Time spent on any road trip is often filled with oohing and aahing at the breathtaking landscapes that surround you. And in between stops at the most famous things to do, you’ll need an entertaining way to pass the time. This is where road trip games come in. Having a list of fun games to play in the car makes driving those long stretches of road go by faster.
Games to play on a road trip should be easy, and fun, and help you bond with your travel companions. They often unearth previously unknown fun facts, fill the vehicle with laughter, and are some of the best memories of the trip. Spicing up what could be an otherwise dull drive is always a good strategy, right? Let’s take a look at the best car games and start creating some unforgettable memories.
1. I Spy
A favorite from childhood, this car game requires astute observation of your surroundings. The way the game works is that the first player says the phrase “I spy with my little eye...something ___________”. Then they fill in the blank with a simple word like “shiny”, “green” or “big”. The other players then take turns asking yes or no questions until they’ve figured out the object. The person who guesses correctly wins.
This is a good game for any road trip because it can take one minute or ten, depending on how difficult it is to guess.
2. The License Plate Game
This is one of the simpler car trip games. When playing the license plate game, there are several variations. One is to spot license plates from another country (if you’re in Europe) or state (in the United States, for example). A common modification is to pick a letter of the alphabet and scout for plates that either contain or start with that letter.
A more interesting twist is to use the letters in the plate as an acronym to come up with a short sentence. So for example, if you see LL-M54 it could be Ladies Love Mike or something similar. You’ve got to be quick on your feet; good car games make us laugh, so the weirder or more hilarious your sentence, the better.
3. 20 Questions
Of all the trip games around, this is probably one that provides the most insight. You get to ask anything you want, so maybe download some free printable sheets to get some ideas. There are entire websites and apps dedicated to these types of question games.
The answers may surprise you, and you might discover something about your friends or family that you weren’t aware of. You might also reveal some new information to them. This is a great way to get to know your fellow passengers even better. Beware of these types of car ride games; what you learn might shock you!
4. The Movie Game
This road trip classic is similar to Six Degrees of Separation (or Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon as it’s sometimes played). In the movie game, someone names an actor or actress. The next player has to name a movie with that person in it. Then, the next player has to think of another actor or actress in the same movie. Afterward, the next player thinks of a different movie with the second actor in it. It continues like this until players run out of actors or movies.
5. Create a Story
Another one of my favorite fun car ride games is making up a story; the twists and turns happen very quickly, and it's an unpredictable game. It requires imagination, and you can end up anywhere. You start with one single word, and then players each take turns adding one word to the story. It’s a rapid-fire game that can go in a different direction at any moment.
6. The Categories Game
This is one of my favorite games to play in the car. You have to pick a category and then name something in that category starting with that letter of the alphabet. So for example, if the category is food, then you could say A is for apple, B is for banana, C is for cherry, and so on. If you reach the end of the alphabet, start over and keep going until you run out of items. You’ll be disqualified if you repeat one.
7. Scavenger Hunt
For a road trip scavenger hunt, you’ll need a list of things you’re likely to see while driving. Need ideas for some items tailored to Iceland's Ring Road? For example: Sheep, special road signs, campervans, waterfalls, glaciers, lava fields, etc. Check each item off the list as you pass it to try to get as many as possible. This is one of the best fun car games because you’re constantly on the alert and can point out some pretty cool things.
8. Car Bingo
Car bingo is one of the classic car travel games that you’ll enjoy. It’s similar to Scavenger Hunt, but narrower in scope. Think of the different types of vehicles that you’ll see on the road (SUVs, trucks, motorhomes, etc.). As you find them, cross them off your list. The first person to cross all of them off wins.
9. The Quiet Game
This is a great game to play when you want a little bit of peace, quiet, and calm. Many parents are already aware of this game, and it’s just as effective with kids on road trips. Players see how long they can stay quiet, and the winner is the one who holds out the longest. Be careful not to use it too much, as your children may quickly catch on to what you’re doing. We wouldn’t want to ruin it.
What we’ve seen has been pretty tame and innocent, so it’s perfect for both families and adult travelers alike. But there are also some fun road trip games that I wouldn’t recommend playing around anyone under 18. After all, not all games for the car have to be PG-13.
10. Never Have I Ever
Players hold up the fingers on one hand and start saying things they’re never done. It could be things like “Never have I ever gone skiing” or “Never have I ever met a celebrity”. Everyone takes turns naming things, and whoever folds down all of their fingers first is eliminated. Keep going until there’s a winner.
11. Would You Rather
Another fun game for road trips is Would You Rather. Think of two of the strangest, grossest, or most difficult situations someone could find themselves in. Then ask the other person, “Would you rather...option A or option B”? This game allows you to be creative as well as discover unusual truths about people.
12. Kiss, Marry, Kill
This is a really good car game that has the potential to shock and gives you a peek into the minds of those you’re traveling with. Everyone in the car has to list three people. Then everyone has to decide from among those three whom to kiss, whom to marry, and whom to kill.
The three people chosen can be current figures from today or people from the past like old movie stars or historical figures. They can also be someone fictional, like the Mona Lisa or Gaston from Beauty and the Beast.
13. Truth or Dare
Truth or dare is another game that can reveal a lot about your travel companions. They can choose to answer a question truthfully or do a dare. The dare has to be something that can be done safely within the confines of the car. Get creative and see what kinds of amusing dares you can come up with. Just remember to always practice driving safety.
14. The Alphabet Game
This game requires a keen eye on the road signs you drive past. The game can be played as individuals or divided into groups. Everyone starts off at A and tries to spot the letters of the alphabet (in order!) on the road signs. The first to hit Z wins.
15. Punch Buggy
This is one of the classic games to play in the car, but be warned – it might drive parents mad. Whenever you spot a Volkswagen Beetle (whether it’s driving past or parked somewhere), punch the person next to you. Do this while shouting “punch buggy, no punch back”. The challenge here is not just spotting the Beetle, but being the first to give the punch.
16. Name the Artist
Turn your car into a music quiz show by simply turning on the radio. Everyone then gets the chance to guess the artist of the song that’s playing. Each correct answer counts as a point. You can collectively decide how many points constitute a win. As you can imagine, this quiz can become quite a challenge and a pretty quick way to learn about a new country.
17. The Vacation Game
This is not just one of the fun games to play in the car. This has actually been proven to have neurological significance in keeping Alzheimer’s and Dementia at bay. Everybody takes a turn (in the same order each time) to say “I’m going on vacation, and I packed…” mentioning a specific item.
The next person does the same, but mentions what the previous person has packed, adding another item to the list. As you can imagine, the longer the game goes on, the longer the list becomes, and it becomes harder and harder to remember or keep track of what has “been packed”. Those who make a mistake or can’t remember an item falls out till one player reigns supreme.
18. Who am I?
This game is similar to 20 questions but relates to a person. A player has to give the rest of the players clues such as “I always wear red, and enjoy a good cup of tea. Who am I?” Whoever guesses correctly, scores a point. The group can decide how many points you’ll ultimately need to win the game. You can play this road trip game with fictional characters or historical figures. This gives endless options and makes it interesting.
19. Spot the Animal
This is the best road trip game if you’re driving in a wildlife-rich area. For instance, if you’re in Iceland, we recommend using sheep or horses. Decide on a specific animal and try to spot it all along the way. Whoever spots it first gets a point. The person with the most points when arriving at your destination wins.
20. Two Truths and a Lie
This is one of the funny car games to play with friends and family, and it can also serve as an easy way for a group to get to know each other. Topics can range from general facts to personal information. Each person gets the chance to tell the group three things. Two of these need to be truthful, whilst one is a lie.
The rest of the group must then each decide which are the two truths and which is the lie. Those who get it right get one point. The group can decide how many points are needed to win the game. If there is a tie, the game must continue ‘till there is a clear winner.
21. Heads Up
This game was made famous by the Ellen Degeneres show (not surprising, as she is the creator of the game, after all). This is a game that needs to be downloaded on a mobile phone and puts a technological twist on the “Who am I?” game, but is best played one-on-one between two players.
You place the phone on your head, which will display a name or word to the other player. They then need to give you clues as to who this person is to see if you can get it right. Heads Up is definitely a game with some hilarious moments!
22. The Grocery Guessing Game
This is one of those road trip games that are fun for the whole family. Each player gets a turn to think of an item from the grocery store. You can decide whether it includes new food items you’ve discovered in the country you’re traveling in. The rest of the players must ask only “yes” or “no” answer questions to try and guess what the item is. The first person to get it right earns a point. You can decide the total of points needed to ultimately win the game.
23. The Color Game
This is the best road trip game to play if you’ve got tots in the car. Choose a color among yourselves and then try to spot it on your drive. This can be absolutely anything, such as a sign, a car, a house, you name it. Just please don’t get ridiculous and say sky if the color is blue. The person who spots the color first gets a point. Once you arrive at your destination, the person who has the most points wins.
24. Name the Most
This is essentially a race against time. Collectively decide on a category such as “animals” whereafter each person gets the chance to see how many they can name in 30 seconds.
The person who has “named the most” for that round will win the game before you move on to the next category and start a new round. You can decide whether each round is a game on its own with a winner. Or if the winner will be the person who wins the most rounds by the time you reach your destination.
25. The Drawing Game
Although one of the best games to play in the car, it’s not suitable for the designated driver (the reason why will become clear in a minute). Each person gets a piece of paper and then scribbles on it. After the scribbling has been done, everyone must pass their paper on to the person on their left or right (it’s up to you).
Then the timer starts and everyone has exactly 1 minute to turn their scribble into a proper picture, whatever that may look like. The results can vary from pretty artistic and impressive to I-can’t-breathe-hilarious.
The Best Road Trip Games for Your Journey
Road trip car games and rocking playlists are an essential part of your arsenal for maximizing the good times you’ll have while you travel. It’s not always about visiting places like Svartifoss waterfall or the Golden Circle (although those are pretty great).
Some of my fondest memories of trips are the silly things we did. Like running around the car at a stoplight and rushing to get back to our seats in time. However, you choose to spend your time, soak up every single moment and enjoy your trip.