How to Keep Your Kids Occupied and Engaged, and Keep YOUR Sanity, on Your Next Road Trip
You Think Your Kids Won’t Put Their Smartphones Down Long Enough to Play “Low-Tech” Games with Mom & Dad?
These Time-Tested Road Trip Games Will Not Only Make Your Road Trip Less Stressful…They’ll Make it More Fun Too!
So Why Play Road Trip Games, Anyway?
You might be thinking “my kids won’t want to play road trip games — especially since they’re wired, plugged in, totally consumed playing Minecraft…right?” Well, road trip games have certain (healthy) advantages over endlessly staring at an electronic screen, oblivious to everything happening in the car during the trip:
- They help you form a closer bond with friends and family!
Road trip games provide a way for everyone in your car to laugh and interact with each other, while learning new things about each other. A road trip might lead to spontaneously deeper conversations with your kids and you’ll learn more about them and you grow closer to them. For others, it might strengthen bonds of trust and encourage expression. The benefits are truly lifelong.
- The trip goes much faster
Road trip games require family members to solve puzzles, identify geography, answer some trivia questions… which leads to fun interacting and creatively engaging with everyone else in the car.
- Laughing reduces stress
Road trip games create shared experiences which are both fun and funny. Laughter is one of the healthiest ways everyone can relate to, to reduce stress levels, break up the monotony of an 8-hour drive, turning a long journey into one that seemingly goes by quickly leaving your kids saying, “aw, that wasn’t as long as I thought”.
- Your kids will be learning new things
Road trip games will challenge your kids to use their problem-solving skills and which also stimulates their creativity. Your children will also be improving their communication skills and learning more about their world around them on the way to your destination. And, as you probably know, your kids are like sponges when it comes to learning.
- Passengers will be paying attention to their surroundings
Many road trip games ask participants to look for certain things around them, like specific types of cars, objects, animals or even historical locations. Your kids will be on “high alert” carefully scanning outside the windows — trying to identify interesting and unusual things. Your kids will develop a deeper appreciation of why they’re going to their destination. They’ll learn a lot more about their surroundings and from their surroundings, instead of constantly checking their friends Snapchat video. Besides, your kids love to learn new things; especially things their friends may not know.
Listed Below are Some of the Most Popular Road Trip Games in the United States Over the Past 50 Years
1 The Name Game
Someone says a name (e.g. Adam), and the next person has to say a name that begins with the last letter of that name (in this case M, so maybe Michele). The third person picks a name that begins with the last letter of the second person’s choice, and so on. No duplicates allowed, and they must all be real names. A more challenging version for older kids is names of places with the same rules.
2 My Cows
This works best if you’re driving through rural areas, but it’s great for long drives. When driving past a farm with cows, the first person to spot them calls out “My Cows!” and makes a quick count/guesstimate of how many he or she got. The object, of course, is to “collect” the most cows. If the car passes over a bridge, whoever spots it first gets to erase another player’s cows. The erase landscape object doesn’t need to be a bridge; it can be a graveyard or anything else you might pass periodically on a road trip replete with cows.
3 Punch Buggy
There may still be people out there who don’t know the Punch Buggy game, so we’d better include it. Volkswagen Beetles are Punch Buggies. The first person to spot one calls out the color with the instruction, “Orange Punch Buggy—no punch backs!” and is allowed to gently punch everyone within arm’s reach. The “no punch backs” part is important for obvious reasons. Just keep an eye out if an older sibling starts to ignore the “no punch backs” rule.
4 20 Questions
An old standby for any dull moment: One person thinks of something, and everyone else has 20 yes or no questions to try to guess what it is. If someone guesses correctly before the 20th question, that person is the winner and goes next. If no one figures it out, the person answering has won and goes again.
5 I Spy
This is essentially the same as 20 Questions, but the chosen object must be within sight—at least at the outset of the game. The person starts with the phrase, “I spy with my little eye something beginning with…” and says the first letter of the object he or she sees. The rest follows like 20 questions, either with a set number of questions, or until someone guesses correctly, as preferred.
6 Name That Tune
Here’s where the radio comes in handy as more than just a dial to fight over. Turn it on, move the dial until you hear a song, and see who can name the tune first. Repeat as much as you’d like. It’s great if you have satellite radio too!
7 Add-on Storytelling
One person starts a story, with just a line or two, then stops mid-sentence. The next person picks up the tale and keeps building. No one can negate someone else’s idea, only build on it. The stories always go in crazy directions that are usually good for a group giggle!
8 License Plate Initials
This one is pure silliness. Look at the letters on a license plate and make up what they might stand for—PSG means Pretty Silly Game! Everyone in the car comes up with an answer before moving on to the next letter combination. This generally brings lots of laughs once everyone warms up.
9 Pig Latin
Not so much a game as a passing of the torch: Isn’t it time your kids learned to speak Pig Latin? So few kids these days study the classics. A long car journey is the perfect opportunity to have all backseat riders uent-flay.
10 The Geography Road Game
The best part of being on the road with the family is that they get to learn a lot about the geography of the United States — if they are not glued to their smartphone! Help the kids learn more about the location of counties, cities and states with this simple geography game. The game starts when one player names a location, for example Nebraska. The next person must name a location in the United States that starts with the last letter of that word — the letter “A.” You can score this game if you like — making states worth 1 point, towns or cities worth 2 points and national parks, waterways and mountains worth 3 points.
This is a funny game that will generate some laughs and stimulate your children’s creativity. The first person in the car thinks of something fortunate that is happening soon. The next person has to think of something unfortunate that is tied to the first event. Each occupant of the car continues saying fortunate/unfortunate things until the story comes to a conclusion. The crazier the events are in the story, the more enjoyable it will be! For example:
“Fortunately, it’s a beautiful sunny day today!”
“Unfortunately, it is bombarding us with deadly gamma rays”
“Fortunately, we can absorb those rays and become the next hulk”
“Unfortunately, we’d probably destroy all of the other cars on the road”
“Fortunately, we’d get to date Jennifer Connelly or Scarlett Johansson because they have been girlfriends of the Hulk in movies!”
12 The Picnic Game
A memory builder for all ages. One player says, “I went to a picnic Saturday and I brought…” then says a picnic favorite that begins with the letter A, like apples. The next player repeats the opening phrase, and after “…I brought” they repeat the A item then add one that begins with B: “I brought an apple and some bananas.” The third player repeats the opener, the A and the B portions, and then adds something that begins with C. Get it? Can your travelers get through the alphabet, remembering all the items everyone contributed? Try keeping track of 23 items plus figuring out what you can take to a picnic that starts with X!
13 Count the...
Probably even the most enthusiastic youngsters will catch on to this being busywork, but for a while it’ll be all they’ll think about! And there is a bonus: Interest is likely to reignite on its own shortly after it stalls. Count the… can be anything: cows, telephone poles, headlights, train cars, blue pickup trucks — you name it. Shouting out the thing to keep track of is all that is required.
This is one of the simplest road trip games, however it is sure to bring lots of laughs. Players will hold their breath at the count of three; the one who can hold the longest is the winner.
15 Rock, Paper and Scissors –
This is a classic game that keep people from all ages entertained… and just about everyone has played it growing up. Each player will place their hands at their backs; at the count of three all players will say rock, paper, and scissors together. Then each player will display their chosen hand gesture.
Bonus: Spot the Car
This easy to know game is perfect to be played by teens inside the car. The players will look for different car models. The one who guesses the most wins.
So, there you have it! Our list of the 16 most popular road trip games! If we left out one of your favorites, please let us
know so we can add it to our list of favorites for next year!