5 Holiday Road Trip Games

You’ve loaded up the car with suitcases and snacks. You’ve buckled everyone in. You’ve synced up the holiday playlist. Now there’s just one thing left to do: spend hours in the car with your entire clan, crossing the state (or maybe several of them) to spend the holidays with family. Should be simple, right? After all, they have their iPads, their iPods, their i-everything. But what happens when the batteries die and there’s only one charger to go around? What about when the entire Dora the Explorer DVD has been played twice? You might be forced to go old school and come up with some actual road trip games to play with your kids. Be prepared; take this list of classic and contemporary holiday games with you.

  • I Spy. An oldie but a goodie, I Spy has been entertaining travelers for decades. It’s simple enough for even young children to play, but older kids and adults can also tailor it to be challenging. There are two schools of thought when it comes to road iSpy: you can either spy things in the car, or things by the road. Obviously doing your spying in the car allows spies more time to figure out what you’re looking at, whereas spotting stuff roadside makes the game more fast-paced.
  • Bridge and Tunnel. If you’ve never heard of bridge and tunnel before, then that’s probably because a road-tripping family only recently made it up. This is a good game for tuckering out kids who have seemingly endless supplies of energy. There’s essentially no skill involved; all you do is yell, “Tunnel!!!!” or “Bridge!!!!” when you spot one. The person who shouts the loudest and longest wins. And then probably takes the longest nap. You’re welcome.
  • License Plate Bingo (or bonafide Car Bingo). When you’re on the road heading to your holiday destination, chances are you’re going to be passing other people who are doing the same. Keep track of all the out-of-state license plates you see with License Plate Bingo. Jot down each state as you find it, or actually print out Road Trip Bingo cards with various things to spot, like planes overhead or deer-crossing signs.
  • The Alphabet Game. You probably played the alphabet game as a kid, and now it’s your turn to pass on the tradition. Start with the letter A and look for road signs that begin with that letter. Once you find it, move your way through the alphabet until you reach Z—good luck with odd letters like Q and X. They might have you and your family stumped for a while.
  • Sparkle. A particularly festive road trip game, Sparkle is another solid pastime for kids who have trouble falling asleep in the car. Every time you pass a house decked out for the season in lights, simply shout, “Sparkle!” Whoever spots the sparkling abode first wins that round. After an hour or two of intermittent shouting, you’ll likely have some sleepy passengers on your hands—meaning a smooth ride the rest of the way.