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I don’t know about your travel experience, but trips with my family are a test of my patience and project management skills. Family road trip season doesn’t always happen in the summer, so boredom busters are essential year-round. That’s why we’re rounding up the best free road trip games for the whole family.
These best road trip games are fun, easy, inexpensive, and clever. In fact, the road trip games we found are all FREE! Because planning can be hectic, these KCL tips and deals can help you save some money:
We’ve rounded up 30 of the best free road trip games to make your drive more enjoyable. There’s a mix of road trip games for groups, game ideas for adults and kids, some classics, and a few games you probably have never heard of. Be sure to secure everything so no flying toys hit you in the head while driving. Seriously, though!
Best Road Trip Games for Families
1. A-Z Memory Game
This game could be a real challenge for some, but that’s what makes it so much fun. Begin with the letter A and name something that starts with A. The next person will name your item, followed by something starting with the letter B. Repeat until you make it to Z — or as far as your mind can remember.
2. Two Truths and a Lie
The goal of this free road trip game is to tell your fellow passengers two truths and one lie. They have to guess the lie. Hopefully, the people you’re traveling with know enough about you to differentiate the two. Take turns and learn more about each other.
3. The License Plate Game
You’re bound to pass countless cars on the way to your destination, so give the kids an assignment to keep them busy. Point out a license plate and have your passengers try to create a phrase using the letters and numbers.
A variation could be spotting as many plates from different states and collecting a point for each one found. A downloadable license plate game could make the ride more fun by coloring in each state found. This is great for school-age kids who are learning geography. Perhaps you could find cool facts about each state for an educational twist.
4. Would You Rather?
You could create your own list of questions ahead of time or think of them on the spot. If these options seem unrealistic, Would You Rather? game books are plentiful and take the pressure off.
5. Story Time
Story time is especially effective if you’re driving through a wooded area or during rainfall. Think spooky campfire stories, but in the car.
Each person could make up an entire story, or start it and have each passenger add more imaginative sentences. Or you could simply read books to each other.
6. Math Facts
OK, you probably weren’t thinking of a math game, but it doesn’t need to last long and could encourage “mental math” instead of using a pen and paper. Stores like Dollar Tree have math flash cards that include addition, subtraction, and multiplication, or you could go the free route and just ask simple math equations to everyone in the car.
What’s a road trip without singing your favorite song? This isn’t so much a game as entertainment. Since iPods are extinct, queue up your favorite Pandora, iHeartRadio, or Spotify playlist or find it on YouTube. Let each passenger get a turn on what they’d like to hear.
To make it a game, have your trip-goers guess an artist or song title. To add complexity, test their theme song knowledge. Play a short clip of the show and have them quickly guess.
8. Hum That Tune
Start by humming a tune and let your passengers guess the name. It could be a well-known song or one from a TV show. Shout out your guess as fast as possible, and the winner gets to hum the next tune. This road trip game is suitable for passengers of all ages.
9. Rest Stop Olympics
Depending on the distance of your road trip, a rest stop is inevitable for bathroom breaks. Release some pent-up energy with exercises like jumping jacks, races, and push-ups. Time each player for one minute to determine who completed the most repetitions. Award each participant a special snack when they return to the vehicle.
Get your head in the game and try to guess the cards on your trip passengers’ foreheads. In the game Hedbanz, pick one of six headband themes, choose a card without looking at it, and attach it to the headband. Ask “yes” or “no” questions to your friends so you can guess the illustration. Obviously, the driver can’t play, but passenger fun still counts.
For a free option, you can make flashcards beforehand that you shuffle and play from there!
11. Heads Up!
Grab your iPhone and start guessing. Created by Ellen DeGeneres, this game requires you to hold your iPhone to your head and guess the word from your friends’ clues. A new on-screen word pops up when you tilt your phone.
You can even play it through FaceTime if you want to play it when you get to your destination. Bonus: the Heads Up! app is free in the App Store!
Best Road Trip Games to Play Solo
12. Crossword Puzzles on Amazon Kindle
Crossword puzzles aren’t just for certain age groups. There are easier puzzles for school-age kids. If you have an Amazon Kindle membership, not only are some of the crossword puzzles free, but you don’t have to lug around books during your trip.
13. Mad Libs
Mad Libs are classic word games that spark imagination, humor, and creativity on another level. They can even help boost (or challenge) your vocabulary. Amazon has a dedicated Mad Libs store to browse all of their varieties like The Office, the Mad Scientist, and Star Wars. There’s also a free Mad Libs app for a no-cost way to play!
Best Road Trip Games for Adults
14. Never Have I Ever
I’m listing this as a road trip game for adults because it can get downright revealing. Probably too revealing if kids are present. Take turns making “never have I ever” statements and have others guess whether it’s true or false. Prepare to be stunned.
15. Guess the Movie Quote
“I’m the king of the world!” Yes, that’s Jack from Titanic. The Guess the Movie Quote game doesn’t need to be difficult, but it should be fun. Just state a famous movie quote and test your friends’ and family’s cinema knowledge.
16. The Movie Game
The Movie Game isn’t quite like the above-mentioned game, but it’s in the same category. Pick a genre and a letter and have your road trip friends guess movies that start with the chosen letter. Think A for Aquaman, B for Batman.
Best Road Trip Games and Ideas for App-Lovers
Audiobooks come in handy when you’re tired of entertaining your roadies with other options. Before you know it, you’ll hit your destination and be done with a good book.
Hit play and listen to favorites like:
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, read by Jim Dale. Run Time: 8 hours and 18 minutes.
- The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, read by Ralph Cosham. Run Time: 11 hours and 8 minutes.
18. Wow in the World Podcast
Podcasts don’t have to be boring for a family road trip. Wow in the World from NPR is for “curious kids and their grown-ups.” In fact, the Wow series teaches listeners about historical heroes, science, technology, innovation, and space.
19. Chess App
How about an old-fashioned game but in digital form? The chess app does require a steady web connection. You can test your skills against millions of other online players. If you’re rusty, the app has videos and 50,000+ puzzles to improve your skills.
20. Trivia Apps
Some of the best road trip games involve trivia. In our digital age, there are plenty of free trivia apps to entertain you on the road:
Best Road Trip Games for Kids (and Creative Tips)
21. The Quiet Game
I personally love and enforce the Quiet Game quite frequently. Even with kids up to age 10, challenge them to stay quiet for as long as possible. They’ll likely not last that long, but I’ll take a few minutes of no noise.
22. Who Am I? The Animal Version.
The animal game is ideal for kids ages five to eight because they’ll know animals’ names and understand recognizable features and characteristics. Start by describing an animal with descriptive words and have your car buddies guess which animal it is.
23. Punch Buggy
The car game Punch Buggy is played only when they pass or see a Volkswagen Beetle, aka a Bug. Punch your car mate in the arm when you see a Volkswagen Bug. (But don’t punch too hard!)
24. Car Scavenger Hunt
Being stuck in a car doing a scavenger hunt isn’t ideal, but with a little creativity, it’s worth it. Downloadable car scavenger hunt printables to make it so much easier. A scavenger hunt card game also works!
All you need is paper and a pencil to get this child-friendly game started for two players. Since this is a word-guessing game, it works best for kids over age six. Here’s how to do it:
- Draw a gallow.
- Player 1 picks a phrase or word and writes the number of blank spaces it represents (i.e., _).
- Player 2 guesses letters — up to six tries (one for each body part). If correctly guessed, Player 1 writes them in the appropriate blank spaces.
- For each incorrect guess, Player 1 will draw a body part of the Hangman (i.e., head, body, left arm).
- If Player 1 finishes the body before all the guesses, he or she wins.
The hangman app is also available for free if the old-fashioned way doesn’t appeal to you.
Tic-tac-toe is fun anytime, as long as you have a writing utensil and paper. Here’s how:
- Draw a 3 x 3 or 4 x 4 grid of squares. A 5 x 5 grid is for advanced players.
- Player 1 will start with an “X” or an “O,” followed by Player 2’s move.
The goal of this game is to draw a row of three symbols diagonally, horizontally, or vertically to win.
27. Road Trip Bingo
Bingo is an old-fashioned game that’s perfect for long road trips. Put the electronics away and concentrate on challenging your car neighbors to find the items the quickest. Printable road trip Bingo sheets are your best bet … and are free.
28. 10 Questions
Typically, this is a 20-question game, but it may be more challenging for little kids. One player will ask ten questions to the other player to guess what they’re thinking based on whether it’s a thing, person, or place. Be sure to ask really specific questions.
29. I Spy
Who doesn’t love a good game of I Spy? Each player spies something with their little eyes, and the other person has to guess what it is. Give a hint like a color or first letter.
30. Create countdown games for breaks and the ETA to your final destination.
Rather than endure countless variations of “Are we there yet?”, start a new countdown each time you get back in the car for another leg of your road trip. Hang a banner over the back of the driver’s seat with blocks of time to tear off as each hour passes.
The passenger who yells the start of the next remaining hour wins a special treat (i.e., a piece of candy, chips, phone time). No cheating using stopwatches.