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The Best Games to Play in the Car

Most of us would rather have a colonoscopy than listen to ‘Alice the Camel’ for three hours during a road trip, so we’ve come up with the best games to play in the car for a family road trip.

Team Storytelling

Break the boredom with one of the more creative games to play in the car. Get the whole family involved in creating a group story and watch as the storyline takes on interesting twists and turns. Your kids’ imaginations will be highly stimulated and with the well-known fact that ‘kids say the darndest things’, this game is sure to have you nursing a stitch from laughing, making it one of the most fun car games.

Story telling is one of the best games to play in the car.

Photo by Fran Gambín

How 'story telling' works: Someone starts the story by creating the first line to the story. For example, “There once was a princess whom lived in a tower…”. Then the next person needs to add one line to the story as you go. If you’re keen to spice it up a notch, state before the game begins that each connecting sentence has to rhyme. If you want to expand on the game, give the kids in the backseat paper and crayons and have them draw pictures to match the story.

20 Questions

This is one of those great games to play in the car for the whole family, getting those brains working while having fun on a road trip.

How '20 Questions' works: One person thinks of an object, animal or just about anything, really. A good question to kick off with is usually “Is it an animal, vegetable or mineral?”. From there the guessers ask a bunch of questions trying to guess what the mystery object is with the answer to the question posed either being ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The winner is the guesser who correctly guesses the object/thing before the 20 questions run out, otherwise, the person who came up with the object/thing in the first place is the winner.

The Banana Game

For those of you who have a thick competitive streak, this will prove to be one of the most fun car games.

The banana game is one of the best games to play in the car.

Photo by Piotr Bizior

How 'the Banana Game' works: The point of the game is to spot yellow vehicles. Players get points for each yellow car they spot first. Double points are awarded for buses and bigger yellow vehicles.

It’s called the banana game because bananas are yellow, but feel free to eat bananas while you play if you want to be a nerd about it.

I Spy

This is a classic travel game everyone can enjoy and on a road trip where the scenery is every changing, it makes for great fun and variety. However, when you’re driving through the Namib Desert this game gets somewhat repetitive:

When playing in the Namib Desert:

Person 1: “I spy with my little eye…”

Person 2: “Sand?”

Person 1: “Oh my gosh, how did you know?”

How 'I Spy' works: One person in the car looks around and chooses an object which they can see. The guessers are given one clue which is the first letter of the object in sight. “I spy with my little eye something beginning with…(insert first letter of object here)”. The object chosen can either be in the car or outside the car in the distance so that the guesser has a few minutes to look around and venture a guess at the object. The winner is the person who guesses the object, and then it is their turn to create their own mystery object.

Road Trip Math

This one is for your little Einsteins. If you want to exercise the left hand side of your childrens’ brains while on your road trip this is the game for you. For some (most) this doesn’t sound like one of the most fun car games. The brainiacs get it though.

Story Telling is one of the best games to play in the car.

Photo by Kriss Szkurlatowski

How 'Road Trip Math' works: Have your kids figure out maths problems based on your road trip travel route. For example, if you pass a sign telling you that the next rest stop is 100 km away, have your children figure out how long it will take you to get there based on the speed the car is going. Rewards for correct answers sweeten the pot.

As a parent, I’m sure you’ll be driving a safe speed to protect your precious cargo. So keep a calculator handy in case your maths isn’t so hot to avoid a phone call from your child’s school principal enquiring as to how you managed to drive from Cape Town to Hermanus in half an hour. *cringe*

The Silent Game

Want to put a stop to your kids screaming, shouting, biting, scratching, whinning and making a general noise fuelled by pure excitement? Then I’m sure the silent game appeals to you…

How 'the Silent Game' works: It doesn’t.

A family road trip is a great way to bond as a family, and with these games to play in the car, the journey will prove to be anything but dull.

Hire a car and take that trip!

Dalene Ingham-Brown

Dalene Ingham-Brown Title: Blog Contributor
Affiliation: Drive South Africa Blog

Passionate about travel, social media and making lists, Dalene is on a mission to nurture her love for camping in South Africa.

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3 Responses on this page.Add your own

  1. Gravatar Pier at Car games says:

    I have read the entire article about this car games….it is useful to keep you kids busy while you drive at long periods of time.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Gravatar corlia-goosen says:

    Dear Pier,

    Thank you so much for the complement.

    You are welcome to use our blog on your site, if you credit us with a link.

    Best regards

    Reply to this comment
  3. Gravatar Sandy Lewis says:

    Thanks for this. We’re heading out this summer with the little ones and keeping them occupied is a concern of ours. This is our first road trip with the kids and to say we’re not slightly terrified would be a lie. I really appreciate that you explained how to play these games. Other similar articles on this are good, but most don’t explain the details, just list them. Anyway, thanks for this! Bookmarking it for when we head out west in a few months!

    Reply to this comment

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