It’s summer road-trip season, and anything beats ‘when are we gonna get there?’

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It’s summer road-trip season. We asked people to share the device-free car games they play to pass the time while on the road:


The rules: When you see a yellow vehicle you simply say “canary”; the goal is to reach 20. Once you’ve called it, it is yours. If you have new passengers in the car, you do not reveal the rules of the game or even hint that you are playing.

How to win: Reach 20.

Pro tip: Seeing how long it takes the new passenger in the car to catch on to the game is part of the fun.

Travel Bingo

The rules: Design a bingo board before you go — cow, water tower, police car, unusual “fusion” restaurant — and cross the items off during the trip.

How to win: Cross off a whole row, and yell “Bingo!”

Pro tip: Think about what you’ll see before you design that board.

License Plate

The rules: Check off each state as you see the plate go by on a car or truck. Or count only cars, to make it harder.

How to win: Being entertained is a win for everyone.

Pro tip: There are now a number of apps for this.


The rules: Find the letters A-Z in order as you spot them outside the car in license plates, signs, etc. Say them out loud as you find them.

How to win: You can add scoring but you don’t have to.

Pro tip: Not the best on long, isolated roads.

Guess What I Saw?

The rules: On your turn, other passengers try to guess what you saw. Once they do, move on to the next passenger.

How to win: Everyone’s a winner.

Pro tip: On long trips on remote roads, include things inside the car.

The Cow Game

The rules: You have one team on the passenger side and one on the driver’s side. As you travel, each team counts cows on their side of the road. The catch: If you drive past a graveyard, all of your cows pass away and you have to start over.

How to win: The team with the most cows at the end of the trip wins.

Pro tip: Drivers, try to keep your eyes on the road more than on the cows.