I will be travelling with two kids aged 15 and 18 in a car this upcoming month, and I would like to play some games in the car with them.

I know the game where you look for different license plates, and the alphabet game where you work your way through the alphabet by looking at road signs and such. I have heard of some other games which include something called "ghost"? where each person says one letter to try and complete a word, making sure the final letter doesn't fall on you.

Are there any other stimulating/involve the whole car type of games?

  • 2
    I took the liberty of a small edit, removing "young", as 15-18yo are rather the upper half of the "teen" category. Jul 27, 2011 at 19:44

8 Answers 8


I just found a funny one :) i am 15 myself, so i know this one will be good :)

WHO'S NEXT DOOR? If you are in a traffic queue making up stories about the people in the car nearby can be funny for a short while ie what their names are, what they do for a job, what their hobbies are, what pets they have, what their house is like etc etc. This tends to only work well if somone in the car has a good imagination / sense of humour and can make up outrageous facts.

Hope you like it =]

  • +1 I do this as a fun game everywhere; in the car, at the store, movie theater, or anywhere else I want to people watch.
    – MacItaly
    Feb 7, 2019 at 23:54

Your examples sound like games for younger children. At age 15+18, I'd try to challenge them on a higher intellectual level, but in a fun way.

Do you know the game 20 questions for the professor? It's a guessing game where one thinks of a person/thing/idea and the others must ask yes/no questions to zero in on the solution, and they must do it in no more than 20 questions. Be sure the "professor" writes down his or her item to prove if no one gets it. Driver: have a couple ready so you can keep your hands on the wheel.

Similarly, there's a game where everybody gets a post-it on their forehead, with a person's name on it (movie character, famous person, family oddball, etc.). You know what's on the others' post-it but not your own, and like above, you take turns asking the others am I male kind of questions, again to zero in on the solution. Obviously using post-it's won't work in the car, but you can think of a solution to that - in the car!

  • the alphabet game and license game are really cheesy, but those are the only ones i know. i used them as examples since you go around the passengers in the car and everyone is involved.
    – zompz
    Jul 27, 2011 at 19:14
  • 1
    youtube.com/watch?v=AmhWwSJDkaw :)
    – user420
    Jul 27, 2011 at 19:16
  • The post-it game is a lot of fun but would be way too easy to cheat with all the reflective surfaces in a car.
    – yossarian
    Oct 5, 2011 at 21:17

A great game which can be played for hours is Contact:

  • A word master thinks of a word and says the first letter, for example C
  • If one of the players thinks of a word which starts with this letter , he asks a question about a word, for example, is this an animal if he thinks of a cat
  • If second player can think of an answer which starts with the letter, he says "Contact"
  • Countdown begins from 10 to 1. During the countdown the word master has to think about an animal which starts with a letter. He can say no, it is not cow (Of course, if the word he has in mind is not indeed an animal). This answer is acceptable because it is an animal starting with the defined letter.
  • If by the end of countdown word master did not come up with the word, players in contact have to say the word they have in mind simultaneously. If the say the same word, word master has to give the next letter of the word.
  • The game continues till players guess the word.

We quite like Dictionary. One person says a word, and everyone else has to guess if it is real or made up. You can ask for definitions, which can be the funniest part of the game. (This can also be played as a pencil and paper game, but that's tricky when driving.)

  • That's funny. We called it Balderdash - good one. Nov 15, 2012 at 4:38

So I don't have teens of my own, but I've taught quite a few pre-teens and early teens (and taken them on outdoor ed trips), plus, I've done a three week trip in Costa Rica with a group of Highschoolers (one other teacher, and two chaperones). As teacher, of course we were also able to require a certain amount of homework/quiet time etc. However, some of the games we played have already been mentioned like Balder-dash and just being goofy and singing songs.

I'm surprised nobody brought up Mad Libs. These are great. Many times such a thing needs to be the teens idea, but if you just stick a tablet of mad libs in the car for them to find, it might provide some pretty funny entertainment for awhile - especially with teen vocabularies you could really have some fun with this one.

There are also drama games where you trade something like the alphabet back and forth while expressing emotion. A game master calls an emotion and the first player says, "A" in that emotion. The game master calls another emotion and the second player says, "B" in the new emotion and so on until someone can't do it because they're laughing or get an emotion that is tough for them.

You can also try the game where you list things alphabetically. Pick a category together, (for example fruits). Player 1 says, "Apple" player two says, "banana" and player three says "citrus" and so on until a player gets a letter that they can't think of an example for. You may go through the alphabet multiple times before anyone gets stumped, so you can't repeat the same fruit again. This one works for more teen-friendly topics like music bands and celebrities too. What is mainly fun for them is when you say some band name from your teenhood and then they get to laugh at how old and out-of-date you are, but its still fun and fills time.

Check out some YA books on tape. Many libraries offer these for checkout (ours for three weeks), but you can also use The Cracker Barrel if there are any along your route or just download some to an ipod (or other appropriate technology) or your computer and then burn to a disk. Find something somewhat controversial you can talk about at the end and have a little debate, play a little devil's advocate/etc.

Also, since they are teens, just chilling can be good too. If you sort of "disappear" into the steering wheel, you will learn things about your teens you never thought any teen would share. They magically forget you are there and you may find yourself particularly proud of the character your child exhibits, surprised by how logical they can be, or informed about a challenge being faced they hadn't opened up to you about. They will largely entertain themselves. Take turns playing "good music" some of it good to them and some of it good to you and relax.



The object of this game is to get the right answer by asking the wrong questions. This may sound daft, but after a few practice rounds you should get the hang of it.

One player thinks of an item (keep it simple at first). The others then ask him questions to try and find out what it is. The questions shouldn't be simple ones about 'Is it a so-and-so?'. They should be general queries about anything under the sun. In fact the more disconnected they are, the better.

It is the person giving the answers who has the hardest job. He is not allowed to give a simple Yes or No. Every one of his replies must mention the secret item, but to disguise it he calls it a gooseberry pie instead.

Here are a few examples to get you started. Let's say the secret item is an apple. The questioners might ask Are you hungry?, to which the reply is No, I've got a gooseberry pie in my pocket. The next question is Have you been to the doctor lately?, to which the reply is No, I eat a gooseberry pie every day. And so on. The game requires a sense of humour on both sides to keep it going.


Traditional games are great, they keep things simple.

Personally, i do things that exploit my kids talents. 2 of them like to sing. In a former life, i was a musician and sometimes wannabe dj. So we'll make up goofy funny words to whatever song is playing. Eventually it goes so far that we need to turn the radio/cd OFF and just holler our own words and music.

I think the grander point is "be aware of their attention span." sometimes when we sit down to play a bored game (yes bored), they tend to drraaaaag on. Uno is ok, but it can get out of hand. Sorry, etc, can do the same thing. So realistically, clamped into a car for a 6 hr drive, you should think ahead of time about lots of 20-minute activities. Be prepared to start something up if things start to get bad . . . 20 of I Spy, 20 of talking about those cows over there having a cocktail party, 20 of laughing about the horse trailer with the poop on the back door, 20 doing any of the activities mentioned here. And then 20 in the drivethru at McNasties and 20 eating (followed by 20 wretching). Hopefully, somewhere in there, you can string together several uninterrupted 20s of quiet driving while the kids read or color or what have you.

And please. . . don't be too concerned about "making time." That can turn any trip into an absolutely hateful experience for the kids. Really... It's ok... to take your McNasties to that city park over there and spend 30-45 minutes eating and chilling off some pent-up energies (this works for teens too)


I love Ghost. A lot.

Some other games:

Encore - Someone says a word or category (e.g., "Boys names A-L" or "Colors") and sings a song with that word in it. Go around in a circle until someone can't think of other songs with that word in it. That person drops out and the game continues on until there's only one left. (or you can have two teams). Whoever wins chooses the next word (or whoever loses first...). I should note that this is a purchasable board game, too, but the only thing that really gets you is the words.

Geography - First player says a place name (city, continent, body of water, neighborhood, whatever). The next person has to think of a place name that hasn't yet been mentioned that starts with the last letter of the previous place. The game continues until you get mind-blowingly bored. E.g., "France", "Epcot", "Tokyo", "Oceania", "Aral Sea"...

The Chinese Restaurant Game - This is a game my brother and I made up at a Chinese restaurant, hence the name. Feel free to call it something else (maybe "Free Association"). One person thinks of two words or phrases. The other person has to get from one to the other one step at a time using words that somehow connect in whatever way makes sense. The fun is explaining the weird connections your brain makes. For instance, "Dog" and "Cinderella" can be (among an infinite number of paths): Dog => Puppy => Guppy => Fish => Fishbowl => Glass => Glass slipper => Cinderella.

Twenty questions/Many questions - One person comes up with a noun of some sort (physical things work best). The other players are guessers - they try to figure out what your noun is based on yes-or-no questions. The first question is always "Animal, Vegetable or Mineral?" - Animal if it's a person or animal, vegetable if it's a plant, mineral if it's anything non-living (water, computer, volcanoes, and sky all fit into this category). The guessers continue to ask questions ("Is it round?" "Can I hold it in my hand?" "Have you ever eaten one?") until either (a) they have correctly guessed the answer ("Is it the moon?") or (b) they run over the limit of questions. IMO, this game usually works best if you have infinite questions and you use rather obscure answers (venetian blinds, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Stonehenge, etc.)

Going on a Picnic - One person comes up with a criterion for judging words (to be explained). The person says, "I'm going on a picnic and I'm going to bring X, Y and Z," where X, Y and Z are three words or phrases that match the criterion. The other players ask, "Can I bring a Q?" to which the judge says yes or no based on the criteria. The goal for the guessers is to figure out what the criterion is. The criterion can be based on the actual properties of the object (e.g., "things that are bigger than a bowling ball") or on the properties of the words (e.g., "things with double letters").

MindTrap - MindTrap is a really great thinking game that you can buy cards for. The driver doesn't need to see the cards - she just needs to participate in the question asking.

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