These Road Trip Games Are So Fun, Your Kids Won't Ask "Are We There Yet?" Once

The tech-free car activities on our list will also help you connect with your kids—whether they're five or 15—on a deeper level.

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family roadtrip

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The modern family road trip may look very different from the one you, your siblings, and your parents took decades ago, when you drove cross-country with maps instead of GPS, CDs in a Discman that skipped when you went over bumps, and nothing but pre-texting-era postcards to keep in touch with family and friends back home.

But one thing, at least, hasn't changed: Family road trips, whether an hour-long trip to your beach house or a multi-state adventure through the National Parks, offer valuable time to connect and bond with the other travelers in your car—especially if you can convince everyone to set aside their tablets, phones, and earbuds.

Classic road trip games like I Spy, Two Truths and a Lie, or Spot the License Plate have helped pass the time for families on cars, trains, and planes for generations. Bri DeRosa, content manager for Boston-based nonprofit The Family Dinner Project, suggests adding the games below to your lineup; all can be modified for different age groups and played with no equipment and no planning—just your presence. "When you purposefully interact with each other, whether it's at meal time or playing a game during a road trip, are intentional about spending that time together, and try to do so in a way that's fun, the message you are sending is that you, as a family, are important enough to each other to be together without distraction," she says.

Road Trip Games to Play With Toddlers and Preschoolers

happy young toddler in the car on a family roadtrip

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When you need a break from Disney soundtracks and handing out snacks, try one of these games that are just right for your youngest travelers (and their older siblings, too).

Cat and Cow

This incredibly simple game is a favorite for little ones, says DeRosa. One person alternates saying either "Cat" or "Cow"—switch between them, but say each as many times in a row as you want—and the rest of the players respond with either "meow" or "moo." "You do it quickly and it ends up with everybody just dissolved in laughter because meow and moo are so similar," says DeRosa. "Little kids love it—their favorite thing to do is be the person who dictates cat and cow to watch their parents mangle it."

Different Drummers

In this rhythm game, one person acts as the leader, tapping out a syncopated pattern on the dashboard, on their knees, or on a book on their lap, while the rest of the group follows. Have younger kids match your beat in a follow-the-leader-style game, and add tricky changes or quick stops to make it harder for older ones, says DeRosa.

Guess Who

Think of this as celebrity charades without the action, says DeRosa: One person describes someone the entire group knows, one detail at a time, and other players see who can correctly name the person first. Who counts as a celebrity can depend on the age range of your players: A favorite swimming teacher, the mailman, Grandpa, or Bluey are equally worthy choices for the preschool set.

Road Trip Games to Play With School-Age Kids

happy kids on a family roadtrip


Give the "Are we there yet?" group something else to talk about with these games—which are more fun when the whole car participates.

Can You Remember?

Turn your family's powers of observation into a game that's perfect for slow highways, rest stop meals, or rides along stretches of dull terrain. This game requires no preparation, says DeRosa: "People close their eyes and you challenge them to remember what’s around them: What color is dad's shirt? What's your sister wearing in her hair?" If you’re outside the car in an unfamiliar place, give everyone 30 seconds to look around before quizzing them on the photos on the wall, what types of cake are in the dessert case at the diner where you're having lunch, or how many flavors of potato chips this mini-mart sells.

Story by Sentence

Any type of storytelling game is a hit with school-age kids, says DeRosa. In the most basic version, go around the car with each person adding one sentence to a made-up story, building on the details that came before. If you need a little creative inspiration, products like Story Cubes or Story Stones offer pictures of animals, places, people, and things to get your tale started; for a free alternative, have each person in the group name one item in a given category that must be included in the final story (then enjoy coming up with a story about a pink dinosaur going bowling on the moon).

Family History

Draw on classic stories from your parents, grandparents, and extended relatives for this trivia game, which tests players on how well they know their family background. Which of your grandmothers went to Woodstock? Which of your grandfathers was in the Navy? Which uncle broke his arm on a Boy Scout camping trip? Which aunt lived in Spain after college? "Let kids try to guess or remember who did what," says DeRosa. "It's a really excellent way of strengthening that family heritage, and their sense of belonging within their family unit."

Road Trip Games to Play With Tweens and Teens

family roadtrip with two sisters


These more challenging—and funnier—games just might tempt your older kids away from their devices.

Alphabet Games

Alphabet games are classics for any age, whether you're spotting letters on license plates and signs with preschoolers or having school-age kids create an alphabetical list of what they're bringing on a picnic. But tougher versions can be surprisingly engaging for tweens and teens who think they’ve outgrown this type of activity.

DeRosa's favorite modification: Require players to use the last letter of the previous answer as the first letter of their answer—no repeated letters allowed. Choosing a tricky category can make this more interesting, too: Try celebrity actors (where Brad Pitt could be followed by Tom Holland, but not Taylor Swift, for example), countries, or cities.

Higgledy Piggledy

This rhyming game is one of DeRosa's family's favorites—a standby for waiting in airports and for long trips. One person thinks of two rhyming words, then gives a clue to the rest of the group, who must guess the pair of words. "For example, you think of funny bunny, and the clue is something like, hilarious furry mammal," she says. "It's silly and engaging, but also really enough of a brainteaser for older kids not to get bored."

The Song Game

Convince your teens to take out their earbuds with a few rounds of this music-and-lyrics-based game. Choose a specific word or category, and take turns coming up with lyrics or songs that include them; the last person to come up short is the winner. "Maybe the word is love, or make it harder with a category like transportation—and you might use 'Leavin’ on a Jet Plane' or 'Midnight Train to Georgia,'" says DeRosa.

2-Minute Interview

This fast-paced, either-or game might help you learn a thing or two about your quietest kids (particularly those tight-lipped teens). "Set the timer, and choose someone to be the interviewer, then see how many either/or questions you can ask and answer in two minutes," DeRosa says. (A few ideas to get started: summer or winter, chocolate or vanilla, socks or no socks, pizza or tacos, planes or trains, Woody or Buzz, ocean or lake.)

Simple Conversation Starters

Another take on Q&A games doesn't require the timer. Instead, have a stock of conversation starters or would-you-rathers at the ready: What three items would you take to a desert island? If you had a time machine, what would you do? If you could change a rule, what would it be? "Ask them things that are not about life, school, homework, friend struggles, and odds are, they are going to eventually loosen up and talk about the things you want to know," says DeRosa. "Road trips are the perfect opportunity for families to find those moments of reconnection."

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