Games We Play… in the Car

Here are a few super easy games to amuse your children on car rides.
Here are a few super easy games to amuse your children on car rides.

Keeping children entertained during long car rides can be difficult.  Sometimes, the usual old travel games just don’t cut it.  Here are a few super easy games that have worked for my family.  Maybe they will work for your family, too.

On Demand Drawing

On Demand Drawing: Ready, Set, Draw!I give each kid a notebook and then holler out random stuff for them to draw. (For example: Draw a scary monster or design your dream house.)   If you struggle to come up with ideas on the spot, there is no shame in preparing a list ahead of time.  Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Draw a scary monster
  • Design your dream house
  • Design a car
  • Draw a flower
  • Draw a picture of yourself
  • Design a garden
  • Draw a time machine
  • Design a really fun toy
  • Draw a silly face
  • Draw our family
  • Draw a treasure map
  • Draw an animal
  • Make a pretty design
  • Draw a sea creature
  • Draw a space ship
  • Draw a waterfall

Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger HuntCreate a list of items for children to look for while watching out the car window during your trip.  Or better yet, have the kids help you create the list.  If you aren’t feeling creative enough to create your own scavenger hunt, you can easily find some online by googling “scavenger hunt car game.” Here are a few scavenger hunts created by us that you may use:

Or, try this simpler version of the scavenger hunt.  Look at the landscape ahead or in the map, pick something that is coming up soon, and ask the kids to tell you when they see that item.  For instance, tell me when you see a…

  • River
  • Windmill
  • Cows
  • Sign for a certain town or exit number
  • Bridge
  • Bicycle
  • Sign for the restaurant where you plan to stop and eat

The Quiet Game

The Quiet GameYeah, yeah, I know.  We have all tried and failed to get our kids to play the Quiet Game on car rides.  (For those of you who don’t know, the Quiet Game encourages all vehicle passengers to be quiet. The winner is the person who goes the longest without talking or making noise.)  However, have you tried a reward to entice your children to really want to win?  You may be surprised how motivating a candy bar can be to a bored-yet-hungry traveler.  Are your kids motivated by money?  Offer up a prize of a $5 bill.  Or, maybe the winner gets to choose what movie everyone will watch in the portable DVD player next.

This or That

This or That?Once out of desperation, I started the This or That Game.  And surprisingly, my kids loved it. The idea is so simple.  I suddenly holler out “I have an important question to ask you.  Which do you like better?” and then I provide them with two alternatives (such as peanut butter or jelly).  Each kid hollers out which one they would choose.  Then, I quickly provide another two alternatives such as cat or dog, blanket or pillow, porcupine or skunk, Nintendo or Playstation, hiking or biking, etc. There’s no real objective to the This or That Game; it is just a fun distraction for a short while. It may be kind of silly, but as I said earlier, the kids love (LOVE!) it.  And, it is so easy to play on the spur of the moment because it requires no additional materials or preparation.

Shapes in the Clouds

Look for shapes in the clouds!One of my children’s favorite books is Little Cloud by Eric Carle.  Thus, my children enjoy finding shapes in the clouds.  I have found this to be a great distraction when the kids stop getting along  and things start getting ugly during the car ride.  When the kids start fussing at each other, I will suddenly say loudly “Do you see that?  That cloud is shaped like a dragon (or witch or rocket ship or puppy or whatever).”  Pretty soon, the kids are happily distracting themselves by pointing out various other shapes in the cloud.

Here are a few other sky-related activities that have kept my small children happily occupied during trips:

  • Watch for lightning if driving during a thunderstorm
  • Look for rainbows at the end of a rainshower
  • When the moon is out, pretend that the moon is spying on us or following us.

What simple games do you play to keep your kids entertained on car rides?

Simple Car Games to Keep Your Children Entertained During Long Car Rides / Travel Games / Scavenger Hunts / Quiet Game / This or That / Shapes in the Clouds / Quiet Game / Travel with Children / Family Road Trip / Family Travel Tips / Minivan Adventures
Here are a few super easy games to amuse your children on car rides.



  1. This brought back memories of when I was a child! Kids now days are so into their electronic devices that they don’t even pay attention to the road.

    1. I know what you mean, Karla! My kids would play video games for the entire car ride if we let them. I don’t like them to have that much screen time though so we limit screen time during road trips. In fact, I wrote this post about how we limit screens on car rides. Check it out if you are interested.

    1. Thanks! I’m so glad you enjoyed reading it. I checked out your similar post. What fun ideas!!! We are trying some of those games for sure on our next road trip! Especially the Similar Words game!

  2. I love playing games in the car, although the quiet game may be my favorite! Ha! The scavenger hunts look really fun. I’ll have to try “This or That.” That sounds like a fun one! When I’m in the passenger seat, I have to be careful that I don’t play the “Unconscious Game.” I seriously get so sleepy in the car, but strangely, my kid doesn’t! I’ll have to try some of these on my next trip!

    1. The Unconscious Game? You are too funny!!! This or That is a favorite in our minivan on trips. It’s my “go to” game when the kids start getting grouchy with one another. For whatever reason, they all perk up and get excited about answering silly question after silly question.

  3. April, this is a wonderful post. Excellent idea. As I also have a family travel blog I may think about doing something similar to this at some time. We’ve used some of these games in the past and they work great. You did suggest some new ones we will have to try. One good one that we also play is called “Disgusting ice cream” where you take turns naming a disgusting ice cream flavor of your own imagination… for example “Broccoli with raisin ice cream”. Sometimes the kids think of really funny ones like “Booger ice cream” and stuff like that but it gets them all laughing. This one is usually a great hit! 🙂

  4. We spend an hour to go to school and another to go back so we do a lot of games… ABC but to make it a bit harder for the bigger one she can only do animals or geographical points for example or we do 3 languages, We do clouds, I spy – I like the ‘this or that game’ – We sing – but somehow the kids always fight over whose turn it is. WE make up funny songs as well haha. And we play I-spy with a twist, just saying what we actually see ‘I spy a red truck’ – that’s when I get desperate – the only thing is we are not allowed to repeat or we get a strike lol

  5. Great ideas! We did cloud games with added on the learning part, like that’s cumulus and so on. Fortunately my son is really good during road trip. He would read, draw, ask this and that, or just quiet after he got bored with his movies.

  6. Yes 🙌🏻 These games are memories your children will carry with them forever. Instead of handing them an iPad and letting them zone out. It’s so important to teach them to be able to occupy their brains in healthy ways. Thank you

    1. Exactly! Not to say that my kids don’t enjoy their fair share of video games and shows, but I try very hard to keep their screen time to a minimum. They don’t always appreciate that now… but hopefully, they will come to appreciate it later. 🙂

  7. I absolutely love this post because my kids all the way back to the third row of my Yukon get so unruly sometimes during care trips where I have to threaten to pull the car over. We have a DVD player in the car but with 5 kiddos (the oldest are 7 & 6 and the other ones of talking age are 3 & soon to be 2) there is always a fight over what to watch! This is a great alternative! I def will be trying some of these.

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