10 Boardless, Pieceless Road Trip Games

By: Sarah Winkler
Family in car on road trip
A great way to keep the kids from driving you crazy on road trips is to play some simple games.
Image Source/Getty Images

You're about to set off on a long road trip. While you're eagerly anticipating that perfect vacation getaway, you've got hours in a crowded car standing between you and your destination. How can you keep everyone entertained and maintain your sanity until you reach your hotel or rest stop? Some fun and easy road trip games might do the trick.

Road trip games are the perfect way to have fun while cooped up in a car for hours on end. But with all the packing you've had to do for your trip, you won't want to deal with the hassle of assembling lots of games and equipment to keep you and your crew entertained. Instead of gathering lots of game pieces, boards and supplies (which will probably spill in the car), consider playing one of our boardless, pieceless road trip games. Everyone might end up having so much fun that you'll never hear the dreaded phrase, "Are we there yet?"


Read on to learn about 10 road trip games, starting with an all-time favorite that uses hand gestures.

10: Rock, Paper, Scissors

rock, paper, scissors
Remember, rock beats scissors.

Rock, Paper, Scissors is a classic game that can keep people of all ages entertained while on the road. To play this, each player makes a fist and says out loud, "Rock, Paper, Scissors," swinging down his or her fist on each beat. After the third beat, each player makes one of three hand gestures: a closed fist representing "rock," an open hand representing "paper" or a V representing "scissors."

The winning player makes the gestures of the object that will defeat the opponent's object. In other words, since a rock can destroy a pair of scissors, rock beats scissors. Scissors cut paper, so scissors beat paper. Since paper can cover a rock, paper beats rock. If opponents use the same gesture, the game is tied.


9: The Grocery Game

A good way to keep everyone in the car entertained and engaged is to play a memory game such as The Grocery Game. To begin, the first player names an object available at a grocery store that starts with the letter A. The next player has to repeat what the first player said and then add another grocery item that starts with a B. For example, if player one says "apples," player two would repeat "apples" and then might add "bananas." If you forget a grocery item, you're out, and the game continues until the player with the best memory wins.

If groceries aren't your thing, you can play variations of this game with anything from animals to sports to people's names.


8: Spelling Bee

Spelling bees in the car can be educational as well as fun.

A spelling bee held in your car can offer parents the best of both worlds: Your child will be having fun and learning at the same time. One at a time, each person in the car takes turns spelling a word. If they spell the word correctly, they remain in the game. If they spell the word incorrectly, they're eliminated from the competition. Keep spelling words until you determine which one of your road warriors is the champion speller.

When selecting words, especially for the younger members of your group, make sure that you choose words that are age appropriate. You don't want to leave anyone feeling frustrated, disappointed or inclined to throw a road-trip tantrum.


7: I Spy

2 girls in car
Who wants to play I Spy?

To play I Spy, a classic travel game, one person in the car will choose an object around them. He or she then gives the other people in the car a clue by saying: "I spy with my little eye, something…." He or she then will state the object's color, give the first letter of the name of the object or offer another clue.

Be sure that players don't choose an object that the car will whiz by too fast. Instead, go for something that is inside the car or that will be in everyone's line of vision for a few minutes. The person who guesses the object correctly is the next person to spy a new item.


6: Team Storytelling

Get the creative juices flowing among your fellow road trippers by composing a group story. One person in the car starts by creating the first line of the story. You can start with a simple "Once upon a time, there lived a princess" or come up with something more unconventional like, "Joey the frog always had blue spots." Next, each person in the car adds a line, and the story builds and builds. Depending on your group's story telling stamina, you could go on for a few minutes or a few hours.

To make the game more challenging and fun, make a rule that all of the lines rhyme or, instead of going in a circle, call on people to come up with a line. After you've reached your destination, your kids could write and illustrate the story as a token of their road trip adventure.


5: The Banana Game

yellow sports car
With the banana game, spotting this car earns you two points.

If you're looking for a game that doesn't require a lot of thought, try the Banana Game. Keen observation is the only skill required. The first person who spots a passing yellow vehicle gets points. You can award points based on the size or make of the car. For instance, a yellow school bus might be worth five points, and a yellow sports car might be worth two.

Another way to heighten the competition is to put a limit on the time you have to spot bananas. For example, the winner of the game could be the person who spots the most bananas in 30 minutes. Or the winner could be the player who sees the largest cumulative number of yellow vehicles during your entire road trip.


4: Find the Vehicle

If your kids or fellow passengers are car enthusiasts, a round of Find the Vehicle is a great way to pass the time during a road trip. You can play this game in a variety of ways: You could simply have passengers call out an interesting car model. Or ask them to search for a specific type of car, and reward points to the first person who spots it. To up the competition, specify a color or state license plate in addition to a make or model. The first person to find the car gets to choose the game's next make and model.


3: Slug Bug

blue VW
Spotting a vintage bug like this one earns extra points in slug bug.
David Michener/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Although parents might be inclined to shy away from any game featuring slugging in the title, this classic road trip game can actually be played in more peaceful manner than its name might imply. Every time someone spots a Volkswagen (VW) Bug, have them gently tap the person next to them (rather than punching them) or announce to the car that they've spotted the vehicle.

If you award points for each VW Bug spotted, you can make the game more competitive by assigning additional points for older bugs or bugs of more unusual colors. For example, a brand new black bug might be worth five points, but a lime green bug from the 1960s might be worth 25.


2: Fortunately-Unfortunately

While you're taking a road trip, your kids are a captive audience. Take the opportunity while you have their attention to challenge them to think positively by playing Fortunately-Unfortunately. In this game, one person will make an unfortunate statement, and then another player will counter the statement with a positive response.

Fortunately-Unfortunately presents endless possibilities for creativity and positive thinking. For example, one player could make the statement, "Unfortunately, a lion is going to attack us." A second player would counter with a more fortunate statement such as "Fortunately, I took lion taming lessons." The more exaggerated and silly the statements are the better!


1: Who Am I?

family with teens in car
A guessing game like Who am I will help pass time on a long road trip.

Playing the guessing game Who Am I? is a great way to show everyone what they have in common. Think of someone that you and your fellow passengers all know: a family member, friend or neighbor, or maybe a fictional or historical character. Then give clues about the person’s identity by revealing his or her hair color, gender and other distinguishing physical characteristics. Or allow each person in the car to ask only "yes" or "no" questions about the identity of your secret person. Keep giving clues until someone figures out the identity of the individual you have in mind.

This is a variation of the ever-popular Twenty Questions, where the only clue players start out with is whether you are thinking of something "animal, vegetable or mineral" or a "person, place or thing." The players must ask questions that you can only answer "yes" or "no" to determine who or what you are thinking about. The goal is to guess the answer in 20 questions or less.

Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • Eisenberg, Paul. "New Ideas for Road Trip Games." Fox News. (June 29, 2011)http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,529599,00.html
  • Fox, Susan. "Classic Road Trip Games." (June 29, 2011). Disney Family Fun.http://familyfun.go.com/vacations/classic-road-trip-games-713633/
  • Tellem, Tori. "Top Ten Road Trip Games." Edmunds. (June 29, 2011)http://www.edmunds.com/car-reviews/top-10/top-10-road-trip-games.html
  • Travel Hacker. "27 Free Games to Keep Your Kids Entertained on a Road Trip."(June 29, 2011) http://www.airlinecreditcards.com/travelhacker/27-free-games-to-keep-your-kids-entertained-on-a-road-trip/