This shop sharing my road trip scavenger hunt has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.#DropShopAndOil #CollectiveBias Free printable of road trip scavenger hunt

My husband is a busy man. Now that isn’t to say that I’m not busy, too. I don’t exactly sit around all day eating bon bons, but my husband works all day and then is coaching or tutoring most evenings and weekends. Me? I’m lucky. I can have a little more flex in my schedule. That’s part of why it was no surprise when I hopped in my husband’s car to go run a couple errands the other day and saw my favorite light. And a whole lot of dust.

Check engine light

I refuse to ask him how long that light has been on. I really don’t want to know the answer, and I speak from experience. Instead, I do the same thing I did in September when I got in his car to see the light on: I took care of the situation.

The good news is that I was already planning to run errands. When I hit Walmart, I realized that I could easily kill two birds with one stone. My Walmart has an Automotive Care Center attached to it where I can drop off my car to get the oil changed while I run my errands. They use Pennzoil Motor Oil, including a high mileage vehicle version, which is perfect for my husband’s car that is almost as old as my son.


Before I knew it, my husband’s car was ready to go, and for just $39.88, Walmart’s Automotive Center vacuumed the inside of his car, topped off the fluids, and cleaned his windshield. Most importantly, that check engine light turned off, so we can head out on vacation to St. Louis.

Well, almost ready. I had one more task to complete before we were truly ready to go, but that was something I had to do at home. I did pick up the quick links I used in this tween road trip scavenger hunt while I was at Walmart, but the rest was a project to complete once I finished all my errands.

Road Trip Scavenger Hunt {Free Printable}

Growing up, I always had music in the car and car bingo. We had no movies, and Mean Mom (me) uses that same mantra for my own children. We always took a ton of road trips, whether driving from wherever we lived at the time to Chicago to visit family or driving to Florida for vacation (and let me tell you, that drive from Minnesota is loooooong), and we did all sorts of car games.

The wee ones don’t like bingo, however. It doesn’t last long enough for them, and they inevitably find that their bingo doesn’t fit for where we happen to be at the time, whether it’s a trip in the car to the city where we’ll never find that elusive cow they need to be able to shout bingo or we’re on the long rural road trip where it’s semi after car with just fields on the side. They get frustrated, and so I came up with a new idea.

Road trip scavenger hunt

How to Play with the Road Trip Scavenger Hunt

Now that they’re older, we can do something more complex that will take a little more time – and be more fun for all of us. I created versions of tween and up road trip scavenger hunts. Depending on our moods, we have various rules as to how you win, but a few things always hold constant. Your “find” has to be verified by someone else in the car, and only the first person to spot a specific item on the scavenger hunt list gets credit for that specific find. In other words, if I see a billboard for a gas station, no one else can count that billboard. Instead, they have to wait until the next gas station billboard to earn any points.

Surprisingly, this doesn’t lead to many arguments. The wee ones are smart enough to know that if they refuse to acknowledge that the other child saw something, that denied child won’t acknowledge that they saw something – suddenly everyone plays fair, especially when I’m playing with them!

Typically, we’ll give the first person to spot an item on the list 2 points and everyone after that only gets one point. If it’s a short trip, we’ll say that only the first person gets any points for spotting an item on the list. That holds true if we do a timed version of the game, as sometimes we just need a short distraction and will play for 15 minutes. Little Miss loves setting the timer on her watch so we know exactly when to count up points.

Most of the time, however, we play an open game for the entire trip, which is why there’s such a wide and varied list of items on the scavenger hunt. We want it to be a bit of a challenge, and it’s best when not every item can be checked off easily. How boring if you find everything in the first fifteen minutes!

Make Your Own Road Trip Scavenger Hunt

To create these at home, print them off and then laminate them, which means you can use the tween road trip scavenger hunts over and over. It also makes them more durable and easier to write on than they would be if it was simply a sheet of printed paper. I find that gluing them to cardstock or printing them directly on cardstock and then laminating them works even better if you have kids who are hard on their belongings, but the wee ones like them this way. I print them double sided, so it’s easy to flip over from our in town road trip scavenger hunt to a highway road trip scavenger hunt.

Laminating road trip scavenger hunt

Once they’re laminated, punch a hole in the top corner, and screw a quick link into the hole.

Punch hole for road trip scavenger hunt

Tie string to your quick link and tape or glue it so that it doesn’t come undone. Ensure the string is not quite as long as the road trip scavenger hunt paper, and attach the top of a dry erase marker to the string with tape. This way, no one can lose the top (something we have an issue with in our house!) and you have all the tools you need to play in one convenient place.

Playing road trip scavenger hunt

Get the free printable for this road trip scavenger hunt!

How do you pass time on road trips?

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  • David @ Spiced

    That road trip scavenger hunt is an awesome idea! Forget the kids, I think I’m going to keep one of these in the car for when my wife and I go on roadtrips! Thanks for sharing. #client

    • Michelle

      I love that you would have fun with this, too! I know I’d enjoy it, too – that’s always a goal where I enjoy what they’re doing since I get to participate and play, too 😉 Just… not while I’m driving, right?

  • Rebecca E. Parsons

    What a way to entertain on a road trip!!! No tell me what that magazine is please. I want to read those pages!!! Hazelnut spread and cucumbers…so me.

    • Michelle

      I think it’s fun 🙂 The magazine is Cooks Illustrated. It’s my all.time. favorite. All the reasons why, the testing, the science behind things. I love love love it. But I no longer have a subscription, so I check it out when I can!

  • Jenna Wood

    I love the convenience of getting my oil changed at Walmart! We don’t have kids yet but we try to look for license plates in alphabetical order, play Slug Bug, etc- this Scavenger Hunt is a great idea for when my niece and I drive to Oregon this Summer!

    • Michelle

      Oooo alphabetical order license plates is hard! I used to play slug bug all the time, but we had to stop that with kids who don’t get the ummm gentle portion of it! Definitely print this off and have fun with it when you head to Oregon. That’ll be a gorgeous road trip!

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