Travel

15 road trip games that'll make the drive a highlight of the trip

From classic guessing games to toddler tech, these will keep the whole car happy.

From classic guessing games to toddler tech, these will keep the whole car happy

This article was originally published August 12, 2020 and was updated July 19, 2021 to reflect current product pricing.

In a summer such as this, road trips are shaping up to be the way to take in some travel. So, there will come a time when all your passengers have scrolled through their phones long enough to be ready for some fun games. First up, in the vein of the ever-popular I Spy, some options that require no purchase — just a little imagination. Then, some screen-free selects (some louder than others) that will spark lots of laughs and have the whole car reminiscing. And finally, a section of tech toys for miles and miles worth of entertainment. Whether you're travelling with friends or family, young or old, may these glorious games not only help the drive seem a little shorter, but perhaps make it one of the highlights of your summer adventures. 

No purchase necessary

Name that Dog

OK, not necessarily a classic road trip game, but my friends and I like to play this one even on shorter drives. It's great for all ages and it's pretty simple: you spot a dog trotting along and you come up with a name for it. Does that adorable Dalmatian look like a Henry? A Holly? A Hank? A Pickles? Truly, you decide! If you want a little more structure, you can all proclaim your new names on the count of three and the player with the best new name for the cute canine wins a point. If you're on the highway with minimal dogs in sight, keep an eye out for fields of cows that look like they could use a new name. Or crows, or deer, or moose, or bears. The options are endless. 

20 Questions

This is a go-to for many roadtrippers in search of a game to liven up a long drive. It's great for all ages, and can be played with as little as two people. It's super simple; one person thinks of a person, place, or thing and lets their fellow players know which category it's from. The rest of the passengers have to guess what (or who) it is, asking only questions that can be answered with "yes" or "no", and of course, asking only 20 questions. Whoever guesses it gets to pick the mystery object in the next round. 

The Movie Titles Game

A great game for the cinephiles on board, this one is easy to play and very versatile. Simply name a movie and the next player has to name a title that starts with the last letter of the previous title. For instance, it could look something like this: The Lion King > Goonies > Saturday Night Fever. It's a game for movie buffs, but it can easily be played with TV shows, book titles, song titles, or countries or cities if you want to get a little more educational! 

Who Has The Larger Instagram Following?

Just like its name suggests, you simply have to guess which celeb (or any public figure of your choosing) has more Instagram followers. Zendaya or Reese? Harry Styles or Timothée Chalamet? Oprah or Gayle? It's a game of constant surprise! The player who guesses correctly gets to pick the next accounts to inspect. First person to 15 points is a pretty quick game and will help pass the time on those long stretches of highway. 

Scattergories

A popular party game, or a game to pull out when you're sitting around the kitchen table with your family, Scattergories easily transitions to the open road! It's a super-engaging wordplay game that's simple to play and works for most ages — no wonder it's so popular. Sure this one can be purchased, but it's also one passengers can play with just a pen and paper. To play, everyone except the driver needs to come up with a list of categories (ex: type of dog, colour, animal, vehicle, etc.) and write them down on their paper, all in the same order. And then, just have someone in the vehicle pick a letter, and then using a timer (the one on your phone comes in handy), each player has to come up with words to match those categories that start with the chosen letter in one minute. If you haven't played this one before, it sounds super simple, but the added pressure of the timer makes it harder to come up with words. Players get a point for every word that they think of unless someone else thought of that word too — then no point. Whoever has the most points after a set amount of rounds wins. Or, you can award the game to the first person to hit a certain score. 

Some screen-free analogue fun

Kazoo That Tune

It's a game of "guess that song", but with kazoos instead of singing. This game is for up to four players, great for the whole car (as long as your stellar kakzoo-ing doesn't distract the driver!), and can get pretty silly pretty fast — which is pretty much the ideal road trip game, right? This set comes with four kazoos, 200 popular song titles, and a sand timer for hours and hours of musical fun. 

Kazoo That Tune, $15, Brodawka & Friends

Autocomplete: The Game

A guessing game of sorts, teams have one minute to correctly complete the top ten internet searches for any given prompt. This deck-of-cards-based game is best suited for grown ups, but younger passengers could probably play too if the cards were scanned in advance for content. Three to 10 players can tackle this one and playing time is about 30 minutes, which makes it great for shorter excursions, or just what to reach for when you're looking for a quick car game before everyone turns back to their phones. 

Autocomplete: The Game, $32.95, Craving For a Game

Do You Remember

This one is more of a conversation starter than a game per se. This deck of 50 cards full of thought-provoking questions about players' pasts will help prompt memories, start fun conversations in the back seat and get the whole car reminiscing. It takes away the pressure to come up with a 'good question' when your turn arises, and it's a great way to pass the time with family or a car full of old friends. We think it would also be particularly cute to gift to newlyweds headed out on a road trip honeymoon this summer. 

After Dinner Amusements: Do You Remember? Game, $12.95, Lost + Found 

Scrabble

A little quieter than some of the previous games on this list, this old favourite got a road trip makeover. In this on-the-go version, the board is magnetic so you don't have to worry about those tiles scattering around the car, and you can conveniently fold the board up for stops without losing your game. In an added road trip twist, players can win points for words they spell out on the board and then spot along the open road. 

Road Trip Scrabble Full Gameplay in a Portable Case, $26.99, Playtime Toys

Desert Island Dilemma Mash-Ups

It's a game of "would you rather" without the work of coming up with silly scenarios yourself. Great for all ages, it's easy to pack and play in the car. The game comes with 100 cards in a handy case and endless (well, 2500) possible scenarios to discuss how you'd spend your time on a desert island. 

Desert Island Dilemma Mash-Ups, $12, Spree Style

Tech-based fun

LeapFrog LeapStart Go

This is basically a magic wand. More specifically, it's an interactive learning system from LeapFrog with a stylus that plays videos and audio responses from its LCD screen and built-in speaker as kids (or curious adults) peruse LeapFrogs's educational books. A computer with internet is required to download the books to the stylus before heading out on the road, but after that, your little learners can explore and interact with up to 13 books at a time using this pretty cool learning tool. 

LeapFrog LeapStart Go, $64.99, Toys R Us

Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet

For the kids in the back seat who aren't quite ready for their own full-feature tablet yet, Amazon's Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet might just be the answer to hours of road trip entertainment. It comes with tons of customizable parental controls and a full year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited that provides access to thousands of apps, games, books, videos, and educational content. You can download content before you hit the road, and it will provide up to 12 hours of battery life so it's bound to banish some boredom on even the longest trips. 

Amazon's Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet, 32 GB, $169.99, Staples

Trivia

Our phones are constantly in-hand, even in the car (as long as we're not the one driving). So why not use the tech we've already got to play a classic fun-with-friends game! This free trivia app for iOS and Android allows players to play solo or against people on the web. Play by yourself, or let the whole backseat chime in — you choose! 

Trivia 360 for Android and iOS

Nintendo Switch

This mega-popular sold-out-almost-everywhere device feels like a given for any list of roadtrip tech for summer. But there's a reason this very-cool console is seemingly everywhere these days — it allows you to take at-home gaming on the road. You can play it solo or, with multiple Joy-Con controllers (each sold separately), fellow gamers in the backseat can get in on the fun. There are tons of games to choose from, but it seems like the most popular game these days is the "cozy" video game, Animal Crossing. 

Nintendo Switch, about $399.99, available at most large electronics retailers

Bingo

We love a game of bingo and the whole car will too. Sure, there are tons of portable Bingo options out there, but we particularly love an app for car bingo dedicated to the objects you'll spot on your travels — no bingo markers required! And since you're on the lookout for the images on the app, there's no need for someone to be the caller, so everyone (except the driver, of course) gets to play. Both of these downloads are free. 

Car Bingo for Android; Roadtrip Bingo for iOS

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