With road trips as popular as ever, having a few games in your pocket can give parents more confidence for long days in the car.  Especially as families transition from babies and toddlers to “big kids”, finding a way to keep everyone’s’ spirits up and some time away from staring at a screen becomes a bigger challenge.  This list of games is collected from personal experience and the suggestions of other road trippers.  Let this list of road trip game ideas provide you with some on the go entertainment to take your road trip from challenging to memory making.

Word Association

Goal:  Create a long line of associated words

Number of Participants: Two or more

How To Play:  One player begins by choosing a word and the next player must fairly quickly respond with a clearly associated word.  The game continues until someone slips up or says something unrelated (this is must easier to judge with a larger group).  A sample game might go like this: “Farmer” “Combine” “Crops” “Corn” “Summertime” “Swimming Pools” “Diving” “Olympics”

Two Truths and a Lie

Goal: Fool other participants into guessing incorrectly which items are truths or the lie.

Number of Participants:  At least three

How to Play: One player tells two truths and a lie about themselves.  The other players make a guess individually which item is the lie.  You can choose to add a point system or just enjoy the surprise as you learn more about one another.

Photo courtesy of Nextvoyage

Story Go Round

Goal: Create a funny, but connected story to engage the whole family.

Number of Participants: Two or more

How to Play: One player begins the story with one sentence.  In a circular fashion, players add one sentence at a time to continue the story in a logical fashion.  You can make this game even more interesting using Story Cubes (link) which give you ideas to include and make it more challenging to keep linear.

Alphabet Game – Categories

Goal: Keep the alphabet going.  You can play to stump someone or everyone wins this game.

Number of Participants: At least two

How to Play: Choose a category (rotate who chooses) and start by naming something in that category that begins with A.  Continue through the alphabet.


Goal: Be the last person to keep the game going without a slip up or Keep the chain going as long as possible.

Number of Participants: At least two, but more is more fun.

How to Play: The first person makes a statement beginning with “Fortunately” (i.e. “Fortunately, there is not a cloud in the sky”).  The next person response with a statement beginning with “Unfortunately” that is directly in response to the previous statement (i.e. “Unfortunately, it will rain torrentially later today.”)  The next person’s statement is in response, but begins with “Fortunately” again (i.e. “Fortunately, I brought rain boots for all of you.”).   Play continues in a circular fashion.  You choose how many slip ups a person can make before being eliminated or simply keep it going as long as possible.

Photo courtesy of Any Lane

Spelling Bee

Goal: Be the last person left correctly spelling their word.

Number of Participants: At least three

How to Play: Choose age appropriate words for each participants to spell.  Continue in rotation until someone misspells a word.  That person is out of the competition or you can choose to have a two word missed policy.

Find spelling words links here:



1st through 8th grades

High School and older

Song Battle

Goal: Pick the best song in a particular category as chosen by all road trip participants

Number of Participants: Best with three or more

How to Play: Categories of song types are chosen.  Some examples you can use include: Love Ballads, Move Theme Songs, Old time Rock N Roll, Songs Titled with a Particular Word, Duo Songs, etc.  Two players come up with their own song selection and the person DJing puts that song on the radio for all to listen and judge.  Everyone votes and whomever gets the most votes that round or cumulatively wins.

Name That Tune

Goal: Be the first person to identify a song once it begins playing.

Number of Participants: Three is a minimum

How to Play: One person or rotating if there enough people will have to choose songs to play for the other players to identify.  This works well if played from a cell phone so that the information doesn’t appear on the radio screen.  Be the first person to identify the song to win that round.  Check out this link from Las Vegas Music for various Name That Tune Spotify Playlist suggestions.

20 Questions

Goal:  To stump fellow participants by making through 20 questions without a correct guess.

Number of Participants: Minimum of 2, but more fun with 3 or more

How to Play:  One player chooses an item from a category (commonly plant, animal or mineral, but you choose anything such as food, place, etc).  Other players ask questions that allow for a Yes or No answer.  No additional information should be given.  Toward the end of the guessing, the question turn from broad (i.e. “Is it a mammal?”) to specific (i.e. “Is it a porcupine?”)

Definitions Game

Goal: To be the player closest to the correct definition of a word

Number of Participants: Three or more

How to Play: Take any online dictionary and provide an uncommon word to players for their opportunity to piece together a definition.  The Word of the Day on Meriam-Webster is a good source of these words.  While on the Meriam-Webster site consider trying out some of their vocabulary games as a family as well or download their app Quizzitive.

Photo courtesy of Djordje Petrovic

Name to Name Game

Goal: To get from one name to the other by changing either the first or last name as participants take turns in a circle. The person who gets to the second name wins the round.

Number of Participants: This works best with 3 or more players.

How to Play:  Have two participants each choose one person that is either known to everyone in the group or a celebrity known to everyone in the car.

Let’s Make a Rule

Goal: Create giggle inducing rules to pass the time.

Number of Participants: Two or more

How to Play: At the beginning of the trip, each person gets to make up a rule for everyone to follow during the trip.  It is recommended that the guidelines for this include nothing that will put the vehicle in danger, add length to the road trip or that should be done loudly while someone is sleeping.  Examples of these rules might include:

“Every time we see a farm animal, make its sound” OR “When we pull off of an exit, sing Mary Had a Little Lamb”.  You can choose to award points for being first or last to participate or just enjoy the silliness.

Lyrics Game

Goal: Be the player who can keep the game going the longest

Number of Participants: At least two

How to Play: One player starts with a lyric from a song such as “I saw her face now ….” and the next player has to come up with a lyric to continue “there’s nowhere to hide cause you…”  You can set a timer or just choose a reasonable about of time to think of a new lyric based on the participant’s age.  You want to stop mid lyric so there are easy transitions.

This game works best for older elementary age kids and/or families who love music.

Billboard Alphabet Game

Goal:  Find a word that starts with each letter of the alphabet in alphabetical order from billboards

Number of Participants: Two or more

How to Play: This works best for highway travel in decently populated areas.  You can also include signs if billboards are sparse.  Whomever sees the next word that starts with the next letter of the alphabet calls it out.  You can time to see how long this process takes if you as a family or as competing individuals if your family would more enjoy the competition.

Photo courtesy of Devon Divine

Snack Food Game

Goal: Purchase only snacks with evidence of being made in the town or area through which you are driving.

Participants: Two or more

How to Play:  During the course of the road trip, each person finds unique snacks with the location of a stop printed or evidenced on the package.  Points can be given as you go or at the end of non-duplicate finds.

License Plate Persona Game

Goal: Enjoy hilariously creative ideas for non-vanity license plates.

Number of Participants: Two or more

How to Play: Look at random license plates (non-vanity, just number and letter combinations) and create a persona for the driver of the vehicle.  Examples of this would be “PDJ 681” becomes “Polly the dentist from Jersey has 681 stamps in her collection” or “JH42ME” becomes “John Hubbard, 42 years old, works as a medical examiner”.

Photo courtesy of Nick Bondarev

I Spy

Goal:  To guess what the first player is seeing (“spying”)

Number of Participants: Two or more

How to Play: One player chooses something in everyone’s view to “spy”.  It’s important to explain to younger kids that it has to be something you will continue to see for the next few several minutes so that it can be guessed.  Players can ask questions or make guesses until it is discovered.

License Plate Game

Goal: To find one license plate from every state.

Number of Participants: This can be done by one person, collectively or as a competition.

How to Play:  This game has a few possible variations depending on the number or age of participants.  You can add a time limit if competing for most states.  Most variations require participants to call out a state as they see it so others can verify it as well.  For a printable list of the state license plates and more variations, visit The Road Trip Expert.  You can also use this as an opportunity to have kiddos color in a map with free US maps from Google images – choose between maps with states identified or map it a challenge with no names for older kids and adults.  Here is one printable version with names of state listed.

Going on a Picnic

Goal: To remember the entire building list of what each player is taking on a picnic in order.

Number of Participants: Three or more

How To Play: One player begins the picnic story with  “I’m going on a picnic and I’m going to bring….” and then lists an item. This can be a random item or alphabetical (which tends to help job the memory).  The next person begins with “I’m going on a picnic and I’m going to bring….” and must list the first person’s item before adding their own item. The list continues until someone is unable to recall the list in correct order.  You can choose to eliminate that person and continue or start over at that time.

The Quiet Game

Goal: You know and love this one.  Simply see who can stay quiet the longest or conversely who will break the quiet first.

Number of Participants: Two or more

How to Play: Let it be known when the game will start and any rules needed.  It may not last long, but it’s also a good idea if you are looking for someone in the car to get a quiet time or nap.

Car Bingo

Goal: Be the first to check off the types of vehicle in whatever style of Bingo you have decided (traditional 1 line, four corners, blackout, etc.)

Number of Participants: Two or more

How to Play: Use a table of vehicle types to check off upon seeing them.  You use one card collectively or have everyone right in their own order of vehicles from the beginning.  If you have dry erase/protectant clear sleeves, you can reuse the boards as you go.  You can also use this downloadable “Spot the Car” list to populate your board or just play from the list.

Printable Games:

You can easily make a little road trip related activity book for younger kids to enjoy with these printable games.

Slug Bug Color Game from Trip Clip: This is great for younger kids to track cars by colors.

Road Trip Bingo Cards: These are just right for young kids to play on their own or in competition.

Road Trip Drawing Prompts from Picklebums

For older kids and adults, check out these pintables:

Conversation Starters from Kitchen Concoctions

Road Trip Crossword Puzzle

Big Kid Highway Quest

Games for Purchase:

If you would prefer to grab a few games to take along in advance, I recommend these options (all available on Amazon):

Skillmatic Guess in 10: Pick your area of expertise or an area you want to learn about with categories like Cities Around the World, Countries Around the World, Animal Planet, Deadly Dinosaurs and more.  One person reads clues until the other players can guess the correct answer.

Travel Bingo Cards: These are the good old fashioned travel bingo cards that I used when I was a kid except these features states and can be used like the license plate game combined with bingo.

Travel Blurt: In this travel designed game, players race to be first coming up with the answer word.  The moderator gives the clue or definition and players try to figure out what the correct answer might be.  You can keep score as answers are given point values and there is a scoreboard.

Coggy: This is an individual game, but could also be played as a timed challenge.  Players use challenge cards to complete the arrangement shown.

I Gotta Go With: This game can be played multiple ways.  Players start with a category and can blurt out answers to create a growing list or write down their answers over time similar to games like Scattergories and Outburst.

There are even more games listed in my Travel Resources Toys section that you can find here.

Play While You Ride

Here’s to wishing you a road trip full of minimal complaining and lots of naps and giggles!