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5 classic road trip games rebooted with your smartphone

It’s time we thought of some new versions of the games we grew up with, taking advantage of wireless technology.


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Posted on Feb 9, 2017   Updated on May 25, 2021, 12:55 am CDT


A long road trip means long stretches of time in the car with your companions trying to pass the time.

We all remember those classic road trip games we used to play as kids, but for some reason “I spy” doesn’t get our hearts racing like it used to. It’s time we thought of some new versions of the games we grew up with, taking advantage of the wireless technology in our cars and smartphones.

We’ve already told you how to pack for the ultimate cross-country roadtrip and offered up a suitable soundtrack. Now here are five ways to keep the good times rolling as you ride in your fuel-efficient Kia Rio, totally transformed Kia Soul, or the stylish Kia Forte.

1) I spy

Old rules: Pick an object in your field of vision and wait for your fellow riders to figure out what you’re thinking of.

New rules: Why restrict the amount of players to the number of people in the car? With smartphone technology you can play along with virtually anyone, no matter where they are.

To play the updated version, snap a picture of something in the car or on the side of the road and upload it to Instagram with the tag #ISpy. Watch as your friends all around the country try to guess what’s in the photo that the clue refers to.

Whoever posts a clue with the most incorrect guesses wins!

2) Radio sing-along

Old rules: Belt out the lyrics to songs that come in on the local radio station as you drive from town to town.

New rules: Why not add a little friendly competition to this classic pastime? Before you leave on your road trip, build a playlist with you and your friends’ favorite karaoke hits of all time.

Once you hit the road, plug in your smartphone or media player to your car’s stereo and press play. If you’re driving in a new 2014 Kia, you can sync up your phone wirelessly using UVO Bluetooth technology.

Take turns sitting in the hot seat. When it’s your turn, you HAVE to sing. Whoever makes it through a song with the least amount of mistakes wins. Bonus points for singing loudly.

3) Alphabet game

Old rules: Spot the letters of the alphabet, in order, on signs along the side of the road. Whoever is the first to get to Z without duplicating a sign, wins.

New rules: What’s the fun in winning the Alphabet game if there’s no chance to brag about it later?

Instead of yelling out signs you see along the side of the road, upload photos of each to a Pinterest board or Facebook album titled “The Alphabet Game.” You need to be quick, though. If your opponent uploads a photo of the sign first, you don’t get credit.

At the end of the trip, brag to your friends about your superior letter-spotting abilities by sharing your Alphabet Game album.

4) License plate decoder

Old rules: Try to “decode” license plates you see along the road to discover their hidden meaning. Whoever comes up with the funniest hidden message wins.

New rules: Open up the game to your entire social network! Post the license plate (e.g. “ABC 1234”) to Twitter with the tag #LPGame. Who ever tweets back with the best interpretation of the license plate wins a funny souvenir at the next stop for gas. (Fine print: If you’re driving a 2014 Kia Rio with 37 mpg highway, this might take a while.)

5) The story game

Old rules: Take turns adding to a made up story, until you end up with something that no one could have dreamed up on their own.

New rules: Instead of telling the story aloud, use your phone or tablet to make your story a visual one. Take turns adding to a collaborative drawing using an app like Paper or Draw. Each person should add to the drawing in a way that tells a story.

Once everyone has taken a turn, upload your collaborative drawing to Facebook and see if your friends can interpret the story it tells. Bonus points if you tell a story about something that happened on the road.

What are some other classic road trip games that need an update? If you have any ideas of your own, let us know so we try them out on our next trip.

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*First Published: Feb 9, 2017, 3:30 pm CST