Before there were iPads, tablets, and DVD systems built into cars, people had to rely on brain games to stay amused during a long road trip. While there’s nothing wrong with zoning out to a movie while the miles slip by, there’s something fun and nostalgic about playing verbal games in the car — plus, putting down the tablet means the driver can participate, too. Best of all, these games won’t drain batteries or eat up data plans.
In the spirit of the great American road trip, here’s a look at some of our favorite road trip games for all ages.
License Plate Poetry
This game requires plenty of creativity but is guaranteed to generate laughs. Look at a license plate and come up with words that start with the letters on the plate. For example if you see T20 GEC, your “poem” could be “tadpoles get every cat” or “tardy grannies eating candy.”
The Alphabet Game
Start with the letter “A” and spot something outside the car that starts with it, such as an apple tree, and then move down the alphabet (boat trailer, car, dog — you get the idea). Some families award extra points for Q and Z, which are difficult to spot unless you’re near a QuickChek or see a sign for Zephyrhills, Florida.
There’s a reason that I Spy is a classic road trip game. This guessing game is so easy to play that even toddlers can participate. The Spy spots an object outside their window and says “I spy with my little eye…” and players have to guess the object. The spy can help out by saying if the guesses are hot or cold.
Guess the Animal
One person thinks of an animal and everyone else in the car asks yes or no questions to try to figure out what it is. A line of questioning can go like this: Does it live on land? Is it huge? Does it live in the desert?
What Doesn’t Belong?
The rules are simple enough: One player says a group of three to four objects or people that seem to belong together, and everyone else has to figure out which one doesn’t belong and why. For example, one passenger says, “Spider-Man, Batman, Captain America, Hulk.” Although they seem to go together as they are all Superheroes, Batman is a DC Comics character while the rest are Marvel.
The License Plate Game
This is another classic car game thanks to the abundance of license plates visible on the road. During a road trip, see how many different state’s license plates you can spot and check them off a list. Create your own check list or download a printable version such as this one.