The 20 Best Road Trip Games to Play
You'll laugh, you'll learn some new things, you'll bond as a family, and no one will ever ask, "Are we there yet?"
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Take your game on the road
Boredom and anxiety are the two most common issues children (and, let’s be honest, adults) deal with on long road trips, says Fran Walfish, PhD, a family therapist in Beverly Hills, California, and author of Self-Aware Parent. The remedy for both is to take their mind off of the endless miles and focus instead of something fun and interesting—which is exactly why road trip games were invented!
Road trip games don’t have to be effective to be fancy; in fact, simpler is better for car trips, she says. She recommends looking for games that are engaging, age-appropriate, easy to understand, and don’t have a million tiny pieces. These days you have tons of fantastic options for fun road trip games beyond “Go Fish” and “Hangman.” We’ve rounded up some of the best-selling and best-rated games for road trips for you. (And don’t hit the road until you’ve read our American road trip guide!)
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Best backseat card game: Sleeping Queens
Card games can be tricky in the car—stacks of cards slide around during turns that could all too easily fall off the seat. Sleeping Queens is a fast-paced, fun game that doesn’t require a large layout or organization. (Just play cards into the box lid to keep them contained!) It’s easy to learn, quick to play, and the art is whimsically funny. Do you know these 14 essential road-trip etiquette rules?
Best educational game: Rat-a-Tat Cat
Parents love educational games but kids, not so much. This trip, trade in boring flashcards (which sound like a game but are the opposite of fun) for Rat-a-Tat Cat. This is a card game based on beginner mathematical concepts, teaching strategy, and improving memory skills along the way.
Best game to get the whole family talking: Would You Rather?
Everyone from preschoolers to grandparents can play this simple game of questions. One person reads aloud a situation that can range from ridiculous to profound and everyone shares their preference. Even sullen teens won’t be able to resist adding their opinions when they hear questions like, “Would you rather eat poop that tastes like chocolate or chocolate that tastes like poop?” There are plenty of books, apps, and sites to provide questions but we love this family-friendly version by Robert B. Grand. You can add a layer of fun by playing a round centered on road trip snacks—ask your family, “Would you rather eat fruit or pretzels if you were stuck on the road forever?” Then, debate!
Best game for fighting kids: Punch Buggy
“Slug bug, red!” Who hasn’t spent at least part of a long car trip spotting VW bugs and using it as an opportunity to hit their sibling? Keep this kid-favorite from turning into tears by setting up your own, funny car rules. (Including one about “punching” lightly.) You can make it as complicated or simple as your family likes and soon everyone will be focused on the road instead of fighting with each other. Start with this Unauthorized Official Punch Buggy Rule Book to get ideas.
Best for adults only: Cards Against Humanity
Cards Against Humanity has been one of the top-rated games since it’s debut for good reason: It’s irreverent prompts and hilarious word cards make it so funny you might need to take more bathroom breaks just to make sure the upholstery stays dry. One caveat: This mature humor is definitely geared for adults only!
Best classic road trip game: 20 Questions
What’s a road trip without 20 questions? It works for every age, you can customize it by theme (say, Disney Princesses or ocean life), and you can never run out of ideas. Although you may run out of patience eventually, at which point you can pull out this 20 Questions electronic game. It’s one of those road trip essentials you’ll be glad you brought along!
Best quiet time game: The Mind
Silence—complete, beautiful silence—is the goal of The Mind. You have to use small gestures, facial expressions, and any psychic abilities to get your meaning across in this card game. The gameplay is simple but nuanced, making for hours of fun. Here’s how to become an expert at reading body language.
Best family bonding game: Do You Really Know Your Family?
Sure you live with them but how well do you really know these people? Do You Really Know Your Family is the perfect long road trip car game. Cards prompt you to ask questions you never thought to ask before and you’ll be laughing and bonding before anyone succumbs to “are we there yet?” A fun road trip question to ask is, “Which road trip would you rather take—a Utah road trip, or an Arizona road trip?” It’ll spark an interesting conversation!
Best for people who like to debate: I Dissent
Do you follow current events? Do you love to look at all sides of an issue? Are you known for your debating skills? Agreeing to disagree may keep the peace but it’s no fun—instead, use this road trip to hone your debate skills and learn more about how your friends and family think. There are silly topics that kids will love debating and more serious ones that will allow you to discuss the big issues. You might want to brush up on these 7 tips for winning an argument with someone who is “always right.”
Best game for preschoolers: I Spy
This childhood classic game gets a creative revamp with the travel I Spy card game. Parents can tell children which object to look for and they can search the card for it or see if they can find it outside. Beginning readers will enjoy trying to stump their parents and their aging eyesight. Make sure you have these 10 apps essential for planning road trips.
Best for smooth roads: Pass the Pigs
This deceptively simple game—all you do is roll two plastic pigs like dice—gets competitive fast. Pass the Pigs is simple to learn, great for all ages, and with only two pieces it’s easy to keep track of in the car. The only trick is that the pigs have to balance in different positions so it’s best to save this for smooth stretches of highway. Pro tip: Roll the pigs inside a cardboard box to keep them contained. Not on the road? Try these best-rated board games for maximum family fun at home.
Best word game: Catchphrase
Forget scattered cards, letter tiles, boxes of dice, or even paper and pencils: Logophiles will adore playing Catchphrase. It has all the fun and creativity of more complex word games but without all the pieces. This electronic version has an endless bank of words to keep your family guessing.
Best game for teenagers: Exploding Kittens
Want to get your teens off their phones? Exploding Kittens merges sarcasm, hilarity, and cartoons with a card game that requires some real strategy and skill to play. And if your teens do get bored, there are plenty of funny and bizarre expansion packs to keep it fresh.
Best trivia game: I Should Have Known That
Lots of trivia games focus on obscure, hard-to-intuit facts which can make them as equally frustrating as they are fun for people who don’t love to memorize minutiae. I Should Have Known That is a trivia game that asks questions that you ought to know but probably don’t, so it’s perfect for people who think they know everything or for those who just wish they did. People who love games will get a kick of these 15 little-known trivia facts about games.
Best twist on a classic car game: Uno Flip
Uno has been keeping kids entertained on road trips for decades but now they’ve come out with a twisted new version. Uno Flip is based on the same easy-to-understand rules as regular Uno but it adds a darker side that makes it more exciting and faster paced. (No more endless one-on-one matches that no one ever wins!) Check out this crazy Uno rule we bet you never knew.
Best creative road trip games: Radical Road Trip
Dr. Biscuit’s Radical Road Trip is a deceptively small box that contains everything you need to play 60 brand new, innovative games in your car—and these aren’t recycled versions of “I Spy” or “the license plate game.” The box includes six different categories of games with ten games in each so everyone will find something to love.
Best for only children: Travel Tangrams
Not having a sibling to harass, er, play with on long road trips does make road trip games a little harder to play. This classic puzzle game uses magnets to allow kids to challenge themselves with new shapes or make up their own. You can also break out a joke or five from our archive of funny jokes for kids.
Best nostalgic road trip game: Madlibs
Madlibs is a game that hasn’t changed since its inception and is still just as fun to play as you remember it. Create silly stories by having passengers fill in words and then read them aloud. All the laughter proves that you don’t need a complicated or techy game to have fun together. There are as many Madlib themes as there are interests but you can always start with the classic.
Best physical game: Rubik’s Cube
Some people thrive on mental games while others prefer to manipulate something physical with their hands. Unfortunately, lots of hand puzzles come with many tiny pieces that risk getting lost in the car. However, the classic Rubik’s cube is a challenging puzzle with many layers of solutions, is very satisfying to the senses, and is nearly indestructible. Long road trips are the perfect time to figure it out or hone your skills. Can you do it in under five minutes? Blindfolded?
Best game for preschoolers: Magnetic Matching
Matching games, like Memory, are fun for younger children and teach them important skills. But setting up all those little tiles in a moving car is a recipe for a mess. This magnetic memory matching game is perfect for little fingers while still keeping everything contained.
Next, check out these fun backyard games to play once you’re out of the car.
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