Keep kids (and adults) entertained en route to your Staycation holiday cottage with these fun car games. They pass the time and maintain the peace on long journeys and are fabulous boredom-busters for when you’re stuck in traffic. Why not try them out next time you’re in the car, and decide your favourite…
The Mini Game
Image by Rhys A.
One point is scored for every mini spotted and two for a yellow mini. At the end of the journey the one with the highest score wins. The first person to spot one calls out “mini” or “yellow mini” and is allowed to gently punch everyone within arm’s reach (or two for yellow!). However, if you don’t want the kids whacking each other during the journey (or have a poor kid in the middle getting a double dose – sorry bro), just have them tally instead. It was always a favourite for us (and pretty competitive) especially as our regular commute to school passed a Mini dealership…
The Petrol Price Is Right
The basic idea here is to guess the petrol price to the nearest penny for the next petrol station you pass. You need to choose diesel or unleaded as a parameter (probably whatever your car drinks). For some unknown reason, we penny pinchers at Staycation love this one. Plus it can be played in conjunction with another car game.
Best for rural day trips while on holiday, as you never know what’s round the corner! The people on the driver’s side of the car make up one team, and the people on the passenger side the other. Anyone in the middle can choose which team to join. Everyone needs to keep an eye out for pubs on their side of the road. One point is awarded for every leg on the pub sign image. So for example, ‘The Red Lion’ pub would normally score 4 (4 legs). Meanwhile ‘The Coach and Horses’ or ‘Fox & Hounds’ are absolute gold mines! Alternatively, play individually and take it in turns for each pub passed on either side of the road. The game ends at the end of the journey and the team/player with the highest score wins.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
A car game also suitable for older children and teens, the more bizarre the statements, the more fun this game becomes. Take it in turns to add a sentence to a story, starting with ‘unfortunately’ and then ‘fortunately’. Eg. “Unfortunately, there is an elephant in the back seat.” “Fortunately, he has his seat belt on.” “Unfortunately, I think he needs the toilet” etc. We play this without starting ‘fortunately’ or ‘unfortunately’ but the rest is the same, putting a positive twist on an unfortunate situation! It is usually rather personal though, like “You smell.” “Like sweet flowers after the rain.” “Acid rain.” etc.
Bag the Best Car
Image by Michael Evans
Great for car model aficianados. Simply bagsy first the best car you pass on the road to get top spot. However, keep your eyes peeled for superior cars and make sure you spot them first or you’ll lose your supremacy! Every time someone bags a better car, their discarded model is up for grabs by the first person to snap it up to get second place etc.
Can I Bring?
This game is about guessing the pattern/rule that the leader sets. The pattern is applied to anything. For example, lets say my pattern/rule is that I can only bring things which have 5 letters. I am then able to bring a plane, a mouse, pears (but not pear), an apple (but not apples) and so on. The way this carries out is I say 3 things that fit the context – “I’m going on a picnic/going to the moon/etc. and I’m going to bring…” Then the next person can either guess the pattern or submit 2 words and I have to respond saying which of them are valid; “Can I bring a … or a …?” The pattern/rule can be anything – from simple patterns/rules like you can only bring things beginning with a certain letter, to more complicated patterns like you can only bring things which spell out your name one letter at a time! Infuriating sometimes, but it really is a boredom buster!
Image by Simon Harrod
This is a fun car game if you're driving through rural areas, but can work on some major roads too. The game is basically what the name suggests - kids holler “My Cows” when they pass by a cow(s) on their side of the car, rapidly adding up and scoring a point for each one. If you see cows on the other side you say, "Your Cows!" If you call, "Your Cows!" before the person sees them, you steal their points! The object, of course, is to "collect" the most cows. Adult only passengers can get creative and allocate points instead for roadkill, couples arguing etc.
Image by Matt Brown
Call out the letters from a car number plate you see, then take it in turns to make a ridiculous phrase that they might stand for. For example, MBV could turn into “my best valentine” or “mad brother visits.” The sillier, the better. Switch to another plate when everyone’s out of ideas. For more of a challenge, include the numbers. Alternatively make up words using the last 3 letters on car number plates. For example WTO could be WiThOut or bloWTOrch. You could add more spice (and complication!) by having a scoring system that awards points based on how many letters are in the winning word.
Degrees of Separation
One person picks two things that are unrelated. Another has to provide a chain of plausible associations to connect them. For example, if you say “cats and rainbows,” I might say, “Cats have fur. Fur is warm. The sun makes us warm. Sun and rain together makes a rainbow.” Oops - maybe you can come up with a better one than this! Alternatively, try stringing along words though association in turns.
Adopt a Holiday Persona
Great for car Divas! Decide on an accent or personality you want to be at the start of your car journey (for example a French accent, a pirate, a witch etc.) and keep it going the whole way, even when you have to fill up for petrol or have to ask for directions (bear this is mind, ma and pa, when choosing!).
I’m Going on a Holiday
This game is a fantastic way to improve memory and language skills (don’t let on to the kids that it’s educational though). The game starts with a player saying: “I’m going on a holiday and I’m packing….” The next word that follows should start with the letter A. The next player repeats what the last player said but adds another item starting with a B. Follow this pattern from A to Z, or until there there’s only one player left who can remember everything in that overstuffed suitcase. For young kids, it might help to offer hints to jog their memory.
PS Many of our holiday cottages are pet-friendly but we are unable to accommodate zebras, so please don’t pack any.
Tell me a Story
If you’re in storytelling mode, then this game is for you! One person starts a story, with just a line or two, then stops mid-sentence. The next person picks up the tale and keeps building. No one can negate someone else's idea, only build on it. The stories usually go in strange directions and are usually good for a group giggle! You can also do this with each player saying just one word at a time instead.
Image by David Bolton
Harness your passengers’ inner creativity in this car game – it’s especially good if you're caught in a traffic jam. Choose some interesting occupants in another car and together make up an imaginary back story about them, based on how they look, what kind of car they drive and how they are dressed. Make up details of who they might be, some silly names, possible occupations, hobbies, where and why they’re driving - the more exciting and creative, the better. Hilarious stories can be invented that can become a running joke during the journey. Just try not to stare though!
10 Little Green Men
Image by PV KS
A little-known car game because I made it up as a child! Imagining I had 10 little green men in the car, I pretended to dispatch them out of the car one by one during different stages of a long car journey. I think it was to try and pace the journey and was seeing how far each would have to walk, or hitch a ride to our cottage! Once safely at our holiday cottage, I would try to calculate when each would arrive, welcoming (figuratively) each arriving in turn during the course of my holiday – some were soggy, most were tired and all were relieved to arrive! Weird or sweet? You decide. It certainly kept me occupied (and quiet) on long journeys!
Image by Mike Brocklebank
Each participant has to look out for a particular company brand of lorry on the road, with each person adopting a brand of lorry to spot. You get one point for your lorries coming the other way and two for ones you pass on your side. Some of the company brands we can think of include Sainsbury’s, Wilko’s, Asda, Tesco, Next, Eddie Stobart and Marks & Spencer. We’re sure you will be able to come up with others!
You play by finding all 26 letters of the alphabet on things that you pass as you are travelling, in order, from A to Z. When you find a letter, you shout out the word you found it in, and then say the next letter you are looking for. The basic rules are that the letter has to be visible on road signs, buildings, billboards, lorries etc. outside the car. The nice thing about this game? Young children who know the letters of the alphabet, can play along too!
Silence Is Golden
Adults decide on a prize, like a treat at the next petrol stop. The goal is to be completely quiet. Toward the end of the journey, when everyone is a little weary, this car game should provide welcome relief!