10 (free) car games to play with the kids

  • We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
  • Does the idea of going on a long journey with the kids fill you with dread? Yes, us too. That’s why we’ve put on our thinking caps to come up with 10 fun (and free!) car games perfect for kids of any age. Once the kids know how to play you can say goodbye to the ‘are we nearly there yet?’ cries!

    1. Backseat bingo

    Before setting off on your journey, make some bingo-style sheets of things you might expect to see out of the window.

    To make your bingo sheets, get some plain paper or card and mark out a grid. Your grid can be made up of as many squares as you feel appropriate – less for younger kids, more for older. In your grid draw simple pictures of things your child could spot on your journey – these could include a bridge, sheep, horses, a river, or a lorry. Make each sheet different by using a variety of combinations of these pictures.

    Once on your journey give out the bingo sheets and pens. Your kids can then look out of the window and try to spot all the things on their sheet, ticking them off as they go. The aim is to mark off all the pictures and be the first to shout ‘Bingo!’

    If you make sure the bingo sheets don’t get too covered in pen, you can always reuse the sheets for a new round of backstreet bingo, or alternatively you could cover them in sticky-back plastic so they can be wiped clean.

    Perfect for kids aged 4+

    Boredom buster: A good 30 minutes of bingo fun
    Watch out for: The driver getting a ‘BINGO’ fright!

    2. Endings game

    Play this simple word game as a family and keep everyone happy for an hour or two!

    To play, pick a theme for the game and one person can think of a relevant word. So your theme might be animals, and the first word could be ‘bat’. Using this word as a starter, each player can then take it in turns to think of an animal starting with the last letter of the previous player’s word. So after ‘bat’ could come ‘turtle’ and after that could come ‘eel’ and so on.

    The game can keep going until you all run out of ideas. And then you can start over again with a different theme.

    Perfect for kids aged 7+

    Boredom buster: Around 40 minutes or less if the theme is tricky!
    Watch out for: Getting stuck with a ‘x’, ‘u’, or ‘z’

    3. Post-it note game

    This fun game has been a staple of family life ever since the post-it note was invented!

    Each player picks a famous person and writes his or her name down on a post-it note. They then pass it to the player on their left who, without looking at the name on the paper, must stick it on their forehead. Once everyone has a name stuck to their heads, each player must try to work out who that person is asking questions only with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers.

    The winner is the first player to figure out which famous person they have stuck to their head.

    And if you don’t have any post-it notes to hand, just lick a piece of paper and stick it on instead!

    Perfect for kids aged 6+

    Boredom buster: Roughly 45 minutes
    Watch out for: Your post-it note coming unstuck and falling off!

    4. Car-a-oke

    Before you go on your trip make a karaoke CD or MP3 of all your family’s favourite songs. You can either buy a ready-made karaoke CD or make one by downloading songs which have the vocals removed.

    Print out a copy of the words for everyone to look at, and quite simply sing away the miles!

    Perfect for kids aged 3+

    Boredom buster: As long as the CD lasts!
    Watch out for: Mini karaoke queens hogging the limelight.

    5. What’s the story?

    Get the kids’ imaginations flowing by asking them to create their very own story.

    Take a special ‘story’ bag with you on your journey and fill it with simple props such as a shell, a brush, a spoon, a plastic cup, and so on. Ask the kids to each pick a story prop and then tell a story together which features their special props. It can be as wacky and fantastical as they like.

    Perfect for kids aged 5+
    Boredom buster: 30 minutes, unless the story becomes epic.
    Watch out for: A good, dramatic end to the story, or it could go on forever!

    6. Can you keep a straight face?

    This hilarious game is perfect for when your little ones are getting a bit grouchy on a long journey.

    A player must keep a straight face while others try to make him or her laugh. They can only use verbal communication to make the player laugh, strictly no touching or tickling is allowed!

    Perfect for kids aged 3+

    Boredom buster: Around 5 minutes per round, unless your child has a fantastic poker face.
    Watch out for: Any stifled sniggers – all laughter counts!

    7. Animal detectives

    Get the kids unraveling clues to find out what the hidden animal is.

    One player must think of an animal, while the other players must be the detectives and work out what animal it is. Using questions like ‘has it got four legs?’, ‘does it live on land’, and so on, the players can pit their wits against the main player and discover the hidden identity of the animal.

    Perfect for kids aged 5+

    Boredom buster: 10 minutes per round
    Watch out for: Little David Attenboroughs who know very obscure and unusual animals.

    8. Number plate fun

    Looking at other cars’ number plates to see if they spell out any words is always fun for kids, so why not make it even more exciting and take the last three letters on the number plate and turn them into a silly sentence? So if a car’s number plate ended in the letters GEN you could make the sentence ‘Great English Nose’ or ‘Grapes Eat Nappies’ – the possibilities are endless!

    Perfect for kids aged 5+

    Boredom buster: 10 minutes per number plate
    Watch out for: Any rude number plates which may pop up!

    9. The sound game

    One player looks out of the window and picks something. He or she then makes the sound of their chosen item and the other players have to guess what the item is. Easy peasy!

    Perfect for kids aged 4+

    Boredom buster: 10 minutes per round
    Watch out for: Anything too loud like a foghorn – you don’t want to be deaf for your holiday!

    10. The supermarket game

    This game is great for helping your kids improve their memory skills.

    Each player has to think of something they’ve bought from the supermarket. They then say ‘I went to the supermarket and I bought…’ and name the item they’ve bought. The next player must repeat the sentence saying what the previous player bought, and then adding what they themselves bought. This carries on and on, until a player forgets one of the items on the list, in which case the game starts again. Get shopping!

    Perfect for kids aged 6+

    Boredom buster: Around 20 minutes per round
    Watch out for: Any cheating! Players can’t miss anything out