10 Games to Take on The Road This Summer

Summer’s here and that means it’s road trip time! If you don’t want the kids plugging in and disconnecting in the car, check out these ten budget-friendly games and activities to keep everyone engaged and enjoying even the longest summer road trip.

  1. The License Plate Game is a classic for long car trips. Try spotting plates from every state, either as a group or individually, to get all fifty before the end of your trip. There are plenty of websites with downloadable maps or checklists you can print and take along to keep track of states as you spot them.
  2. I Spy starts with one person saying, “I spy something that is . . .” and then inserting an adjective to describe the item. Everyone else in the car tries to guess the object. The American Grandparents Association also recommends using a bingo-style card filled “with standard things the players can spy in their designated location. It changes the dynamic from a call-and-response to a board game, but the kids will love keeping their eyes peeled while on a long road trip or just in the backyard.”
  3. Twenty (Yes or No) Questions involves one person in the car choosing a person, place, or thing, and everyone else asking twenty yes or no questions to try to guess the answer. The Everygirl blog suggests, “If you only want to give your guessers twenty questions, that’s fine, but we’ve been known to keep the game going until someone figures it out.”
  4. The Alphabet Game is played by finding words in alphabetical order on road signs and billboards; the first one to get words from A to Z wins. Players can’t use license plates or repeat words that have already been used.
  5. Word Chain—also known as “Ends With, Begins With” or “The Word Game”—involves choosing a category and then taking turns naming items that begin with the last letter of the previous word. If the category is food and the first word used is macaroni, the next word could be ice cream, then meatloaf, then fruitcake. The same word can’t be used twice.
  6. “I’m Going to . . .” starts with one player stating they’re going to a destination and naming a thing they might see there, using the letters of the alphabet. The next player repeats what the person before them said and adds to it with the next letter of the alphabet. For example, if the first person says, “I’m going to the zoo to see the antelopes,” the next player might say, “I’m going to the zoo to see the antelopes and the baboons.”
  7. Slug Bug (also known as Punch Buggy) challenges players to be the first to spot Volkswagen Beetles (you can also choose another type of car) and shout “Slug Bug!” along with the color of the car. You can also punch the ceiling of the car or your seatmate as well—just not too hard!
  8. Name That Tune is a music-based game. Have the front seat passenger (not the driver!) tune the radio or shuffle the iPod, stopping for a few seconds on a song to see who can name the tune first.
  9. The Tire Game, from frugal-living blogger Angela, provides a good excuse to make a pit stop. She suggests writing the name of each traveler on the tires with sidewalk chalk before hitting the road. “Every time you stop, see whose name is on the top of the tire.  Celebrate with a treat or just keep a count of who ends up on the top the most,” she says.
  10. Listening to a fun podcast or audiobook is a great way for everyone in the car to enjoy the same experience, including the driver. Everyone on the trip should choose what they want to listen to and download it via an app like Audible.com beforehand.

There’s no reason the journey can’t be as enjoyable as the destination. Challenge your family to some of these games and activities, and you’ll find everyone is tuned into sharing time together.

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