On the Bob & Tom Show the other day, they were talking about games played while driving.
One guy called in and said he played Poker with the numbers on his odometer — he currently had a pair of 7’s. (There actually is a License Plate Poker game that’s pretty cool.)
Another guy played Scrabble with his gas gauge. He currently had an E and an F. (ha ha)
The next caller took Dashboard Scrabble to a whole other level where he combined the gas gauge letters with the speedometer letters, giving him an M, a P, and an H — from which he managed to spell HEMP and it was a double-word score!
Okay, that’s all well & good — makes for some entertaining rush hour drive talk. But it actually reminded me of a driving game that we played when I was growing up….
How To Play The License Plate Game
There are lots of road trip games that involve license plates.
The goal is to either pay attention to the numbers on the plates, the letters, or the states where the license plates are from.
We played the numbers version of the License Plate Game so frequently when I was a kid that that now it’s a subconscious activity I do whenever I’m driving!
- It’s where you add up all the numbers on the license plate in front of you (ex: 83F1XP = 12), then you add THOSE numbers together… until you get down to a single-digit number (ex: 1+2 = 3). Then, if THAT single digit is actually on the license plate, then you score one point for the number of times that number appears (ex: 1 point here).
- Then, it’s the next person’s turn to take the next license plate that passes.
- Keep a running tally of points scored, and you can kill some time on a long trip!
With so many variations of the License Plate Game, it’s hard to pick a favorite.
For example, with License Plate Lingo, you try to come up with a phrase using the letters on another car’s plate. So if you see the plate N8S7T2, the first person to call out a somewhat logical phrase such as “Not so tricky” or “Never squish tomatoes” earns a point. Or, turn it into a race where everyone takes turns shouting out a different phrase when it’s their turn. If someone fails to call out a legitimate phrase when it’s their turn, they’re out. Play continues until there’s only 1 player left. That’s your winner.
Another version that I’ve played a lot is the License Plate States Game. You’re in a race to be the first person to spot a license plate from every single U.S. state. (Or, the winner could be whoever finds the most before the next time you fill-up for gas.)
To keep score, you have several different options:
- Keep a list of the ones you find.
- Cross items off a pre-printed list.
- Have players snap a photo of each one with their own camera (…which could be used in an interesting collage at the end of the trip).
- Use a smartphone app (for iPhone/Apple products or for Android/Google products) to help you keep track of the states each player finds.
A twist on the game is to give each kid in the car a map of the United States. But instead of writing down the name of each state as we’d spot it, my kids would color that state in on the map. It was super for teaching them geography! Source
The best part about the License Plate Game is the fact that you can play it while you’re driving!
Here are some other road trip games you can play while driving.
Road Trip Games Are Even More Fun With A Camera
Recently, I came across Photojojo’s Ultimate Road Trip Photography — a post about fun games to play in the car IF you’re not the one who’s driving.
These games all require a camera, which is a clever way to put a fun twist on the classic road trip games you may have played as a child.
You’ll also have some interesting photos that you could later put into a scrapbook, or make a fun collage that summarizes your travels.
Some fun road trip games using a camera:
- Scavenger Hunt: Make a list of things to photograph before you leave home. Throw in a prize for the first person who completes their list.
- Animals Game: Take pictures of every critter you see, from your side of the car only. But beware! If you pass a cemetery, your animal count resets to zero. Whoever gets the most animals wins.
- State License Plate Game: The first person to get pictures of license plates from all 50 states wins.
- Alphabet Game: Take pictures of every letter of the alphabet, in order. Last one to Z is a rotten egg.
Other Road Trip Games
The list of fun driving games goes on and on.
Another one of my favorites was Car Bingo. Remember those red plastic sliding windows on the Auto Bingo cards you could buy? (We had some.)
There are literally hundreds of road trip games!
Here are some great collections of games that you can play in the car while driving:
- Popular License Plate Names
- Road Trip Games For Kids & Adults
- Road Trip Games & Activities
- Top 10 Road Trip Games
- New Ideas For Road Trip Games
- 10 Boardless, Priceless Road Trip Games
- Travel Games You Can Buy
- How To Pass The Time With Nothing But Your Fellow Travelers
- Travel Games To Print Out
- Road Trip Boredom Busters
- 101 Car Travel Games & Road Trip Games For Kids
- Even More Fun Games To Play While Driving
Don’t forget prizes for the road trip game winners. Your local dollar store is a great resource for summer toys that travel well: jump ropes, decks of cards, jacks, bucket and shovel sets if you’re heading to the beach, floaty toys for the lake. Source
I like to help people find unique ways to do things in order to save time & money — so I write about “outside the box” ideas that most wouldn’t think of. As a lifelong dog owner, I often share my best tips for living with and training dogs. I worked in Higher Ed over 10 years before switching gears to pursue activities that I’m truly passionate about. I’ve worked at a vet, in a photo lab, and at a zoo — to name a few. I enjoy the outdoors via bicycle, motorcycle, Jeep, or RV. You can always find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).