Camping trip: activities for the car

road trip ideas photo

Most of us aren’t lucky enough to live within easy striking distance of a campsite, which means we need to pack into the car for a lengthy ride to reach our camping destination. We’ve compiled below some tips to make your drive to your campsite as much fun as possible. (Do bear in mind that some of these activities may not be good for riders prone to carsickness.)

Games for car rides

  • 20 Questions
  • Hangman
  • Two Truths and a Lie
  • Storytime  – create a group story by having players take turn adding sentences to a story; a variation is to have one player begin a sentence and then pause mid-sentence, when the next player needs to pick up
  • Don’t Say It – choose several words at the start of the trip that no one is permitted to say for the whole trip
  • What Is the Worst – name the worst item in various categories, like worst person to marry, worst possible recipe, etc.
  • The Movie Game – name an actor, the next player names a movie the actor was in, the next player names a different actor from that same movie, etc.
  • Online trivia
  • Spelling bee
  • Magnetic checkers
  • Alphabet memory game  – players take turns adding new elements to a story in alphabetical order, e.g., “I ate an apple in my backyard and then saw a cat . . .” without forgetting what came before
  • Name That Tune

Games for kids in the car

  • Alphabet game – name something in each category (e.g., animals, items at a grocery store) starting with each letter in the alphabet in alphabetical order
  • Animal game – name an animal, then the next player has to name an animal that begins with the last letter of the animal the first player named, and so on (also works with countries, foods, names of people you know, etc.)
  • I Spy
  • Punch Buggy
  • License plate game – provide all players with a map of the U.S. or list of states – each player marks off a state as they spot the state’s license plate, and the player with the most states at the end of the trip wins
  • License plate initial challenge – come up with a phrase that the letter portion of various license plates might stand for
  • Spot the car – list out various types of vehicles and see who can spot the most
  • Rhyming game – take turns finding words that rhyme with the original word

Group activities on car rides

  • Talk about a big question – a book like That Question Book: Family Edition can help guide you
  • Hold a political debate (or not, if you have differing views and want to preserve the peace on your camping trip)
  • Bring a roadside geology book and have one rider explain the nearby geology to the other riders
  • Mad libs

Listening/watching on drives

  • Audio books (try books relating to where you’re driving, like “The Wizard of Oz” for Kansas)
  • Music (try a new playlist, old favorites, or familiarize yourself with a whole new genre)
  • Movies
  • Podcasts
  • Stand-up comedy recordings

Independent activities on long trips

  • Knitting
  • Crossword puzzles
  • Make a travel journal
  • Sew your route on a map with thread as you drive, to turn into artwork at home (as suggested by Martha Stewart)
  • Naps

Food for road trips

  • Eat a snack notable for each state you drive through (see this list of the best snack food from every state)
  • Plan to stop for a milkshake or ice cream after you’ve made a certain amount of progress toward your destination
  • Pick a small snack like a chip or nut and see if you’re disciplined enough to eat no more than one each mile marker

Kid activities

  • Find shapes in clouds
  • Speak in Pig Latin
  • Use dry erase markers to make drawings or write messages on car windows
  • Coloring
  • Pipe cleaner sculptures

Rest stop activities

  • Plan out good sightseeing locations to visit along the way
  • Stop at playgrounds (try the Playground Buddy app)
  • Take a series of selfies at notable locations, like welcome signs for new states
  • Bring frisbees, soccer balls, etc. to get the wiggles out at rest stops


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