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Road Trip Games for Kids

November 06, 2017
Road Trip Games for Kids

Keeping kids entertained can be tricky, even while at home. So confining them to the back of your car must make the job twice as hard, right? With our guide to road trip games for kids, you won’t have any problems keeping the little ones amused on your journey.


Many parents shudder at the thought of going on a road trip with their kids. Kids don’t like to sit still, even at the best of times. So how do you make them do it for hours on end on your way to your holiday destination?

It’s simple: play some road trip games with them.

Below, we have outlined a few of our favourite games and activities to play while on the road. They will not only keep the kids entertained but will keep your mind active on the long haul.


Road Trip Games that Don’t Require Materials

Got no room in the car for toys to keep the kids entertained? Perhaps you just forgot to bring some in the first place? Maybe you need a break from playing I Spy? These games and activities don’t require any materials to play.

Most of these games encourage kids to use their imagination, memory and problem-solving skills. Here are a few of our favourites to play while on the road.


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’Playing ‘Spotto’ has become an addiction long after the road trip is over...


Spotto

Spotto is one of our favourite games to play with a whole carload of people.

Recommended ages: Anytime after the child has learned to speak

Skills required: A good pair of eyes

How many players: 2 or more

How to play: The aim of the game is to rack up the most amount of points for ‘finding’ a certain object in the surroundings. We like to play it with yellow and green vehicles, as they are relatively uncommon.

The first person to see a yellow car and yell out, ‘Spotto!’, gets a point. If you see a green car, you must instead yell out, ‘Froggo!’, for which you also get a point. Other rules such as including other vehicles (like motorcycles, trucks, etc.) or other colours is a good idea if you want the participants to be more active.

Alphabet of Things

This game is great for kids who want to flex their brain and flaunt their knowledge of the world.

Recommended ages: 6 years or older

Skills required: Knowledge of the alphabet

How many players: 1 or more

How to play: The players must think of something starting with each letter of the alphabet in a particular category. Countries, cities and types of animals are common topics to start with.

The first player starts by thinking of something starting with ‘A’, after that, the next player thinks of something starting with ‘B’. It keeps going until you either reach ‘Z’ or someone can’t think of anything.


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Bring a smile to other motorists with a friendly waving competition.


Waving Competition

A waving competition is an easy way get the kids active and inspire some competition within the car.

Recommended ages: 2 years and above

Skills required: An enthusiastic waving hand

How many players: 1 or more

How to play: The goal of this game is to try and get as many waves, smiles and other positive reactions from other motorists within a given distance or time limit. For example, ‘most waves within 15 minutes’ or ‘most waves within 50km’.

Most other drivers are more than willing to return the wave to a bunch of happy kids in the back of a car. It may even brighten up their drive too!

Build-A-Word

Somewhat trickier than some of our other games, Build-A-Word focuses on trying to trick other players into creating a word.

Recommended ages: 7 years and above

Skills required: Decent spelling skills

How many players: 2 or more

How to play: The aim of this game is to force the next player in line to ‘complete’ the word. In a circle, each player says a letter that will help make a word, but not ‘end it’ or be the final letter.

For example, player one may say the letter ‘D’. Player two may then say ‘O’. If player three says ‘G’, they will lose, as they ‘finished’ the word ‘dog’. However, if they chose the letter ‘D’, the round would continue. Player one would now have to think of a word that contains ‘Dod’ and choose a letter based of that. If they chose ‘G’, it would continue. Player two chooses the letter ‘E’ to create the word ‘dodge’, however one more letter can be added to ‘complete’ the word and make player three lose.

There are some special rules for this game to work too. Players can’t just choose a letter at random if they are stuck. If they choose a letter that won’t make a word when added to the others, they will lose. For example, player one chooses the letter ‘Z’ and player two chooses the letter ‘X’, as there are no words that begin with Z and have the second letter as X.

Although tricky to understand at the start, once your kids understand it they’ll have a blast trying to outsmart each other.


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Playing games makes the road trip go like a blur…


I’m Going On A Picnic

This game is all about figuring out patterns and formulas.

Recommended ages: 6 years and above

Skills required:Ability to ‘think outside the box’

How many players: 2 or more

How to play: The aim of this game is for the ‘solvers’ (guessing players) to figure out the pattern of the ‘leader’ (person who decides the formula). To do this, the leader begins by saying, ‘I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing…’, and finishing with their chosen object. This object should fit a ‘formula’ that they have chosen.

For example: weight, size, organic vs artificial, colour, shape, the country it is from, number of syllables in the word, etc. The formula can be anything, as long as more than one object falls under it.

The solvers now take turns in saying, ‘I’m going on a picnic and I'm bringing…’, and finishing with an object that they think fits the formula. After each of the solvers have guessed an object to take, the leader says another object they will take. This process repeats until the solvers give up or the formula is guessed.

Clues can be given if a tricky formula has been chosen as well.


Road Trip Games that Require Materials

For these games, all you’ll need are some basic materials such as a pen and paper to play. That being said, it’s best to prepare a few of these games before you leave home to save yourself the hassle of drawing them up on the bumpy road.


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You can save and print this bingo sheet out for your next road trip!


Road Trip Bingo

Not quite the same as you would find at the local RSL, Road Trip Bingo gets the kids searching high and low for objects found while out on the road.

Recommended ages: 4 years and above

Materials required: Paper and pens

How many players: 1 or more

How to play: Draw up a grid – the size of which will depend on how long you want the game to go for. Shorter games can be around 4x4, while longer games can be 6x6 and above. In each box, write or draw an item that will be found along your road trip. When the player sees each item, they get to cross it off on the sheet.

What you put in each box is fairly flexible. Some people like to keep it to a theme such as ‘street signs’ or ‘car models’, or you can keep it broad and put a variety of things in there instead.

The game can be either won by finding everything in the grid, or just by filling out a row in it.

Variations

  • License plate game: where people must find a license plate from each state or territory. The winner is the person to find them all first.

  • Scavenger hunt: where players must find certain objects when they are at a rest stop. Some of these items may include certain plants, signs or food.


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Here is a quick example of how the game ‘Paddocks’ works.


Paddocks (aka Dots and Boxes)

A classic game played by roadtrippers around the world, Paddocks is a strategy game anyone can get around.

Recommended ages: 4 years and above

Materials required: Paper and two different coloured pens

How many players: 2 or more

How to play: Firstly, a grid of dots must be drawn onto the paper. This can be as large or small as you want, but we recommend starting with at least 8x8.

To play, each player chooses a respective colour pen and takes turns drawing one line between two unconnected dots. The goal of this game is to create as many ‘paddocks’ or ‘boxes’ as possible within the grid. Each time a box is created, the person who finished the box either colours it in with their colour pen or puts their initial in it.

The game keeps going until every box is filled or no more moves can be made. Tally up the number of boxes each player has and see who has the most!

It is similar in theory to ‘connect four’ in that you try to trick your opponent into making a wrong move so you can complete a paddock, while also guessing their future moves too!

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What could the word possibly be…


Hangman

Another classic game, hangman puts your spelling and guessing skills to the test.

Recommended ages: 6 years and above

Materials required: Paper and a pen

How many players: 2 or more

How to play: One player must first think of a word. After the word is chosen, that player must put a dashes on the page for each letter in the word. For example, the if you choose the word ‘horse’, you would put down five dashes.

It’s now up to the other players to say a letter that might be in the word. Every time a player guesses a wrong letter, one more part is added to the ‘hangman’. If a player guesses the right letter, it is written on the relevant dash.

Players are allowed to guess the word prior to all the letters being completed. However if they guess wrong, another part is still added to the ‘hangman’. The winner is whoever can guess the word correctly.


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Here is our example of a short template word game!


Template Word Games (aka Mad Libs)

This game let players fill in the blanks to a predetermined story. It is heaps of fun reading what everyone comes up with!

Recommended ages: 6 years and above

Materials required: Paper and a pen or Mad Libs Book

How many players: 1 per copy of the story. The more copies, the more people that can play.

How to play: This game is best prepared before your road trip. First write a short story that’s roughly two paragraphs long. Try to make it as emotive as possible. After that, replace most of the important verbs, adjectives and nouns in it with a blank space. Put a little reminder about what type of word needs to go into each under the blank space too.

Now you story should be lacking its core information , and your players can now fill it in, in their own words, to create a unique story for themselves.

If you don’t have much time to prepare a few short stories, some publishers such as Mad Libs have books with templates ready to be filled out.


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Don’t forget to pull over and take a break from the games every hour or so.


Origami

Although not a ‘game’ as such, who would've thought folding paper could be so enjoyable?

Recommended ages: 8 years and above

Materials required: Paper and origami instructions (if you don’t know them off-by-heart). A hard surface such as a hardcover book is also suggested to fold the paper on.

How many players: 1 or more

How to play: It’s simple: grab your piece of paper and follow the instructions to make your paper sculpture. We suggest picking up an origami book or searching the web before your road trip to find some easy designs. Before you know it, the car will be filled with hundreds of paper swans.

Keep in mind you may need to bring a lot of paper if you plan on doing this for a while!


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Uno is sure to entertain the whole family.


Card Games and Board Games

Bringing a few simple board games or card games for the car ride is also a good idea. However, the emphasis is on ‘simple’, as one with too many bits and pieces (like Monopoly) is likely to be too be complicated for such a tight space.

  • Magnetic chess/checkers: These sets have been designed for travel, as they are smaller in scale than a normal set. The magnetic pieces help keep everything in place when the road gets bumpy.

  • Playing Cards: Although it may be too early to teach them Blackjack, a set of playing cards can open up a world of games for you to enjoy on a road trip. Go Fish and Snap are two popular choices that are very easy to learn.

  • Uno: Uno is a favourite among families. Its near endless replayability makes it great for car rides without a lot of enjoyable scenery. This game is all about getting rid of your cards the fastest and is sure to inspire some competitive spirit within the car.


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A map of your route will make the kids feel more involved in the journey.


Other games and activities

Distracting the kids with games for hours on end can be an arduous task. Here are a few activities they can do without the need of constant attention.

  • Following the journey on their very own map: Allowing your kids to see your progress on their own map is an easy way to keep them entertained. Mark out the key towns and landmarks that you will be passing so they can track you more easily. However, some kids may get frustrated with how long the journey will appear to take on their map.

  • Drawing on the windows: Your car windows provide a great canvas for kids to draw on. Just make sure they use a dry-erase marker or liquid chalk marker to draw with or the results may be permanent. It’s also wise to check up on them to make sure they don’t spread their artwork to the doors or upholstery.

  • Mobile apps: Even though a road trip is a good chance to get your children away from the screens, an hour or so on the tablet will provide you with some much needed rest. Their favourite movies, games, TV shows, music are all things worth loading onto the device before leaving home. However, it is important to limit their use so they can still see the ever-changing landscape around them.


Final Thoughts

Road trips are a good time to connect as a family. Playing games with your kids will not only make the trip go quicker, but will give them some great memories for years to come. Maybe even when you get home they’ll beg you to play some of these great road trip games with them!

For more great road trip driving tips, check out our [guide to surviving a long haul drive!]


Got any tips on how you keep your kids entertained on a road trip? Is there a special game that they loves to play for hours on end? Leave a comment below!

Photos taken by us, Syda Productions/Shutterstock.com and Bilanonl/Shutterstock.com


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