Road trips are so much fun—at least for a while. Sadly, not every mile is a view. People get hungry, cranky, and bored after miles of highways and wide-open spaces. Road trip games break up the monotony. Some of them may even help everyone in the car bond a little.
Here are a few car-friendly road trip games.
Table-top games are nearly impossible, even in a motor home. You lose the pieces every time your car takes a turn. There are travel-friendly ones, which are great to keep for RVs and camping. There are also games made for devices, like smart phones, tablets, and handheld game consoles. But those also have their problems. They isolate the passenger and lose charge or reception. Worse, they do not solve the car-wide boredom, which includes the driver’s.
Having games that engage the whole road trip crew helps keep everyone have fun and keeps the driver alert.
Name that Tune
Take advantage of your copilot. Using your smartphone or other music playlist, have the passenger in the front seat MC “Name That Tune”. Shuffle the playlist randomly, then play 5-10 seconds of a song. Everyone else in the car gets to guess the tune.
Are your road trip crew members all fans of Broadway musicals, Disney, TV theme songs, or a specific band or genre? Create a playlist just for the road trip that will test their fan knowledge. You’ll be surprised by the MP3s you can find online.
Create that Story
There are two ways to play this story-telling round robin. You can play with no sound—or, add sound effects!
Basic Gameplay for Group Story Time
The basic gameplay is this: someone starts the story with single sentence. The next person follows that sentence with something that builds on that. Then it goes to the next person… and so on. So, it may be that you have:
Passenger 1: “Once upon a time there was a shy wolf named Herbert.”
Passenger 2: “Herbert was shy because he was much smaller than the other wolves.”
Passenger 3: “The wolves often overlooked Herbert, which is where the term lone wolf comes from.”
Driver: “But one day Herbert came across a leprechaun.”
The story continues until the story comes to a “The End”.
MP3 Edition of Create that Story
The crazy sound effects that exist online are mind blowing. You can get collections of sound effects for cartoons, horror, Hollywood. Or, you can choose individual sound effects, like a baby crying or a squish. Use the sound effects as ques for the next line or round of the story. If you decide to use one sound effect per round, start the game this way:
First round: sound effect before Passenger 1 starts the game.
Second round: sound effect before Passenger 2, after Passenger 1.
Third round: sound effect before Passenger 3, after Passenger 2.
Keeping a deck of conversation cards in your car is always great. There are fun, zany adult what-if cards (I love Hypertheticals by Chuck Klosterman). Some sets are designed for kids and families, like Table Topics Family Gathering edition. Other topics include destinations, mindfulness, history, family road trips, art, and happiness.
Browse through fun topics that inspire interesting conversations across the group.
Along the same line, trivia games without the board can be fun to keep in the car. There are specialties like movies, 80s and 90s, history, science, comic books, and sports. You can find about any trivia topic from the very general to the extraordinarily specialized.
Before there were cellphones, there was Eye Spy. It may even predate cars. You can play it anywhere at any time. You can take turns or have a dedicated “eye spy” leader. It’s simple, one person says, “I spy with my little eye…” and adds a hint. The eye spy hunters look for the what the leader saw.
Driver: “I spy with my little eye something furry and friendly.”
Passenger 1: “A cow!” seeing cows in a nearby field.
Passenger 2: “A dog!” seeing a small dog in window of another car.
DIY Road Trip Bingo
You can buy fancy road trip bingo games. Alternately, a DIY road trip bingo can be more tailored to your trip. If it’s somewhere you go frequently, you may even have common stores, restaurants, or businesses that are along the route. Farm country may include a square for “haystacks” or “tractors”.
To make your own road trip bingo game, make at least one board for each player. The driver has to sit this one out.
Free Defensive Driving GuideGet the Guide
You can use heavy cardstock, tagboard, chalkboard contact paper, or personal-size chalkboards with chalk markers (which don’t rub off like chalk). If you use a piece of regular chalk to mark off the spotted objects, you can use the same board over again. Make sure you put chalk in a plastic pencil pouch and have some wet wipes or chalk holders on hand.
Divide a square area into smaller squares. A simple ruler will make sure you have even boxes. You should have as many squares in a row or column as the two middle diagonals. So, whether a 4 x 4 or 6 x 6 square of columns and rows the diagonals will also have four or six respectively.
Then, put the names of whatever road trip item you want. It can even be events.
Who am I?
This is entirely a word game. One person thinks of a famous real or fictional character—let’s say Abraham Lincoln or Princess Leia. Then they give a clue or general description. For example, an introduction to Lincoln could be, “I’m a self-taught lawyer who loves hats and speeches.” For Leia, “I didn’t know I had a twin brother until I was an adult. I was proud to lead a rebellion.”
People get hints and keep guessing until the famous figure is correctly guessed. Take turns being the famous character.