Road Trip Games: Scavenger Hunt

There is nothing like a scavenger hunt to get people really involved and a road trip, believe it or not, is perfect for this game! This road trip game will depend on your being on a trip that has lots of stops along the way, so if this is a long haul, skip this game as you won’t have a chance to "scavenge".

What I love about a scavenger hunt is running around with your team-mate(s) trying to find your items and beat the other team. I always get that hysterical giggly feeling that reminds me of being a kid!

Kids running to find items on the list!

This is also a great road trip game because the driver can play, making it easier to have enough people. Four is the absolute minimum because scavenger hunts are all about teams – with four you’ll have two teams of two. Scavenger Hunt can be played throughout the trip, making new lists every day if you have to, and can be even more fun if you’re part of a caravan with multiple cars heading to the same destination. Every time you stop along the way, your road trip game becomes a huge race with teams running everywhere!

I recommend that all of the players select a prize that the winning team gets at the end of the day or during the trip – something within all of your budgets but something fun for the winning team to enjoy. The road trip game prize would be something like a treat that was a little out of your budget for this trip, but if only the winning team goes, you can afford it. For example, if your road trip was passing through Manhattan, the prize could be a carriage ride through Central Park. Get the idea?

Adding a prize really ups the ante!

Minimum number of players: 4

What you’ll need: A list of items to collect – more details on this list and suggestions below. Print or write a list for each team.

Rules of the game:

Before you hit the road, you’ll need to do a little prep-work.

First, select teams. All team-mates must be in the same car if you’re doing a caravan trip. Your time in the car will be necessary to plot with your team-mate on how you’re going to get the items on your list at your next stop, so make sure you’re sitting next to each other so you can "huddle" and strategize. Code your teams with a color or a name, like the Blue Team or the FBI.

Next, come up with your list of items. You can do this as a group or have one person brainstorm the whole list. You will want a minimum of 20 things so that the game lasts at least one day. If it runs over, let it! It will be that much more fun once you’re settled in your hotel or campground and your team can run around getting more of the items on the list.

Your items for this road trip game should be selected with your trip in mind. If you’re going to a famous sight, add a cheap souvenir from that place; if you’re going to be in an area that has a seasonal harvest at that time, take that into account. For example, if you’re traveling through the Northeast in the fall, add a local apple to the list.

You should also have items that involve strangers. What? Am I crazy? No – really! You could add an item like a business card or a breath mint or you could have them take a picture of you. The point is that you have to go up to a stranger and ask them for something without revealing that you’re involved in scavenger hunt. This makes the game tougher and much more interesting. Plus, you meet people, and who knows? They could be pretty nice!

I recommend that you also add items that belong to the other team. This can be really fun as the other team knows what you want and will stop at nothing to keep you from getting it! These items should be distributed evenly so that each team has the same number of things to try to get from the opposing team. Put the team who is responsible for getting the item in parentheses next to the item like this: Suzie’s Favorite Jeans (Blue Team).

Here are some ideas for your list:

  • A matchbook from one of the restaurants you go to.
  • A keychain from one of your sights along the way.
  • A team-mate’s toothbrush.
  • A borrowed pen from a stranger.
  • A flower from the roadside if it’s spring or summer. A maple leaf in the fall.
  • A shower cap from one of your hotels. To make this road trip game hilarious, make one of the team-mates wear the shower cap in the car (they don’t have to wear it outside of the car, but imagine all of the stares from other cars and pedestrians when they’re sitting there with a shower cap on their head!).
  • Something themed to your trip – traveling through the Southwest? Add something made with turquoise to your list. Southeast? How about Spanish moss?
  • How about something themed to the time of year? If it’s Halloween, you could add one of those mini-pumpkins to your list.
You can go any direction with your list – the possibilities are endless with this road trip game.

So you have your list and teams selected? All you need to do is start the game once you hit the road. Team mates can plan their attack while driving and race off to collect their items at every stop. One note, be fair! If the driver is filling the tank, everyone must wait until he or she is done to start searching. Also, if you’re at a sight you’re excited to see, declare a certain period of time off-limits so that you can relax, enjoy, and check everything out.

Whichever team collects all of the items on the list first, wins. If you’re up for another game, just create a new list and select a new prize. I recommend you keep your original teams – you’ll really become a unit and practically read each other’s minds!

Have fun scavenging! Want more games? Check out these fun road trip games.


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