Whether you love or hate the license plate game, fun road trip games don’t have to be complicated! Keep things simple and try a game from this list of 15 road trip car games that kids and adults will enjoy.
Road trips are a great opportunity to spend time with the people you love. But besides boredom, nothing can ruin a road trip faster than a fender bender in the middle of nowhere.
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Road trip games
Road trip games are the perfect antidote to boredom. On top of providing entertainment, road trip games can help alleviate car sickness and inspire passengers to learn more about the landscape.
The games on this list are good for kids and adults, for two-hour trips or two-day trips.
1. Restaurant Race
This is our favorite game because it’s easy for all ages to learn and you can play it for as long (or as short!) a time as you prefer. Set a time limit for the game, like 20 minutes.
To play Restaurant Race, each player chooses a restaurant. It’s best to select a commonly found fast-food restaurant or chain. Good options are Burger King, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Shari’s, Starbucks, or Subway.
You score a point every time you see your restaurant on a billboard, an exit marker, a food/fuel sign, or spot an actual restaurant. You also get a point if you hear the restaurant mentioned on the radio. When the time is up, whoever has the most points wins!
This game is perfect for very young children who may not be able to recognize letters yet, since they can simply identify the brand or logo.
2. License Plate Game
This classic game doesn’t need much explanation—try to spot license plates from all 50 states! Score bonus points for finding Canadian plates.
It’s easy to lose track, so we recommend bringing a notepad. You can also print off a premade template before you leave so that each passenger can check off their finds.
This game works best on longer road trips when you have more opportunities to spot out-of-state plates.
3. The Singing Game
Don’t attempt this game unless you’re prepared to enjoy hours of singing. The Singing Game is good for preteens and older passengers who have some knowledge of pop music.
Here’s how you play. One player starts by singing a short line from a song, and the next player must sing a related verse from another song, and so on and so forth.
For example, "We all live in a yellow submarine…" could lead into "Just look at the world around you, right here on the ocean floor…" followed by "Wade in the water, children wade."
Play this game without winners or losers to keep the whole family in a good mood.
4. The Movie Game
This game is a fun challenge for
movie lovers, and it won’t provide too much distraction while driving.
To play the Movie Game, one person starts by naming an actor or actress. The next person must name a movie they were in. The following person must name another actor from that movie.
If someone gets it wrong, they’re out. The game continues until someone gets stumped and there’s only one player left.
You can make it extra challenging by sticking to a specific genre, like action movies or romantic comedies. Increase the difficulty—and make Gen Z passengers complain—by only allowing movies that came out in a specific decade, like the 1990s.
Los Angeles road trip
5. Alphabet Categories
If you are driving through sparse rural areas, this is a great game to play. It does not require any road signs and you can play over and over again.
Plus, the Alphabet Categories game is non-competitive so you don’t have to worry about keeping the peace in the backseat.
To play, start by picking a category like foods, dog breeds, bands, or cities. Now, start with A and work your way through the entire alphabet. The goal is to name an entire alphabet’s worth of items that fit into the category. For example, you could say "Apples, bananas, carrots, doughnuts, eggs…." and so on.
Increase the difficulty for adult passengers by choosing super niche categories, like major league baseball teams or skincare brands.
6. Alphabet Game
This is the classic version of the road trip Alphabet Game. Starting with A, you must find words (not letters) in alphabetical order that start with that letter out in the real world. You can use road signs, billboards, bumper stickers, business signs, and more.
Each player shouts out their word when they see it. No repeats allowed, so the first person who sees the word gets to claim dibs. The winner is the person who reaches the end of the alphabet first.
However, we feel we must warn you: this game has been known to trigger screaming and crying amongst competitive young passengers. But it’s also a wonderful way for young readers to practice their reading skills.
To keep younger kids involved, try associating a prize with completion of the alphabet rather than first-past-the-post. Reward every passenger who finishes the alphabet with a snack of their choice at the next gas station.
7. I Spy
An oldie but a goodie, I Spy is a fun game for all ages. It works best with short rounds or while stuck in traffic. Otherwise, you risk driving past the thing being described.
To play I Spy, one player secretly chooses an object and announces it by color alone: "I spy with my little eye something yellow." Other players work together to guess the chosen object.
Pro Tip Be very clear at the start of the game if objects inside the vehicle are fair game. For instance, a player in the backseat may have a clear view of a piece of red garbage on the floor but the driver wouldn’t be able to see it.
8. 20 questions
20 Questions is a guessing game where one player thinks of something random (a person, place, thing). Other players are allowed to ask up to twenty yes-or-no questions to attempt to solve the riddle.
Veteran players, sorry to ruin your fun but we are sharing the strategy for quickly sifting through the possibilities and winning the game.
Start by asking if it’s a person. If yes, ask if they’re alive or dead. If alive, ask if it’s someone you know. If yes, ask if you’ve seen this person in the last week.
If the thing is an object, ask if it’s bigger than a book. If not, ask if it’s edible. If not, ask if they own the object. If yes, ask if they’ve used the object recently.
Keep things friendly by choosing something that your fellow passengers could actually guess. For instance, choose the Titanic and not some obscure K-pop band.
Creative people will get a kick out of this game. It’s perfect for all ages and the rules are simple.
One person starts with a phrase that begins, "Fortunately" and the next person must respond with a related statement that begins, "Unfortunately." The game can go on and on into absurdity.
Here’s an example. "Fortunately, I remembered to pack my water bottle." "Unfortunately, I put jello in it when you weren’t looking." "Fortunately, I’m an alien that gets superpowers from eating jello."
This is a classic improv game that is sure to incite giggles and strengthen relationships.
10. Cows on My Side
If you’re driving through a rural area, Cows on My Side is the perfect game. It’s basically an agricultural version of Punch Buggy.
Anytime you see a cow, you scream it out as fast as you can. But there’s a trick to the game.
The car is split into two teams. One team is passengers on the left side and one team is passengers on the right. If you see a cow on your side of the car, you yell, "Cows on my side!" and earn a point. If you see a cow on the other side of the car, you yell "Cows on your side!" and steal a point if you saw it first.
If you see a cemetery, you scream, "Ghost cow!" and steal all the points from the other team.
Theoretically, this game could be adapted to any animal that’s more suitable for your destination. If you are driving through horse country, switch it up to "Horse on my side."
Swap dogs for cows and you can play this game while running errands in the city, too.
How to live in your car
11. Road Trip Bingo
This game requires a bit of preparation but it’s a ton of fun.
Every player gets a bingo sheet containing things they might find on a road trip. Common items include a motorcycle, a firetruck, a semi-truck, a tow truck, a helicopter, or a U-Haul.
You can create your own bingo sheets or buy reusable ones from a toy company.
12. Going on a Picnic/In My Suitcase
This game has two variations, either Going on a Picnic or In My Suitcase.
One player starts things off by picking an item and saying "I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing popsicles." The next player must repeat the sentence and add their own item, such as "I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing popsicles and pizza."
Each player must correctly list every item, otherwise, they’re out.
If you’re playing the suitcase version, it begins with the phrase "I’m going on a trip and in my suitcase I have..."
Quiet introverts are especially fond of this game. It doesn’t involve any back and forth and there is no need to come up with solutions to tricky puzzles.
To play the Rules road trip game, every person gets to create one nonsense rule. For instance, you might say that every time you change lanes everyone has to touch the roof of the car. If you catch anyone missing out on a nonsense rule, they lose the game. Loser buys snacks or pays for gas.
14. Mad Libs
Print out some Mad Libs and take turns filling them out for one another. This is a guaranteed way to have fun and keep kids entertained. Just remember to print out the templates before you go.
To create an extra special memory, save the completed Mad Libs and mark the date and destination of your road trip on the back. Voila! You’ve got yourself an instant souvenir.
15. Explain a Film Plot Badly
Adult passengers will have fun with this game, which has become a bit of a meme on the Internet.
In one short sentence, each player takes a turn describing a film plot badly. Leave out the details and major plot points, and see if the other passengers can guess the film. For instance, "Group spends nine hours returning jewelry" is a truly terrible—but hilarious—way to describe The Lord of the Rings movies.
Don’t wait until you reach your destination to have some fun! Play some road trip car games to pass the time and keep the mood positive.
Make sure you have the right insurance policy before you hit the road, too. As a licensed broker,
Jerrycan help you save on
car insuranceby comparing rates and uncovering discounts—which means more gas money for you! Plus, the Jerry app offers digital proof of insurance so you’ll never have to rummage around for a tiny plastic card.
Drive safely and enjoy your adventure!
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