15 travel car games to play on your next road trip that all the family will love

Travel car games can keep road trips light and fun - try the 15 we've found (we love #3)

Travel car games illustrated by family packign car
(Image credit: Getty Images / Future)

Travel car games can be the make or break of a family road trip - you've got to get them right. They help break up the 'Are we there yet' war cry of the backseat mini passengers.  

One consistent throughout parenting that no one mentioned was just how much researching you'll do. First off, it will be the best travel strollers, then the things to do with toddlers, followed by the best dad jokes - and now travel car games before you start that 5-hour journey. Yep, parents research, a lot. And we're here to make it that little bit easier for you. 

Kids love to be included and part of something, so get a big car game on the go. We can't promise these road trip games will definitely prevent boredom or squabbles but they will help pass the time, in between wee stops and snack requests.

Top tip from Five Minute Mum, Daisy Upton is to choose the right time to travel; "Where possible travel at bedtime. The kids will then sleep for the majority of the journey. The main plus to this is that my husband and I can listen to our own music or podcast while they sleep, making it a little easier for us too."

We've picked some great ones that even adults can enjoy on your next road trip...

Woman smiling at camera
Daisy Upton 'The Five Minute Mum'

Daisy is mum-ofotwo and author. Daisy’s debut non-fiction book, Give Me Fivecontains 150+ games that take 5 minutes to set up & 5 minutes to tidy up. Published by Penguin in February 2020 and instantly became a Sunday Times Best Seller! Daisy’s next book, Starting School was published in June 2023.

Travel car games 

1. Road trip scavenger hunt

Age suitability: 4+ | Number of players: Min. 2

"This is a hugely popular one for my kids," mum-of-three, Jas tells us. "I download from funlovingfamilies.com but there are so many you can choose from on Pinterest."

As road trip games go, the idea of this is to keep the kids focused throughout the journey. For younger kids use picture-led scavenger hunt downloadables, for older kids a simple tick list will work. And if you are struggling to get teens to put their phones down - incorporate their phones. Invite them to take photos of what they seem then compare photo reels when you get to your destination.  

Top tip: Laminate them and use wipeable pens, and they can be reused. 

funlovingfamilies.com have a great free printable to use - for kids of all ages.

2. Car bingo

Age suitability: 4+ | Number of players: Min. 2

Bingo is a great game for keeping kids engaged in the car. Before setting off on your journey, make some bingo-style sheets of things you might expect to see out of the window. Your grid can be made up of as many squares as you feel appropriate – less for younger kids, more for older ones. Or you can print out our ready-made bingo sheet examples below.

backseat bingo car games for young kids

(Credit: GoodToKnow/Canva)

backseat bingo car games for kids

(Credit: GoodToKnow/Canva)

Hand out the bingo sheets and pens during the journey and have your kids keep an eye out of the window 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!’ Top tip: You can always laminate your bingo cards and reuse the sheets for future rounds of backseat bingo. Just pack whiteboard pens and tissues.

Don't have a laminator? No worries, take inspiration from this mum; 

3. Buzz

Age suitably: 5 and over | Minimum number of players: 2 (though a group works best here)

As a group, go round and take turns to collectively count to 100. Each time a number with 5 in it comes up, say the word ‘Buzz’ instead and carry on the counting. As the game goes on, family members are sure to forget the golden rule, and when one person forgets to say ‘Buzz’ the game starts from 1 again. See how long it takes you - and be sure to have your wits about you.

Top tip: Challenge older children by adding additional rules into the mix. You could make numbers ending in 2 silent or replace another number with a funny sound or word.

4. Endings game

Age suitability: 7+ | Number of players: Min. 2 (though a group works best)

"One of our favourite travel games to play in car," mum-of-four, Louise tells us. "The endings game always has us laughing and scratching our heads". 

To play, pick a theme like animals, food, or children’s TV characters, and have one person start with a relevant word. 

Each player must then respond with a word that starts with the last letter of the previous player’s word. So, for example, if your theme is animals and someone says ‘cat’ the next word must begin with a 't' - so turtle, tarantula, or tiger. 

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

Top tip: With older kids, you can add in a fun, extra rule. For anyone that comes up with an example that uses the last letter twice - e.g. Thomas the tank engine or cheesy chips - the gameplay changes direction, putting the pressure back on the player that’s just been.

5. Name the tune

Age suitability: 7+ | Number of players: Min. 2 

A must-play for musical families, this game can be played two ways. Simply prepare a playlist ahead of your trip and play just the introduction of songs. Or take it in turns to hum everyone’s favourite family songs (and children’s theme tunes) and have the car buzz in with their guesses. Those who guess correctly get to go next.

Top tip: For extra points you could ask players to name what album the song was from or what year the song was released.

Playful family laughing and singing in car.

Credit: Alamy

6. Never miss a beat

Age suitability: 5+ | Number of players: Min. 2 

Another funny music game that requires a good sense of rhythm. Play a popular song and have the whole car sing-a-long. Then in key moments (say the chorus), turn the music right down, continue singing, and see if you stay in time with the song when you turn the volume back up. Who knows the song a little too well and who needs to brush up on their listening? The winner is the superstar who stays in sync with the beat.

7. Pub cricket

Age suitability: 6 and over | Number of players: Min. 2

This counting game is best played on journeys that will see you winding through the scenic routes passing Britain's boozers. As you approach a new pub, have a new player take their turn to 'bat' - i.e. count the number of legs in the pub's name. For example, the Red Lion scores four (lions have four legs), the King George makes two (humans have two legs), and so on. The aim of the game is to score as many “runs” as possible, so keep a note of your ongoing score. However, if you pass a pub name that has no legs, then it's game over. (Read: Pubs with 'head' in their name are not your friend)

A close-up of a pub sign - The Wellington

No legs here! (Credit: Getty)

8. The spelling bee

Age suitability: 6+ | Number of players: Min. 2

Fun, yet educational, a spelling bee is a great way to test the whole family’s spelling ability - and perhaps learn a few new words too. Think of animals, food, drinks, and everyday items for your word inspiration. But if you really want to test them, impress them with a few textbook medical terms. Vary the spellings according to age and keep track of who is in the lead. Be sure to give an A+ to the winner once you’ve exhausted all your words.

Top tip: You could make it more relevant by getting the kids to spell the names of upcoming towns you’ll be driving through on your journey.

9. What's the story

Age suitability: 5+ | Number of players: Min. 1

Imaginations at the ready - task your children with creating their very own story. Take a special ‘story’ jar with you on your journey and fill it with pieces of paper, scrunched up with character names, plot twists or cliffhangers. Similarly fill a bag with props such as a shell, a brush, a spoon, a plastic cup, and so on. Ask the kids to each pick a prop or piece of paper and weave it into their tale. It can be as mad or magical as they like.

10. Keep a straight face

Age suitability: 4+ | Number of players: 1

This game is perfect for little ones in need of a laugh, with the rules incredibly simple. A player must keep a straight face while others try to make them laugh with just their words. No touching or tickling allowed... Top tip: With younger ones, anything with poo or wee in will work, or a gobbledygook of made up words. Guaranteed. 

11. Number plate game

Age suitability: 7+ | Number of players: Min. 2

You won’t be lacking in number plates on your journey, so why not incorporate them into a fun game? Pick and read out a car’s number plate and have the car come up with words using only the letters displayed. The longer the word, the more points you get.

Top tip: To make it fair, challenge the adults to only put forward words of six letters or more.

Cars stuck in a traffic jam on a road in the UK

Credit: Alamy

12. The memory game

Age suitability: 6+ | Number of players: Min. 2

Try a special car journey edition of the classic supermarket memory game. Take it in turns to say the phrase “I went on a roadtrip and I packed..” with the first person deciding on an item beginning with A. Say, an anorak. The next player must then repeat the phrase, the previous player’s item and add a new item beginning with B. For example: "I went on a roadtrip and I packed an anorak and a banana." 

This continues as you make your way through the whole alphabet. Once someone forgets an item on the list, the game starts from scratch again.

13. Random numbers game

Age suitability: 5+ | Number of players: Min. 2

A fun numbers-based game, see how high the car can collectively count up to without any order. The first player calls out the number one, then another player must randomly jump in with the next number. If two people say the same number at any given time, the game starts over. Whilst any five-second pauses will also reset the game again.

Top tip: Start off simple and try to count to twenty. If you’ve got older kids (and the patience) try getting up to 50 or more.

14. 20 questions

Age suitability: 5+ | Number of players: Min. 2

Get the kids to ask questions to find out what the historical figure, animal, or object you are. One player must secretly decide who or what they are, while the other players must play detective and work out the answer. Use questions like ‘do you have legs?’, ‘where you famous’, and so on, to suss out the main player and discover their hidden identity.

Top tip: If you're feeling organised, grab a clean jam jar ahead of your trip and add in scrunched-up pieces of paper with ideas. This way they'll be no excuses or long pauses as people figure out who or what to be.

Jar of ideas of car games for kids

You can also use a hat, bag or another container for your ideas. (Credit: Getty

15. Eye spy

Age suitability: 4+ | Number of players: 2

As road trip games go this is a classic. Have one player look out the window and decide on an object or item. Then have them share the letter that the word begins with. The other players must guess what it is, and whoever guesses correct, goes next. Fair warning, for children aged between 3-6 years old, look out for phonetic spellings. "My son chose 'ch' once, and it turned out - after I guessed cheek, chest, chum - to be 'tree'." says mum-of-three, Louise. 

Top tip: For youngsters wanting to play, do eye spy with my little eye something that is *a colour*. This is way more fun for little ones. 

Planning a family holiday? Check out our best travel cots, maybe make a note of when the kids break up from school to make sure you have the dates right, and then maybe arm yourself with a few things to do with kids - just in case the weather does the dirty on you.

Stephanie Lowe
Family Editor

Stephanie Lowe is Family Editor at GoodToKnow covering all things parenting, pregnancy and more. She has over 13 years' experience as a digital journalist with a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to all things family and lifestyle. Stephanie lives in Kent with her husband and son, Ted. Just keeping on top of school emails/fund raisers/non-uniform days/packed lunches is her second full time job.