No matter how exciting the destination, there is no denying that if it takes a long car journey, your time in the vehicle can become dull. Some cars have amazing entertainment features for kids, but you don't want them stuck to a screen when it's family time. For adult passengers who aren't the driver, sometimes you have little to focus on, and for some people things like reading a book or watching a movie are not an option thanks to motion sickness.
So what you need are some road trip games that keep you entertained and help the miles pass quicker. The good news is that many of these games are also suitable for giving the brain a work-out and improving your quick-thinking skills. You no longer need to think of long car journeys as dull but instead as a chance to have some fun and train your brain. Here are some of the best games to get you started, but please remember to avoid any games that may distract the driver.
1. I Spy
A very traditional way to pass the time of day is a round or 2 of I Spy. The great thing about this game is it requires no equipment, just a healthy imagination – so you can make everyone in the car work a little bit harder at trying to pinpoint what you have seen. If you haven’t played, whoever is going first looks around at their surroundings and picks an object that must be in full view of every player.
You can’t use something you drive past and leave behind – that’s not good sportsmanship. The first letter of the object is the only clue given, so you say: “I spy with my little eye something beginning with…”
The person that guesses correctly takes the next turn to set the clue. This game is perfect for a wide range of ages, and is ideal for using vocabulary and words for young passengers. It can also go on for a very long time and, if you fancy, rewards can be given in the form of sweet treats for the winner of each round.
2. 20 Questions
Sometimes referred to as the ‘yes or no’ game, 20 questions is another great option when you have time to pass. This game has the potential to be very varied because you also need to set a topic, such as films, famous people, food and drink, or anything else you can think of.
Once the theme is set, the first player must think of something that fits this category. The other passengers take turns to ask 1 question, to which the player can only answer yes or no. Example questions include:
● Is the famous person American?
● Is the food from India?
The limit is 20 questions and the winner is either the person who guesses correctly or, if the 20 questions shed no light, the player who posed the problem is victorious. This is an excellent game for older kids as little ones might find it too complex. The secret to winning is paying attention to what other people ask and monitoring the answers. This ensures you do not repeat a question and waste a turn.
3. The Car Number Plate Game
What do you see most when you are on a long drive? Other cars! You can create a fun game that helps pass the time using their number plates. This game is not competitive, there are no scores and no winners, but it can provide hilarious outcomes that keep everyone laughing aloud.
Look at the 3 letters of any number plate, for example, BYG. The aim of the game is to try and invent as many wacky fun things as these letters could mean. Big Yellow Gorilla, Bring Your Gran. This can go on until the suggestions dry up, at which point you can select another number plate and start again.
4. The Alphabet Game
Another great game if you have younger passengers is the Alphabet Game. Simply pick a topic – animals, cities, or food – depending on how complex you want to make it. Then players take turns to work through the alphabet, coming up with something that fits the game, starting with the following letter of the alphabet – apples, bananas, currants, etc.
No resources are needed here, so it can be played anywhere, making it perfect for cheering up a dull car journey. By changing topics every round, you get a long game and the capacity to go on for as long as you need.
5. The Memory Game
This game needs a lot of concentration, so it could be perfect for breaking up a sibling dispute - no matter how old they are! Taking it in turns, the first player starts the ‘shopping list’: “I am going to the shop, and I need potatoes.”
The second person must then repeat what was said and add an item: “I am going to the shop, and I need potatoes and cheese.”
It continues in this manner and the list gets longer, and more complex.
The winner is the last person to complete the list in its entirety before someone makes a mistake. Of course, you all need to remain sharp to spot which person messes up! It starts friendly and easy, and most people can remember 4 or 5 items, but after that, your memory can really be tested.
6. The Counting Game
As a group, all you need to do is count to 20 – sounds easy, doesn’t it? But wait! There are rules to catch you out. There is no order, except for the first player who says ‘1’. Anyone can then say ‘2’ and so on, BUT if 2 of you speak at the same time, then you must start again. The rules also state if you hesitate for longer than 5 seconds, the game also starts again.
The larger the group, the more fun and frustrating this game becomes. It gets addictive as if you fail, you always think the next round will be the 1 when you succeed. If it gets too easy, set a goal to reach 50, but the same rules always apply.
7. The Word Association Game
This is another good game for building vocabulary skills. The first player starts by saying any random word and the next player must say something associated with it. The game continues in this manner until the team fails because their word doesn’t fit, or you choose to stop. For example, with a starting word ‘dog’, the following word could be ‘bark’, then ‘tree’, then ‘leaf’, then ‘tea’, and so on.
This helps younger kids create context between words, especially where there are 2 meanings or spellings. Again, there is nothing needed to play except the participants.
8. The Colour-Spotting Game
The game begins with each player choosing a colour, preferably common colours of cars. As you progress on your journey, shout when you see a vehicle in your colour. The winner is the first to see 50, 100, or any total you decide. It helps for this game if someone can keep a tally of each colour, and that could be using a pen and paper or a smartphone notes app.
Just be sure that the scorekeeping isn’t going to feel nauseous by looking down all the time. If you are thinking about this as a game for your next trip, get a head start by spotting cars in your local area and seeing what the most popular colours are. It doesn’t guarantee you a win, but it certainly can’t hurt (hint: silver is going to be a strong choice).
Are you heading on a road trip with your family soon? Now you know the best games to play to keep your kids entertained on the journey, it’s time to find the perfect car...