We do most of our holidays in the UK, so we spend a lot of time on road trips. My one solution to long car journeys with children is snacks. And lots of them. But car journey games to play on family road trip can be fun and help make journeys go faster. I’m sharing my suggestions of games to play on road trips with children.
My childhood we also used to holiday in the UK, so we played a lot of these games too. When we weren’t signing along to the Phantom of The Opera soundtrack which my brother and I knew word for word all the way through.
Roadtrip games aren’t time specific so they last well through the generations. Save the tablets and films until children get really bored rather than relying on them from the start of the journey.
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Car journey games to play on family road trips
Car bingo – everyone chooses a colour (or make of car), and the first to see 10 of those shouts ‘bingo’ and wins.
Pub legs – take it in turns to spot pubs, and get points for the number of legs in the pub name. So the Queen’s Head would be 0 points, but The Red Lion would be 4 points. First to reach a certain number wins.
I spy – classic game, one person decides on an item they can see and says ‘I spy with my little eye, something beginning with…’ and everyone has to guess what they’re seeing (in or out of the car). Always interesting to play with children who have no concept of correct spelling!
Number plate phrases – make up phrases using letters from number plates. So a number plate with VWP might be Very Woolly Pullovers.
Guess the intro and artist – use whatever music player you have, and guess the song name and singer. You could make it harder by each person humming the tune for the first ew bars, and everyone trying to guess the song from that.
Guess the mystery item – ask questions to guess what the person’s thinking of, with a yes or no answer.
20 questions – choose a person for the others to guess, by only asking 20 questions with yes or no answers.
Road sign alphabet game – look out for signs that begins with A, then the next starting with B, until you reach Z. You can play the game with any category that you can look out for.
Rock paper scissors – played by 2 people, making the hand movements and winning against the other person depending whether they show a rock, paper or scissors.
Story time – take it in turns to add a line to the story and see how ridiculous it gets.
Would you rather – prep some questions or think of them on the hoof, asking people if they’d prefer to do or have one thing or another.
Shopping list – one person starts the shopping list with ‘I went to the shop to buy a…’ with one item, the next person takes up the shopping list, repeats the same item and adds a second one. And so on until someone gets the list wrong.
In my suitcase – like Shopping List but ‘Going on holiday I packed…’ Make this game harder by having items starting with the alphabet in order.
Name the most – Someone decides the category then everyone has to write or name as many items they can in that category. The highest number wins. (we like the game Tension which is the similar concept).
Song links – One person starts with a line from a song, the next person has to say another song line that begins with the last word of the last song and so on.
Celebrity names – Someone chooses a person, then everyone else has to name a person with that same first name in turn. Take turns until you run out of people to name. If you get stuck you’re eliminated.
Hypotheticals – ask questions ‘if you were a ….’ and see what mad answers you all come up with. You can find hypothetical questions online if you need more ideas 170 Hypothetical Questions – The only list you’ll need. (conversationstartersworld.com)
Number plate places – keep lists of all the different areas you see number plates coming from. In the UK this is harder now – look out for the first 2 letters which correspond to where they were registered. In the US, find the states. Children can have an ongoing booklet for all journeys to keep a record until complete.
Punch Buggy / Yellow car – An old game seemingly originating from a 1960s VW ad campaign. When you see a VW Beatle, you can gently punch your car mate (or maybe keep it to a light tap). We used to know this as Yellow Car – a slap for every yellow car seen.
6 degrees of separation – one for older children, choose 2 people and see if you can link from one to the other in less than 6 people
Movie game – start with a film, then the next person has to say an actor in that film, the next is a different film that actor’s been in, an actor in the film etc.
Word association – think Timmy Mallet from Wacaday! Each person has to think of a word that is linked to the previous word. No longer than 3 seconds to say your word of choice.
People watching stories – Look out for people or weird vehicles around you and make up stories about that person or item. Where are they going, who’s in their family? Great to get children using their imagination.
Most likely to… – list made up superlatives like ‘most likely to climb a mountain…’ etc, and choose who’s most likely to do each thing.
Truths and a lie – this works better for non family members on a trip. Each person gets to say 2 truths and a lie, and the rest of the car has to work out which is the lie.
Movie plot summaries – choose a movie and describe it badly, see if everyone can guess the movie.
Spot the cows – When you see cows on your side of the road, yell “Cows on my side!” You get a point for each time you call a group of cows. If you spot cows on the opposite side, you can yell “Cows on your side!” and steal a point from your opponent. This can be played with anything like sheep, cows, horses, tractors.
Fortunately/unfortunately – tell a story with each person adding a line, but each line needs to start with fortunately/unfortunately in turn.
City, country, river – good for budding geographers. Pick a letter, and you have to think of a city, country and river all starting with that letter.
- Scavenger hunt/Bingo – make your own scavenger hunt or bingo sheets, and when you see items, tick them off.
- Dots and boxes – draw a ‘grid’ of dots, at least 7 x 7 dots in rows/columns. Each person takes it in turns to
Other helpful entertainment
Of course, it’s always helpful to have entertainment that children can do alone or with siblings. Here’s other entertainment ideas that are good for the car and once you arrive at your destination.
- Sticker books
- Boggle – word game, make as many words as you can from the letters
- Table Topics – family topics to talk about
- Loaded questions – on the go version of the game, good for older children
- The Floor is Lava – this book includes 100 game ideas for all the family.
- Top Trumps – pick your favourite themed pack
What other car journey games do you play on family road trips?