Can you remember what it was like to travel before smartphones were commonplace? Without a world of entertainment at your fingertips? It really has made travelling much more bearable.

But, if you have children, you might be a bit wary about using a smartphone or tablet to keep your child entertained. We all want to reduce our screen time if we can, and it’s even more important if you want to give your children time away from the glare of a device. So we thought back to our own childhood car journeys for some of the best ways to keep your kids entertained without a device.


The old standard, eye-spy is one of the most simple games you can play, so ideal for kids of all ages. For anyone who doesn’t know, it’s a guessing game where you take it in turns looking out for something, either inside or outside the car, and then the others have to guess. The usual phrase is “I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with…” and then you tell everyone what the first letter is. It might be an idea to either set a time or guess limit with your kids, so that the game moves fast and everyone gets a go.

If you have younger kids and you need to simplify this a little, why not use colours instead. For example, “I spy, with my little eye, something coloured…”. 

20 questions

Similar to eye-spy, 20 questions works with someone thinking of an item (generally an animal, vegetable or mineral) and then answering questions based on what they have chosen. So you have 20 guesses to work out what they are thinking of. This can be a bit more structured than eye-spy and works better with older children, as you can set themes and subjects like “Movies” or “Nature”, whatever your kid is interested in.


Car snooker

Looking out for different car colours on the road is another way to keep your kids distracted. Car snooker works by each of you trying to find all the colours on a snooker table: red, yellow, green, brown, blue, pink and black (with white sometimes thrown in too). Older kids can start building up scores using the points awarded for each snooker ball, but searching for all the different colours is a good starting point.

Car bingo

Like car snooker, car bingo can work with colours, but also with makes and models too, depending how advanced/car crazy your kids are. So you can do it by type of car (motorbike, car, estate, lorry, etc), or by make. You can even make it a game for the first person to spot a Tesla. The focus on the roads means you’re kids will have something to pay attention to, rather than the slow passing of time and miles.


Licence plate game

For older kids mainly, but young kids too, the licence plate game works by looking at the last three letters of a number plate and trying to come up with a word that has all of them in. Bonus points if the word has the letters in the same order. So for example, say the car in front has the licence plate AA21 STR. You’d look for a word with all three of those letters in it. Star, destroy, asteroid etc. Not all examples are that simple, and it can be a real brainteaser at times.

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