Whether you’re in the car for 5 minutes or 15 hours, driving with kids is a big undertaking. You’ve got all sorts of challenges like potty breaks, car sickness, endless munchies, and, worst of all (if you ask the kids), boredom!
However, when it comes to entertainment, safety still needs to come first. Many of your children’s favorite toys could be dangerous projectiles, and so could phones or tablets. But there are plenty of car games for kids that keep them entertained on drives without devices and heavy toys. (Of course, we do have a list of car seat-safe toys.)
Most of these games don’t require any supplies or preparation and can keep your child entertained for hours. They can even help develop memory, language, reading, and critical thinking skills. So, today, we’re sharing a roundup of road trip games for kids. Here they are:
10 Free Car Games For Kids
“I Spy” is a game you can play with pretty much any age. The participants simply say, “I spy something . . . ” and then describe the item in a few words. For example, someone may say, “I spy something red in the middle and black on the outside.” Everyone guesses what that could be until someone guesses “seatbelt buckle.” The only rule is the item must be in sight. This game is great because you can make it more or less challenging depending on the players, making it appropriate for any kiddo old enough to talk.
The Alphabet Game
“The Alphabet Game” is another great road trip game for the whole family. The goal is for all the players to work together to complete the alphabet. To do this, they need to find the letters in order on a road sign, car, building, or anything else on the trip. For example, the game may start when one of the kids sees “Alabama” on a license plate because it starts with the letter A. The goal next would be to find the letter B. This continues until the participants get to Z. Another alternative is to pick a theme, such as “Things we’ll bring to the beach,” and take turns naming items in that category that start with each letter of the alphabet.
To play “20 Questions,” one participant comes up with an object in their head. Maybe they think of “Monster Truck” or “Seashell.” Then, everyone starts asking yes-or-no questions to discover this object. In the purest form of the game, you could only ask 20 questions before the other player wins. However, if you have younger kiddos or don’t care to keep track, questions can be asked until the item is guessed correctly.
Would You Rather
Everyone loves “Would You Rather,” and it’s great for all ages! Participants take turns asking the rest of the car if they’d rather experience one thing or the other. Each person in the car answers, and you learn all sorts of things about each other! (You’ll probably get lots of giggles, too.)
Two Truths and a Lie
For “Two Truths and a Lie,” everyone in the car takes turns stating three “facts,” except one of those facts is a lie. The other players have to guess which statement is a lie. Again, it’s a fun way to learn more about one another!
Green Glass Door
This one’s for older kids and teens and is part practical joke and part game. Part of the fun of “Green Glass Door” is that no one gets any instructions on how the game is played. It simply starts, and the other players have to figure it out. You must discover what can be brought “through the Green Glass Door.”
As the leader of the game, you’ll say something like, “I can bring a pillow through the Green Glass Door, but I can’t bring a blanket.” The key is that the first word has double letters, and the second word does not. The players must realize the relationship between the first and second words to play the game. Once they figure it out, they start giving their own examples. This continues until everyone in the car figures out the double-letter key!
The License Plate Game
Here’s a road trip classic! For the “License Plate Game,” your kids simply look out the window and try to spot license plates from all 50 states. Each time they see one, they award themselves 1 point. Players can only count each state once, and whoever has the most points by the end of the game wins. The game ends after a set amount of time or by the time you reach your destination.
“HangMan” does require one player to have a piece of paper, but the rest of the players don’t need any supplies. The player with the paper comes up with a word and category. Everyone guesses the letters in hopes of discovering the word before the “HangMan” is completely drawn. You start with a head, then a body, then each arm, and finally, each leg. So, essentially the group gets 6 wrong letter guesses before they lose. This is a great game to challenge young readers! And by adding detailed body parts, like eyes or fingers, you can offer more chances to guess complex words correctly.
For a version of this that doesn’t involve the “hangman” imagery, draw a snowman instead.
In My Suitcase
“In My Suitcase” will challenge your kids’ memory! The game starts with one person saying. “I’m going on vacation and packed [something that starts with A.]” Then, the next person repeats the phrase and the item but adds an item that starts with the letter B. This continues until you’ve been through the entire alphabet. If someone forgets a letter along the way, they’re out. Anyone remaining by Z wins the game!
This one takes a little preparation, but make a list of things you’ll encounter on your way and give it to your kids to spot throughout the trip! Make the list as long or short as you want, but you could probably make your scavenger hunt last the whole trip with a little strategy!
To keep kids entertained in the car, you don’t need electronics and a bag full of toys.
Family road trips are special, and the journey should be just as memorable as the destination. Use these free car games to combat boredom and make lasting memories with the whole family. You can find our full list of road trip tips and road trip essentials on the blog, and make sure to browse all of our past posts for essential vehicle safety info. It’s our goal to keep everyone safe in their seats, no matter how long the voyage!
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