How Do You Play the License Plate Game?

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Close up of license plates

A road trip can turn from exciting to pure boredom as soon as you merge onto the interstate. Sometimes all it takes is creativity to help the miles pass by faster. Long before kids had cell phones and DVD players to entertain them, the license plate game was created.

While the creator is unknown, there’s a good chance it was a parent desperate for their kids to keep their hands to themselves. However, this popular road trip game has come to the rescue to save the day for many road trippers.

If you’ve never played, don’t worry! Today, we’re sharing everything you need to know to start playing this game on your next trip. Let’s dive in!

How Do You Play The License Plate Game?

The license plate game is simple, fun to play, and perfect for road trips. The basic concept is that participants attempt to see as many state license plates as possible during their trip. You can play the game as an individual or as a cooperative effort.

Once a participant spots the state, you scratch it off and start looking for the next state.

The easiest license plates to spot are from the state where you’re currently traveling. Whether you’re playing individually or together, it might surprise you how fun this game can be.

You may want to issue bonus points for spotting an Alaska or Hawaiian license plate in the contiguous United States.

Is There an App to Play the License Plate Game?

While the game is relatively easy to play, technological advancements make it even easier. Simply searching “license plate game” in your favorite app store will likely reveal many options. However, Plate Spot (Apple) and License Plate Games – Road Trip (Android) are our favorites.

These apps make it easy for you to check off the states as you see them. If you don’t see all 50 states during your road trip, you can pick up the game where you left off on your next adventure.

Some travelers enjoy the game so much that they play it anytime they climb into a vehicle.

Other Road Trip Games You Can Play

Travelers who have been around the block a time or two know that road trips require you to have as many tricks up your sleeves as possible.

If the license plate game doesn’t do the trick, here are a handful of other options you can try.

The Alphabet Game

Similar to the License Plate Game, the Alphabet Game requires participants to look out the window constantly. However, instead of license plates, participants are looking for words. The goal is to find a word with every letter in the alphabet.

You start with the letter “A” and move up the alphabet until you’ve found a word with every letter.

As you’ll quickly learn, some letters are harder to find than others. You better hope you drive by a xylophone outlet store or x-ray tech convention, or you may get stuck on the elusive “X.” Can you conquer all 26 letters before arriving at your destination?

Kids looking outside their car window playing the license plate game

Two Truths and a Lie

Two Truths and a Lie, like the License Plate Game, is another fun game to play whether you’re on the road or bored out of your mind. One person in the group thinks of two truths about themself and one lie. The other participants then have to try to spot the lie. 

Not only might this game surprise you by showing you how much you don’t know about the other passengers in your vehicle, but it can also reveal how good some people are at lying.

Keep in Mind: Add some fun to your afternoon with one of these Outdoor Drinking Games to Play When Camping


Participants agree on a sequential order that players will follow. You can go oldest to youngest or tallest to shortest, but you want to ensure everyone can participate.

The first person starts the game by giving a sentence to start a story. From then on, every sentence must start with fortunately or unfortunately.

Each participant contributes a single sentence to the story, and the story’s plot grows. It can be fun to hear how the story changes and evolves as each participant takes their turn adding a sentence.

Travel Bingo

Who doesn’t love the thrill of shouting “Bingo!” at the top of their lungs? Luckily, with these Travel Bingo cards, you don’t have to play in a Bingo hall. These cards make it easy to cross off items as you look out the windows during your adventures. 

While there may not be a large jackpot, you could come up with fun prizes. Winners get to pick the next radio station or grab a snack at the next pit stop. Use your creativity; the possibilities are endless! 

Regal Games Finger-Tip Shutter Bingo Cards with Sliding Windows - Interstate Bingo & Auto Bingo Game - Assorted Colors Travel Bingo Game Set Kids - Reusable, No Chips & Daubers Needed - 4 Packs
  • Easy-Read Bingo Cards: This set contains 2 each of Interstate Highway and Auto games, featuring 4 bingo cards measuring...
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50 Games to Play in the Car

Need some help getting creative when it comes to road trip game ideas? Lucy Jones created this book that, as its title indicates, contains 50 games that you can play in the car. 

With 50 games at your disposal, there’s a good chance you’ll drive across the entire country before you run out of games to play. Pick up your copy today and start planning what games you’ll have ready to play during your next trip.

Road Trip Games: 50 Fun Games to Play in the Car
  • Jones, Lucy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

I’m Packing for a Camping Trip

I”m Packing for a Camping Trip is a variation of another popular road trip game. The first participant starts by saying, “I’m packing for a camping trip, and I’m bringing,” and then lists an item they’d bring that begins with the letter “A.” 

Play continues to the second participant, who then repeats the phrase “I’m packing for a camping trip, and I’m bringing…” and says the “A” item that the first participant mentioned and then adds another item that starts with the letter “B.”

The game continues as participants work their way up the alphabet and repeat the various items other participants have packed. An option is to eliminate anyone who fails to remember or mention an item. The last remaining player is the winner.

Pro Tip: Make sure you have everything you need for your RV adventures with this list of RV packing essentials.

The Categories Game

In the Categories Game, participants must come up with a category. The rest of the participants must then think of an item that fits into that category. Participants can’t repeat answers, and play continues until a participant can’t think of an item not already mentioned that fits into the category. 

It’s a good idea to set a time limit, typically 10 seconds, for a participant to think of an item.

Try These Games on Your Next Road Trip

If you’re looking for a way to spice up your next road trip, give the License Plate Game or any of the other games a try. What do you have to lose?

Remember that games are typically only as fun as you make them. Encourage participants to put away their phones or other devices and join the fun. 

We’d love to hear how much fun you and your fellow travelers have playing these games.

What’s your go-to road trip game?

Last update on 2024-07-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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