At Autio, road tripping is our favorite way to get from place to place. In addition to finding hidden gems along your journey, you’ll also get a unique opportunity to spend uninterrupted quality time with your fellow travelers.
While a road trip can create memories that air travel can’t, it can also include long stretches of silent sitting. When you throw children into the mix, the pressure to entertain gets even higher.
Of course, modern technology gives us instant access to podcasts, music, and other forms of multimedia entertainment, but those can get tiresome fast. Plus, looking at iPads and phones during long car rides can lead to upset stomachs—and interrupt quality bonding time.
When we road trip, we like to keep our minds (and kids) occupied with fun car games like the license plate game, memory games, or eventic-tac-toe. Still, there are plenty of new road trip games you have to try out on your next family vacation.
Road trip games are fun for kids, tweens, and adults alike, passing the time, livening the mood, and inspiring camaraderie between passengers. No matter who you’re traveling with, travel games will always beat the phones and tablets. If you’re on the road with kids, though, here are the best road trip games for families.
1. I Spy
We don’t have to tell you how to play this unbeatable classic—it even inspired its ownI Spy book series! Give your family clues about what you spy with your “little eyes,” and let them guess what you’re describing in your surroundings.
What makes I Spy one of the best car games for kids is its ability to keep your passengers curious and creative. This game is especially great when you’re driving through an unknown area, allowing your kids to explore the new terrain.
Raise the Stakes!
While I Spy is one of the more basic games, you can elevate it to stimulate your kids’ minds. For example, instead of describing a tree as “something green,” you can say “something that uses the sun for energy.”
This will challenge your kids and force you to look through your Rolodex of knowledge—keeping it entertaining for you, too. This can life hack be applied to just about every game on this list!
Whether you’re pointing our road signs, stop signs, or points of interest on the side of the road, I Spy is sure to expand your passengers’ horizons.
2. 20 Questions
This is another fun road trip game to boost your kids’ brainpower. Start with a game of rock, paper, scissors to decide who goes first. Then, whoever’s turn it is will think of a person, animal, or thing. The rest of the group has a collective 20 yes or no questions to figure out the identity of that person, animal, or thing.
Make it Personal!
One of our favorite twists on this classic is choosing subjects that the whole group knows personally, rather than a celebrity or historical figure. By choosing a relative, teacher, or neighbor, you can create even more laughs and memories.
3. I Packed My Suitcase
You may know this game as “I’m Going on a Picnic” or “I Went to the Grocery Store.” In the spirit of road tripping, we like to play another version.
The first player will say, “I Packed My Suitcase, and it is…” before stating an item. Each player will add an item to the list, reciting back every item the group has added. This will foster your kids’ creativity while sharpening their memories and listening skills.
4. Name the Artist
It’s never too early to show your kids your favorite music. Make a playlist of your favorite songs and see if your kids can name the artist. Whoever has the most correct answers by the end of the playlist wins. This is an excellent game to play when you’re looking for a bit of quiet time on the road.
To keep your kids entertained, you can also flip the game around and have them make a playlist of their favorite songs. Can you score higher than them? This allows you and your kids to bond over your unique—and possibly mutual—interests.
4. Road Trip Scavenger Hunt
While the driver can’t participate in this one, Road Trip Scavenger Hunt is the perfect game to keep your kids looking out the window rather than at their devices. Before you head out, print each of your kids a list of itemsto look for on the road. Whoever checks off each item first wins the game.
The best part about this game is that it can last throughout the entire road trip. You can also have your kids work together instead of competing!
Include Your Location
One of the best ways to play this game is to make it specific to your road trip. For example, if you’re traveling through Northern California, put redwood trees on the list. If you’re traveling through Colorado, put the Rocky Mountains on the list. This will keep your kids interested in where you’re traveling.
5. Story Circle
This game is a hoot for travelers of all ages, especially those with creative minds.
The first storyteller will start the story with a single word. Then, each player will take turns adding a word to the story, building an improvised story one word at a time. You can also expand this game but including whole phrases instead of single words.
- The first person will say, “Yesterday, I went to the store to buy bananas and then…”
- Then, the next person will continue, “A pack of monkeys raided the store to steal all of the bananas and then…”
- The next player would then add, “The monkey police surrounded the store to stop them and then…”
And so on, and so forth.
The beauty of this game is that you can play for as long as you want. To keep things interesting, you can set a time limit. This forces everyone to keep the story alive and then come up with a satisfying conclusion. You can also use your family’s favorite movies, TV shows, or actors as inspiration.
6. The Name Game
This is another great game to challenge your kids and force them to think (while having fun, of course).
It starts when the first player names a category such as Disney princesses. Then, every player will go in a circle naming a Disney princess that a previous player has not yet named.
The first player who cannot name a new Disney princess will be eliminated. The game continues until only one player remains.
Make it Silent
If you’re looking for a bit more silence, we don’t blame you. This game can be altered to be played non-verbally.
Start by naming a category. This time, let’s say it’s Sesame Street characters. Then, each of your kids will write down as many Sesame Street characters as possible. Whoever writes down the most wins.
You can also give them extra points for writing down names starting with every letter of the alphabet to make this a version of the alphabet game—just make sure you have a pencil, crayons, or dry erase markers handy!
7. Count the Animals
This is another simple game that you can play throughout the entirety of your trip. Before you hit the road, each of your kids will be tasked with spotting as many animals as possible. Each time they see a new animal, they will write it down. You can even give out bonus points for animals that aren’t native to where you’re from.
For example, a cow might be worth one point, but a mountain goat could be worth two if you’re traveling to Montana. Spotting a specific species of bird might even be worth three.
While you can play this game individually, you can make it even more interesting by creating teams, like adults versus kids. This will inspire camaraderie by creating a team environment in the backseat. Plus, it will keep your kids interested in where you’re traveling.
No More Boring Family Road Trips With Autio
Maybe you’ve played every game on this list and still have hours left on the road. You don’t want to break out a deck of cards, hangman, or other games that might be messy or make you car sick. What else can you do that will keep your kids entertained and interested in where you’re traveling?
Instead, download Autio. With hours of compelling content about pit stops and major destinations, you won’t have to listen to the sound of your own breathing or mind-numbing talk radio on your dream road trip.
Autio can make your trip one of a kind. Not only is our content entertaining for the whole family, but it also provides educational content based on your specific road trip.
Check out Autio today, and give your family the gift of knowledge.
Celebrating 20 Years of I Spy | Publishers Weekly
Road Trip Scavenger Hunt: Free Printable Lists for Toddlers to Teens | Fun Loving Families