Road Trip: Car Games

Kids love games and it's amazing how the games we played as kids are now being played by our own kids. The games just keep getting passed down from generation to generation by virtue of experience. The car games our parents taught us on long car rides are now being taught to the next generation of kids … and the cycle continues.

This article is all about travel games for the car—filling those hours in the car while you travel with the kids, on vacation, to Grandma's, wherever you need to go. Stave off the inevitable “Are we there yet?” with one of these memorable travel games for kids.

Things You May Need in the Car

For some car games you will need to have some tools on hand to make game-playing easier. Here are just some of the things you'll need:

Three Strikes

You should always be careful when allowing a child to use a pen or a pencil in the car. These tools should only be used with children of a certain age and always under supervision. Remember, you're in a moving vehicle and any pointed object can be dangerous.

  • Pen
  • Pencil
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Paper
  • Crayons
  • Coloring books
  • Tray table (please make sure this is safe, first)
  • Back seat storage
  • Map

Let's Go!

It would not be possible to take long trips with children without the use of games such as the ones discussed here. Nowadays, kids have electronic hand-held games, and cars come equipped with TVs and VCRs, but every so often the kids will even get bored of these things and start to get fidgety and whiney.

Little kids will do anything to get their parents' attention and, frankly, all the TVs and videos in the world will not keep them happy for the next few hundred miles. It would be nice if the kids could just get into a good book and not want to put it down; this might happen if your kids are old enough to read—but it's that word “might” that could cause you big problems down the road if you don't have a plan B.

High Score

A map will not only be useful for navigation purposes, but you can use it to show the kids where you are at any given time, and help them plot the course of travel.

When the books are put away, the attention spans wane, the batteries wear out, and the videos become repetitive, it's time to pull out the good old standbys. Anyone born before 1985 knows these games very well because we had to play them in the car. The only other electronic gadgets we had to distract ourselves with were portable cassette players or radios—if we were lucky enough to have owned them.

When you decide to take family car rides, you're taking your kids away from their friends, their bedrooms, and their regular playgrounds. It means that they are out of their element—and we all know that most kids require consistent stimulation or boredom sets in very quickly. So, if you're planning a long trip, you should also plan to bring along many forms of entertainment—the best of which are the games that don't require batteries. They are the games that were made up out of moments of desperation by parents and teachers—games that keep the peace for as long as everyone can keep playing. You'll want to know a few of these games because even they will lose their interest from hour to hour.


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Family Games © 2002 by BookEnds, LLC. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


Zika Virus Q&A: 4 Facts for Pregnant Women & Families
Zika virus is pretty scary. Pregnant or not, learn what steps to take to protect your family from Zika, including travel restrictions and mosquito bite prevention.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme!

Ommm! 5 Meditation & Mindfulness Activities for Families
Family meditation and mindfulness can help reduce anxiety and promote health and happiness. Learn some fun and easy mindfulness activities for kids, and set them on the path to inner peace!

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks