Growing up, my family took a lot of road trips up the east coast. In the days before cell phones and tablets kept children busy during a car ride, I loved playing road trip games with my dad to pass the time. If you are looking for a little family fun or want to take a break from Snapchat and Facebook, give one of these games a try.

License Plate Game

This is an oldie but goodie. You are trying to spot license plates from all 50 states. There are many free apps that can help you track the states as you see them, or you can designate someone to write down the states you see on a piece of paper.

Over the years, we came up with a few twists on the license plate game. These two variations can be played simultaneously with the classic license plate game for some added fun.

Furthest Place: The person who finds the license plate from the furthest place wins! Since we lived in Florida, we would look for Washington, New York, Alaska, Hawaii, etc. This game actually ended up being something we did every time we got into a car and saw a license plate from a far away or obscure place. It’s the little things in life that make you happy – like the time I spotted a license plate from Guam in the parking lot of a mall!

Specialty Plates: Another other variation is trying to find as many specialty plates from your state as you can. I mentioned that I lived in Florida, which has over 120 different license plates – colleges, professional teams, social awareness, military, wildlife conservation – the list could go on for a long time. Even our “standard” license plate has 3 different versions! This helps make the game a little more exciting if you are having trouble finding license plates from different states.

My Five

This is a great game for younger travelers. The concept is pretty simple: any time you see the number five, you shout “my five!” Fives are located all over the place on the road – billboards, license plates, road signs, shopping centers – and each time you see one, you have to be the first to yell. If you want it to be a competitive game, you can keep track of how many fives each person sees. I was always just excited to play, whether we kept track of the score or not. I still think of this game every time I pass through a town that has 55 mph speed limit signs on both sides of the road. This was always the toughest as you were trying to be the first to yell “my five” four times!

Geography Games

For older kids, or even adults that like to play road trip games, adding some geography games in the mix is always fun. Here are a few different games that you can try!

Naming All the States – This game is just what the title says – you are trying to name all 50 states. Each person has a turn to say a state and a designated person . When you get down to the last five states, it can get pretty difficult!

The Geography Game – I have never been able to come up with a more creative title for this one, but it is one of my favorites. Each person takes turns naming a state, country, mountain range, river, or city. You can make the rules as to what you do and do not allow. Sounds easy? Well here’s the twist: you must name a place that starts with the letter that the last place ends with. For example, if I said Washington, then the next person would have to name a place that starts with an “N”. If that person said Nepal, the next person would have to name a place that starts with an “L”, and so on. You need to come up with a rule about places that end in the letter “A” because there are so many. You can either go through the alphabet when the place ends in “A” – which means that the person would have to name somewhere that starts with “B”, the next person “C”, and so on. To up the difficulty of the game, you can make a rule where you cannot name a place that starts and ends in “A”. This is a great game if you are traveling or geography buffs.

Sports Teams – If you are a family of sports fans, pick a professional sport and try to name all the teams in the league. It can be funny which teams you forget!

The Letter Game

In this game, you go through the alphabet and take turns trying to find the letter. Similar to my five, you are looking all over for the letter – billboards, license plates, road signs, shopping plazas. Once the person finds their letter, the next person has to find the next letter in the alphabet. Again, this is a great game to keep younger children entertained.

I’m Going on a Picnic…

The final game that my family liked to play really tests your memory. Each person starts by saying “I’m going on a picnic, and I’m bringing…” The first person names something that begins with “A” (it can be a food… or it can be something completely silly like “Alligators”). The next person must recite what the last person said and add something that starts with a “B”… and so on and so forth. Sometimes our brain and memory need a little exercise, and this is a great game to help it along!

No matter where you are going or what you are doing, these games can not only help to pass the time, but they can be a lot of fun and create a lot of great family memories. I promise you that these will be the things that your children remember when they grow up.


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