Summer is road trip season. Along with stocking up on snacks and downloading the latest update for your smartphone’s GPS, you’ll want to consider the entertainment. Because let’s face it: The views from the car window may not be enough, especially if you’ve got kids (or easily bored adults) in the passenger’s seat. Since we could all use a break from technology, we’ve curated games that involve some screen-free fun.
THE LICENSE PLATE GAME
Which states are represented on the road with you? Ask the kids to “collect” as many license plate states as they can spot during the journey. Perhaps the family collaborates as a team, or maybe it’s a competition. Either way, keep track by writing each one down and assigning a point to each state. (Bonus points for Alaska and Hawaii, and bonus points if you can name the state’s capital.) The Melissa & Doug License Plate Game adds fun layers to this perennial favorite for road trips.
Tap the creativity in your car. Ask the kids to decorate the window closest to them—while keeping their seat belt on, of course. Ahead of your trip, purchase washable window crayons and reusable window stickers, and let their imaginations go wild as you cruise to your destination. A focus on the art could buy you some much-desired silence.
Pay attention to what’s outside your window with this classic guessing game. One person (“the spy”) spots something on the road. The others take turns asking yes-or-no questions; after each question, they get to guess about what/where/who it is. If the mystery isn’t solved after 20 questions, “the spy” wins and gets to choose who goes next. If this version is too complicated for the littlest game players, you could always purchase the I SPY Travel Card Game or the Travel Scavenger Hunt Card Game.
Laugh your way to the vacation destination. If you’re of a certain age, you’ll recall Mad Libs, the fill-in-the-blank stories that often result in the goofiest of tales. Take turns asking the car to fill in a word for each prompt within the story—without reading said story, yet. Once all the blanks are filled, share the on-the-spot story created by the group. If you’re lucky, it’ll be the silliest thing you’ve ever heard.
ROAD TRIP BINGO
Keep the kids entertained with our very own game of road trip bingo. Print out the Extra Mile Bingo cards and distribute them in the car along with a pencil or washable marker. The road trip-themed cards will help your kids engage in the environment around them throughout your journey. If you’re crafty, you might design your own Bingo cards to include random places, things, and people you might spot along the highways and backroads. (Just make sure each card doesn’t have the exact same pattern.) Otherwise, purchase shutter-slide Bingo Cards that can be used to inspire “Bingo!” from the backseat.
THE GEOGRAPHY GAME
Put those geography lessons to use—you are on a road trip, after all. Start with the name of your end destination. From there, the first person needs to think of a city, country, river, mountain range, etc., that starts with the last letter of that destination. So, if the end destination was Myrtle Beach, you could answer Hollywood. Then the next person would need to think of a city, country, etc., that starts with the letter “D.” Perhaps one of the answers will inspire your next family vacation! Keep going around the car until you pull into the next rest stop.
ROAD TRIP ACTIVITY KITS
Your kids can learn to keep themselves entertained for hundreds of miles thanks to what’s within Unbored Road Trip Activity Kit. From car bingo to drawing games to memory challenges, it’s packed with a variety of games that the entire family can play. It even contains a book light for night games and a map of the USA with stickers to plot family travels. For a “no material required” sort of approach, the portable Games on the Go! card deck offers a collection of 50 games that can be played anywhere at any time. The keyring holding the deck of cards can be clipped to a purse, bag or stored in the car.
CONVERSATION CARD DECK
If you have people in the car who either won’t shut up or are morosely silent, this might be the game to bring everyone together in a meaningful way. The Our Moments card deck provides 100 thought-provoking conversation starters that range from “What is your favorite childhood memory?” to “What about the next year are you most excited about?” The cards are designed to get everyone talking in a way that elicits discovery and—more importantly—encourages the art of listening. Who knows what you’ll learn about your kids, and vice versa.