13 Fun & Easy Word Games to Play in the Car With Kids
Let’s kick your next family road trip up a notch with a review of the best word games to play in the car with kids!
As a great way to pass time on your drive, word games are fun, free, and nostalgic – as well as a huge sanity-saver when boredom strikes on a long haul road trip.
Equip yourself with these 13 fun word games to play in the car with kids the next time you find yourself journeying down the highway.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. For more info, see disclosure.
Best Word Games to Play in the Car With Kids
One of our top tips for planning a family road trip is to arm yourself with an arsenal of fun and easy activities that can serve as entertainment while on the road.
Along with books, electronics, and our infamous road trip goody bags, our family loves to play good old’ fashioned word games while cruising the countryside.
The best word games to play in the car with kids have flexible playing rules and can be played by all ages.
Likewise, they are meant to be more of a time-filler versus an actual competition in order to keep things fun and lighthearted (which will keep the bickering at bay!).
If you are into keeping points, however, all of these word games to play in the car can be adapted to have a winner and loser.
1. The Alphabet Game
Start at the beginning and work through each letter of the alphabet.
Have kids take turns naming a word that starts with the respective letter. Keep going until someone can recite a word for each letter of the alphabet up until the end.
For older kids, consider selecting a category, i.e. food names, and have them take turns working through the alphabet until they get stumped.
2. I Spy
Perhaps one of the most common words games to play in the car is the classic road trip game of I Spy.
Adding to its overall appeal is the fact that even when road tripping with toddlers, they can join in on the game!
This simple guessing game begins as one person spies (preferably something that will stay in sight and can be seen by all) something and keeps it a secret.
The other players take turns asking questions and guessing the object until someone guesses correctly.
- I spy with my little eye something that is pink.
- “Is it in the car?” (yes/no?)
- “Is it soft?” (yes/no?)
- “Is it mom’s shirt?” (yes!)
3. Going On A Bear Hunt
Going On A Bear Hunt is another classic road trip word game that is known by many different names.
Regardless, it is a simple memory game where the first person starts by saying, “I’m going on a bear hunt, and I am bringing… [an item that begins with the letter A]”.
The second person repeats the sentence, repeats what the first person is bringing, and adds an object starting with the letter B.
This continues as everyone repeats all of the previous items before adding an item that begins with the next letter of the alphabet.
“I’m going on a bear hunt and I am bringing an apple”
“I’m going on a bear hunt and I am bringing an apple and a bike.”
“I’m going on a bear hunt, and I am bringing an apple, a bike, and a cookie.”
Additional planning tip: All the food and snacks that are often referred to in this game are likely to make you hungry! Be sure to read our article on the best family road trip snacks and meals that you’ll want to have to munch on!
The Categories word game starts with a person selecting a particular category of items.
Each player must take turns naming items in that category until no one can think of any more items to add.
- Things to bring to the beach? (towel, sunscreen, shovel, etc.)
- Items found in a kitchen? (plates, oven, mixer, etc.)
- Names of candy bars? (Snickers, Milky Way, Butterfinger, etc.)
One of our favorite word games to play in the car, Heads-Up is both a board game and a free mobile app on both Apple and Google Play.
One player holds up the mobile phone to their forehead without looking at it.
The other players will yell out clues for the first player to be able to guess the word that is showing on the screen.
The goal is to be able to guess as many words as possible in 2 minutes.
This game is a riot and your family is sure to love it!
6. Think Fast!
Someone picks a category or asks a question and the first person to shout out the answer wins.
The winner chooses the next category.
- Brands of cereal? “Frosted Flakes!”
- Names of country music singers? “Blake Shelton!”
- Colors of the rainbow? “Yellow!”
Additional planning tip: Consults our winter road trip packing list to learn how to prep for a road trip when driving in unpredictable weather conditions.
7. Word Trail
Word Trail is a word game played by naming and working off of compound words.
The first player starts by saying a compound word of their choice. The next player takes the last part of the word and builds a new one.
Keep playing until everyone is stumped.
8. Would You Rather?
Someone starts by asking a simple question of what someone would choose if given two options.
Feel free to get as creative and as personal as you want with the Would You Rather Questions!
When doing so, this word game often leads to good laughs and lively discussion as it is usually very surprising what each player says.
The person who answers gets to make up and ask the next scenario.
- Would you rather be an Olympic athlete or the President?
- Would you rather eat a raw potato or a whole lime?
- Would you rather be invisible or be able to fly?
9. Car Spotting
Everyone in the car tries to identify the make and model of the next car that is in the distance. This can either be the car that you are approaching from behind, or the car that is oncoming from the front.
Each person gets one guess.
Whoever correctly guesses the make and model wins.
10. Name That Tune
When it comes to traveling with kids, how about a little singing to help pass the time?
in the game ‘Name That Tune’, someone starts the game by humming a well-known song.
The first person to guess the tune correctly wins and gets to be the next “hummer”.
Name That Tune radio-style:
Try to be the first one to correctly guess the name of the song that comes on the radio.
Tweens and teens who love music can usually identify modern-day hits within a few beats of the song starting!
11. 20 Questions
20 Questions is the perfect word game to play in the car when you are needing to pass time!
Have someone start by thinking of an item and then telling the other players what category the object falls in to: an animal, vegetable, etc.
Each player takes turns asking yes or no questions up to a total of 20 Questions. Encourage players to ask questions that build on answers already given.
The winner is the one who correctly guesses the mystery object after asking their 20 questions.
- “Is the object bigger than a horse?” (yes/no?)
- “Is the object bigger than a baseball?” (yes/no?)
- “Does the object move?” (yes/no?)
- “Does the object move fast?” (yes/no?)
Click the following image to get your FREE family vacation packing list and BONUS Disney Day Bag packing list that is both customizable and printable!
12. Celebrity Name Game
Designed for tweens, teens, and adults, Celebrity Name Game involves someone starting by naming a celebrity. This person can be a famous athlete, an actor, or a popular character, etc.
The next player needs to name a celebrity who’s first name starts with the first letter of the last name of the celebrity listed beforehand.
- Harrison Ford
- Freddie Mercury
- Michael Jordan
- Jennifer Lawrence
13. The License Plate Game
The goal of this road trip word game is to simply read license plates and identify plates from as many states (or countries) as possible.
The game can be played both during your actual road trip, as well as once you’ve arrived at your destination.
For a team game, everyone works together to find as many different license plates as possible.
Do you have any favorite word games to play in the car that missed my list? I’d love for you to comment below!Jen
If you enjoyed reading our list of 13 Awesome Word Games to Play in the Car with Kids, click here to check out our Related Posts:
- Top 10 Tips for Planning a Family Road Trip (And Enjoying it Too!)
- 18 Amazing “Are We There Yet” Road Trip Activity Bags
- Best Road Trip Activities for Toddlers to Keep Them Entertained
- Road Trip Food List: Best Meals and Snacks When on the Road
- FREE Road Trip Packing List + Printable
- Top 16 Tips for Flying With Kids & Ways to Keep them Calm
*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find our exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*
Thanks for these suggestions! We often rely on the licence plate game, and it’s great to have more options.
You’re welcome! Yes, it is always good to switch up the entertainment!!
Our family loves the license plate game! So much fun keeping track of different plates, states and provinces our on travels
That is by far my kids’ favorite game to play too! It goes on, and on, and on!!
We’re a big road trip family and have a stash of games we cycle through. Hadn’t come across Word Trail before, and will definitely be adding that to our armoury.
Awesome! I’m glad that I could hook you up with a new game!!
We love a road trip and we’re huge fans of a family word game. Our fave is categories!
Awesome! I figured that you’d know most of these games as I know that your family is into road-tripping like we are!
Car spotting is the best!
Yes, we love that one too! Growing up, we lived along a highway and as kids, we’d playing Car Spotting from our living room window 🙂
Holidays from Hels
Great ideas. We often play a car colour game to where you have to be the first to spot for instance 5 pink or gold cars (everyone has their own unusual colour).
It can also be fun to make a silly phrase out of the letters on a licence plate.
There is also a new App called Psych which my kids love. It has a range of trivia games and word games. In one of them you have to make up a word to fit a definition-battling against each other to fool the others that yours is the correct one. Even the adults are a bit addicted in our house.
Such great ideas! Thanks for sharing!! Happy travels!