Fun free car games for road trips abound. Playing games in the car make any length of driving quickly pass. I find I’m in the car often and when others are traveling with me it’s great to dig into an arsenal of games to play together.
Our personal favorite is listed below – but it got me thinking about what games other travel writers play. What resulted is a fabulous list of creative games. This post has me very much looking forward to the next car ride!
My Cows, from Dan + Mikkel of Sometimes Home
This is a great fun free car game for road trips if you’re driving through any rural stretch of land with livestock farms. Or if there’s a chance wild cows will be off in the hills or mountains on your road trip.
We pack our cars with our luggage (including our Cabin Zero backpacks, which we adore) and hope for pastures where we can count cows!
Here how to play: whoever spots a cow (a group of cows or even a single cow) first while driving says, “MY COWS!” You get a point! Once you claim the spotting of cow(s) no one else can until the next cow sighting occurs.
The catch is if you pass a cemetery. If you do and it’s on the side of the car you’re sitting on you lose all your points and need to start again.
When you reach your destination the person with the most “My Cows” points wins. This game is perfect when we’re driving in western New York, including Buffalo. Or even when we’re in rural part of North Carolina, like driving to Ocracoke.
Don’t Get Me Started, from Jasmine of A Great Big Hunk of World
Considering my usual group of road trip companions is made up entirely of New Yorkers, it’s usually difficult enough to get us to stop talking.
Nevertheless, we still always play a round of “Don’t Get Me Started” to pass the time at least once per trip.
The rules are easy: call on one of your friends, followed by a topic you know may get them so temporarily riled they go off on a mini-rant. This could be intense, such as “Mike, don’t get me started on (insert politician)”; or light and humorous like, “Tina, don’t get me started on men with man buns.”
The results are hilarious; you’d be surprised how fun it can be listening to your friends go off on a tangent about their biggest pet peeves. But it’s also just one of those games that makes time fly by so much faster.
Song Predictor, from Romeo of Travel the World
This is one of the fun free car games for road trips that involves music. When we’re in a country we pick a few artists we may hear on the radio. When that singer or band’s song comes on the radio you get a point. (My wife picked ABBA in Sweden and whooped my ass!) The person with the most points at the end of the trip wins.
Three Words, from Cristal of Tofu Traveler
I really enjoy a game I call, “Three Words.” Everyone in the car take turns making up a story with three words each. For example, one person may start with, “While walking on…” and the next person adds, “the beach I…” and a third, “saw the strangest…”
It’s a lot of fun to see where a story is going to go, especially because you have such little control of it!
Word Boggler, from Jaime of Jaime Says
We play a word game during road trips. Here’s how it works: start with a small three to four letter word. Then see how many words you can make out of it. With four people in the car, it gets really competitive. Since it doesn’t involve searching for something outside of the car, the driver can play too.
The first person selects the base word. For example, “corn” or “art.” The second person would choose a word that includes the base word, like “corny” or “start.”
The more rounds that pass, the more complicated the words get. You may start with “art,” but near the end have “spartan.” We set a time limit of two minutes to give an answer. If the person doesn’t answer within the time limit, he or she is out of the round. Proper nouns are acceptable.
It’s incredible how heated the game can get and how much thinking ahead you have to do to make sure that your word isn’t used before your turn. It is really fun and makes time fly!
Movie Twist, from Naomi of Roaming the Americas
Since my family and my in-laws both live several states away, my husband and I have taken a lot of road trips. Ten to twelve hours in the car with an extroverted husband means I’ve been coaxed into many a car game.
When we got tired of playing 20 Questions, we began making up our own games. We started with a simple song game, where we take turns saying the lyrics to one line of a song and the other person has to guess what song it is.
This eventually evolved into what has become our favorite road trip game, in which we remove a letter from a movie title so it completely changes the meaning.
Dude, Where’s My Car becomes Dude, Here’s My Car! (A Sequel)
Jungle Book becomes Jungle Boo
Finding Emo, Harry Otter, Jurassic Ark, and Ma on Fire are just a few of our favorites.
DJ Quiz, from Lisa of Hilton Mom Voyage
Our family’s favorite road trip game is to turn control of the music over to our kids! We connect their iPhones to our radio and they take charge. We let them deejay and quiz us on whether we can name the song title and artist.
Our girls pit me against my husband…and the competition gets fierce! As long as they are in control and listening to their favorite music, our kids are willing to play this for HOURS.
The Story Game, from Jillian of Greenawalts Travel
I read books in the car growing up, around town and on road trips. I was an only child and books were my constant companion. Now, as an adult and mom, books are still a constant companion of mine. My kids are too. Listening to a lot of audiobooks and podcasts in the car can get old after a while on a road trip.
My kids and I like to play the story game. Here’s how to play: one person names an object or two; or perhaps an object and a problem. Then the storyteller gets two minutes to tell a story using the given object/problem.
A new person is deemed storyteller after the story ends and we repeat the process. Sometimes we change the rules and the next story has to build on the previous one, which gets silly and out of hand really fast. It’s a great game to play with the kids and is great for conditioning your storytelling and improv skills.
My Car, from Lisa of The Hotflash Packer
My younger sister and I used to play “My Car” on road trips. It’s best played on country roads and highways that don’t have many cars.
You and any passenger each pick a car color that’s dedicated to you. The next car of that color that passes is “my car” and you get a point. I would usually pick red and she would pick green. All the green cars in the 1980’s were huge crappy beaters from the 1970s so we’d have a good laugh!
The person with the most points when you reach your destination wins.
Car Cricket, from Rohan of Travels of a Bookpacker
We used to play ‘car cricket’ when we were kids, traveling in the car. Cricket is really popular in New Zealand but the rules might not be as familiar to people from other countries. But car cricket is fairly simple and one of the great fun free car games for road trips.
Each person has an inning. When it’s your turn to ‘bat’ every car that passes earns you ‘runs.” You can choose your own colors or take inspiration from what we used:
ALL OTHER COLORS: 1
This is best played on long, quiet stretches of road so you have time to do the math! It works really well in parts of New Zealand but we’ve also given it a go on our recent road trip through the Balkans in Europe. You can add your scores together from each inning and decide on a ‘first to X-number’ or just play a certain amount of innings.
For additional fun travel tips and ideas check out:
- One Thing Everywhere you Travel
- Who Has the Highest Quality Photo Books for Travel Memories?
- nodpod Sleep Mask Review: 10 Reasons We Always Travel with this Weighted, Black-Out Eye Mask