The family road trip is a fun staple of the South African experience - whether you’re driving to your favourite game park, holiday spot, family home or even across the country between Joburg and Cape Town.
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Keeping the little ones entertained is a challenge even with a room full of toys and TV, but we know just how to keep them busy - and mostly quiet - with this set of easy road trip car games.
1. FIRST TO TEN
This simple game is fun for your little ones and tweens (miracle of miracles), and with a reward for the winner - like choosing the next CD, playlist or snack - you’ll get everyone involved.
Pick a type of car, or a car colour, and the first to spot ten of them is the winner! An alternate on this is to have everyone guess how many of a colour or type of car they’ll spot in a certain time frame.
2. MAKE A WORD
This fun, simple game is great for language skills and super easy to play for kids of all ages. Try to make a word out of the letters of the number plate in front of you. Whoever makes the first, or longest, word, wins.
3. COLOURING IN BOOKS
There’s a reason adult colouring in books are the latest trend - with proven relaxation and meditative benefits, they are fun, mindless and yet entertaining. If you get the right book you could even give your teens something to do in the car. Get a box of pencils and any one of thousands of children’s or adult colouring-in books or free printable pages online for a peaceful road trip.
4. MEMORY GAME
This alphabet-based memory game is fun for kids aged six and up, and is definitely a ‘more the merrier’ type. Start the game off by saying “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing…” and end the sentence by naming something that starts with A, like apples. The following player then says, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing apples, and…” finishing the sentence with something that starts with a B. Continue the round moving player to player, adding an item from the next letter in the alphabet. If you forget an item, you’re out!
5. 20 QUESTIONS
This family favourite doesn’t require any materials; just some inquisitive minds. There are a few ways to play the game, but the classic game has been around since the 19th century! It’s easy - one person thinks of a person, place or thing, and everyone else has 20 yes-or-no questions to guess what it is.
6. TRACK YOUR TRIP
This is a fantastic way to cut the ‘are we there yet?’ questions, and teach your kiddios some map reading skills. Print out a map of the trip (Google Maps is a great option here!) and give them pens or alternately a metal tray table and a magnet to follow the car along its journey.
7. SWEET OR SOUR
With all the cars on the road, you’re bound to meet up with a range of drivers, some sweet and some sour. Here’s how it works. The kids look out of the window and wave at the drivers they come across. If the driver smiles back at them, they are sweet, if they don’t, they are sour. Each child keeps score and the one with the most number of sweet drivers, wins.
8. FICTIONAL FAMILIES
This game is one that’s bound to get the creative juices flowing and one that the whole family should enjoy. Just spot a family in a car and create a backstory for that entire family. You know, things like who they are, where they are from and what they do - and if you want to make it even more creative, you can even recreate their conversations.
9. FIRST TO LAUGH LOSES
If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, this is a pretty awesome game - using reverse psychology to give you a few minutes of silence. It’s pretty simple: you tell the kids that whoever can keep silent the longest gets to choose the first holiday activity. And just like that, if you’re lucky, you have a few minutes of silence for you to collect your thoughts. To add some intensity to the game, you can play funny YouTube videos on a phone with the same challenge (this is a lot harder to win!)
10. DON’T SAY IT
If you're looking for more fun games to get the little ones to say less, this one is a great too. Each child chooses five to ten words that their sibling can’t use for the duration of the trip. If either child uses the forbidden words, they get points - and the one with the most points at the end of the trip loses the competition. Like any other road trip competition, the prize would have to be appealing enough for them to take the competition seriously.
11. SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION
This one is pretty easy - all you need to do is choose two completely unrelated items, then in six steps or less, explain how they are connected to each other. To make it even easier, you can just use people from opposite sides of the world and connect them to each other in six people or less.
12. THE COMPLIMENT GAME
If there has been some tension in the car - an argument here, a tantrum there - you can help the reconciliation with this game. All you need to do is go through the alphabet and find a word you can use to compliment one of the passengers in the car, e.g. Lovely Candice or Caring Rendani.
Let us know which game is your favourite - or comment with one that you and your family play!
Watch our video on what not to do on your way to your holiday destination
Want more great content like this? Download our free ebook of family car games with South African bingo, free colouring in and other great games and printables.