5 Competitive Games for Road Trips to Keep Your Family Entertained

Games for road trips are a time-honored tradition to pass the time and keep the kids entertained while driving across the country. But if your family is like mine then if you want to play a game that means a full-on competition. The drive to win is strong in our car as we cruise across the country. We keep tally sheets for just about everything to see who wins.

5 Competitive Games For Road Trips To Keep Your Family Entertained

We tally how many times each person wins the Alphabet Game, and the Guess the Animal Game. Upon reaching our destination, the winner gets to pick the restaurant or tourist attraction for the day. Sometimes, we give prizes where the winner gets to pick the snack choice first. And, sometimes it’s just bragging rights. But, any way you slice it when everyone jumps in and participates in games for road trips, everyone enjoys the scenery and the ride even more.

Games for Road Trips Add Up to More than ABC and 123

5 Competitive Games For Road Trips To Keep Your Family Entertained

Just because you think you know how to play all the games for road trips does not mean you know how to play all the variations. It is pretty intense when we play the Alphabet Game on our road trips. Of course, you can play the simple version of the Alphabet Game where you and your preschooler hunt for the letters of the alphabet from A to Z on signs, license plates, and cars. But, if you have older children, even teenagers, you can step it up a bit with these rules.

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  1. Find the letters A to Z in alphabetical order.
  2. No one can use the same sign. So, if you are passing a sign that says, “Next exit, Daytona Beach,” and Player One says, “ ‘B’ in Daytona Beach,” before Player Two says, “ ‘D’ in Daytona Beach – the first person to call a letter on that sign gets the sign. If the two players declare it a tie, no one gets to use the sign.
  3. Play two to three back-to-back rounds. It’s so much more fun because the elusive letter “J,” “Q,” and “Z” can change the game instantly. Just because one player is ahead for a while, it’s all about who sees the letter first. When you play consecutive rounds, anyone can win.

Animal Games for Road Trips Keep You Guessing

The Guess the Animal Game is a version of 20 questions for animal lovers. If you have animal lovers in your family, Guess the Animal can last for at least 100 miles down the road. If you are the animal lover of the family, it’s a great way to teach your kiddos animal facts as you travel along the highway.

  1.  One person thinks of an animal. They simply say, “I’ve got my animal.”
  2.  Everyone else asks, “Yes” or “No” questions one by one until they can guess the animal. “Is it a reptile? Is it a bird? Is it a mammal? Does it have four legs? Does it swim? Is it bigger than a bread box? Etc…”
  3.  Whoever guesses the animal correctly comes up with the next animal to guess. You can use broad categories like a dog, spider, or snake. But, if your family boasts a few “animal experts” you can be specific like a German Shepherd, black widow, and coral snake.

Games for Road Trips Can Include Photography

Almost every passenger has a phone or tablet that can take photos. You can print out a variety of Road Trip Scavenger Hunt sheets by doing a quick Internet search. To elevate the Scavenger Hung games for road trips, make it a Photo Scavenger Hunt. Not only do the passengers have to find the items on the list but they have to take a photo, too.

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You can look at the photos each night at the hotel or campsite and give prizes for the best photos if you would like. There will be a learning curve for your passengers to take quality photos from a moving car, but that is part of the fun and games. Of course, you can make up your own Photo Scavenger List for each state that you enter. Ideas to shoot include a barn, a cow, a red car, a blue truck, a church, a flag, a park, etc… Ideas are endless. You can have the same list for each state that you pass through and see who captures the most quality photos in each state. Say Cheese!

On-Going Games for Road Trips That Can Be Played All Week

On-going games for road trips keep everyone engaged throughout the vacation. On-going games for road trips keep you and your children looking out the window so they can enjoy the ever-changing countryside. You want your children to see how people live across the county, the beautiful farm fields, and the big cities – all of which you pass by when driving on an epic family road trip.  

Tally Up the License Plates from All 50 States

5 Competitive Games For Road Trips To Keep Your Family Entertained

The License Plate Game can be played the entire trip, too. It is fun to see where all the other travelers are from. It’s fun to track and see what states you see the most. But again it’s the most fun if you follow a few rules.

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  1.  Print out a list of all 50 states before leaving home. We play as a group during the entire trip. Remember, parking lots at rest areas, Cracker Barrel restaurants along the interstate, and tourist attractions are great places to find a variety of license plates from many states. You can print out a 50-state list for each passenger playing to track license plates individually, but we find it more enjoyable to hunt together. It’s so exciting when you find the elusive Alaska or Hawaii license plate – yes, believe it or not, they are out there.
  2.  Each time someone sees a license plate from out of state make a tally mark.
  3. You cannot tally a state when you are driving in that state. Example: If you are driving in Tennessee, you can not tally any vehicles with Tennesee license plates.  

Go Crazy with Bonkers

Go bonkers for Bonkers. If these homemade road trip games sound like crazy fun then you’re right. Once your family learns this ongoing game, someone will be shouting out “Bonkers” just about every time you get in the car sometimes even on the way to school. To play Bonkers, every time you see a yellow vehicle of any kind that is not a work vehicle, you shout, “Bonkers.” (Work vehicles include school buses, cabs, a pickup with signage for a lawn care company, etc…). Yellow non-work vehicles are fleeting. This game can last the entire trip with one person keeping a tally sheet of how many Bonkers each road trip passenger sees. Who will see the most yellow vehicles?

Games for Road Trips Can Be Fun For Everyone

5 Competitive Games For Road Trips To Keep Your Family Entertained

The great thing about most games for road trips is that even the driver can participate (with the exception of the photography scavenger hunt, of course). The kids will love it when they can play car games for road trips for adults. Games for road trips get everyone talking and laughing as you travel the country in search of history, tourist attractions, and fun. Let the games begin.

Check out Daily Mom’s 8 Important Pros and Cons of Traveling with Family Section for more advice, tips, and tricks.

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5 Competitive Games For Road Trips To Keep Your Family Entertained



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Carla J. Eskew
Carla J. Eskew
Carla J. Eskew is a freelance writer, wife, and mom of two children who are nine years apart. She is a Scout leader with 17 years of experience in Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. She serves as a volunteer at school, church, and with the homeless population. She loves road trips, sightseeing, camping, Pilates, and her black standard poodle, Midnight Shadow.