We all love day trips and holidays but sometimes the journey there isn’t quite so fun. Long traffic jams can start to fray the tempers of even the closest family.
This collection of fun games you can play in the car will soon help pass the time and before you know it you’ll have arrived at your destination fresh, happy and without a tear or cross word in sight.
1. Guess the Animal
Based on the popular 20 Questions Game, take it in turns to guess the animal that is being thought about. Questions can only be answered yes and no. Keep it easy for younger children with farmyard animals and household pets. Encourage older children to think of more unusual animals by making them ask about habitats and country of origin.
2. Raindrop Race
If you are travelling in wet weather then watching raindrops race down the window can help pass the time. Players have to pick a raindrop and the first to make it to the bottom is the winner.
3. The Rainbow Game
Call out a colour and have the children look and find something that is that colour. Choose easy colours for younger children or make it harder for the older ones by making them find more things.
4. Eat the Alphabet
This classic sees you working through the alphabet with food items. So the person who starts has to think of a food item starting with the letter A and announces that “I’m so hungry I could eat an Apple” the next person moves onto B. For example, “I’m so hungry I could eat a Banana” and so forth.
5. Alphabet Zoo Keepers
Another variation of the alphabet game, this sees you naming a person, place and animal all starting with the same letter of the alphabet. So you might start off with “Annie lives in Amsterdam and has a pet Aardvark” before moving on to “Bert lives in Boston and has a pet Bat”.
6. Geography Game
Start with A to Z any place in the world: Your destination perhaps, so let’s say London. The next person has to think of a place that begins with the last letter of London, such as Newcastle. Whoever goes next needs a place that starts with E. It has to be a real place,
anywhere in the world — and no using a map!
7. Hidden Objects Bottle
You’ll need to prepare this one in advance. Take a large empty plastic bottle and put in around 20-30 different small household objects. Small colourful objects will work best for this game. Have a whole mix of things like a small hairclip, different coins, a bead, Lego, sweets, an earring, a bolt, a sequin, a paperclip, small
plastic toys (like out of a cracker) and other small items.
Make a note of all the items and print out a list. Then fill the rest of the bottle about ¾ full with some uncooked rice, sand or bird seed. Finally glue the lid on (very securely, you don’t want the kids opening it up in the car!).
The children then have to roll the bottle around to find the hidden items and tick them off on the list. To make it more of a challenge you could add an item on the list that isn’t in the bottle, they have to work out what that item is before the end of the journey in order to get a prize!
8. Betting Game
Come up with a series of challenges that allow the children to make a bet. So for example, how long (in minutes) it will be until you pass the next red car, or how long until you pass a field full of sheep. Keep a score of who is winning and they get to choose the sweets at the
9. Number Plate Sentences
Encourage the kids to make a sentence that starts with words that use the first letters of the number plate from the car in front. So for example a number plate ending “BMF” could be “Buy me food” or “Bad Monkey Flings Bananas”
10. The Theme Song Game
One person hums the tune to a favourite TV show, and everyone else tries to name the show as fast as possible. The first person to guess correctly hums the next song.
11. Map markers
You might not use a traditional paper map to find your way but they can still be a source for great car games.
Give your children each a map and let them mark it up to help them keep track of where you are in your journey.
Let them colour, draw on it, highlight your route or use stickers to help them create their own personalised mementos of your journey. As you pass different towns and landmarks, they can note them on their maps or do drawings of things they have seen during the journey.
12. Map Place Race
One person looks at a road map and finds a small town, village, river, etc. That person announces the name of the place she has chosen. A second player has 60 seconds to look at the map and try to find the secret place.
13. Car Colour Bingo
Print out this page and see if you can you spot all the coloured cars below. Cross them off as you find them.
14. I Spy
No collection of car games would be complete without I Spy. Someone says, “I spy with my little eye something green.” Whoever guesses the item correctly goes next. It’s best to limit the items to things in the car!
15. Colour counter
Somebody chooses a colour and then everyone takes it in turn to say something that is that colour. Keep going until somebody repeats something that has already been said or can’t think of anything. For example start by saying “I saw a white golf ball” the next person will say “I saw a white sink” and so forth.
16. Story Time
Take it in turns to make up stories about the people who are in the vehicles around you. Make them as elaborate and imaginative as possible, and try to discuss where they are going, what the purpose of the their visit it, who they will meet there. Really get the children’s imaginations going. For example, the man in the car in front is a zookeeper called Ted and he is going to rescue a penguin that got kidnapped …
17. Animal Sound Game
Make animal sounds and everyone else in the car has to guess the name of the animal. The first person to guess gets to start the
You can make this quite easy for younger children, sticking to the favourites they will be familiar with from “Old MacDonald Had
a Farm” but as they get a bit older you can make it a bit more challenging.
A roar of a bit cat could be a lion, tiger, panther, leopard or jaguar for example. You might need to give a few clues, such as country of origin!
18. Going on a Trip
This is a good memory game for the children. You start off by saying “I’m going on a trip and I’m going to bring …” you then choose an item you might pack, for example “a toothbrush”. The next person pick it up but has to add their own item. So they might say “I’m going on a trip and I’m going to bring a toothbrush and a comb” then the next person has to add their item to the list. You have to remember everything that has gone before, otherwise the game ends!
19. Licence Plate Bingo
This works best in traffic jams when you get a long look at licence plates. Cross of letters of the alphabet and numbers as you spot them on the licence plates of other cars around you. Here are two different “Bingo” cards to get you started but you can also make your own.
20. One Minute of Words
Everybody gets a pencil and paper. The driver picks a letter, tells it to everyone else, and shouts “Go!” Players write as many words as possible that start with that letter. When a minute is up, the driver says “Stop!” and all the players put down their pencils. Whoever has
the most legitimate words wins. Now, give yourself one more minute to write a sentence with as many of the words as you can.
This is a team effort to try to reach 100 without making a mistake. Take turns counting, beginning with one. Every time you get to a number that’s divisible by seven (7, 14, 21 etc.) or has a seven in it (17), say “Buzz” instead of the number. If one person forgets to say “Buzz,” everyone has to start over. If this is too hard, say “Buzz” for every number divisible by 5. This game is obviously better for slightly older children. A variation for younger children is “Buzz Fuzz” and doesn’t require any maths. When you reach a number that has a three in it you say “Fuzz” instead and when you reach a number with a seven in it you say “Buzz”.
22. Counting Cars
Great for younger children, give them challenges like being the first to count 10 red cars or spot 10 different types of vehicle. Add an incentive by promising the play of a favourite song or a treat when they reach their goal (but watch out for cheating!).
23. Tunnels and Bridges
Whenever you reach a tunnel or bridge have a contest to see who can hold their breath the longest! If nothing else, you are guaranteed a brief spell of silence! Keep count of who wins each time and at the end of the trip the overall winner can claim a prize!
24. Car Search
The aim of this game is to spot as many of the different makes and models of car listed below as possible. This can either be a challenge for one person or you can split the columns up between different players!
An easier variation of the car search game is car brand bingo!
25. Car Brand Bingo
An easier variation of the car search game is car brand bingo!
26. Rock, Paper, Scissors
It’s a classic! Rock, Paper, Scissors can keep people of all ages entertained while on the road. To play this, each player makes a fist and says out loud, “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” Each player makes one of three hand gestures: a closed fist representing “rock,” an open hand representing “paper” or a V representing “scissors.”
The winner of each round is the player who makes the gestures of the object that will defeat the opponent’s object. In other words, since a rock can destroy a pair of scissors, rock beats scissors. Scissors cut paper, so scissors beat paper. Since paper can cover a rock, paper beats rock. If opponents use the same gesture, the game is tied. Keep a tally of scores to declare the overall winner at the end of the trip.
27. Shopping List Game
Another memory and alphabet game, this time based on a shopping list. The first player has to say an item you can get at the supermarket starting with the letter A, for example Apples. The second player has to then add an item to the list starting with the letter B but remembering the rest of the list, so they would say “Apples and Bread”. Keep going until somebody can’t think of an item or forgets one in the list. Remaining players then start over until there is one winner!
28. Team Storytelling
Get creative and encourage the childrens’ imaginations by coming up with a road trip story. Each person takes it in turn to add one line to the story. So you might start it of “Once upon a time there was a princess who lived in a castle” the next person might continue with “In her spare time she worked at the local pizza restaurant”. The stories can be as strange and imaginative as possible!
29. Spelling Contest
Each person has to take it in turn to spell a word. If you get it right, you get a point. The person with the most points at the end of the game is the winner. Make sure you pick age appropriate words for children of different ages to make it challenging but not impossible. Adults can and should join in too!
30. Sign ABC
Use road signs to spell out the alphabet! When you pass a sign you call out the letter of the alphabet you are waiting for and say the word it is in, so for example “A in Manchester” and then at another sign “B in Birmingham”. You have to work through the whole alphabet and can only take one letter from each sign you pass.