On the Road!

Games You Can Play In The Car

Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

We’ve all experienced it. The car’s packed to the gills with holiday kit and you’ve only been on the road for 30 minutes when the first signs of boredom set in. Here are some games you can play to pass the time away.

The roadside alphabet

This is a simple game that will have everyone craning their necks to read every single sign, billboard and shopfront you pass. The objective is to make your way through the alphabet, calling out any word you can see outside starting with the letter you’re on. To add a competitive element, whoever sees the word scores one point – work your way to a target or just see who has the most by the time you reach Z. You can up the excitement with some simple variations. Perhaps six letter words get double points or the word must be on a street sign.

The busy picnic

This is a fun game designed to push your memory to the limits. The first player starts by saying, “I’m going on a picnic and I’ve packed some sandwiches.” The next person has to add something else to the picnic. They might say, “I’m going on a picnic and I’ve packed some sandwiches and a thermos.” Keep going round and round, adding new items to your busy picnic until someone’s memory just can’t handle the pressure. You can make it more challenging by demanding that the picnic be packed alphabetically – avocados, boysenberries, cream pies, and so on.

Cows left!

Keep your eyes out for cows. If you see them on the left hand side of the road, shout out “Cows left!” If they’re on the right, shout “Cows right!” You get one point for a herd spotted on your side of the car and two for a herd on the other. If your route is suffering a dearth of dairy farms, simply change the target animal – the game can be just as much fun with sheep, horses, dogs or ducks.

The synonym spectacular

Think of a popular song, movie or book. Can you replace all the words in the title with synonyms – different words that mean the same thing? For example, Gone in 60 Seconds might become Left in a Minute. Take Me to Church could be Accompany Oneself to Sanctuary. It’ll stretch your brain to come up with a good one, but it’ll be even harder for your travelling companions to guess the original.


20 Questions

Whoever starts the game thinks of something – an object, person, country, anything. The rest of the passengers ask questions to identify what they are thinking. For example, is it an animal or human? Is it live or inert? The player who is answering the questions can only use one word answers based on the question. The object is to identify the answer within twenty questions. The person who guesses correctly is the next to think of something for passengers to guess.


There are many versions of this classic game. Pick an uncommon colour for a car, such as yellow. Everyone has to keep an eye out for yellow vehicles and be the first to call out “spotto” when they spot one. You can have a tiered points system, two points for the first spotto of the game, half a point for a motor bike, one point for cars, two for trucks, buses or even boats if you’re travelling near water. The winner can be the first person to a set number of points or the person with the most points in a set time frame.

Slug a bug

Similar to spotto, the aim is to spot as many volkswagen bugs as possible before the other passengers. The original version required the person who spots the bug to slug the other passenger on the arm, but that is frowned upon these days.

Name that tune

Like the classic TV game show, the winner here is the one who figures out the name of the “mystery song” first. For those with singing/whistling/humming talent, this can be as much karaoke as a guessing game. Choose a theme for the game, such as show tunes, movie or TV themes, or Taylor Swift. The winner gets to be the singer for the next round. You can also try guessing the songs on the radio.

Licence plates

There are many ways to play with license plates, depending on the age of the passengers. Young participants can call out letters in alphabetical order; the first one to Z wins. Next, have them look for doubles of letters and/or numbers in the plates. The one who has the most at the end of the day/trip wins.

Count the…

This is an easy game to play, particularly for young kids. All you have to do is count the number of cows, telephone poles, headlights, train cars, blue pickup trucks, whatever you want to count. Shouting out the thing to keep track of is all that is required.

I Spy

This can be played even by preschoolers. The mechanics are simple; one player should look for an object and let other players guess what it is. Each sentence will start with “I spy”.

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