Car games for kids, family outings, traffic jams and road trips

We've put together a list of our favourite games to play while travelling in a car, train or a bus. Road trip games need to be kept really simple and usually based on vocal or visual components.

Coronavirus has caused us all to re-think what our family outings look like but with that everyone now has an opportunity to get really creative with how we socialise. One idea is to simply go on a long joy ride with your household members. The destination isn't important, you may not even get out of the car, but the drive itself can be the activity. Parents and kids both love games, and playing great games in a vehicle is a unique and memorable time for everyone.

Check out our top car games for kids and families below.

I Spy

This is an classic car game and still one of the very best and most well known. The game starts with one player choosing an object inside the car (or outside if it stays in view). Once they've chosen their object (in their head), they need to say "I spy with my little eye something beginning with 'H' (obviously use the letter that the object starts with). The player who guesses the correct answer chooses the next object and so the game begins again.

This game can still be played with young kids who haven't learnt to read or write yet. Instead of using the first letter of the word as a clue, you can try using a colour or something else descriptive (like it's "bumpy" or "curly"). Depending on how young the children playing the car game are, you may need to give some extra clues.

The Smallest Thing

Everyone playing gets thirty seconds to think of the smallest thing possible. Once the thinking time is up, everyone must reveal the object they thought of, like "a bee's toe" or "a flea's knee". Then a judge needs to decide on which object they believe is the smallest. The chosen player gets a point. The game can continue on with more rounds and different categories - the biggest thing, the loudest thing, the smelliest thing and so on.

Story Sharing

This car game can get very silly very quickly. One passenger starts by telling a story for a sentence or two. Then each passenger takes it in turns to add to the story. It works especially well if the story-teller leaves the story open at a critical junction. For example: "There once was a boy who lived on the top of a hill. It was the middle of the night and he suddenly woke up because...".

Fortunately Unfortunately

A variant of the Story Sharing game mentioned above, this travelling game works in very similar way. In this version, every story teller must alternate to start with either "fortunately" or "unfortunately". For example: "There once was a boy who lived on top of a hill." "Unfortunately he walked out the door and fell down the hill" "Fortunately the hill has really soft grass" and so on. A great fun and silly car game to play.

I Am Going To And I'm Bringing

This is a guessing game. If there are fewer than ten people in the group, one person thinks of a word - if there are 10 people or more, two people think of a word together, without the rest of the group knowing what the word is. They should sit at...

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Car Colour Counting

Each player picks a vehicle colour (or two if it's a rarer colour) and then the game begins - it's that simple. Each person must then count the cars (or any vehicle) they see on the road with that colour. At the next stop (or whenever the game ends) the person who has seen the most vehicles with their chosen colour wins! It works best to pick rarer car colours rather than common ones like white.

Animal Safari

This road trip game works similar to Car Colour Counting mentioned above. Players break into two teams and choose a side of the car to look out of. Every animal that is seen out of the windows on that side of car gets tallied up and the team who sees the most animals at the end of the trip wins. To make it more challenging, you could rank animals and make rarer animals worth more points.

Word Formation

Choose a passenger to start by selecting a letter. Each player must then take it in turns to select a letter to follow the previous one. The rules require the letters formed to be the beginning of a real word, but to not have completed it yet. For example: B O R is valid as it will form a real word, but BOR itself is not yet a word. The aim of the game is to get someone "out" by forcing them to either finish the word or to be unable to come up with a real word. If a player says a letter that doesn't seem to be the beggining of a real word, other players may challenge them and if they can't prove it's a valid word, they lose a point. Players can start with five points each, and get eliminated once they hit zero.

Riddles and Puzzles

This car game takes a bit of extra preparation but can be great for keeping your kids entertained for a while. Give them a book of riddles and puzzles. The riddles are especially great as they can do them on their own, or share them with the rest of the family.

Psychiatrist

This classic youth group game might need a bit of modifying to work in a car game scenario, but it'll be worth the trouble. The essential gist is for one person to be trying to figure out what the "illness" everyone else has is. This usually involves everyone else speaking using certain mannerisms or words or phrases. Everyone will have decided how they're going to play it in advance. Anyway - best to check out the rules below and give it a go.

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Street Name Jumble

Although it requires each player to have a paper and pen, it's a good little game to get peoples' brains into gear. Pick a street name and then each player gets one minute to come up with as many words as they can using only the letters from the street name.

Category Chaos

This game can be played as individuals or in teams. Each player (or team) will need a piece of paper and a pen or pencil to write with.

Players must divide their paper into 6 columns. At the top of each column, they'll need to write the six categories that are...

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Make Up Limericks

Get silly and make up some limericks or poems. Work together or make it a competition to see who can come up with the best one! For example:

There was an odd fellow named Gus,
When travelling he made such a fuss.
He was banned from the train,
Not allowed on a plane,
And now travels only by bus.

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