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Best Road Trip Games

Updated on September 14, 2012

Road Trip!

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Road Trip Games

What do you do to break the boredom of long car trips? Today, it is easy to pop in a movie or let everyone plug into their various smart devices. But if you want to go unplugged from the electronics and enjoy some quality family time, consider playing some of these classic road trip games taken straight from my childhood, and maybe from yours as well!

Top Ten Road Trip Games

  1. 20 Questions
  2. Boticelli
  3. Cows and Horses
  4. Road Trip Scavenger Hunt
  5. Signs Alphabet Game
  6. License Tag Game
  7. Car Color Game
  8. Categories
  9. Magazine Game
  10. I Spy

20 Questions

Twenty questions is a guessing game that dates back to at least the 1940's. It is truly a classic. This game has withstood the test of time, and you can even find it in board game and handheld electronic versions.

How to Play:

  • One person starts as the leader and the other players are guessers.
  • The leader thinks of a mystery subject that can be classified as either an animal, vegetable or mineral. Whether it is a person, animal or object, it should be someone or something everyone has heard of.
  • Once the leader has picked his subject, a guesser asks the standard first question - "Is it an animal, vegetable, or mineral?" For an example, let's say the mystery subject is a cat.
  • The other players take turns asking yes or no questions such as "Is this animal a mammal?" or "Is this a fictional animal? or "Is this a farm animal?"
  • Once the 20 questions have been asked, the guessers each get the chance to guess the identity of the mystery subject.
  • Whoever makes the correct guess gets to go first in the next round, or you may take turns in clockwise order.

You only get 20 questions, so choose your questions carefully! One of the classic questions for this game is "Is it bigger than a bread box?" We never had a bread box, but knew what it meant anyway. You may have to explain that one to your kids!

Sandro Boticelli

Taken from Boticelli's "Adoration of the Magi," this part is thought to be a self-portrait.
Taken from Boticelli's "Adoration of the Magi," this part is thought to be a self-portrait. | Source

Boticelli

Boticelli is my all time favorite road trip game. It is similar to 20 Questions, but more sophisticated. Players are trying to guess the identity of a mystery famous person, but there are additional steps involved.

The game is named after Sandro Boticelli, a famous Italian painter. The idea is that the mystery person you think of should be at least as famous as Boticelli. This game is most suitable for older children, teenagers and adults, though younger children may enjoy helping out on a team.

How to play:

  • One person starts as the leader and the other players are guessers.
  • The leader thinks of a real or fictional person/character and gives out the first letter of his last name. Let's say the person is Barack Obama, so the letter would be "O."
  • The guessers cannot ask questions about the mystery person until they have stumped the leader. To stump the leader, a guesser must ask him a factual question which has an answer that begins with the designated letter, an "O" for my example. So, a guesser might ask the leader - "Can you name a marsupial?" (The answer is the opossum.)
  • If the leader does not know the answer to the question, he is "stumped," and the guesser is allowed to ask him a yes or no question about the mystery person. If the leader does answer the stumping question correctly, it is the next guesser's turn.
  • When a guesser gets to ask a yes or no question, he may ask something like "Is this person an actor?" If the answer is "yes," the guesser is allowed to make one guess as to the identity of the mystery person, for example, "Is it Laurence Olivier?"
  • If the answer to the yes or no question is "no," though, as it would be in my example, it is the next guesser's turn.
  • Guessers continue to take turns until they figure out the identity of the mystery person. The player that guesses correctly gets to be the leader next.

This game can last for an hour or more, so it is great for long road trips!

How Many Cows?

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Cows and Horses

I can imagine that this game might have been made up by some frustrated parents who responded to the moaning of their bored children with, "Count all those horses over there!" And that is the basic gist of this game. See how many horses and cows you can count! But there are some rules. This is how you play:

  • You need either two players or two teams.
  • Each person or team gets a side of the road.
  • Each player or team counts all the horses and cows seen on their side of the road.
  • Goats, sheep, and chickens don't count - only cows and horses. (You can adjust the type of animals to find, depending on where you travel.)
  • When you pass a cemetery on your side, all your counted animals "die" and you start back at zero!
  • Whoever has the most at the end, wins.

This game really brings out the sibling rivalry. Watch out when you come up on two pastures of animals - the kids may start counting very quickly and loudly over each other.

Scavenger Hunt List

Some ideas for scavenger hunt items are:

  • mailbox
  • firetruck
  • rest stop
  • airplane
  • cat
  • church
  • red car
  • gas station
  • car dealership

Road Trip Scavenger Hunt

There are some typical things everyone sees along the highway on a road trip, so a scavenger hunt is a fun idea for a long car ride. Make checklists ahead of time, one for each player. The lists should include objects that you would most likely pass. For very young children, you can draw pictures of the items or print out small pictures of the objects.

Players can compete against each other to find the same items, or you might decide to make everyone's list different. Players also can work together to find items on a master list.

Mad Libs for Road Trips

Signs Alphabet Game

This searching game is also known simply as Signs, which refers to all the billboards and road signs you see along the way. This is how you play:

  • Two players or two teams are needed. Each team gets a side of the road.
  • The goal is to find words beginning with letters of the alphabet in order from A to Z. The words can be found on any sign or billboard. So, for example, you may find the letter "A" on a sign that says "Welcome to Atlanta."
  • The first team that gets to letter "Z," wins.
  • Another version is to play all together and just call out the letters when you see them from either side.

Cars, Cars, Cars!

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Automobile Games

There are several road trip car games that involve searching other cars you pass. This is a good way to pass time on busy interstates. Some of the games we played as kids were:

  • License Tag Game - See how many license tags from different states you can find. Write the states down as you go, or prepare a simple state checklist in advance. This can be played all together or by teams.
  • Car Make Game - See how many different car makes you can find - Honda, Ford, Mercedes, etc.
  • Car Color Game - This is a very simple game. See how many red cars you can find or see how many black cars you can find.

One rule we had for all of these games was that parked cars don't count!

Other Road Trip Games

  • Categories - Take turns and see how many words you can think of in a certain category. For example, name movies that begin with the letter "N," or name kinds of food that begin with the letter "R." The topics are endless.
  • Magazine Game - This is a good way to recycle old magazines. Players each get an old magazine. The game leader asks the players to search for random things like the longest word, the funniest picture, or the most colorful object. Players search their magazines for the "answers" until time is up. Compare answers to see who wins.
  • I Spy - This is a classic game that is good for very young children. One person spies an object and says "I spy something red." (or whatever color it is) Everyone else tries to guess the object. The trick for playing this game in the car is to spy something inside the car, or an unchanging outside object, like the trees or sky.

Creating Family Memories

One of my fondest family road trip memories is a long ride down to Florida as a teenager. My brother and I tired of the Alphabet Sign Game and came up with our own version. Together, we would read aloud billboard signs, but added "sn" as the beginning sound for every single word. I am sure it drove my parents bonkers, but it is a funny memory. To this day, some 25 years later, I still call my father "Snad" instead of "Dad"!

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    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image
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      Sarah Johnson 5 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      Yes- plan ahead to avoid the endless "Are we there yet?" How nice that you are taking the grands on a road trip. Have a great time!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I am so glad I read this hub before going to bed. We are planning a road trip with the grandkids and I am going to use some of your suggestions. It will prevent the "When are we going to be there?" questions. Voted up!