“Are we there yet?” How many times did you hear that question on your last road trip? 

Summer calls for fun family road trips. But if you’re traveling with tots, you need to be armed and ready to bust the in-car boredom. Here are seven spur of the moment car games – no materials needed!  

  1. Spelling Bee. Host your own in-car spelling bee. Be sure to choose words that are at or just above your child’s reading level. Home Spelling Words has printable lists of spelling words by grade.  Follow the rules of standard spelling bees: pronounce the word clearly, then use it in a sentence, then say the word again. If a competitor spells a word incorrectly, he or she is eliminated from the bee; the next participant is given the same word to spell, continuing down the line until the word is spelled correctly.
  2. Alphabet Bingo. Go through the alphabet, taking turns spotting an object on the road that begins with each letter. For pre-readers, sound out the letter. For middle readers, have your child find the letter on billboards, or license plates or signs.  
  3. Family Interview. Take turns asking one another interesting, thought-provoking questions. Some questions you might want to consider: What is your favorite toy and why? Which is your favorite chore? Who is your hero?  What do you admire most about (your brother, your sister, your mom)? What was your proudest moment? What is the one thing you most want people to remember about you? If someone gave you $100 and told you that you had to give it away, but you could NOT give it to your immediate family, what would you do with it?
  4. Road Trip Scavenger Hunt. Make a verbal (or written) checklist of ten things you’re likely to pass on your route; Whoever completes the checklist first, wins.  Some items to add to your scavenger hunt checklist: antique car, convertible, RVschool bustow truck, hitchhiker, bicyclist, truck with three trailers. For a more modern take on this classic road trip game, download the Auto Bingo app.
  5. I spy, with my little eye, something … Choose any object in sight and then begin the game with saying, “I spy with my little eye, something that _____”. The blank can be any clue about the object, such as “is bigger than our house“, “is furry“, or “is a mammal“. If they can’t guess it based one the one clue, players can ask yes/no questions for more information.
  6. Who am I? Think of a person for each player: someone you know, a celebrity, a cartoon character, a storybook character, a historical figure. Stick a label with the person’s name on each  players forehead – don’t let them peek!  Each person gets 20 “yes or no” questions to find out who he/she is. For example, you can ask, ” Am I a boy or a girl?” “Am I on tv?” and so on. Whoever guesses correctly first wins the game!
  7. Find the plates of the 50 states. Give each child a simple map of the U.S.; Check out 50States.com for free printable maps. Whenever a license plate from a state is spotted, color in the corresponding state. Whoever spots the most state license plates by the time you reach your destination wins! Don’t have map available in-car? Download the License Plate Game app –  it will help you keep track of the states found and the states remaining.