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Cross-Country Road Trip Games to Help Keep You (and Your Family) Sane

Have a big family road trip coming up? Maybe you’re taking your annual vacation, or maybe you and your family are relocating for keeps. Whatever the occasion, family road trips are an opportunity for family bonding and fun. They can also turn into long-term headaches. Think about it: you, the spouse, the kids, maybe even the family pet all crammed into one car. It could be exciting; it could be exhausting. To help keep your family road trip on the fun side of things, our cross-country travel experts here at Direct Express Auto Transport have put together this list of cross-country road trip games that the whole family can play on the go. A sure-fire way to keep everyone entertained even when cell service disappears, these road trip games for kids and adults will make any family road trip fly by — in the best way possible.


I Spy

I spy with my little eye.” There are fewer famous road-tripping words than this. “I spy” has been a cornerstone game of family road trips for generations, and for good reason. This simple game can be played for hours, and it keeps the entire family alert as they look out the window. Also, “I spy” can be played anywhere, from rural two-lane roads to crowded interstates. Gameplay is easy. Start off with one person as the spier who says, for example: “I spy with my little eye, something blue.” Then, everyone else in the car must look around to find it. (You and your family can decide if objects in the car are off-limits.) If somebody thinks they’ve spied the correct item, they call it out. If they’re correct, they get to be the new spier.

License Plate Games

On most road trips, license plates are typically in abundant supply. Turn them into a game with the license plate game: the first one to collect all 50 states wins! Rule number one: no double-dipping. The first person to spot the Hawaii license plate in the left lane is the only one who gets to cross it off their list. Everyone else has to wait. The license plate game is great for multi-day, multi-state trips, where roughly 20 or so states will be easy to find. But what about spotting a Maine plate out west or an Idaho plate in the deep south? That’s when things start to get tougher. To keep things fun, you can make modifications to the license plate game. Each person who spots a plate that hasn’t yet been seen that day gets a point. The day’s funniest, craziest vanity plate gets a point. The list of fun modifications goes on. Speaking of lists, be sure to print out a few state lists for your spouse and kids to use while you’re in the car. Even for us adults, it can be difficult to list all 50 states from memory.

Horses and Graveyards

Depending on which parts of the country you are driving through, you may be seeing a whole lot of horses and a fair number of graveyards. Like license plates, two cross-country mainstays can be turned into a game: Horses and Graveyards. The way that Horse and Graveyards works is that anytime your car approaches a horse — a real horse, a horse bumper sticker, a horse on a sign, the word “horse,” or any other instance of horse — whoever yells out “That’s my horse!” first gets one horse point. A whole herd of horses? Depending on how rowdy you want your car to get, maybe you might make up a rule about herds of horses only being worth one point. Onto the next step: the graveyard. When your car approaches a graveyard, the first person in the car to yell “Graveyard!” gets to cash in his or her horse points, and everyone else loses all of their horse points that they’ve accumulated since the last graveyard. At the end of the trip, whoever has the most horse points wins Horses and Graveyards.

The Animal Point Game

Continuing on the animal theme, the animal point game is great way to keep everyone engaged on the road. Right as you are beginning your trip, you and your family need to come up with any potential animals you might see on the road and the number of points that each animal is worth. Points are typically determined by the rarity of the animal; the less likely you are to see it, the more it’s worth. Cows, horses, and crows are worth one point. Deer and hawks: worth 10 points. Llamas: worth 25 points. Exotic zoo animals: 100 points. A blue whale: worth 1000 points. You’ll want to figure out how you want to score large groups of the same animal all in one area. You don’t really want someone getting 500 points when you pass a feedlot along the highway. Have fun with your kids’ hypothetical questions, like how many points is it worth if someone spots Sasquatch, or a woolly mammoth. The animal point game is especially fun if you and your family take a detour through Yellowstone or another place with a wide variety of different animals. Just like “I spy,” the animal counting game keeps your kids looking out the window and off of their phones and tablets.

The Quiet Game

A godsend for sanity on long road trips, the quiet game is perhaps the simplest of all road trip games on this list. Prepare for the game ahead of time by buying different prizes (snacks are always a great choice) for the winners. The rules are as you’d expect. Whoever doesn’t speak for the longest period of time gets the prize. This game only really works if you can convince your family to buy into it. But if you can, the overall peace and quiet you are going to be getting will be priceless. Start a round of the quiet game, put on a favorite album of yours or the family book on tape, and enjoy the wave of serenity in your car.

Movie Matching Games

If your family is pop-culture-savvy, then the movie matching game might be your best friend on the open road. One variety uses just movie titles. One person says a movie title, then the next person must say another movie title with at least one shared word. If someone says Avengers Endgame, for example, the next person might say Game Night. Then, the next person could say Night at the Museum. If someone can’t think of a movie title that fits this rule, they lose one of three lives. Once all three lives are gone, that person is eliminated from the game. Want an easier version of the movie matching game? Match the first letter of each title with the last letter of the previous title. For example: Avengers Endgame, Edge of Tomorrow, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Yes Man, and so on. Consider taking a timeout from any of the above games for 30 minutes or so and play a few rounds of a movie matching game. It’ll help keep you all thinking clearly and creatively on those long, straight freeways through flyover country.

Simplify Your Road Trip: Ship Your Car(s) 

Does your family have multiple cars that they need to get across the country for your big move? Families that drive together stay sane together! Don’t split up your entire posse into multiple cars if you don’t have to. Keep everyone together so you can all enjoy the trip and you can properly parent in the event of any issues. Consolidate your cross-country road trip by shipping your extra cars.

Shipping all cars but one has a number of benefits bringing your family together. For one, it saves your other cars hundreds to thousands of miles of wear and tear. For another, it reduces driving duties for all adults in your party. Most importantly, it brings you precious peace of mind. When you ship your car with a reputable car shipping company, you know that it’s getting from point A to point B safely. (For those of you that would prefer to skip the road trip altogether and fly for your cross-country moves, shipping your vehicles is the easy solution.)

Learn More and Ship With Our Team at Direct Express Auto Transport

Your vehicle is one of your biggest investments. It needs to be shipped with a company you can trust. That company is right here at Direct Express Auto Transport. From our dispatchers to our customer service reps, our drivers to our web developers, our staff is fully committed to providing you with excellent service at every step of the car shipping process. Fast, affordable, and safe, we are the nation’s top car shipping company. Check out our 94% 5-star rating on Trustpilot, or visit our Testimonials page to see what past customers have said about us. Need a quote now? Use Original Auto Transport Quote Calculator to plug in a few facts about your car and where you need it transported, and we’ll get you an accurate, affordable quote in seconds. Save yourself headache and hassle on your next move. Ship your car with the best. Ship with our team here at Direct Express Auto Transport!

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