9 Old School Road Trip Games You Have to Play With Your Kids

Use One Of These Old School Road Trip Games To Make Your Next Family Trip More Memorable.
Driving to your next destination could actually be fun! Photo: Maria Smith

Family road trips are not just about getting to a destination.

They are also about the journey. I’m all for iPads and DVD players and other technology but there is something to be said for turning all that off and actually coming together to pass the time. This is when memories are made.

Even with all the technology in the world, there will come a time when the battery runs dead, the headphones break, or *GASP* you travel through an internet dead zone. Be prepared for this on your next family trip with these old-school road trip games for kids.

Play These Old School Road Trip Games To Enjoy The Journey As Much As The Destination.

The journey and not just the destination will have your kids jumping for joy. Photo: Maria Smith

9 Road Trip Games For Kids

1. Twenty Questions

Who can play: Ages 5 and up

Items needed: None

To play Twenty Questions, you just have to have one person choose a person, place or thing. Then everyone else gets twenty questions to try to figure out what that person is thinking about. It might be difficult for smaller children, but you never know. Sometimes it’s the youngest ones who have the best questions!

2. License Plate Game

Who can play: Ages 7 and up

Items needed: paper and pencil for each player

This is one of the old school road trip games that works best during those long cross-country hauls. Start when you pull out of the driveway and as each player sees a new state on a license plate, they mark that state down on their paper. After a certain amount of time, like to the first bathroom break, you count up how many states each player has found and the person with the most states is the winner. Feel free to continue the game or start over.

Old school road trip games are not just a relic of the past. With the massive takeover of handheld technology and wireless internet access, it may seem like they are needed about as much as a CB radio is needed. However, there is a reason they survived so many years of family road trips. They are fun and (don’t tell the kids) educational too!

3. The Name Game

Who can play: Ages 4 and up

Items needed: none

The fun thing about this game is there are endless variations. The basic one is that you start naming names as you go around the car. You have only 3 seconds (or 3 hand claps or some other appropriate time scale) to come up with a name for your turn. If you fail to think of one, then you’re out. Be sure to say what qualifies as a name (first name only? Last names? Fictional names?). Also, we give my five-year-old two “misses” before he’s out. Consider doing that for the younger kids so they can still play along and you avoid unnecessary meltdowns. Done with names? Play the same game with colors, cities, countries, feelings, etc.

You may also enjoy this article: 100 Things To Always Keep In The Car

There Is Plenty To See When You'Re On Your Next Family Road Trip And Lots Of Games To Be Played.

There is plenty to “spy” when you’re on the road. Photo: Maria Smith

4. I Spy

Who can play: All ages

Items needed: None

This is one of the perennial old school road trip games. Everyone can do it, though little kids may choose some obvious objects. Be sure to start the game saying if the item the person “spies” should be inside or outside the car. This may be a little difficult if you have color-blind family members.

5. Name That Tune

Who can play: All ages but best for tweens and teens

Items needed: None (unless you want to keep score)

Use one of the streaming services on a phone to let one person control the music in the car. He or she will play up to 5 seconds of a song and the rest of the group has to guess which song that is. You may want to limit the songs to one genre, like Disney music for example, so little ones can play too.

Planning to trip to a Disney Theme Park? Check out this Disney family road trip playlist. 

6. Road-trip BINGO

Who can play: All ages

Items needed: Pre-made travel bingo board games

There is a reason BINGO has remained popular over the decades. Everyone loves it. We bought $1 travel bingo board games from Target but you can also make your own. The players just need to pay attention to the passing landscape and find the items on the board. On long road trips you may want to get creative and decide what constitutes a BINGO (four corners, all-board, X, etc).

7. Hangman

Who can play: Ages 6 and up (readers)

Items needed: Pencil and pad of paper

One player thinks of a word and puts the corresponding number of dashes on a piece of paper. Other players guess letters that may be in the word. If they guess a letter that is not in the word, a part of the hangman is created. We use head, two arms, body, and two legs. This gives the player six chances to get letters wrong before they lose. Ultra-competitive family members can make this hard by choosing very hard words so be wary of that. Also, early readers may not know the correct spelling and should check with someone not playing that the word they want is spelled correctly.

Need help keeping the car clean while on your trip? Here are 9 Easy Road Trip Hacks To Keep Your Car Clean.

8. Story Starter

Who can play: All ages

Items needed: None

This is one of those really fun games that is sure to end in fits of laughter. One person starts a story but doesn’t finish the sentence. The next person finishes that sentence and starts another, continuing that story. Even little ones can play and often provide some hilarious additions.

9. Alphabet game

Who can play: Ages 5 and up

Items needed: None

The Alphabet game works best on long, cross-country road trips, especially those that travel through small towns. Simply find words that start with each letter of the alphabet. First to find them all wins. Word to the wise: just eliminate Q, X and Z. Make it easy on yourself and your kids. For a different variation, have each player write the alphabet out on a piece of paper. As they see a word, have them cross out the letter that the word starts with.

Use One Of These Old School Road Trip Games For Kids To Make Your Next Family Trip More Memorable.

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Maria Smith is the founder of MamaliciousMaria.com, one of the top parenting, travel and auto blogs in the country.... More about Maria Smith