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5 road trip games for cross-country adventures

Try these five favorite road trip games on your family’s next cross-country road trip adventure.
Try these five favorite road trip games on your family’s next cross-country road trip adventure.
Created by this user with public domain artwork.

Who’s up for a family road trip to close out the summer season?

Family road trip vacations are the stuff of many fond and funny childhood memories. However, long journeys in the family car can easily add up to plenty of shared hours in tight spaces.

What simple games can family members of all ages play together to pass the time, as the family car passes the many miles to the family vacation destination?

Try these five favorite road trip games on your family’s next cross-country road trip adventure.

Most of these in-car games require few supplies, if any. Any of these fun family road trip pastimes might be easily adapted for extended school field trips, youth group retreats, summer camp, bus journeys, and other road trips.

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1. 20 Questions

20 Questions is a simple family road trip game. One person starts by thinking of something and announcing whether this subject is a person, place, or thing. The other players, in turn, ask direct questions to determine what the subject is.

Each question, of course, must be answerable by either a “Yes” or a “No.” The guessers may ask 20 questions in all. If a guesser identifies the subject, then he or she receives one point and picks the next secret answer. If no one has guessed the subject, after 20 questions, then the originator scores one point.

At the end of the journey, the person with the most points wins the 20 Questions road trip game.

2. ABC Adventure

The ABC Adventure is a classic family road trip game. Each participant observes traffic signs, billboards, and other lettered items outside the family car and attempts to find every letter of the alphabet – in alphabetical order. Participants claim each letter, as they find them.

For example, someone might spot the letter “A” on a street sign for Lincoln Avenue and claim it aloud. That ABC Adventure player would then look for the letter “B,” while others continue looking for “A.”

The first player to find all 26 letters of the alphabet, in order from “A” to “Z,” wins the ABC Adventure road trip game.

3. License Plate Lookout

The License Plate Lookout offers family members of all ages a fun means of learning the names of the 50 United States, while playing a family road trip game.

For the greatest educational value and simplest scorekeeping, each License Plate Lookout game player should begin with a blank map of the United States. Free printable U.S. outline maps are available at,,, and other websites. Each player also needs a pen, pencil, marker or crayon.

License Plate Lookout players observe other cars on the family road trip, trying to spot one license plate from each state. When a new state plate is spotted, the first participant to claim it aloud can color in that state on his or her U.S. map.

The first player to spot license plates for all 50 U.S. states wins the License Plate Lookout game. At the end of the family road trip, if license plates from all 50 states have not been seen, the player with the most states spotted wins the game.

4. Pictionary-on-the-Go

Pictionary-on-the-Go (also known as Win, Lose or Draw) is a family favorite and a super family road trip game. Of course, everyone but the driver is allowed to participate.

A simple chalkboard and chalk or a wipe-off board and dry erase markers are ideal for playing Pictionary-on-the-Go on a family road trip.

Players take turns drawing mystery items, while others try to guess. Pictionary-on-the-Go may be played with pre-printed subject cards, or players can simply make up their own ideas on the spot. Some families choose to play themed Pictionary-on-the-Go, requiring mystery words to pertain to the trip or another pre-selected subject area.

Pictionary-on-the-Go may be played in teams, with partners, or just as a group.

The first player to guess the mystery item wins a point. At the end of the trip, the player with the most points wins Pictionary-on-the-Go.

5. Yellow Car Yell-Out

The Yellow Car Yell-Out game may be the simplest family road trip game of all. Players look for yellow cars and trucks on the road. (School buses do not count.)

Upon spotting a yellow car or truck, a player will call out to claim it. Players receive one point for each yellow car or truck claimed. At the end of the journey, the player with the most points wins the Yellow Car Yell-Out game.

It’s a little bit like the Punch-Bug game, in which players look for Volkswagen Beetles, but without all the slapping.

Do you need prizes for fun family road trip games?

Some families do choose to award prizes for the winners of their fun family road trip games. Simple items, such as a piece of candy or gum, are usually enough for fun. Intangible rewards may be ideal prizes for fun family road trip games as well. Game winners might be the first in the pool or lake at the vacation spot, or they might be allowed to choose the top or bottom bunk bed at the family road trip destination.

Perhaps prizes are not needed at all, as the simple enjoyment of the games may be sufficient.

During a family adventure road trip, a bit of creativity can go a long way towards ensuring a pleasant journey for everyone. And the return journey is a guaranteed double-or-nothing challenge for the favorite road trip games.

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