Road Trip Car Games For Kids
By Ann Zeise
Playing car games with kids can make a long road trip both pleasant and educational. Print this out to take along! Looking out the window, searching for objects can also help prevent car sickness. Keep the games light and fun. It isn’t winning that matters here, it is laughing in order to make a long drive pass by quickly.
Using license plate letters, come up with the name of a real or fictitious name for a governmental or other organization, the funnier the better. Played in rounds. Whoever makes the others laugh or groan wins. Everyone can win!
When you pass a big truck, with your fist clenched, make a pulling down motion while smiling at the truck driver. If you are lucky, he’ll pull his air horn and toot back at you! Warn your parent you are going to be playing this game. Air horns are rather loud. Not to be played in heavy traffic or in a city.
One person starts with the letter “A” and says, “I’m going on a trip, and I’m going to bring ____ ” and names something that begins with the letter “A.” The next person repeats what the first person said, and adds something that starts with a “B.” The next repeats what they said, but adds a “C” item, and so on until someone can’t remember the whole list. For small children, don’t repeat and just let them add a new item that is the next letter of the alphabet.
Before you leave, make several copies of these BINGO cards and call out pieces. Little yellow sticky notes make great covering pieces! Play with any BINGO rules you like: 5 in a row, Blackout, etc. This site also has picture themed BINGO that kids will enjoy.
Some, like “Go Fish” are fairly easy to play when driving. Rummy is another. Here are the rules to many card games.
Teams on left and right side of the car count cows throughout the day on their side of the car, while trying to distract the other team from actually seeing any cows on their side. If you pass a cemetery (or boat) on your side of the car, you lose all your cow points…. provided the other team sees the cemetery (or boat) and catches you! Variation: seeing a white horse after a cemetery (or boat) and you get your lost points back. Winning side gets whatever they want to eat at the next stop.
Hay Truck Wishes
If a hay truck passes you, hurry and make a wish! But don’t look back or your wish won’t come true!
If you see a Volkswagen “bug” you get to give one other person in the car a hug… or throw them a kiss.
I Spy Letter Edition
Start from the letter A and take turns spotting something that starts with that letter. We normally also allow finding those letters on signs too.
Instant Messaging, Car Style
Pack along a large drawing tablet and thick, black markers. Have kids make signs to send messages to other cars, such as “If you like Texans, wave!” or “Your brake light is out!”
Invent a Better Car
My son invented this game when we were stuck in traffic. First, we improved our car, adding an ice cream dispenser, a toilet (We were getting desperate!) and such. Then we added helicopter propellers so we could get above the traffic and speed away, but that wasn’t fast enough, so we added a jet engine! Some of the improvements were quite funny and laughing helped the time pass. Everyone wins this game!
License Plate Spelling Game
Select a car from a distance that you are about to pass. Everyone attempts to make a word from the 3 letters on the plate. The word must begin with the first letter, have the second letter in the middle, and end in the last letter. Longest word wins the total of the number of numbers on the license plate… if they add it right.
Variation for older kids: words must have 2 or more syllables. They must multiply the numbers on the plate together to get the score.
Variation for little kids: have the alphabet in upper case printed out before you go. They just have to try to find each letter.
Early reader: Has to come up with a word that either starts with the first letter, or has the middle letter in it, or ends in the last letter.
Watch for numbers on signs along the road. With beginners in the car, only add the numbers. In an advanced crowd, add the first two numbers, multiply by the third and divide by the fourth, throwing out any remainder. Each round played separately, but others help look for numbers. The winner is the person with the largest number after all have had a chance.
My Aunt Tilly
Aunt Tilly has peculiar likes and dislikes. She likes butter and jelly, but not peanuts or jam. She likes books but doesn’t read. She wears boots but not shoes. She’s doesn’t care for cake or ice cream, but likes Jello. Tilly very much likes bookkeeping, as she adds well, but she can’t subtract. There’s a pattern here. Once you get it, start saying other sets of things Tilly likes and dislikes. The tip is in her name and how it is similar to the things she likes.
Name That Tune
One person hums a tune and the others try to guess what it is. Winner gets to hum the next tune.
Each player selects a color. The first to see 10 big rigs in their color wins. Tip: select from white, black, green, red, yellow, or blue. Play the same time as Air Horn. If you get a truck in your color to honk at you, you automatically win.
Print out a copy of a map of the USA (or other map) for each player. Leave your own state white. Color the states that border your state Yellow, the states that border those states Orange, the next out Red, the next Purple, and all the rest Blue.
Look for cars with out-of-state license plates. The scoring goes as follows:
- 1 pt – Yellow
- 2 pt – Orange
- 4 pt – Red
- 6 pt – Purple
- 8 pt – Blue
Hawaii and Alaska are 10 points, unless you live there. Hawaiians and Alaskans get 10 points for Florida and Maine.
Only the first person to spot an out of state license plate gets the points for that sighting. They must find a license from another state before they can get any more points from the state they just found.
You can decide when the game ends ahead of time. Set a time limit and whoever has the most by then wins, or set a point limit, and the winner is first to get that many points, or as soon as one person has 10 sightings, scores are added, and highest score is the winner.
Help identifying states from recently, typical state license plates can be found illustrated on Jim Moini’s License Plates site. Here are some you might find on trucks and trailers. Likely to see Mexican license plates? Each state in Mexico has its own set of license plates, too.
Billy’s U.S. GRAPHIC Plates
For those playing in the USA.
For those playing all over the world, where ever there are licensed vehicles.
“It” selects a letter, and someone notes the time. Everyone watches out for things that start with that letter. First to call out gets the item, and keeps track on their fingers. With a tie, no one gets it. In ten minutes the person watching the clock calls “Time!” and the person having seen the most items wins, and gets to pick the next letter.
“It” thinks of a person, place or thing and announces they are ready. Others ask questions that can be answered by “yes” or “no” by “It.” With strict rules, only 20 questions may be asked. “It” keeps track on his fingers and wins if the others can’t guess in time.
Taste and evaluate drinking water as you take rest stops. Make a chart of where you were. Did the water look clear? Did the water have any flavor or smell to it? Did you like it or not? If possible, ask where the water comes from – a well or a river or where?