If you’ve ever driven any distance with multiple kids in one vehicle, you may be familiar with the apparent law of the universe that says fighting must increase exponentially for every minute a family is on the road. Wayfinding TravelingMom Jennifer Kaufman has found that having a bevy of road trip games in her arsenal not only keeps the children entertained, it also passes the time for the grown-ups riding with them. Check out seven of her family’s favorites before you hit the road again!
Why brush up on road trip games?
My friends and family know we almost never drive anywhere for vacation if we can fly. Between our three elementary school kids bickering in the backseat before we get out of the neighborhood, four of of us being very prone to carsickness, and at least one of us being short on patience when
I we just want to get to my our destination, it’s definitely not our first choice.
Sometimes though, for closer trips or when flight prices just don’t make sense for a family of five, we find ourselves setting out on a bit of a road trip. When faced with such a predicament (she says, as she imagines several people completely baffled because they just love driving across the country together…), I know that our best chance of arriving in one piece is by having plenty to do to fight off the choruses of “I’m so booooooored,” and “Are we there yet?!”
Many people know the old standby road trip games like Twenty Questions, License Plate Scavenger Hunt, or I Spy, but let’s be honest – sometimes those aren’t enough to maintain the family’s sanity for a several hour trip. We’ve got you covered, with seven that might be new to you!
TravelingMom tip: In addition to helping in the car, these games – by their very nature – are great for keeping kids entertained just about anywhere. We go straight to a few of them when in lines at our local theme parks, sitting in waiting rooms, and even at the dinner table!
7 of our Favorite, Lesser-known Road Trip Games for the Whole Family
One game, variations for families of all ages
For all of these games – and really for road trip games in general – the rules can be pretty flexible. You can kick someone out if they break the streak and play until one player remains, give a certain number of “strikes” before someone is out, or work as a family to see how much you can accomplish together.
1. Category ABCs – Basic
First, someone chooses a category and names something that fits, which begins with the letter A. The next person answers something still in the category beginning with B, and so on, until someone is stumped.
Example, for the category “Famous People”:
Category ABCs – Before and After
The variation we play most often involves (just a little) more strategy. Once again, the first person has to name something that fits a category – this time beginning with any letter they choose. The following person continues in the same category, naming something that begins with the last letter of the previous word.
Example, for the category “Animated Movies”:
“Nightmare before Christmas’
2. I’m going on a picnic
A popular camp game, this one is actually good for working your memory, too! The first person starts by saying, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m taking… [an item that begins with the letter A]”. The second person repeats the sentence, repeats what the first person is bringing, and adds an object starting with the letter B. This continues with everyone repeating all of the previous items, before adding an item that begins with the next letter of the alphabet. See if you can get all the way from A to Z, or who forgets an item the quickest!
“I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing an apple.”
“I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing and apple and a baseball.”
“I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing and apple, a baseball, and a cookie.”
Great Road Trip Games for adults or older kids
These games require just a little bit more knowledge than the alphabet-based games. They may even be cool enough for tweens and teens….
3. Hum That Tune
One player starts the game by humming a well-known song. The first person to guess the tune correctly gets to be the next “hummer”. It sounds super simple, but it’s often trickier than it seems!
4. Sing-along String-along
This is another great one for a family of music lovers! First, one person sings (yes, sings!) a line of a song. Where they leave off, the next person has to connect it with another song. Play continues until someone messes up or is stuck.
“it’s a small world after all…”
“All of me loves all of you…”
“You make me feel like a natural woman…”
5. Six Degrees of Movie Fun
To begin this one, one family member names any actor. The next person names a movie the actor was in. The following person names someone else in that movie that hasn’t already been said, and so on – going back and forth between movie titles and actors until someone is unable to answer.
Collaborative (less competitive!) Activities
These are activities that are less of a competition and more of a time-filler.
6. Would you Rather
A simple question asks what someone would choose given two options… and often starts a lively discussion. You can purchase “Would You Rather” game cards with preprinted scenarios, or make up your own!
- Would you rather be able to fly or be invisible?
- Would you rather speak every language in the world or play every instrument?
- Would you rather have feet for hands or hands for feet?
7. (Un)fortunate Storytelling
This old improv game (that I never loved in school!) has provided plenty of laughs for our family. One person starts the story with a simple opening sentence. The next person builds on the story by saying, “Fortunately…. [something fortunate happened].” Person 3 follows by saying something unfortunate that could occur in the previous situation. Moving person-to-person, switch between fortunate and unfortunate situations. Be warned though, the stories can get pretty silly, pretty quickly!
I got a new puppy!
Unfortunately, he chewed a big hole in our carpet.
Fortunately, the hole revealed a hidden treasure map.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t read it.
When I was growing up, we used to play what we simply called “the scan game” just about every time we were in the car, no matter how short or long the drive. We’d hit the scan button on the radio, and as it scrolled through stations we’d try to name the title and/or artist of a song, seeing how many we could get before it got back around to the starting channel. That seems like an unlikely scenario anymore, since most people are listening to music on something other than a radio. Thankfully, we have a whole new list of ideas to keep us entertained; these are just a handful of them. And you know what? Most of the time, it keeps the fighting at bay for like, a whole 20 minutes!
Do you play road trip games in the car? What is your family’s favorite?
How New Cars are Making Road Trips easier, too!
I recently had a chance to hear from some of the forward-thinking design teams at Ford, and I have to say… maybe a road trip wouldn’t be so bad in one of the cars we saw! Did you know that not only are more and more 2018 models coming out with Wifi in a standard-equipped vehicles, but many of them can support up to 10 devices at once! There’s a plethora of outlets too, both standard and USB.
So while we wanted to pass along plenty of ideas for screen-free entertainment during road trips, I can’t go without being a little thankful for how convenient it is for kids and adults alike to spend some of the time watching movies, playing games, and staying connected with friends and family!
Check out the Expedition (which I ended up loving!) and the brand new model, Eco Sport (perfect for smaller families or couples!) on She Buys Cars.