20 Free Car Games for Kids to Help Pass the Time
How to keep the whole family entertained on long road trips.
Travel season is right around the corner, so it's time to start thinking about how to keep the kids entertained in the car or on the plane as the miles pass. Of course, you don't want to double your trip budget just to provide activities for them, which is why it's important to have a few free car games for kids in your back pocket. The good news? It's really easy to turn travel time into playtime. There are tons of fun things to do with your family while you're on the road that don't cost a single penny.
We've rounded up 20 of the best car games for kids, and we've included something for every age. Check them out before you gas up and head out on your next adventure!
Road Sign Scavenger Hunt
On any long car trip, you'll see plenty of road signs. While it's not that exciting to watch them fly by, you can easily set up a road sign scavenger hunt. Tripsavvy.com has a free, full-color printable you can download, or you can draw your own.
This classic game is one of our favorite car games for kids. One person chooses an item, then everyone tries to guess it using only "yes" or "no" questions. Things can get off track pretty quickly in this silly car game!
License Plate Game
There are a number of ways to play this one. The basic objective? Look for at least one license plate from each of the 50 states as the miles pass. You can even print out a map of the country and have the kids color them in as they spot each state. If you really need something impromptu, simply list each state on paper, then check it off as you go.
Car Color Search
This is one of the best free car games for kids under five, who are often the hardest to keep entertained. Take some crayons and draw circles on a piece of paper using different colors. Then, have your kids look for cars that match each of those colors. For the youngest set, you can hand out stickers or other small prizes each time they successfully match a color. Got school-aged kids? Make it harder by adding colors like maroon, rust, and olive green.
Going on a Road Trip
This game, popular among elementary school-aged children, is basically a memory game. There are many different variations, but the important thing is that they're easy and fun. The gist of the game is that the first person says something that starts with "a," like, "I'm going on a road trip and I'm going to pack an apple." Then the next player has to say they'll pack an apple and something that starts with a "b"; the next player says both of those things and something that starts with "c," and so on until someone forgets and the game starts over.
Would You Rather?
Bring your strong stomach to the table, because the gross factor is high on this car game for kids. Here, anyone can throw out a "would you rather" question, such as "Would you rather be too tall or too short?," and everyone has to answer. Trust us though—it won't be long before you find yourself choosing between eating boogers or eating garbage.
On your next road trip, put away the iPads and try this classic boredom-buster. Kids as young as two can join in on the fun as long as you keep it simple. While there is a board game of the same name, all you need for the original version of this fun car game for kids are your own eyes.
Take turns writing a story one line at a time
A great option for older kids, this car game has each person write two lines of a story. Then you fold the paper down, hiding the first line but keeping the second line visible. The paper is passed to the next person, who uses the one visible line to build their own two-line story. The story continues to build, then hilarity ensues as the final result is read aloud.
You'll probably see fleets of semi-trucks on your road trip. Snag this printable over at National Post and bring it along for a free truckspotting game that'll keep them busy as you get to your destination.
Fast Food Bingo
What's one thing just about any kid can recognize, whether they can read or not? Fast food joints! That's why this car game for kids is great for any age: It's a free printable available from the 3 Boys and a Dog blog, and it's full of colorful, recognizable logos your kids can spot in the hopes of getting bingo.
Forget the Scripps National Spelling Bee; host your own as a family on your next road trip. Come up with grade-level appropriate words on the fly or plan ahead and prepare a list for everyone. Make it even more fun by including silly words like bombastic, flooey and ectoplasm.
The best car games for kids are those that get them thinking while they're entertaining themselves. Here, one person says a word, then the next person has to come up with something that connects to the first word in some way (e.g. "monkey" and "banana"). The next person then has to think of something that connects to the second word, and so on. The game ends when no more connections can be made (which is basically never).
People have been telling stories since the beginning of time, which is why we've included several variations on the art of storytelling in our list. For this one, the first player calls out three things, then the next player has to come up with a story that includes all three. It's guaranteed to be wacky, side-splitting fun.
DIY Mad Libs
Mad Libs are a super fun way to pass the time on a car trip, and it's a cinch to make your own. Simply come up with a funny short story and leave out several of the words. Ask players to fill in the blanks with their own word choices, then read it out loud for a good laugh.
Road Trip Find It
The objective, just like in a bingo or "I spy" game, is simply to find one of everything on the list. We love this car game, because you can fully customize it. Heading to the dessert? Your kids can check off a cactus or a tumbleweed. But if it's the big city that beckons, a skyscraper, an ambulance, and a fountain might be good objects to search for. Either way, this game is sure to keep your kids busy as they practice their detective skills.
Car Brand Bingo
Ford. Chevy. Honda. If you're on a road trip, chances are you'll pass tons of these types of cars. Inject some fun as your kids stare out the window by creating your own car brand bingo game. But don't make it too easy: Include lesser-known manufacturers, such as Maserati, Saab or Renault.
If you have very early readers in your car, hangman is the perfect car game for them. Using simple, three-letter words like car, cat and map, you can engage your little one in a fierce hangman competition that'll have them giggling in no time. It's a great way to hone their reading skills while passing the time and having fun. We'll call that a win!
For older kids, a game of Battleship might be just the ticket. Draw a basic board or use this excellent printable from the website MyPartyGames.com to get a duel started.
Two Truths and a Lie
There's a good chance you already know how to play this age-old game! Often used as an ice breaker, it also makes a great car game for kids, especially if you're looking for something that doesn't require any paper or game pieces. And who knows—you might just learn something about your kids that you didn't already know.
No list of the best free car games for kids would be complete without this classic! This game can be played anywhere, on just about anything, by kids of pretty much any age. You can pack this tic-tac-toe printable, or your kids can just draw their own.