Car games for long journeys


Ten green bottles
This works well with big groups and can go on for a long time! The object of the game is to count down from ten to zero and to sing the song as fast as possible.
Ten green bottles hanging on the wall,
ten green bottles hanging on the wall,
and if one green bottle should accidentally fall,
there'd be nine green bottles hanging on the wall.
Once you've sung each verse the number is replaced by the next number in descending order. Great fun!

Alice the camel
This is another fun game that can get very raucous! Again it is a game where you recite a verse which goes as follows: "Alice the camel had ten humps, Alice the camel had ten humps, Alice the camel had ten humps, so ride Alice ride." This verse if repeated until you reach the number zero and is best fun when it is sung really fast!

Name the theme tune
Hum a famous theme tune or sing it in a different style. The first person to guess the answer wins.


Road trip maths
A great way to get your children learning while you are on the move. Tell them your average speed and challenge them to calculate how long it will take to reach your destination based on this figure. Then ask them to predict how much it will cost to fill up your petrol tank at the next stop based on the price per gallon.

Learn a language
The car is the perfect place to practise a new language. As you travel through a foreign country point out objects, places etc and recite the word in the relevant language: Spanish, French etc. Get the children to recite the word and ban anyone from speaking in English for the next 10 miles.

Spelling bee
Think of a category, eg sport, and then think of 20 words relating to that area. The challenge is for the children to spell the most words out of that category correctly. Obviously adults can play this too with slightly more taxing language!


Farmyard animals
This is very funny and an opportunity to get really inventive. Everyone writes farmyard animal names onto small pieces of paper- be inventive and think of chickens, cows, pigs, horses, pheasants, sheep etc. Players take turns to pick these out of a hat and do their best impersonation of that animal.

Name the noise
Think of a familiar sound. It can be completely abstract so could be someone opening a can, horses hooves going along the street, a creaky door opening etc. Have a go at re-creating the noise and get your fellow players to try and guess what it is.

Famous impressions
One of the funniest games to play in a large group particularly if you have a good mix of accents in the car! Each person takes their turn at impersonating a famous person-from Marlon Brando, to Arnie, to Buzz Lightyear to Michael Jackson, to Madonna give it a go!


Car bingo
Draw up sheets with sights you might see on your travels. For example: aeroplanes, birds, houses, oak trees, various traffic signs. Each is represented by a picture. Once you see that particular object call it out-the first player to say it is the one who marks it off on their card. You car use pennies or loose change as mock-counters.

Guess the number
Think of a number between 1 and 1,000, but keep it to yourself. Players then take it in turns to have a guess at what the number is. Each time they are wrong you can respond "higher" or "lower" until the correct number is guessed.

Odd or even?
This is a variation on the theme of Guess the Number but it's a little bit more advanced, so it's great for slightly older children. Choose a number and get other players to have a go at guessing what it is, but begin the questioning with: "Is it odd or even?"

I spy
Look around and pick an object you can see either in the car or along the road. Then give others a clue such as, "I spy with my little eye ... something green;" or "I spy with my little eye... something brown and furry;" or "I spy with my little eye... something beginning with S:" Continue to give more clues until your friends or family can guess what it is.

The number plate game
First get someone to choose a number plate series - say the year or place prefix/suffix, numbers or letters and this is where you can get really sneaky and even choose a model of car! Then give yourselves a time limit of around 30 minutes and whoever spots the most vehicles with the appropriate number plate wins!

Map drawing
Take a look at the map and talk about what route you are going to take. Then trace the outline of the map and mark on the key landmarks as you pass them. Marks go to the artist who is the most creative, so get drawing!

The alphabet game
Start with the letter "A" and find a word beginning with that letter on a sign, truck, building or licence plate, say the word and then move on to the next letter. You can do this as a competition or together as a family for younger beginner readers. The first one to get to the letter "Z" is the winner!

Twenty questions
Think of an object- it can be anything. The first question players need to ask is: "Is it animal, vegetable, or mineral?" or "Is it a person, place or thing?" The players then ask any question that will help them guess what the object is, so long as it can be answered by a straight yes or no answer. The object of the game is to correctly guess the object in less than 20 questions.

Mirror mirror
Take turns thinking of words that have different meanings when they are spelt backwards and forwards. Players are awarded one point for each letter in the word. Three-letter words score three points, four-letter words are four points, etc.

Think of someone you know or a famous celebrity. Give the other players a two-word description of them using their initials. For example you may say "fabulous singer" and the other players have to think of a famous person who matches that description and those initials, eg Frank Sinatra. The first player to guess is the winner and chooses the next mystery celebrity.

Screen test
One player is selected as the director. He or she picks various emotions or moods for the players to act out, for example happiness, hate, surprise, boredom etc. Each player gets one chance to impress the director. The actor who the director feels puts on a winning performance is awarded the Oscar. The player with the most Oscars wins the game.

Puppet roadshow
Create cut-out hand puppets which you give out when your journey begins. You have until the next stop to think of a storyline. At the next stop it's time for curtain up!


Scavenge hunt
Set the children the task of spotting around five landmarks you know will crop up during your journey. These could be farms, family theme parks, motorway restaurants, rivers etc. If you stop off in the surrounding area, challenge them to collect something (while you're with them) to prove that they have visited there. Whoever spots the most is the winner.

Mobile nature trail
This is fantastic if your journey takes you through country lanes. Give the children a list of animals to watch out for, eg a Friesian cow, a baby lamb, a sheared sheep, deer or a chestnut horse. The first person to see the entire set wins the game.

The county game
Pick out some key characteristics of the county you are travelling through. For example in Kent, look for oast houses, hop fields and thatched cottages; in Cumbria look for mountains and dry-stone walls. The first person to spot as many as they can in half an hour is the winner.