A long car ride may not be the most exciting activity, but they’re especially challenging for kids to sit through. Kids need stimulation and entertainment to keep them from going wild. This list of car games for kids is the perfect tool to keep their minds busy while they wait.
Whether you’re going on a week-long car ride or a one-day road trip, these games will keep the kids entertained so you can focus on getting to your destination safely and quickly without having to stop on your car trip every hour and let the kids get their wiggles out. Some of these fun games are perfect for one child, and some will require someone else to play with, whether it’s another sibling or a parent.
19+ Best Car Games for Kids That Will Keep Them From Asking “Are We There Yet?”
1. I Spy
An original, but still great! It doesn’t require any prep work and little to no adult interaction (if you have more than one child). If it is just an adult and a child, this game is still great because it isn’t overly distracting for the driver.
2. License Plate Games
There are quite a few license plate games to choose from, so you can pick one or do them all! There is never a shortage of license plates on a road trip.
- Spot All 50 States
For this license plate game, family members can work individually to try and spot a license plate from every state, or you can work as a team. Each time someone spots a new state, they get the point. You can also make bonus points if someone spots a Canadian license plate! Bring a printout of all 50 states or a U.S. map to cross off states as you go to make it easier.
- Make A Phrase
Using the letters on a license plate, make a silly phrase using each letter as the first letter of a word. For example, if a license plate has the letters CLS, you can make the phrase Cats Love Skittles.
3. Would You Rather
Would you rather questions are fun for any age, but it’s entertaining to hear kids answer them. Their answers will surprise you and probably give you a good laugh. Bring a list of kid-friendly ‘would you rather’ questions with you, or make them up as you go. You can never be bored when you listen to young kids answer funny questions.
4. 20 Questions
20 Questions is another oldie, but a good one nevertheless! To play, choose whose turn it is, and have them think of a person, place, or thing. Then the other players can ask yes or no questions to help them figure out, such as “is it a person?” or “can it fly?” If players think they know what it is, they can use their turn to guess. They are only allowed 20 questions in total. If they can’t guess what it is within those 20 questions, the person who is ‘it’ wins.
Trivia is a fun way for your kids to learn new things. Print out a list of trivia questions ahead of time that revolves around the children’s interests. A few ideas could be kid’s movies, music, history, or even personal experiences that your family has had. You can also look up general trivia geared towards your child’s age.
6. Road Trip Scavenger Hunt
A scavenger hunt does take a little bit of prep work, but it can be as simple as printing off a free printable road trip scavenger hunt. The kids can use their page and check off things as they see them. The first child to cross off all of their items on the list wins. You can also make it a team effort to cross off everything on the list, and whoever finds the most wins.
7. Staring Contest
A staring contest is probably the most straightforward game on the list. Although, the driver shouldn’t participate. This game would work best if you had two or more family members in the back seat, so no one has to face backward to play. Have two people stare at each other for as long as possible. The first person to look away or blink loses.
8. Once Upon A Time
This game is also called storytime. Have one person start with “once upon a time…” and have them add one or two sentences to the story. Then the next person gets to continue and contribute their part of the story, and so forth. These stories can be silly, scary, or anything in between. You can record the story and play it back for everyone to hear.
9. The Concentration Game
Concentration is a trendy game for young grade school children. It’s typically played with the hands, but that is unnecessary on a car ride. You start the game by saying, “This is a game of concentration, no repeats or hesitation; the category is _____.” The person who starts will pick a category, we will say animals, and then they will take turns naming animals back and forth. You can do this with various topics, such as animals, colors, car makes, sports, school subjects, etc. When someone hesitates or repeats, they are out.
10. Don’t Say It
Before leaving for the trip, or when you first get in the car, make a list of words or phrases that are off-limits. They can be road trip-related, such as “are we there yet,” “miles,” “gas station,” etc. Or they can be random like “breakfast,” “water,” or “socks.” Any word or phrase you think will be challenging for them to avoid saying. Keep a tally of every time someone says one of the words, the person at the end with the least tally marks wins.
You can use props such as marbles, crackers, or anything to make this more fun. Each person starts with 10, and every time they say an off-limits word, they lose one of their marbles, and the person who catches them saying it gets it. The person at the end with the most marbles wins! This is a fun game for kids and adults, and it’s a challenge for everyone.
11. Joke Telling
Kids love jokes! You can print out a list of jokes ahead of time, or you can have kids make them up as they go. It can be fun for everyone to hear what the kids come up with. Their imagination is sure to run wild! If you’re taking a trip around the holidays, these Thanksgiving jokes for kids would be the perfect addition to your car ride.
12. Mad Libs
Doing mad libs is a seriously entertaining activity for the family! If you’ve never done mad libs before, you need to try it. The whole family will be laughing. The best way to do mad libs in the car is to bring some from home to fill in on the way. You can find tons of free printable mad libs online or get a mad lib book.
13. Spot the Car Make
If your kids or family members are into cars, try to spot at least one of every car make. Make or print off a list of all of the most popular car brands and bring it with you, or you can make one as you drive. Each time someone spots one on the list, they get the point.
To make the game even more fun, you can decide that unique car brands are worth more points. The family member who gets the most points at the end wins.
14. Tic Tac Toe
Another simple game, but a classic! You can bring a notebook for the car ride and let the kids go wild playing tic tac toe on your next vacation.
15. Name the Song (Or Movie)
Before leaving the house, make a playlist of songs on your phone that your child would know, maybe soundtracks from kid’s movies. Play the first few seconds of the music and see if the kids can guess which song or movie it is.
16. Slug Bug
Some people call this game punch buggy. Every time someone sees a Volkswagon bug, they yell out “slug bug!” (or punch buggy). The person at the end who found the most bugs wins. This game is a little more challenging now because this car is not as popular as it used to be. So you can play it while also playing other games.
17. Simon Says
You might have to get creative with this one since you are in the car and limited to what movements the kids can do. There are still plenty of ways to play, and creativity stimulates the brain!
18. Let’s Make A Picture
There are a few different ways to use drawing as a game in the car! Using a piece of paper or an LCD drawing tablet, have one child draw one thing, maybe it’s a line, a circle, etc. Then pass the paper to someone else and have them add something new to the picture. Keep going for a specific time or until every person has had a certain number of turns and see what kind of picture you end up with.
19. Alphabet Games
There are a lot of different alphabet games to choose from! You can play one or play them all. The best thing about alphabet games is that they are just as educational as fun.
- I’m going on a picnic
To play this alphabet game, someone starts by saying, “I am going on a picnic, and I am bringing…,” and they choose something that starts with an A. The following person repeats what the last person said and then adds another item to bring that begins with the letter B. You continue until someone can’t remember all of the previous things people have stated. To make it easier for young children, don’t worry about repeating the last items. Just keep adding on an item for each letter of the alphabet. It’s fun to see how far into the alphabet the kids can make it.
- Letter Hunt
The letter hunt can be an individual challenge or a team effort to find every alphabet letter in your surroundings, whether on license plates, billboards, road signs, etc. Start with the letter A, after you see it, then go onto B, and so on. It might seem easy until you get to the harder-to-find letters, such as Q, X, Z, etc. You can also create a point system and make the more challenging letters worth more points!
- Letter Follow Up
Pick a topic to play letter follow-up (we will use animals as an example). You can choose any category, such as animals, food, etc. The first person chooses an animal, say Zebra, and the next person has to think of an animal that starts with the last letter of the previous animal. So the next animal would have to start with the letter’ A.’
Bonus: Tablet Games for Kids to Play In The Car
If your children have a tablet or an iPad, there are many different games for kids and kids apps that you can download that don’t require the internet. You can find educational learning games, car racing games, multi-player games for children to play together, and many more! If your child is into computer programming, check out these coding games for kids.
Final Thoughts: Car Games for Kids
Hopefully, out of this list of road trip games, your kids will find plenty of ways to stay busy for the duration of your family road trip. Stimulating their minds by playing various games is a great way to get their energy out without actually stopping the car and getting out. You can always change or add to the games to decrease or increase the difficulty to work best with different ages of children. These games will work for kids of all ages and any number of players!
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
Jonathan Sanchez is a real estate investor and personal finance blogger for Parent Portfolio. He owns a small real estate business that operates a couple of investment properties in his local market. He aims to help others understand their money and generate passive income. He’s also been featured in Business Insider, USA Today, and FOX Business.