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Cheer Up This Holiday's Travel with Car Games for the Kids

Prevent childhood boredom and parent insanity by preparing a few age appropriate games before your next car ride.

Holiday season involves good food, fun times, and long lost relatives and friends. Visiting these loved ones usually entails hours of traveling thanks to distance and traffic and traveling means a lot of time spent in the car. I can see it now, stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic with anxious children who are close to death-from-boredom while I hold back my car sickness and my husband argues with the 100 cars surrounding us (they can’t hear you, honey, give it up).

That is why I decided to compile a list of the best road trip games and activities for all ages to play. We prepare for everything else in life so why not plan some fun that will pass time, get you thinking, and distract everyone from the extremely crap-tastic situation at hand?


Shape and Color Find: One person chooses a shape or color. Work individually or in teams to find as many things as you can in or outside of the car. Toddlers can definitely play this, but make sure you start easy with a color and shape you are sure they know.

Seated Simon Says: Choose one person to be the Simon and call out actions, but be sure to keep directions simple and in a seated position. “Simon says touch your nose, touch your knee, clap your hands,” etc.

Guess That Toddler Tune: Start humming or singing a popular toddler tune and see if your child can guess what song it is or continue the song once you stop. Some examples are, “Wheels on the Bus,” “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” “BINGO,” “Old McDonald,” “The Alphabet Song,” “Do Your Ears Hang Low.”  

I Spy: Have one person in the car call out an object, like a traffic light or airplane. Then have your child find that object. Depending on the age of your children and how many you have is how difficult you should make the game. Since I have a toddler and a six-year-old, I play separate rounds, for example, first my three-year-old finds something yellow and next my six-year-old finds a number.

Guessing Bag: Pack a goody bag with easy to guess objects, like a ball, crayon, spoon, toy car, etc. Have your child close their eyes, and one by one, pull out an object from the bag and guess what it is. No cheating allowed! This is super entertaining for toddlers so to buy more time, pack more items. 

Sound Charades: Go around the car and have each person make a sound of an animal. All others must guess what animal they are imitating. 


Find That Letter: Starting with the letter A, everyone must take a turn finding something in or outside of the car that starts with the letter A. It can be a street name, make of car, object, whatever. For younger children, help them out by playing in teams and giving them options. For example, “I see Maple Street and Adams Street, which one begins with the letter A?” Continue with the rest of the alphabet. 

We also play this with animals.  We each take a turn going around the car naming an animal that starts with that letter.  Continue naming as the alphabet goes on.

Forbidden Words: Choose a few words that CANNOT be used while in the car. For example, words like “car,” “dad,” and “window.” When someone slips and uses the forbidden word, they must sing a silly song or dance for ten seconds. (Be creative and come up with other fun penalties together.)

Number Find: Just like “Find That Letter” do the same but with numbers. Start off low and work your way up. These numbers can be found on license plates, street signs, houses, and trucks. It can either be played as a race to see who finds it first or have everyone take turns to find the magic number. 


I’m Going on a Picnic: The first player starts out by saying, “I’m going on a picnic and I am going to bring…an Apple”. Each player after will then recite the same sentence but add on an object that coincides with the next letter in the alphabet. Keep adding on objects with letters and remember it’s OK to give hints to the younger ones.

20 Questions: Choose someone to think of a famous person, place, or thing. All others in the car must then take turns asking questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. After each question and answer, the questioner gets one guess. Continue until they guess right or reach the maximum 20 questions.

Spot the Car: For older kids who know their vehicles this game can be interesting. Call out a make or name of a car to be found. Remember, even if your “tween” says they don’t want to play, try calling out something anyway, I guarantee you if they spot it they will tell you. 

And Never Forget...

DVD and sing-a-long CDs, puzzles, puppets, crayons and coloring books, pipe cleaners to twist and create with, games like hangman, connect the dots, and tic-tac-toe.  There are also a million ways to store this stuff from car organizers to Tupperware's so get creative and don't forget Pinterest for more some inspiration. They also have a ton of printable board games perfect for a car or plane ride. 

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