Fun games to play in the car

kids laughing in the backseat of a car

Lou Sanz

Posted April 26, 2022

Tired of playing 'I Spy'? Here are seven of the best games to keep you and your family entertained on the morning commute or road trip.

Roadtrips can be great bonding experiences for the family. Roadtrips can also be boring, sweaty, and at times violent (depending on the temperament of your kids in the back). It’s all part of the grand tapestry that is surviving the family road trip.

Like any household, road trips come with their own rules of engagement (no feet on the dashboard, smallest in the middle, rest stop toilet breaks only) and even entertainment classics like I Spy, Hey Cow, and Punch Buggy.

By the time you’ve crossed two state borders, tedium can set in, needing a new game to keep things moving. Here are seven road trip games that should help you while away the hours but, more importantly, bring you and your road trip crew heaps of fun. 

Fun road trip games

Who are they, and where are they going? 

It’s unlikely you’ll ever get to meet the other drivers sharing your road-tripping route, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t hazard a guess as to who they are and where they’re headed. 

Everyone takes a turn creating a story for their designated driver from what adorns their car - think surfboards, bikes, a cage, one solitary tyre, bumper sticker choices and build out your story from there.

While often people tend to gravitate to the more decorated cars on the road, if you’re up for a challenge, pick a vehicle that doesn’t give away too much about the driver or the destination and let your imagination run wild.

Story time

This game is all about taking the most mundane things and turning them into a scene. The better your imagination, the better.

Each player takes turns to offer up four everyday words (plaid, distinct, sound, destiny) and an item (windscreen wiper, cup holder, lamp). The other player uses those words to create a short story. There’s no point scoring in this game, just a whole lot of laughs as your literary prowess is laid bare.

Rules of the road

Parents love this game to occupy the kids, but the kids love it because it puts them in the driver’s seat – as they get to make up the rules of the road.

One at a time, the kids can make a ‘rule’ that everyone must abide by, for example: Point your finger at every sign with your destination on it, hold your breath when you pass a cemetery, yell out ‘Transformers, more than meets the eye’ every time a truck overtakes.

The last person to adhere to each rule gets a point, and that’s not a good thing when the object of the game is to be the person with the least amount of points by the next pit stop. 

family in cardboard car at home

Car games can be played anywhere. Image: Getty.

The sound of silence

A favourite of parents the world over. Challenge your fellow passengers to remain quiet for a certain length of the trip. The first one to break loses. The winner gets a trip to the golden arches. Remember, it’s the incentive that makes it a game. 

Would you rather?

Typically pitched as a more adult game, this party classic is easily tailored for any audience. For kids, start with something like ‘Would you rather ride a horse backwards or sideways?’ and ‘Would you rather be a dog or a cat?’

This game is all about imagination, creative thinking and even a bit of problem-solving, and if you’re travelling with older teens or friends, just adjust the questions accordingly.

Never have I ever…

Another classic party game that can be aged up or down and is great for a road trip.

Trade in the shots for the five finger approach to make it car safe. Everyone holds up five fingers and takes turns naming something they’ve never done: ‘Never have I ever unpacked the dishwasher’, ‘Never have I ever tidied my room’ or ‘Never have I ever stayed up past my bedtime.’

Whoever is left with no fingers standing by the end loses. 

Spelling bee car champions 

Warning: this game can get competitive.

You’ll need a judge/ point scorer (take turns) to look up words on their phone, and the other players take turns in spelling the words.

The person who spells the most words correctly wins that round and so on. Best played in rounds of three so everyone gets a go and while there’s no physical prize at the end of it, knowing you are the best speller on the road is its own reward.