15 terrific travel games to keep you sane

Travel games

Travel games like car cricket and 20 questions can make those long trips bearable. Try some of these road trip car games and activities the next time you’re travelling, they may just keep you sane!

Nothing quite sucks out the fun of travelling like the constant call of, ‘are we there yet?’ from the back seat.

So instead of pulling your hair out these holidays, why not try some of these games and activities to keep you sane while you’re travelling. They’re great fun, and help to pass the time on longer trips. And you’ll find that your kids have a few favourites they’ll start to just play themselves.

Have you got a favourite travel game that’s not on the list? Leave the details in the comments below, and we’ll add it in.

15 terrific travel games to keep you sane

15 terrific road trip car games

1. Car Cricket

There are a few different versions of car cricket, so which game you play will depend on how complicated you want to make it. Of course you are the ultimate referee, so feel free to adapt the rules to suit your family.

It pays to have a score limit, or time-limit, to decide who wins. Scoring seems to work best when each player adds up their own score, and remembers their own score until the next ‘innings’.

Basic version

Each person in the car takes turns being the ‘batter’, and makes runs by counting the cars they pass going in the opposite direction. When the flow is interrupted by anything other than a car (eg. truck, bus, motorbike, campervan), the batter is out and the next player steps up to the wicket. The person with the most runs at the end of the game – wins.

4s and 6s

Play car cricket as you would in the basic version, but players earn a bonus 4 runs if the car is towing a trailer, and 6 runs if it is towing a caravan.

Score by colour

This is a slightly more complicated game than the basic version. In this version you score runs by the colour of the vehicle that passes you. You can choose any colours you like, but this works well: white, silver and grey vehicles = 1 run, blue and black vehicles = 4 runs, green and gold vehicles = 6 runs, red vehicles = out.

Team play

Divide the family into teams, and combine the player’s scores.

Car-Cricket

2. Number Plate Names

Choose a theme such as people’s names, countries, food, or animals, and start creating a list by using the first letter in passing number plates. If a player cannot think of a new name before the car passes by, they are out. Whoever lasts the longest – wins.

3. Fortunately and Unfortunately

This game can be quite hilarious, and encourages children to look on the bright side of life.

You start by saying something that is unfortunate like “Unfortunately there is another hour before we reach the camping ground”, and then your child follows up with something fortunate like “Fortunately we have our trip bag to keep us busy”. You then think of something unfortunate, and they reply fortunately….

You can make the game about real happenings, or keep it silly and make-believe such as “Unfortunately there is an elephant trying to squeeze in the boot”. It’s a lot of fun hearing what fortunate things your child can come up with.

4. Travel scavenger Hunt

Give the children a list of things they need to look out for while you’re travelling, and award points or prizes for each thing they cross off the list. Make sure you’ve got a combination of tricky and not-so-tricky items to hold their interest. If you’re short on time, you can download our free travel scavenger hunt printable here.

5. Car colour bingo

Who doesn’t love the classic game of bingo? So deceptively simple, it makes for a great competition, and will keep the kids entertained for ages!

Car colour bingo is just like the classic version, except rather than calling out numbers, you watch the colour of the cars coming towards you. You will need to make up some sort of bingo sheets to play this one. But you can make that part of the fun at home, or in the motel room, before you get on the road. We’ve also got a free car colour bingo printable.

6. Alphabet Signs

Before you leave, print out the entire alphabet on a sheet for each person. Starting with ‘A’, your children have to look out for signs which include the specific letter they are looking for, and write it beside that letter. The trick is, they have to find the signs in order…A, B, C…

7. Guess the Flavour

Buy a bag of fruit flavoured sweets (fruit bursts are great), and each time you dish out some lollies, ask your children to close their eyes. As they eat each sweet, they need to try and guess what flavour they are eating. This isn’t a game you can play for hours on end, but it makes a bag of lollies a lot more fun.

8. Personalised Plates

Have a competition to see who can come up with the best personalised plate ideas. You can have a maximum of 6 letters or numbers in a plate.

9. I Spy

I Spy is a classic travelling game where one person chooses something they can see, and says “I Spy with my little eye, something beginning with…B” (or whatever letter of the alphabet the item starts with). Everyone else in the car has to try and guess what the item is, and whoever gets it right, takes the next turn.

If your children are too young to manage the alphabet version, you could make the alphabet sound instead, or look for items of a specific colour.

10. Find 50

Ask your children to choose one thing that they are going to find 50 of on your trip.

How specific the description is will depend on how old your children are, and how long your trip is, but some ideas to get you started include red cars, buses, rest area signs, tractors, or campervans.

Either have all your children search for the same item, or choose different things and make it a race to see who finds 50 first.

11. 20 Questions

Something you can see version

One person chooses an item they can see, and the rest of the family can ask up to 20 questions to try and work out what the item is. The person who is ‘it’ can only answer the questions by saying ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. The person who guesses the item correctly takes the next turn.

Animal, vegetable, mineral version

Exactly the same as the version above, but a lot more challenging. In this version you think of an item that falls under one of the categories of animal, vegetable or mineral. It can be anything at all. Then people take turns to guess.

12. Secret Words

One child spells out a word (one letter at a time) on the other child’s palm, using just their finger. The ‘receiver’ must close their eyes or look away whilst this is being done. The receiver then has to guess what the word is. It takes a lot of concentration, and is much harder than you think.

13. That’s My Car

As you pass cars going in the opposite direction, take turns saying ‘That’s my Car’. It’s a very simple game that keeps children amused, especially if you end up with an old bomb and they get a flash convertible.

14. Hand to Hand Combat

If your children can play together without biting each others’ heads off, suggest they have a game of Thumb Wrestling (otherwise known as pea-knuckle) or Paper, Scissors, Rock.

15. Oven Tray Magnet Board

An oven tray makes a great magnet board for younger children. Simply buy a whole heap of cheap magnets, and let them create all sorts of pictures and designs.

Emporium stores often sell packs of magnetic alphabets, animals, flags or flowers. Educational toy stores have great word magnets which your child can use to make stories and sentences.

Road Trip Travel Bag

Prepare a trip bag for your child ahead of time, and fill it with all sorts of fun things to keep them entertained. Some great ideas are:

  • Colouring Book and Pencils (Avoid crayons which can end up melting all over your car seat!)
  • Books or magazines
  • Some string to play string games with. You may also want to include a book which shows them how to make specific designs.
  • Magnetic Travel Games
  • A roll of tinfoil. This is great for squeezing and squashing to make models and there is no tape or scissors required. If you like you could also add some pipe cleaners for model making.
  • Some snacks for car trips
  • Don’t forget the ginger root lollies if your kids suffer from motion sickness

If all else fails, turn up the music and have a sing-along. Happy travelling! For more great travel games and activities, check out our Travel section.

The Kiwi Families Team

This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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