Road Trip Games and Activities for Kids: Keep Your Little Passengers Entertained  

Distractions are a necessity when you’re planning a road trip with children; the perfect blend of diversion and fun can help you get to your destination with your sanity intact. The key, of course, lies in knowing the kinds of activities that will keep kids occupied without having to resort to screens. With that in mind, here are some great ideas for classic and modern road-trip games and activities for kids.

I. Get Creative with Word Games  

A. Alphabet Dashes

Alphabet dashes are an easy and interactive game that can be enjoyed by pretty much any age group. Decide on a category, like animals, plants, colors, etc., and have everyone take turns naming things that begin with the letter the following person must start their next item with. The game continues until someone can’t think of a word that falls into the specified category, at which point you choose a new topic and start again.

B. The Story Game

Take turns starting and continuing the same story, using only a given number of words to shape each sentence. You might make this a collaborative effort, with a set order of who will contribute to the story, or turn it into a competition, with each person taking a turn but trying to overtake or ‘steal’ the story in their contribution. Whichever way you choose to play it, your little ones are sure to enjoy the challenge of having to think up an imaginative plot.

C. Hangman

An old favorite, hangman is a game that never gets old. It’s especially great for younger kids who are working on spelling and vocabulary. All you need is a pencil and piece of paper, and you’re ready to go. One player thinks of a word and writes it out as stars with a corresponding number of spaces: for instance, *** for a three-letter word. The opposing player then has to guess the letters one by one, with the idea being to complete the word before the hangman gets drawn.

II. Move to the Beat  

A. iSpy

It’s essential that kids are allowed to release their cooped-up energy when on the road, and iSpy is the perfect game for that. One person is the ‘it’ and chooses an object outside the car, mentioning one clue or feature of the item – like a sign with a yellow background or a truck with three trailers. Everyone else then has to follow the clue until they spot the item specified, and whoever gets it right is the next ‘it’, who chooses something else.

B. Music Mania

Set the mood in your car with a round of Music Mania! Provide each person with a list of 5-10 classic tunes, and challenge each of them to identify each song or artist as it comes on the radio. Whoever can identify the most songs and artists is the true music maniac!

C. Name That Tune

Name That Tune is another engaging, cerebral game for your little ones and grown-ups alike. The person in the passenger seat, who has the best view of the radio, plays the role of the judge and selects a song on the radio – but only plays a few seconds before interrupting it. Everyone must make their guess within the time frame before the song continues, and the first person with the correct answer is the winner.

III. Step Away from the Screens  

A. Draw and Pass

Each person begins this game with a pencil, a piece of paper, and a writing tool. They then get a few seconds to draw something – a face, an animal, a structure, anything – before passing it on to the next person, who gets to take as much time as they want to add or modify the drawing before passing it on. The final product will probably be nothing like your original sketch, and that’s the fun part!

B. 20 Questions

A classic game of deductive thinking, 20 Questions can be an interesting problem-solving exercise for your kids. One person picks a famous character or imaginary creature and the other players have to guess the item by asking a maximum of 20 yes or no questions. The questions must be framed so that the answer can never be beyond yes/no, and whoever is able to guess the item correctly in the allotted number of questions wins!

C. Word Association

Word Association is a great way to get the creative juices flowing. One person states a word, and the others take turns giving an associated word. It could be an action (jump, run), a feeling (happy, sad), or an object (hat, shoe). The associated word also needs to start with the same letter as the previously-stated word. As more words build on top of each other, the challenge to think of appropriate words increases.

IV. Turn It into a Sightseeing Adventure  

A. License Plate Spotting

This simple yet fun game is sure to be a hit with little car enthusiasts. Involve your whole family in this game of counting, as each person tries to spot license plates from different states. The person who spots the most license plates from the specified states wins. A variant of this game could involve trying to guess the origin of the vehicles you come across.

B. Scavenger Hunt

The perfect combination of competition and exploration, a scavenger hunt can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Choose common roadside items, like bridges, signs, trees, and buildings, or customize them depending on the area you’re visiting. Take pictures or collect small items to represent each item on the list, and whoever collects the most at the end of the trip is the winner.

C. Geography Quiz

Planning on visiting a few states on your road trip? Test your knowledge of geography with a quiz of U.S. state capitals, neighboring states, cities within a state, and so on. It’s a great way to learn about the place you’re heading to and can even help you avoid getting lost along the way!

Organizing a road trip with children doesn’t have to be a chore – all you’d need is some creative vision and preparation. Try to think of activities that will engage more than one person (or the whole family), and make sure to mix in a few digital withdrawal activities like the ones listed above. As long as your travel planning includes plenty of games and activities for some in-car fun, you’ll be sure to benefit from a stress-free and enjoyable road trip.