› Car games for kids

Car games for kids...plus tips for long drives

Try these car games for kids and other techniques to keep everyone happy as you drive around Oz. You might just get to drive in peace a little further.

Car games for kids help on long drives like this one in the Stirling Ranges, WA

We leave late on purpose...
We usually aim to leave by about 9-10am, so the kids have had a run around. Then they’re ready to settle into the car, and they don’t seem to get bored as quickly.

Even before you get in the car –

Ticket to ride

When we’re ready to go, the kids need to collect a ‘ticket to ride’. This is a kids car game in itself, a fun way to remind them to go to the toilet.

Once they’ve been, they can climb in the car and 'redeem' their ticket (usually just a slip of paper, stickers or something else I have handy). Whenever we forgot to do this, we ended up stopping within the first hour just for toilet breaks.

Snack boxes

As soon as our kids are in the car, they’re hungry. To avoid being nagged for hours I pack them each a lunchbox with a variety of snacks for the trip. It’s up to them to choose when to eat, and when they run out – that’s it.

I don’t pack their lunch, because I like to eat together at a designated stop. It’s less messy and makes us all stop and stretch, and have a proper break.

Once you’re in the car – try to stay in the car!

For all-day drives, we found that a combination of kids car games and activities worked best in the morning, then a big break for lunch, then an afternoon movie or sleep or some music. We also limited long drives to a maximum of 500km a day, which really helped. 

Car games for kids

Thanks to my dear friend and fellow camper, Melissa, who gave me many of these kids car games for our trip:

  • Counting cars – Give each child a colour and ask them to count the cars they see of that colour. See who can get to 20 first, then try another colour. This is only good when there’s a decent amount of traffic!

  • ABC Spotting – Starting at A, each player must spot objects from A-Z (starting letter) along the road. The first to Z is the winner.

  • “I spy… “ the classic car game for kids – You can use either “starting with the letter…” or “something the colour…”. Take turns regardless of who guesses the answer.

  • 20 Questions – A player thinks of an object. The other players can ask up to 20 questions to figure out what it is, but they can only get yes/no answers. Everything must be either animal, vegetable or mineral (anything not alive is "mineral").

  • Scavenger Hunt – Write a list of rare or difficult to spot objects on your trip. Players compete to try to finish the list first. For example – a number plate with X and Z on it, three pubs called "royal", a town with a woman’s name in it…the list is endless!

What are your favourite car games for kids? Please let me know so I can share them here.

Other fun car activities

  • Colouring-in, puzzle or activity books – We kept a selection in the car, but one book at a time probably works better.

  • Toys – We kept the kids’ toy boxes in the car so they could play with things along the way.

  • Sing-a-long – You can do this with the music blaring or with no music at all. We used to play the kids’ favourite CDs and some favourite adult driving songs too (from the Fairies to Chili Peppers to Paul Kelly).

  • Reading books – if your kids don’t get car sick, a good book can keep them entertained for a long time. Watch out on winding roads though.

  • Home-school work – You’d be surprised how much spelling, maths and investigation can be done as you drive along. Encourage the kids to look out their windows for inspiration!

The more options you have the better...

After all, long car trips are boring for children. The goal is to keep them entertained and avoid unplanned breaks as much as possible. I hope you find a good balance on your long driving days, and that these techniques and car games for kids help you drive just a little bit further!

› Car games for kids

Back to TOP