Long road trips are fun and exciting. But if you are tagging your children along, you need to keep them occupied as they could easily get bored. Sometimes, boredom plus car sickness could make your little ones cranky. Even when you travel by air, you should keep your children busy so that they are quiet and don’t disturb other passengers.
Instead of handing over your iPad or smartphone to them, let them have a fun time playing games. Read this post for some of the best travel games for kids that are entertaining enough to keep your children from being mischievous or bickering around. And for older children, these games make excellent conversation starters.
30 Travel Games For Kids
1. I spy
‘I spy’ is a classic game to play during a car trip. It is one of the most favorite games of children. Ask them to name something they can see and want you to spot. For instance, one child can say, “I spy with my eye something that looks… .” You have to guess what it is. All of you can take turns in spying and guessing and have a great time.
2. What color is it?
You should tell some things that have the same color, and your children have to guess the color. For example, you say, “Sky, your handkerchief, cornflower,” and your little ones have to guess, “blue.”
3. Category ABCs – basic
You need to select a category and pick things from it in alphabetical order. For example, if you select the category ‘animals,’ you can say ‘anteater,’ and the next player says ‘bull,’ ‘crow,’ ‘donkey,’ and so on.
4. Category ABCs – chain
It is another variant of the third game that needs some brainpower. You have to pick a category and begin with a word and continue making a chain using the last letter of the previous word. For example, if you select the category ‘places’ and start with ‘London,’ the next player has to start with ‘N.’ If they say ‘Norway,’ the next child can say, ‘Yemen,’ and continue the game.
5. License plate phrase
When you are on a long drive, you are likely to spot plenty of vehicles. Pick a vehicle and use its license number to frame a sentence. For instance, if a car’s license plate reads LN7BAC, you could say, ‘Linda needs seven buns and chocolate’ and the next person should guess the number. It increases your children’s concentration powers while enjoying the ride.
6. I am packing
The game is similar to the “I’m going to a picnic” game and is a great way to improve your children’s memory while having fun. You have to mention the place you are going on vacation and say something that begins with A, then B, C, and so on. For example, the first player says, “I am packing for _____, and I am bringing an apple.” The next player says, “I am packing for _____, and I am bringing an apple and a ball.” The game goes on until someone forgets the list of words.
7. 20 questions
It is a classic game that is perfect for playing during a road or flight trip. One person thinks of a word, and the other players have to ask up to 20 yes or no questions to guess what it is. The questions could start pretty broadly (Is it a place? Is it a living thing?) and then narrow down to specific ones.
8. Rock, paper, scissors
Rock, paper, scissors is another game that can keep your children occupied for hours in a car or a flight. The rules of this game are simple. There are three hand symbols – a closed fist for a rock, an open palm for paper, and the first two fingers outstretched in a V-shape for scissors.
Rock is more powerful than scissors because the rock can break scissors. Scissors are stronger than paper because scissors can cut paper. And paper is stronger than rock because it can wrap rock. Each time children call “Rock, paper, scissors” and shake their hands to show one of the three symbols, they get points. You can even add other fun symbols to make the game more challenging and keep your children entertained for some more time.
9. Tic tac toe
It is an easy game for two players that can be played on any trip. You need a piece of paper and a couple of pens. The game has two symbols – a tick mark and a zero. You draw a grid on paper with two vertical and two horizontal lines intersecting each other. One player has to put an O in any of the spots in the grid. The next player puts in a tick mark. Continue till one player manages to put the symbols in a single line, either vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. For mobile tic-tac-toe, you can purchase inexpensive magnetic games from dollar stores.
10. Counting cars
It is a good game to make your preschooler learn numbers on a long ride. Ask your children to look out the window and count the cars passing them. You can make it more exciting by asking a child to count the vehicles moving in the same direction, and another child to count cars driving in the opposite direction. You could also add colors (a player has to count the cars of a particular color) or vehicle type.
11. What am I counting?
It is a variation of the “Counting Cars” game and is useful to teach numbers to your children. You have to start counting something loudly as you see it. The others in the car have to guess what the person is counting. It is a fun game because there is no limit to what they are counting. It can be something as easy as the number of cars on the road, number of road signs, or number of trees on the side of the road.
12. 20 math questions
If your children love math, it can be an awesome game idea to play during long trips. It is also a good game for older children, but you can start early if your child loves numbers. Just like 20 questions, one player has to think of a number. The other players can ask up to 20 questions to determine what the number is. They can only ask yes or no questions (Is the number divisible by 2? Is it greater than 50?). Give your children a pen and paper if they want some help but no calculators.
13. Dot game
It is a classic game like tic-tac-toe, and you need paper and a pen to play. You can play it in a car or on a plane and engage your children. Draw dots on a sheet of paper in a rectangular grid shape. To start the game, start by drawing a line connecting two dots. The next player draws another line, and the game continues. The goal is to make a square. The person who completes a square claims it and writes their initials in it. After all the dots are connected and the squares are formed, count how many boxes are yours. The one with the maximum squares is the winner.
14. Hum the tune
If you are a music-loving family, you will love this game. One player hums a song, and others have to guess. Whoever gets it can hum the next song. Though it sounds easy, playing it can be challenging.
Hangman is a popular pen and paper game among children and adults, and you will have loads of fun playing it. You need to think of a word and draw dashes based on the number of letters. Other players can try guessing the word by saying out letters they think might be in your word.
If the letter is in the word, write it down as many times as it occurs. If it is not in the word, draw a stickman hanging on the gallows part by part (one part for each wrong letter). You can start drawing the head, then the body, arms, and legs. If the stick figure is completed before anyone guesses the word, the game is over.
16. Movie fun
If your children are movie buffs, you will enjoy playing it. To start the game, you have to name an actor. The next person should name a movie with the same actor. The next one has to make a chain. For example, if you say Leonardo DiCaprio, the next person has to say Titanic, and another one says Kate Winslet, and the game continues.
It is often said that your smile is the best curve of your body. In the game, each family member should give their biggest smile at other car drivers and passengers and keep count of how many people smile back. You can also wave at them and get a wave back.
18. Guess what’s in my purse
Ask every member to make a list of things that they think might be in your purse. The one who lists the maximum stuff wins. It is a great way to keep children occupied during travel or even while waiting in long queues as they get distracted and think about various things that might be inside.
19. Make a story
It is a creative game that your children would love to play. You need to pull out any three things from your purse. Ask your children to make a story out of these three items. The story can be as long or short as they want, but it must have a good beginning, a body, and an ending. You can have fun as the game can become hilarious as it goes on.
20. Two truths and a lie
You can play the game with children and teenagers. One person has to say three things about themselves. Out of these, two things should be true, and one has to be false. The others have to guess which one is false. The person who guesses the most number of right answers is the winner.
21. Twenty one
It is a fast and fun game that can be enjoyed on a trip. The goal of this game is ‘not to say twenty-one.’ You can play with as many players as you want. The players take turns in saying numbers up to twenty-one. Each player should start telling out numbers but should not end up saying twenty-one. For instance, the first player says 1, 2, 3, and the second player says 4, 5. It goes on with 17, 18, 19, and then 20. Now the next player will be forced to say 21 and will be out of the game. You can try it with other numbers of your choice too.
22. The name game
The game is similar to the ABC game but with a twist. It is timed. You should give three seconds to every player. First, you pick a category. Each player starts saying the name of a thing in that category one after the other until a player fails to say something. Next, select another category and continue the game.
23. Story starter
It is a hilarious game that will have your children in fits of laughter. One person tells a story but does not finish it. They say only one sentence and leave it hanging there. The next person adds their sentence to it, and so on until the “story” becomes hilarious.
24. Find the pace
You can keep your preschoolers occupied in the game all through the journey and develop their observation skills. On a sheet of paper, write all the letters of the alphabet in a column. Ask your children to fill in the sheet with the names of the towns. The child who gets the maximum names is the winner.
Believe it or not, children who love coloring and art will love doing it even while traveling. Carry a small notebook, colored pencils, and crayon set and watch them spend hours scribbling. Many colors come in traveling kits, so you need not worry about crayons rolling around under your feet or papers flying.
26. Would you rather?
What is the best time to play “Would you rather…?” On a road trip! Each player is given two options, and they have to choose one for themselves. It is also a great conversation starter, and if you are traveling with extended family or friends, it can be a great icebreaker.
Every place you visit has something unique. It might be as common as a leaf or something exotic as a piece of pottery. Ask your children to journal their journey from the places they visit. It will keep them occupied during the trip and serve as a memory booster in the future.
28. Scavenger hunt
Make your scavenger hunt cards or get ready-made ones. If you are a family that frequently travels, having a set of these cards will ensure you are all set. Write a set of things you might find during your trip on each card. You can even write sensory stuff such as what you see, what you felt, and what you tasted. Each passenger has to pick five cards each and try to locate the object written. With the sensory cards, the whole game turns hilarious.
29. Road trip bingo
You can get bingo board games from a stationery store or make a board yourself. The passengers need to pay attention to the outside and cross out the items on the board as they find them. You can play the traditional bingo or make your own rules to decide the winner.
30. Finger notes
If you have played Chinese whispers, you will enjoy this game as it has a twist. One player should think of a word and trace it with their finger on the next player’s arm or back. The second player guesses what the word is and outlines it on the next player and so on. The last player must guess the word and say it out loud. The first player then tells everyone what the original word was.
The beauty of this game is that you can play it with children of any age. If the children are younger, you can trace the letters of alphabets. For older children, you can trace words with three or more letters. For teenagers, you can even include phrases.
You should enjoy your journey and get energized so that the rest of the trip goes well. You would hardly need anything for most of these games, and they can be played with children of any age group. Traveling games for kids can keep your children entertained and reduce the squabbling, which is an inevitable part of road trips with children.