9 Classic Car Games That Can Save Your Next Road Trip

Say goodbye to backseat boredom with these tried-and-tested favorites

Family road trips don't have to slide into backseat squabbling and a chorus of "Are we there yet?" The trick is to fight boredom and keep kids engaged. When the going gets cranky, try these classic travel games that have saved the day for generations of families.

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  • 01 of 09

    I Spy


    Best for: Age 2 and up

    Preschoolers and young school-age kids love this simple guessing game that can be played on car trips, airport layovers, train rides, city strolls, nature hikes, and in countless other situations. Here's how to play.

  • 02 of 09

    Sound Effects Story


    Best for: Age 3 and up

    This silly storytelling game is guaranteed to give little ones the giggles. All you need is several people and some creative sound effect skills. How to play: Player 1 begins a short story, replacing key nouns and verbs with sounds. For example, "Once upon a time on a farm, a [moo] was [munch munch] grass when along came a [woof woof] and a [meow]." Player 2 then picks up the story, "The [meow] jumped on the [woof woof]'s back and invited the [moo] to join them on a picnic." Player 3 continues, "The three friends found a meadow then suddenly they heard a [buzz buzz]." And so on. There is no "winner" to this game, but players should encourage each other to make the storylines crazier and more inventive.

  • 03 of 09

    20 Questions


    Best for: Age 4 and up 

    This simple guessing game requires deductive reasoning. It's free and can be played anywhere, so it's perfect for road trips and plane rides. How to play: Player 1 thinks up an object that can be classified as animal, vegetable, or mineral. The other players take turns guessing what the object is by posing questions that can be answered with a "yes" or a "no." Keep asking questions until 20 questions have been asked and answered. At any time, the players can guess what the object is. The player who guesses correctly then becomes the person thinking up the object in the next round. If nobody guesses correctly after 20 questions, Player 1 wins and thinks up another object in the next round.

  • 04 of 09

    The Alphabet Game


    Best for: Age 5 and up

    This non-competitive group search game is great for kids who know their ABCs. It's a good bet for a long road trip because it's guaranteed to take up a fair amount of time. How to play: Player 1 looks around to find something that begins with the letter A. For example, "automobile." Player 2 then searches for something visible to everyone that begins with B, like "bridge." The game continues until you've gone through the entire alphabet. Note: for tricky letters, such as Q and Z, feel free to spy license plates containing the letters.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    I'm Going on a Picnic


    Best for: Age 5 and up

    This alphabet-based categorizing memory game is great for kids 5 and up, or for slightly younger kids who have learned their ABCs. It's perfect for long car rides, train trips and, of course, picnics. Here's how to play.

  • 06 of 09

    Rock Paper Scissors

    ••• Andy Hay/Flickr Creative Commons

    Best for: Age 5 and up

    This classic two-player hand game can keep family members of all ages entertained while in a car, on a train or bus, waiting in line at an attraction, or just about anywhere. Here's how to play.

  • 07 of 09

    The Name Game


    Best for: Age 6 and up

    This fun category game is great for all ages, and particularly for younger school-age kids who have learned to read and can spell a large variety of words. You can make this game easier or harder by choosing different categories. Here's how to play.

  • 08 of 09

    Who Am I?


    Best for: Age 6 and up

    This guessing game is great to play with kids who are school-age or older because it requires some knowledge of famous people and a healthy dose of deductive reasoning. Here's how to play.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Celebrity (a.k.a. Celebrities)

    How to play Celebrity

    Best for: Age 8 and up

    This pop culture team-based guessing game is a lot of fun and can be played anywhere—hotel room, beach house, camping tent—as a parlor game. It's also an excellent ice breaker at family reunions and multi-generational gatherings. Here's how to play.