well too.
We have mobile gaming in the palm of our hands with our smartphones. Let the kids borrow your phone to play classic mobile games like Candy Crush.
Be sure to warn them about microtransactions before letting them play – don’t get stuck with an outrageous bill because they don’t know the bonuses cost real money.
Road Trips Don’t Have to Be Dull
Try some fresh new games on your next car trip to keep everyone entertained and happy during the long hours on the road.
These road trip games are fun to play, provide learning opportunities, and keep the road trip fun. Have a fantastic journey!
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.