The Best Car Games to Help Pass the Time
There’s nothing quite like packing the family in the car and setting out on the open road -- whether it be for a well-deserved holiday or just simply a day out.
For those longer journeys however, sometimes it’s nice to have something fun to pass the time. This is where car games come in. Long a staple of car based adventures, there really is a plethora of games that folks of all ages can participate in.
So if you’ve got a long trip ahead in your new Ford car, note down a few of these games to help keep you and your family entertained as you make your way from A to B.
This one’s a classic. We all know it, we’ve all played it, but no list of car games can possibly be complete without ‘I Spy’.
If you’re recovering from amnesia, and can’t quite remember the rules, I Spy is very simple. After reciting the famous line “I spy with my little eye something beginning with…”, you then you pick an object, inside or outside the car, tell everyone the first letter, and it’s up to your friends and family to guess just what you have been spying.
It truly is a tried and trusted little game, and won’t fail to help pass the time for people of all ages. Kids will especially get a kick out of it, and be a great gateway into more complicated games down the road.
The Alphabet Game
‘The Alphabet Game’ isn’t a complex one by any stretch of the imagination, perhaps a step up from ‘I Spy’ when involving the very young, but this fun, knowledge based game is a real hoot to play no matter your age.
The premise is that you choose a topic – countries for example – and take it in turns trying to run through the alphabet, naming a country that begins with each letter. Depending on the topic, it’s something everyone can get involved in, and can get really difficult once you reach letters like X and Z.
If someone can’t think of an example for that particular letter, they can simply drop out, with the winner eventually being the last one standing. For pairs, or for a more casual game, simply skipping the letter can be a nice option to keep everyone involved in the fun. This is truly a game with a lot of legs considering the topic can be just about anything.
Rainbow car game
Car games are not only wonderful ways to pass the time, but great tools to get the kids thinking and developing skills along the way. This is certainly where a game like the ‘Rainbow Car Game’ comes in to play.
Sharon Gourlay, of the travel blog Where’s Sharon, explained the rules to us for this terrific children’s game.
“My kids are young and a car game that works well is something we call the "rainbow car game". Basically we go through the colours of the rainbow and we have to find cars, trucks or buses that are that colour in order. Sometimes we do it as a family, sometimes it's a competition to see who can make it through the rainbow first.
“We also play variations of this game while waiting in restaurants or elsewhere. We do things like finding people wearing the colours of the rainbow in order or look for buildings”.
With such a simple premise, and its sheer applicability to all kinds of areas, we definitely recommend adding this one to the list.
Another long-time fixture of car games across the globe, ‘21 Questions’ has been the source of endless fun for long car journeys.
A game that everyone can get involved in, ‘21 Questions’ sees someone thinking of something – an animal or famous person for example – and then everyone else in the car tries to figure it out by asking questions about what the person is thinking of. As the title suggests however, you only have 21 questions to get it right, and whoever guesses correct starts the next round!
This game is fun for groups of all sizes, and with the sheer variety of personalities naturally involved, the game can be enjoyed throughout the duration of your next car journey.
The Category game
The joy of car games is the myriad options available by incorporating a wide range of disparate topics into simple knowledge/memory based games. We spoke to Kelly Dunning, a travel writer over at Global-Goose.com, who told us about one such game that is bound to entertain.
It’s a game based on categories, and Kelly explains the rules as such:
“So, one person sets the category and the criteria and the number of things in that category that the other person has to name. (Googling it is not allowed)
A: Can you name 4 fictional tigers?
B: Tony the Tiger, Hobbes from Calvin and Hobbes, Tigger from Winnie the Pooh, Richard Parker from Life of Pi
B: Can you name 5 movies set in Chicago?
A: High Fidelity, Chicago (The Musical), Ferris Beullar's Day Off, Scarface, Blues Brothers
It really isn't that competitive, because if we can't think of enough items for the category we will help each other out with suggestions. I don't know if it's an actual game or just something we do to pass the time, but it can be fun!”
This is certainly a game that all can be involved in, and with the contrasting nature of the topics available, no one round will ever be the same. We agree that this is one to definitely give a go.
The Story Game
One of the oldest forms of entertainment is the simple practice of telling stories. The power of imagination is a wonderful thing, and all the best games manage to harness it. This is what makes ‘The Story Game’ such a wonderful option when travelling in your car.
We spoke to Gretta Schifano of the family travel blog Mums Do Travel, who explained just how to play this extremely simple but awfully fun little game.
“My favourite car game for passing the time on long journeys is the story game. This can be played with two or more people and is very simple. Taking turns to speak, each person adds a word to a story. The story develops and continues for as long as the players want it to, and each story is unique.”
With games such as this that involve no points, and no victory line, fun can be had for as long as the desire is there. Give it a go!
Like ‘I Spy’, everyone of a certain age has surely played ‘Hangman’. Be it at school or rainy days at home, ‘Hangman’ has never failed to amuse and frustrate those that are playing. What is great about the game is that it can literally be played anywhere, including your car! And for children new to it, they will surely get a big kick out of the fun to be had.
Only needing a pen and paper, the first player thinks of a place, a person, a book title; pretty much anything. But instead of writing down what their chosen thing is, they put down an underscore for the letters in each word. The other players then attempts to guess what it is, one letter at a time. If they guess a letter correctly, player one writes it in the appropriate place, but if they fail, the first player starts to draw the dreaded hangman, one body part at a time. If the person can guess the word(s) before the hangman can be drawn, he wins.
It’s simple, fun, and really encourages you to think, especially with the added pressure that comes with each failed answer.
Did Hou Hear That….?
This is one perhaps for those of a slightly older age, as ‘Did You Hear That….?’ revolves around your knowledge of the world and current events – and sometimes the lack thereof!
The game essentially involves you trying to fool your opponent. You start things off by asking a simple “Did you hear that _______ happened?” question, filling in the blank space with whatever you like. The person you are playing against can then either say “that didn’t happen” or “tell me more”. If they guess correctly that whatever you said didn’t happen, they get two points. If however they guess incorrectly that it didn’t happen, you steal one point from them and gain two more. If you are asked however, “tell me more”, the points get doubled at the end of the turn.
If you’ve ever had fun teasing your friends and family with made-up stories, or ribbing them when they don’t know about something important, this will certainly be the game for you. Give it a go on your next car adventure.
The Movie Game
Pretty much everyone has some knowledge, however cursory, of movies and movie stars -- such is their ability to permeate our culture. This makes ‘The Movie Game’ a wonderful candidate for your next car journey.
Made even more enjoyable with a car full of film buffs, this game will really help to get to the bottom of who actually knows the most. The game’s goal is to connect actors through the movies that they have starred in.
It starts with the name of an actor/actress, and the next person has to say a movie which that person was in. The following person then has to think of another actor from that movie, and so it continues. If someone guess incorrectly however, they have to sit out the next round.
This one won’t fail to help those miles tick by.
This is a game that has entertained many a child over the years. The infamous card game has many different iterations, incorporating some of the most famous brands on the planet.
For example, with the Marvel edition of ‘Top Trumps’, players are dealt an even hand of cards which contain a Marvel superhero or villain, each with their own stats and attributes, such as intelligence, strength, and speed. What happens next is essentially a battle. One player will pick a stat he thinks can win, and it’s up to the other player to see if his card can better it. Whoever wins that round takes the losing players card. Whoever runs out of cards first loses.
We spoke to Winning Moves, the company behind Top Trumps, who explained just why the game is so perfect for car journeys.
“Top Trumps is the perfect accompaniment to any car journey. The game comes in a compact, portable plastic case which makes it perfect to store in the car and get out any time you want entertainment on your journey and no mess after! With so many topics ranging from Dinosaurs to Disney and Baby Animals to Star Wars, there is something for the whole family to play! What’s more is that Top Trumps is packed with so many stats and facts, everyone will be learning something new whilst having fun”.
With the sheer variety and myriad editions of ‘Top Trumps’ available, this is a game that never gets old. From planets to movie stars, there is a version for everyone; a simple pick up and go game to keep all entertained, wherever you may be.
The Animal Name Game
In the same mould as a few others on this list, ‘The Animal Name Game’ is a wonderful little game for kids to get involved in and really help to develop a knowledge of the animal kingdom.
The game starts with one person naming an animal, and then each successive person has to name another animal that starts with the last letter of the one that was previously named. What’s great about this one is that there are no winners and losers, so you and the kids can all be involved from start to finish.
If you fancy moving beyond animals to challenge the little ones, try changing over to TV shows or cities. Apply the same rules and the game stays the same, making for endless fun (and learning) when out on your travels.
Pass the Pigs
When you are able to claim the title of the top travel game on Amazon, you must be doing something right. And that it certainly the case for ‘Pass the Pigs’, a family friendly, pick up and go game that is perfect for your travels.
With one player assigned with noting down the scores, on each turn players have a go at tossing both their pigs in the air, with how they land determining how many points they score. Once thrown you decide whether to be a “Pig Head” and throw again for more points, or to give up while the going is good. At the end of each turn the scores are counted. First to 100 wins.
Winning Moves spoke to us about this addictive little game saying, “‘Pass the Pigs has been a family favourite for years and ideal for on-the-go. The pigs, score pad and pencil all pack away into a small, neat case which means you can take it anywhere, including the car. Have hours of fun together, seeing who can score the most points depending on what position their pig lands in”.
‘Pass the Pigs’ is certainly a top option for any journey, and with this game packed into the car with the kids, you can assure yourself of fun times and a car journey that just flies by.
As you can see, the options are plenty! There really is no reason to be bored on your next car journey. Whether travelling with family or with friends, there are so many great games to play. Give one a go, there is bound to be one for you.