10 Instant Fun Car Trip Activities Your Kids Will Love


10 no-preparation games & activities to play with kids on road trips or just driving around townWhether you’re on a long family road trip or just shuttling kids around town, no-prep car trip games can save your sanity. By “no-prep” I mean you can start them from the driver’s seat while still driving safely.
For longer road trips, you can find cute printable activities, carefully select special toys, and even give in to the DVD player. Sooner or later, though, you’re going to want something else in
your arsenal.
For more spur-of-the-moment trips where you don’t have time to prepare anything, no-prep games are a lifesaver.
For driving children to and from school and activities you probably have some days where everything goes smoothly, and you have interesting and educational conversations. Other days, though, especially when everyone is cranky or you’re stuck in traffic, a distraction like a no-prep game can really ratchet down your stress level.

The Car Trip Games

Crazy Songs – sing your favorite kid songs, but with crazy verses or altered words. For example, “Old MacDonald had an Alligator” instead of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”, and “The Wheels on the Minivan” instead of “The Wheels on the Bus.”

I Spy – The ever-popular I Spy is good for a wide range of ages. With younger kids, we play with colors rather than letter sounds. If you don’t know how to play, there are some good instructions here.

Letter find – Look at signs and license plates to find letters. The youngest kids can focus on one letter, perhaps the first letter of their name, and try to as many examples as possible. Older children can search for all the letters in the alphabet, or, letters to spell a silly word.
What if…  – Take turns thinking of crazy possible scenarios, such as “what if that big truck started flying?”; “What if the people in that car were really superheroes”; “What if Disney World were at the next exit?”
Take time to discuss each idea. With older kids, you may need to set limits on what’s acceptable.
Word Marathons – Little kids can think of as many words as they can which start with a particular letter sound. Somewhat older children can think of as many rhyming words as possible.
Rock Paper Scissors – If you have two kids sitting next to each other, suggest they play Rock-Paper-Scissors. Remember, Rock smashes Scissors; Scissors
cut Paper; and Paper covers Rock. If you’ve never played check out this 43 second video on YouTube that shows
you how.
The Quiet Game – I’m always amazed that kids like this game, but they do! See who can be perfectly quiet for the longest. It works particularly well with more than two kids because you can then let one child be the Judge of who is quietest. Then the winner can be the
Judge in the next round.
Somebody Wanted But So – This game for elementary aged kids is based on a teaching strategy for helping students summarize a story.  In reverse, it works as a storytelling game!

Somebody

The first player calls out a main character – it can be any person or animal real or
imagined. For example, “An Alligator named Beatrice”

Wanted

The second player repeats the character name and adds what the character wanted. For
example, “An Alligator named Beatrice wanted to learn to sing.”

But

The third player repeats the Somebody Wanted details and adds a conflict or challenge of some
sort. For example, “An Alligator named Beatrice wanted to learn to sing, but she
had a sore throat.”

So

The fourth player repeats everything so far and adds a final result to the story. For
example, “An Alligator named Beatrice wanted to learn to sing, but she had a
sore throat, so she went to the doctor instead.”

Counting Game: Count cars of a certain common color, billboards, people in cars, cows, or whatever else you are seeing enough of to hold everyone’s interest. You can have kids compete or work cooperatively.

Hold Your Breath: See how long the kids can hold their breath. This has the added benefit of making the car quiet! Obviously, the driver should make sure not to hold his or her breath to the point of passing out as that would no longer be fun.

 

Free printable cheat sheet of 10 no-prep road trip games to play with kids
If you like, you can print out a cheat sheet of these car trip games for your car. I’ve made one for you sized to fit on the visor or in the glove compartment. To get the free PDF file that will print out nicely, click HERE.
I know there are even more car trip games out there. What are your favorite no-prep games to play with kids on a road trip or around town?
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18 thoughts on “10 Instant Fun Car Trip Activities Your Kids Will Love

  • maplebrownsugar

    This is very important for anyone who makes frequent road trips or spends a lot of time ferrying children back and forth to activities and school. I wrote a similar article about this topic a few months ago, and it struck memories of my own car trips as a child.

    I distinctly remember all the games we used to play in the car as a child if we drove to the shore for vacation or anywhere else that was longer than 20 minutes. They were fun and funny, and I think kids will remember those memories made much more than watching a DVD because of the interactive aspect. Sometimes, I think we looked forward to those moments of the car ride!

  • Mom on the Move

    Great ideas! My kids are always looking for ways to keep themselves busy. We play a lot of rock, paper, scissors, the letter game, I spy, but I'm always looking for new ones to introduce to them! Thanks!

  • Nicole

    I play the quiet game with my kids on the airplane. My son is only 1 so he doesn't get it but my four year old daughter loves it because she always wins! LOL. I found you on the Friday Flash blog link up. These are great ideas. Thanks for sharing!

  • Kirsten Toyne

    I am so trying the 'Quiet game'. Cant believe it will work but what is there to loose! There are lots of new games here that I have never heard of and will be giving a go. Thanks for this. Car journeys can feel long with kids.

  • Buba4Turtle

    These are great games! Another great game I did with my kids is seek and find. I printed out images of common objects such as a bus, tree, bird. I pasted the images on index cards and then punched holes in the corner. I put the cards on a key ring and kept the cards in the car. When I needed them, I would give each set to one child and they would look for the objects on the index cards. It was a lot of fun. It's a great game to play on on a walk, too.

    Thanks for sharing your games! I found your post at #SmallVictoriesSundayLinkup !

  • Alexandra B.

    Great ideas 🙂 I will try some of that with my son when we are travelling this summer.

    Stopping by from the Small Victories linkup. Have a nice week!

    Alex – Funky Jungle

  • Rachel Withers

    Wonderful ideas. We like to play rhyming games in the car. Someone sees a word- car and then we think of words that rhyme with car. Thanks for sharing on Small Victories Sunday link up.

    • Heather Post author

      Wow! Thank you. These games continue to be a lifesaver for me. Just yesterday we sang Old MacDonald had a Soccer Ball and averted a mini meltdown. Distraction is such a great parenting tool. 🙂

  • Lisa (mummascribbles)

    This is such a great idea, I am always at a loss as to how to entertain my little one in the car, we drive a lot to and from nursery and my mum's and sometimes I have to keep him awake – we are often singing songs! We have one called the choo choo tain…it starts off with daddy get on the choo choo train (to the rhyme of mulberry bush) and then after Zach decides what is on the choo choo train next. We usually get things like car windows, mummy's chair and Nannie's broken fences! The bigger the mouthful for me, the funnnier it is for him! Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

  • Mother of 3

    These are awesome! We have another game we play too– we think of a category (say animals) and then we all take turns going through the alphabet– "A Aardvark!" "B- Bunny!" etc. We played this a lot when my youngest was learning his letter sounds.