Is it possible to enjoy a family road trip without listening to the kids incessantly asking, “Are we there yet?”? Yes, it is! Here are some must-play road trip games that will keep the kids entertained so the entire family can enjoy getting out on the road.
9 Fun Road Trip Games (That Don’t Include Screen Time)
Hitting the road for a family road trip is the quintessential summertime adventure. The whole family piles into the family car or RV and heads off to some fun kid-friendly campsite and, along the way, gets to experience seeing different parts of the country up close…together.
It’s the stuff that memories are made of and provides terrific family bonding time.
But, there can be one big downside for parents: bored kids.
When the kids get bored (after about 15 minutes), they tend to resort to a never-ending stream of questions about when you’ll arrive at your destination…and bickering. It can suck every ounce of fun out of the road trip experience.
The key to keeping the entire family happy on a road trip is to play fun road trip games. I’m talking about good old-fashioned, screen-free games to play as you tack on the miles toward your destination.
Having a few simple games and ideas up your sleeve will help eliminate boredom and frustration!
Quick Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Road Trip Games
In our own experience, we have found that the best way to keep backseat bickering, boredom, and frustration low is to:
- Have lots of game options ready to play. Make a list if you need to so you aren’t racking your brain for ideas once the squabbling has begun. Keep a stash of card games like this road trip scavenger hunt deck or I Spy Travel cards if you need something to pull out!
- Plan to play each game for just a little bit. 30 minutes for each of these games is about our limit. If we go past 30 minutes, everyone gets cranky and tired of the game. I even have my kids alternate between playing an individual game, a family game, and a small snack. That way, there’s enough variety that boredom doesn’t set it!
9 Road Trip Games To Keep Kids Happy
Whether you’re going camping or to visit grandma in another state, use this handy list of classic, fun games that will keep kids occupied and happy for hours.
Tip: Don’t forget to grab this Road Trip Activity Set for more ideas!
1) The License Plate Game
Here’s an oldie but a goodie when it comes to reliable road trip games! I certainly played this when I was a kid on road trips with my family.
Note: Depending on where and how far you go, your kids likely won’t find all the states. However, if you hit a popular national park like Yellowstone, you can probably find all the states plus some bonus license plates, such as Canadian provinces!
How to play: Have the kids record all the different states they see license plates from on your travels. You can have them simply write a list of the states (and then alphabetize them for practice, ha!), or grab my Road Trip Activity Packet and let them color in each state they spot a license plate for.
Quick & Easy: These pre-made License Plate Road Trip Games are so fun and store easily in backseat pockets.
2) Twenty Questions
We played a LOT of twenty questions as a family when I was a kid, and we’ve carried that forward with our own kids – this road trip game is a GREAT avenue to let kids appropriately ask tons of questions!
How to play: Have one person think of a noun (a person, place, or thing). The other players each take turns asking yes-or-no questions to help them identify or guess what the chosen item is. After a player asks their question, they have a chance to guess the identity of the item.
If the player guesses correctly, they win; if they don’t, the next player gets a turn to ask a question and take a guess. When no one correctly guesses the answer within 20 questions, they lose the round.
Optional: We added the ability for the guessing players to request a hint after the 10th question. You certainly don’t need to add this element to the game. We did it because we had a lot of frustration with kids picking super obscure items and losing more rounds than solving.
3) The Alphabet Race
This game is perfect for stoking a little friendly competition among siblings while also working on letter and spelling skills. Grab my handy Alphabet Race sheet included in the Road Trip Activity Packet to help kids stay on track!
How to play: Have one person focus on the left side of the road and someone else focus on the right side of the road. Each person looks at signs, license plates, trucks, etc., to find the alphabet letters.
The first person to find every letter of the alphabet wins!
The catch: The letters have to be found in the order of the alphabet.
4) Story Telling
Here’s a game to boost creativity! You can do this activity in a couple of different ways, which reduces the fatigue factor and makes the time pass faster.
How to play #1: Choose a storyteller. Have that person make up a story on the fly. It can be a new fairy tale or some other completely fictional story. This might be short and sweet with younger kids, encouraging good storytelling by asking for any missing basic story elements (beginning, problem, how to solve the problem/climax, resolution). Older kids can often weave interesting and creative tales.
How to play #2: We often start by having one storyteller, but the family gets tired of listening to stories at some point. That’s when we take a short break and come back to storytelling…Mad Libs style!
One person starts by saying, “Once upon a time…” and finishes the sentence introducing the main character. Then, we go through the family with each person adding a new sentence to the story.
Continue until the story ends naturally, or if you have family members who tend to drag things out, set some sort of ending point. For example, a time limit or a limit on how many sentences each person can contribute.
5) Road Trip Bingo
This game is a blast and seems to be one of the road trip games that keeps our kids occupied the longest. But to play it, you’ll need the bingo boards in this Road Trip Activity Packet.
How to play: Each player gets a bingo card then keeps an eye out as you drive for items on their card. As they see items, they cross out the corresponding picture on the card. The first person to get all the items in a row (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally) wins!
6) Alphabet Memory Game
Here’s another A-Z alphabet game, but this one challenges players’ memories!
How to play: Determine the order the players will play. The first player says “A is for…” and finishes the sentence. The second player does the same thing with “B” but must first repeat “A” (ex: A is for ____. B is for ____). Continue through the entire alphabet and see if anyone gets it all correct by the time you get to “Z”!
Optional: If you’re playing with younger kids, I recommend stopping at an earlier letter of your choosing. Young elementary children may be able to make it until “L” or “M”, but probably not “Z”, while even younger kids may only be able to do 3-4 letters.
7) Would You Rather?
My son is the king of this game! He loves to play it even when we aren’t on a road trip! The questions become so far-fetched so that you’re guaranteed many laughs with this game!
How to play: Each person takes a turn asking outlandish questions to the whole family. Examples could include, “Would you rather be able to fly or have x-ray vision?” or “Would you rather run across the country or bike across the mountains?”
Related: Grab some Would You Rather Printable Sheets to take on your road trip.
8) Name That Tune
This one is for anyone who loves music (me!).
It’s another game where it’s easy to play it a couple of different ways so that it never feels old. You can adapt this game to fit the ages of your kids.
For example, use familiar kid songs with young children and popular radio songs for older kids.
How to play: Each player takes turns humming a tune or singing song lyrics. The other players try to guess the song title (or singer). Bonus to anyone who gets both the song and singer!
9) Cloud Shapes
This game is ideal for kids who get carsick because looking at the clouds won’t cause them to get sick. Plus, it encourages imagination and provides a lot of fun as everyone else tries to see the same shapes.
Keep an eye out, and you may see a hippo, a dragon, or even a rocket!
How to play: Each player looks out of their own window at the clouds in the sky and tries to identify common shapes such as animals or objects. Once you see it, show it to the other players and see if they can guess the same object that you see.
What Else Helps?
Sometimes you just want to hand something physical over to your children so they can use motor skills (and engage a new part of the brain), and for some quiet time in the car. I love having crafts (the non-messy kind) on hand to pass out just for this reason. Here are a few of the things I like to pack for road trips:
- Wix sticks and activity mats
- Paint by sticker books
- Window clings for kids to stick onto the window, reposition and play with!
- Erasable doodle books
I hope this list of ideas for fun road trips games helps your family look forward to hitting the road on your next family trip!
Along with these ideas, make sure to bring along some old tried and true standbys such as sticker books and stickers, plain paper and crayons or pencils for classic paper games like tic-tac-toe and hangman, and a deck of UNO cards!
More Travel Fun
- 9 Kid-Friendly Campsites For A Fun Family Vacation
- 9 Genius Tips to Make Flying with Kids a Breeze
- Limiting Screentime with Kids: Why & How to Enforce Screen Limits
- Camping with Kids: 21 Camping Games & Activities to Entertain Kids
- 18 Fun & Easy Outdoor Activities for Kids to Play Outside
- 10 Must Know Tent Camping Tips For Beginners
- 10 Simple Ways to Limit Screen Time & Raise Unplugged Kids