No one wants to be stuck in a car with kids who are bored. Yes, there are tablets and infotainment systems to keep them occupied with movies, TV shows, or video games, but many parents would rather not stick their kid in front of a screen during an entire road trip. Luckily, before there were video games and portable entertainment, there were car games. In most cases, all you need is your imagination, although bringing a pad of paper and something to write with is always a good idea. If the kids don’t want to play games, then they can at least draw to pass the time.
1. License Plate Game
This game is pretty self-explanatory and easy enough for even younger kids to take part in. The object is to spot license plates from as many different US states as you can. You can even add Canadian provinces to the game if you like. You can either designate someone to write down the states as you spot their license plates, or there is also a printable version (in either list or map version) that you can find online.
A classic that never goes out of style, this one works best if you have a few people in the car. Someone starts a story and whispers the first bit to another person next to them. Then that person adds a bit to the story and whispers what’s been told so far to the next person, and so on. It’s sometimes easier to choose a theme to get the story started, but you can also go free-form. Normally by the end, you have a completely different story than what you started with. But that’s part of the fun!
3. Animal Name Game
While this is called the animal name game, you can really play it with any category of things like TV shows, celebrities, cities, etc. Someone gets the game started by naming an animal, say “zebra”, and then the next person should name an animal starting with the last letter of the previous word, like “ape” in this case. You can keep going until everyone is out of names!
4. 20 Questions
Here is another classic game that can be played anywhere, including in the car. The concept is simple: Someone thinks of a person, place or thing, and the others keep asking up to 20 question that can be answered with a “yes” or “no” to find out more information in order to figure out who, where, or what the answer is.
This one is for kids that are a bit older, and you will need a notebook and pen or pencil. Someone thinks of a word, which they only write down with underscores denoting how many letters it is. It is sometimes best to think of a category like animal or fruit to help narrow things down and make it easier for younger children to play. Then the others playing guess a letter that the word contains. If that letter is not in the word, then you keep adding on parts of the hangman, the head first, neck, on down. If a stickman is drawn before anyone guesses the word, then the other players lose. While the game works best with 2 people, you can play with 3 or 4 when needed.