Games To Play On Car Journeys With Children

I love to go on holiday and exploring. I am happy spending time in the car, but travelling with children isn’t always so much fun. The big reason for that is children get easily bored on road trips. My eldest can happily read a book or watch a film, but my other daughter and I get car sick so we need to spend our time looking out of the window. 

Going on a long car journey? Why not try these games to play with children
Car journeys don't need to be boring for children, there are lots of games you can play

I have pulled together a list of games to play in the car with young children to keep them entertained. From our experience these are all great for preventing car sickness and keeping children happy.

Games To Entertain Children On Car Journeys 

Spot the Car Colour

This is a great game which can be played from a young age because children just need to be able to recognise colours. Everyone takes a turn in calling out a car colour and the winner is whoever spots a car (or vehicle) that colour first. It is normally really easy to spot red and silver cars, especially on the motorway, but other rounds like orange, green and yellow can take much longer like. Like the car games below this works best when you are on a motorway or busy road so you know you will see lots of different cars.

Alphabet Number plates

Start at the beginning of the alphabet and look for car number plates which contain that letter. This requires quick thinking as you scan all the numberplate that go past (you might what to skip I, Q and Z which aren’t used so much). An easier version is to look for numbers instead of letters. 

Number Plate Game

This game encourages creativity and quick thinking. It involves making up a sentence using the last 3 letters of a number plate. One player calls out the letters (clearly) and then who ever says a sentence first that makes sense wins (for younger children you might want to take turns, rather than compete) eg “JYH” could be “Just yell hello”, BMD could be “Better make dinner”.

I spy

“I spy with my little eye…” is an absolutely classic game and perfect for the car. You might want the rule to be it’s something that can still be seen or you are having to guess what was seen several minutes ago. At the moment we are generally saying the sound it starts with rather than the letter because my middle child is learning to read.

A couple of I spy variations we play with younger children are: 

“I spy with my little eye something that sounds like” eg a rhyming word.

“I spy with my little eye something the colour” and then give the colour of it.

Children that don’t get car sick and can play more independently might enjoy the i-Spy books especially On A Car Journey, On The Motorway or Every Vehicle on the Road (Affiliate links). Alternatively you could pull together a checklist yourself before you leave home for things to look out for which they can tick off on the journey meaning you can tailor it to what you are most likely to see.

Yes/ No Game

Each person takes it in turns to think of an animal and everyone else has to guess which one they are thinking off, but you can only answer with a yes or no. People can ask as many questions as they need until they work out the answer.

Memory Games

There are lots of variations of this game so we like to make it relevant to the journey, but the basic idea is you have to remember a list of items and players add on one new item each time eg :I’m going on holiday and I am packing …” or “I’m going to the supermarket and I’m buying…”. 

Taking the first example one player might say “ I am going on holiday and packing some flip flops”, then the next would say “I am going on holiday and packing some flip flops and some suncream” and the next “I am going on holiday and packing: flip flops, suncream and a large floppy hat”. Keep going until a player forgets an item and then you start over again.

Alphabet Word Game

Choose a topic and players take it in turn to think of something related to the topic beginning with a letter of the alphabet starting with a, then going on to the next player for b and so on.  This is fairly easy for a broad topic like animals, but you can make it much harder by narrowing it down to something more specific like: mammals, things you see in the garden or things that are blue.

5 Second Rule

5 Second Rule, and 5 Second Rule Junior (Affiliate link), are board games by University Games. You don’t need to worry about the timer or the board play in the car, but you can have a lot of fun with just the cards. One person can read out a question and then players take it in turn to give an answer until people run out of ideas or repeat an answer. Some of the cards encourage really funny answers so it is good to get creative.

Card examples in 5 Second Rule Junior include:
reasons to cheer
animals that can swim
reasons to make a list
things you wash
reason to miss school
sour foods.

Obviously you don’t actually need the game to play this, you can come up with the ideas yourselves if you want.

True or False

Someone says a statement and everyone else has to guess if it is true or false eg true or false I have white pants on. They need to be something which can be proven rather than that are subjective or you might end up having an argument.

Other ways to entertain children on long car journeys

Audio books - you can get a great selection of children’s books to listen to on the drive. These are perfect for when you are tired of playing games or if you need to concentrate.

Nursery Rhymes - When my children were babies and I wanted to distract them on short car journeys I would sing nursery rhymes, now they are older they join in and can do the actions on their own too.

Car disco - no dancing for the driver, but let your children be the DJ and choose the music. If you have more than one child they might have to take turns.

***Disclosure: Post contains affiliate links to Amazon. If you click through and make a purchase I may received a small commission at no extra cost to you***


A picture of a motorway and the caption "no more bored kids, games to play on car journeys"
Games to play on car journeys with kids


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