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7 Car Games for Family Road Trips

Mom and kid in car

It's likely that your family will be spending some travel time in close quarters before this summer road trip season comes to a close. Maybe you have an exciting family vacation planned for the end of summer, or you’re looking to pack up the car for a spontaneous weekend getaway.

We know how these long car rides usually go: silence from the backseat while the kids stare at screens, punctuated by many “are we there yets?” and the occasional sibling outburst when one breathes on the other or commits some other terrible crime.

Add a new element to your family road trip this summer. Connect with your kids and keep the fighting to a minimum by initiating these fun games and activities that the whole family will enjoy. You might find that some of the best memories are made before you even get where you’re going!

1. The Synonym Game

This is a great game to work on your children’s vocabulary! Someone comes up with a short sentence- it could be a movie title, a song name, or a common saying -and rephrases it using synonyms. Everyone else’s job is to guess the original wording. For example, you can say, “It’s a Fantastic Existence,” and your kids would guess the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Tip: It’s not a bad idea to bring a small thesaurus or download one on your phone.

2. Categories
It’s simple, but this one’s a lot of fun if you keep track of points and make it into a tournament. Divide into two teams and take turns picking a category. Go back and forth between opposite team members, listing items in that category.  When it’s a player’s turn, and he or she has run out of ideas or hesitates for too long, the point goes to the other team.

3. 20 Questions

Here’s another classic! One person thinks of something, and everyone else asks 20 yes or no questions to narrow down their guesses. The first question is almost always “Animal, vegetable, or mineral?” and they get more specific from then on. The first player to guess correctly, or whoever is closest to the right answer, goes next.

4. Telephone Pictionary

This game combines two well known classics and will undoubtedly have the whole family cracking up. You’ll need some pads of paper and a few pens or pencils. Everyone in the car, except the driver, draws a picture and passes it to their right. The players receiving the drawings must take their best guesses at what the sketch was intended to be and write it down. Those guesses are passed on, and the next person has to draw what is written on the pad, without peeking at previous scribbles. It works best with a full car as there will be more chances for the original ideas to be hilariously botched.

5. Word Connection

The person in the driver’s seat begins the game by saying any word they can think of. The next in line calls out a word that somehow associates with the first. This goes on until you’ve reached a string of 20 words. We recommend writing the words down, because then the goal becomes returning to the original word without using the same words again or making too much of a stretch with your connections. It’s trickier than it seems!

6. Your Side, My Side

Your side, my side is more of an ongoing background competition. You’ll want to create a point system before playing to decide how many points different things you’ll pass are worth. For example, you can say cows are worth one point. Be the first to notice cows on “your side” of the road and shout it out to receive one point. Steal a point from the other side of the car by shouting “cows on your side!” if you spot them before they do. According to this Buzzfeed version, calling out a cemetery steals all the points from the other side.

7. Oddly Colored Car Game

Another competition that keeps your kids’ eyes peeled is the Colored Car Game from Bustle. When you first hit the road, everyone assigns themselves a color that would be unusual for a vehicle. You get a point for every car of your assigned color that you spot. Steal each other's points by calling out their cars before they notice!

Fun competition can truly make getting there half the fun! Don’t forget to refer to this list the next time you’re out on the road with the kids in the backseat.

Next Steps:

  • Further reduce travel stress by checking out these other road trip hacks.
  • Follow our Summer Fun Pinterest Board for more ways to make the most out of the rest of your summer!

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