In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, vacation travel is bound to look different than usual. In the name of social distancing, that may mean trading a crowded airplane cabin for the adventure of a summer road trip. (That’s one more reason to give your auto insurance a checkup, if it’s been a while.)
Of course, the biggest sacrifice in traveling by car is the extra time it takes to arrive at your vacation destination. And everyone who’s been on a road trip knows passing the hours can be a struggle — especially if you have young children. So why not try some fun car games?
To help your family pass the time, here’s our list of 40 road trip games to play in the car. (Get creative… coming up with your own variations can be part of the fun!)
40 Fun Games to Play in the Car (for Kids and Adults)
Alphabet: We’ll start our list with the most ubiquitous of car travel games. To play, you begin with the letter A. Each passenger takes a turn finding something along the road (or inside the car) that begins with the chosen letter. Then, you move your way through the alphabet. The Q’s and Z’s may take some time, so it’s up to you whether to allow license plate numbers.
Categories: The principle of this game is simple, which means it can be endlessly modified. One person chooses a category — such as types of trees. Then, everyone in the car takes turns naming something that fits in the category. When a passenger is stumped (pun intended), the round is over.
Radio roulette: Test the knowledge of the audiophiles in your car by guessing song names on the radio. Just turn to a random station or put your phone on shuffle. Whoever shouts the name of the song first wins.
Truth or dare: This game is a car trip adaptation of a classic. Ask a question to a fellow passenger, then let them decide whether to tell the truth or complete a dare. Just make sure your dares can be safely performed in the car.
I spy: When you think of things to do on a long car ride, this game probably tops the list. Start by vaguely describing something you see — like, “I spy something yellow.” Then, let everyone else take turns asking yes or no questions until they can guess the object.
License plate game: There are a few car ride games you can play using the license plates of other vehicles on the road. Try finding plates that start with each letter of the alphabet. Or get creative by making up a phrase by using the plate letters as acronyms.
One-word story: Here’s a fun game to play in the car: Tell a story one word at a time, with each person adding a new word. Who knows where you’ll end up when it’s through.
Scavenger hunt: It takes a little planning, but a scavenger hunt can be one of the best road trip games for kids. Prepare a list of common things you may encounter on the road (or print a pre-made list off the internet). Then, encourage your family to check off each item as you spot it during your travels.
Rhyme: Test the vocabulary of your passengers with this game for the car. Start by having one person pick a word. Then, take turns saying words that rhyme with it. The first person to get stumped or repeat a word loses the round.
Celebrity: Who says there aren’t car games for adults? In this car driving game, one player starts by choosing a famous person to imitate (but shhh… don’t tell). Then, everyone else asks them questions. But here’s that catch — they have to answer the question as if they’re the celebrity. See how long it takes someone to guess the right answer.
Song lyrics: Here’s another fun road trip game for music lovers. Take turns reciting one line from a song. Then, see if others can guess the song name and artist.
Quiet game: Tired of crazy car games? This one could give you a little peace and quiet. See how long your passengers can stay silent. The first one to make a noise loses.
Movies: This is one of the best car games for movie lovers. First, name an actor. Then, the next person names a movie the actor has starred in. Here comes the twist: The next player has to name a co-star from the same movie. Then, name another movie they’ve appeared in. This one will get tricky, so see how far your crew can make it.
Slug bug/punch buggy: While Volkswagen has officially stopped making its famous Beetle, the road trip car games it inspired live on. This one’s pretty simple to play. Just yell out every time you see a VW Beetle. If you’d like, it can be accompanied by a friendly punch to your neighbor’s arm.
People watching: On a road trip, you may be driving beside the same cars for hours. Have some fun by making up a story about people in the vehicle next to you — the funnier, the better.
Never have I ever: Start by having everyone hold up five fingers. Now, take turns naming something you’ve never done. If someone else has done it, they put down a finger. The last person standing wins.
Rock paper scissors: Here’s a game to play in the car with kids that needs no explanation. Since it doesn’t take long to play, consider making it a backseat tournament.
Spelling bee: This may not fall into the category of cool car games, but it can be played by passengers of all ages. Say a word and let everyone try to spell it. Just be sure to have someone double-check the tough ones.
Car bingo: Hunting for things to do on a road trip? Look no further than car bingo. Create a bingo board with a different type of vehicle in each square. Then, see who can score bingo first by spotting convertibles, motorcycles and semi trucks.
While you were sleeping: Try to fool a snoozing passenger. When someone falls asleep, get everyone else to come up with a story together. When sleeping beauty awakes, explain all the exciting things they missed and see if you can get them to believe it.
21 questions: Think of something — anything. Then, give everyone a total of 21 questions to guess what it is.
Did you hear?: These road trip questions will test whether you can decipher between fact and fiction. Each player will ask a question starting with “did you hear.” Then, the other players have to decide whether it’s true or false.
Fortunately/unfortunately: To play this game, take turns alternating between fortunate and unfortunate situations. For example “Fortunately, I got a new puppy… unfortunately, it ran away.” Keep adding to the story until you end with one wild tale.
Alphabet categories: Choose a category, for example, types of food or breeds of dogs. Then, take turns listing items that fit your category in alphabetical order.
Name game: This car driving game is perfect for pop culture fans. Start by saying the first and last name of a famous person. Then, the next player names another celebrity whose name starts with the first letter of the prior person’s last name – like Lebron James and Jerry Seinfeld.
Battle of the bands: Pick a category, such as “songs about a city.” Then, have two people pick competing songs that fit the description. Play them both on the stereo and let the whole car vote for a winner.
In my suitcase: Here’s an idea for what to do on a long car ride. “I’m going on vacation and I packed an apple.” Now, the next person has to continue the packing list with something that starts with the letter B, while repeating the items before them. Work your way through the alphabet and test your memory.
What am I counting?: Choose something you see outside the car to start counting — but don’t tell anyone what it is. Count out loud and see how long it takes them to guess what you’re counting.
Hum that tune: This one’s harder than it sounds. Take turns humming a well-known song and see if anyone can guess it.
Sing-along string-along: Sing one line from a song. Then, the next person sings a line from another song that starts with the last word of the previous lyric.
Would you rather?: Give two options, for example: “If you had a superpower, would you rather fly or be invisible?” Start a lively discussion by hearing what everyone would choose.
License plate map: Print off a map of the United States and try to spot a license plate from every state.
Alphabet race: Shout out one letter of the alphabet. The first person to find a word starting with that letter wins.
Mad Libs: This game is a popular go-to when looking for things to do on a road trip. Choose words to fill in the blanks, then laugh at the silly stories you create.
Road sign bingo: You can find free versions of this driving game online. Before you leave home, print a bingo card off the internet. Then, try to find all the road signs on the card.
Explain a film plot badly: See how quick-witted your passengers are by giving alternate explanations of popular movie plots. Then, see if they can guess the film. For example, the original Star Wars saga could be described as “an absent father tries to get his son to join the family business.”
Six degrees of separation: Of course, there’s the popular version connecting any actor to Kevin Bacon. But you can pick any two people in the world and try to connect them through six connections or less.
Guess the flavor: Choose a candy like jelly beans or fruit snacks and try to guess the right flavors in a blind taste test challenge.
Forbidden word: Select a commonly used word and make it forbidden to say in the car. The first person to accidentally use the word loses.
All about me: Want to play games to get to know someone better? Take turns saying something about yourself that no one else in the car knows.
Relax and enjoy the trip
When you pull out of the driveway to embark on your next road trip, the last thing you should be thinking about is your car insurance. At Erie Insurance, we want you to have complete peace of mind when you hit the road — knowing your car and everyone inside it is protected. Find a local ERIE agent in your neighborhood or get a free online auto insurance quote.
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