Bring Fun and Games to Your Next Road Trip

by Therese Umerlik | Editor

Long or short, road trips thrust people together for time spent either filled with laughter or bickering or absorbedin cellphones and DVD players. But what about playing  games?

A simple yet engaging back and forth among family and friends? The first game that came to mind for me as I prepared this article was one I played with my son on our way home from Ocean City this past summer. (I can’t recall the name; I’m sure it has had several.)

We decided to call out letters on license plates in alphabetical order. As the game progressed, we pointed out the different states and the arrangements of numbers and letters on the plates. We spotted plates from Alaska, Canada and Wyoming.

We noted that letters were stacked on some plates and a pattern emerged with the location of a particular letter on the plates of certain vehicles. Eventually, the game ended but our conversation continued, allowing us to simply enjoy each other’s company. It’s that hanging out part that makes road trip games fun.

In my search for other games, I discovered several at,, and

Radio roulette involves randomly choosing a new radio station every 10 minutes, so everyone can hear what is out there. This game can be played on a trip to the ocean or that crosses state lines.

This game can be played with any type of animal if a trip’s route includes rural farming areas. When a person sees cows on their side, for instance, they yell, “Cows on my side.” If they see cows on the other side, they yell, “Cows on your side.” If another person says it, that person steals the point. If anyone sees a cemetery, they scream, “Ghost cow!”, and steal all of the other side’s points. If anyone sees a church, they scream, “Church bells!”, thus doubling all of their points.

Scavenger hunts require planning, but the challenge they provide pays off in the end. A person compiles a list of items to search for on the road, such as stickers and signs, and distributes it to the passengers. The list should reflect the anticipated scenery on the trip. The first person to find everything on the list wins.

Involving drivers in road trip games can be tricky, but Sweet or Sour encourages their participation. To play, wave to strangers driving by in other cars. If the driver waves back, they’re “sweet,” and the person gets a point. If the stranger ignores the wave, they’re just feeling “sour.” The person who gathers the  most “sweets” wins.

This game speaks to the music fans in the group. One person names a band followed by the next person who names a band that begins with the last letter of the previous name. The person who can’t name a band gets a point. The first person with three points loses. These and other games can pass the time along faster and bring some fun to an otherwise mundane experience.

2017-09-20T15:58:21+00:00 September 20th, 2017|Auto, Family|