“MooooOOOm, Jeffrey won’t stay on his side of the seat.”
“DAD! Lizzy is playing her music too loud.”
“Are we almost there? I’m sssoooo booored. ”
If you hear more of these sounds during the holidays than notes from a Bing Crosby classic, then you need our annual list of Fun Family Car Games to entertain passengers of (almost) all ages.
1) Alphabet Game
Each player attempts to find the letters of the alphabet, in order, on road signs, buildings and other stationary objects. Some families count words on passing vehicles – some rule those out. The word must begin with the letter. For example, a player looking for an “S” would be delighted to spot a stop sign. The player must call out the letter and the word when they see it, and no two players can claim the same word on the same sign. Competition really heats up when you’re looking for J’s and X’s! The first player to work their way through the alphabet wins.
2) Tell a Tale
Bring out your kids’ creativity with this game. The first player starts telling a story to the others. At any point, the narrator stops talking (even mid-sentence) and the second player must pick up the tale. Each player continues building the story until it reaches a logical (or illogical) conclusion.
3) I Went to _____ and brought a/an ____
In this game, The first player starts and fills in the blanks. “I went to Colorado and brought an alligator.” Then the next player has to name something they’d bring along that begins with a “B.” “I went to Colorado and brought an alligator and a bear.” This continues on, with each player adding to the list until you can get all the way to the letter Z and each player has a turn to recite the whole list.
4) Who’s Driving The Car?
Also for your creative ones: Everyone picks a car in the distance and then makes up a story about who they think is driving the car. For example, you see a blue sedan, and one player says, “The person driving that car is a grandmother.” The next player might say, “And she has brown hair.” The next player might add, “Her grandkids live in Ohio, and she’s taking them a lot of presents.” The next player might add, “And grandma is driving because grandpa’s in the passenger seat reading the newspaper.” You go around the group and craft the story until you pass the car. Then you see how close you were to being “right.” Of course, you won’t actually know if she’s going to see her grandkids in Ohio, but your kids will be having too much fun to care about the minor details.
5) Counting Cows
This is a great one if your travels take you through rural areas, e.g., the entire length of the Indiana or Ohio turnpikes. Players count the cows on their side of the car. If you pass a cemetery, a player can call out, “your cows are buried,” to force another player to lose their cows. Distracting each other is OK, too. Mix it up a bit by adding a white horse as a bonus.
6) Counting Cars
Hey, if we can count cows, why not cars? The goal is for players to spot as many different car makes and/or models as possible. You can play individually or work as a team, and you can even use this printable game sheet. A twist on this one: Have each player choose a car make or model and then count how many of each you pass as you drive. The player who accumulates the most “sightings” wins!
This one is for the brainiacs in the family: One player names a place anywhere in the world, and the next person has to name a place that begins with the last letter of the first place. For example, the first person says Bahamas and the next person could say “Spain.” The third person would have to name a place that starts with “N,” the last letter in “Spain.” You can only use each place one time during the game, and you are out of the game if you can’t come up with something. This also can be played with movies, songs, celebrities’ names or any topic of your choosing.
8) How far is…?
Everyone agrees on a landmark somewhere on the horizon, such as a tree, a mountain or a building. Each player guesses how far away the landmark is. Once all the guesses are in, check the odometer to begin measuring the distance. The player whose guess is closest wins. A variation: Choose a destination that’s many miles in the distance, such as a city on a roadside sign, the next road you need to turn onto, or even the state line. Then have every player guess how long it will take you to get there. Again, the player with the closest guess wins!
9) Scavenger Hunt
Although this one requires a little preparation, it’s a family favorite. Each player receives a list of items to locate along the road. The first player who spots all items on the list wins. Difficulty level can be adjusted to include kids of all ages and customized for each trip—city, suburban or rural—and feature such items as a flashing red light, dog, playground, church, statue, silo or tractor. If you’ll be passing by historical landmarks or towns, consider adding to the list something your kids will only see there. No time for preparation? Check out these ready-made cards that you can find online or these travel scavenger hunt cards on Amazon.
10) Name That Tune
Just like the old game show of yore. Hit the scan button on your car radio. The first person to guess the name of the song gets a point. If the guesser knows the singer, band or composer, he or she gets one point. If he or she knows the song name and artist, that’s worth three points. Depending on your musical taste, this can be a real challenge or a piece cake when you’re driving through rural areas and only pick up country music stations.
11) The Picnic Memory Game
There’s many versions of this classic. The first person names an item to bring on a picnic that starts with the letter A, such as an apple. The next person repeats “apple” and then adds something that starts with the letter B, such as bananas. If you forget an item you’re out. The game continues until there’s only one player left.
Think you’ll need more car games to keep the troops entertained? Momsminivan.com has ideas for 101 travel games. You’ll find everything from car bingo cards to scavenger hunt lists and even instructions on how to make a “cootie catcher.”