14 great travel games with no screen involved

Kids drawing of a family car holiday

Hurrah! It's family holiday time. 

Or it is more  "argghhhhhhhh" like?

Long car journeys ahead in the car. Or maybe for you it's more like a taxi ride to the airport (then there's the going through security, waiting to board and the plane journey). Super excited kids. Fear not. All you need is a  master plan to keep them suitably entertained. And we've got one for you. A plan to provide in car entertainment for your troops until you get to your holiday destination. A handy list of travel game ideas that doesn't involve a screen. No fear of running out of screen power.

Fire up your printer and download it, or bookmark it, and you can keep your kids occupied on your way to your next holiday break. You're welcome. 

14 brilliant family games you can play in the car without a screen

  • Treasure Hunt travel game
  • Car Bingo
  • Road Trip Music Quiz
  • Motorway Clouds Game
  • Alphabet Story
  • Popping Penguins
  • Times Tables
  • Mime That Tune
  • Blind Fold
  • Hold It
  • Fortunately/Unfortunately
  • Pub Cricket
  • Heads And Tails
  • Half And Half

What's the deal with our travel games?

We have tested them very scientifically (read this as putting our various families through playing them!). They have been unanimously voted as making car, train or plane journey go quicker. The fact that there is no need for a screen was received with glee by parents; and initially more mixed emotions by the younger generations, but they soon rallied in. And you can play most of the games with 2, 3, 4 or more players. All you need is to equip your car (or your handbag or rucksack) with plenty of notepads and pens or pencils before you leave home. Just add this to your holiday check list.

By the way if your are heading off to Europe, you might want to run through these 5 car checks before you set off too.

Treasure Hunt Travel Game

Think of 6 items to spot during your long road trip. You can make it easy for young children (could be a bird, a cow....) or more challenging (hence lasting longer!) for older kids. For example: A man with a dog on a lead, a blue delivery van.....the 6 items can be the same for all the players, or you could create different items for each person playing. This game works well for all sorts of travel, whether you are driving to Europe from the UK, taking a train from London to Glasgow or facing a long airport taxi journey to take a long haul flight. You could even play it as a travel game on the plane...just adapt the list of items to something likely to be spotted on board. 

Car Bingo Travel game

A perfect car game to play on the motorway, where there's always plenty of cars and signs. Each player picks 6, 9 or 12 numbers between 1 and 49. Write them on a sheet of paper. Players call the number when they see it. Another player verifies it visually. First player to call all of their numbers wins. 

free car journey games memo board and scoring card

TOP TIP: Download your free printable version of 14 car games (PLUS a free scoring sheet)

Road Trip Music Quiz 

All the players are head to head in this game. Start playing a tune until someone calls out the correct song title or artist. You can theme this game by playing a "best of" playlist from a specific decade or genre. Who will be crowned king or queen of the 60s? the 70s? and the 80s (now that's a decade full of obsure, one hit wonder music - perfect for a quiz).

Motorway Cloud Game 

No pen, no paper needed. You will need to pick a day with a generous amount of big white fluffy clouds. Stare at the sky and call out cloud shapes that look like animals or everyday objects. Dusk and dawn seem to accentuate the clouds contours, making it even more exciting to play. 1 point per verified call out. 

make long car journeys more fun with simple games that need no screen, just pen and paper

Alphabet Story 

A Beautiful Cloud Disappeared Effortlessly Following Ginormous Hyenas.....You get the idea. Make a sentence with words from one letter each of the alphabet. In order or not; you decide. Definitely a travel game that needs pen and paper, unless you have a brilliant memory.

Popping Penguins travel game

Have you ever watched Mr Popper's penguins? Remember his assistant? "Pippi Peponopolis. I'm Mr. Popper's personal assistant. I process his paperwork and I procure his periodicals". Give each player a letter and challenge them to write one sentence using the most number of words starting with the same letter. This can turn into a really fun car trip game with younger children on board.

turn waiting time for your plane into fun family games with our no screen games memo board.

Timed tables 

It's a fastest win type challenge so although you don't need a screen to play, you might need your mobile phone as a timer for this fun and educational travel game. The Game Master asks a series of times table questions to one player. The questions can focus on one particular times table or be picked randomly from multiple times tables for older kids and players. Each correct answer equals one point. You need to accumulate ten or twenty points (depending how long your car journey is). Each attempt to mark ten or twenty points is timed and the fastest player wins.

Mime that tune 

This can be a brilliant and quiet travel game whether you are in a train or on a plane. You'll need a set of headphones and a mobile phone, but only to play music through it. On a long haul flight you can use the music channels from your screen. The Game Master is the person with the headphones on. They mime a tune only they can hear through headphones. No singing, mouthing the words, humming or talking allowed. First player to call out the correct song wins.

Blind fold 

This travel game is only for car journeys (but not the driver!). It works best for trips which are familiar to everyone, and also full of twists and turns. Players close their eyes (no peeking) and when asked, take a guess of whereabouts on the journey they are.

Hold it 

Again, while this is listed as a travel game where no screen is involved, you can really only play it if you are on the road. When you reach the entrance of a tunnel, everyone in the car tries to hold their breath until the other end. If no one can, you then count the number of breaths each player took to find out the winner. 


This travel game can get a little animated as it becomes funnier and funnier the longer you keep it going. Beware if you are on a busy flight or train journey with other passengers.... Everyone plays in turn. First person starts to tell a story, with each person saying just one sentence at a time. Each sentence (apart from the very first one) must start with either “fortunately” or “unfortunately,” always alternating. For example the first player could go "We just got a new puppy"; second player adds "Fortunately he's very friendly", then the third player adds "Unfortunately he's also very loud"....

TALKING OF UNFORTUNATELY....If you are driving out of the UK for your next holiday, you might like to know how to claim for a car accident in Europe

Pub Cricket Game travel game

This game works best when you are on the road and travelling through the countryside for obvious reasons. Everyone in the car keeps a look out for pub signs (or names). First person to spot it bags the chance of scoring points for that particular pub. You get one point for each limb on the pub sign and extra points for parts of the body mentioned in the pub's name (Queen's Head, White Heart...). Agree before starting how many points you need to win. 

Heads and Tails 

Works on any type of travel. One person says the name of an animal, then clockwise the next person needs to find the name of an animal starting with the last letter of the first animal mentioned. For example, first person shouts "dog" then second shouts out "giraffe".... and so on. Any repetition or hesitation over ten seconds and you are eliminated. Spin offs include using countries or capital cities.

Half and Half 

Brilliant travel game with young children. Combine the names of 2 real animals into a funny fictional one. Then describe its features.

OVER TO YOU: What are your favourite games to play in the car with no screen? 

Leave your comments below. Share your best tips and ideas and feel good: You might just have helped someone else have a happier time on their next long car journey!


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