How to keep your kids occupied on car journeys without screens!

[This is a partnered post]

Long family car trips have long been something parents dread. Not only is there is the cost of filling up the car and dealing with the traffic (curse the M6) but the kids in the back will undoubtedly be fidgeting after 30 minutes and loudly asking “are we there yet” at every available opportunity. The various tablets, portable games consoles and smartphones might prove enough for an hour or so, but use them too much and the motion sickness is bound to start kicking in, which won’t be beneficial to anyone (let alone your car’s upholstery).

For generations, however, parents have been helping their kids to fight boredom with several ingenious car games that involve the whole family and keep their minds from wandering.

I Spy – An absolute classic that might get old after half an hour or so, but will provide at least a few rounds of entertainment. It can even lead to some incredibly funny shared moments. The game is simple – state “I spy with my little eye, something beginning with”  the first letter of an object. The rest of the family then need to guess what it is. Simple. Elegant. Timeless.

20 Questions – In a similar vein to I Spy, this classic car game is generally more about deductive reasoning and will really help your children to develop their detective skills. Simply get one player to think of a person and the rest of the family has 20 yes or no questions with which to guess. A potentially endless game that requires more strategy than you’d think.

The Name Game – Perfect for A and B roads that have plenty of shops, pubs and establishments to draw from, this involves players each choosing the name of a place  and counting the syllables. The one with the most syllables at the end of the round wins. For example – Fords of Winsford would be four syllables, whereas The Horse and Carriage would be 5 syllables, so the latter would win.

Car Bingo – Start your journey by making a list of things for people to spot (specific makes and models of cars, animals, road signs etc.) and map them out on a grid. The first person to spot them all then needs to shout “Bingo” and is declared the winner. This one obviously requires a bit of preparation and wouldn’t probably be pretty difficult on the motorway where they’re not much going on.

Name the Tune – Anyone who remembers the classic game show “Nevermind the Buzzcocks” will definitely remember this one. The idea here is to hum a tune and whoever correctly identifies the song first is the winner.


Of course, the real fun comes in creating your own games to play in the car that are unique to every family, but hopefully, the selection above should give you a keen template to work from the next time you’re due a long family car trip. Any more to add?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *