When you are on vacation, you likely want to explore the local area, visiting attractions, and eating out. But sometimes, you may want to play games – whether it’s to waste time on the way to your destination or to play at night when you are settled into your vacation home or hotel room for the night. It’s always a good idea to pack some travel games for kids in your suitcase or car for these times.
We’ve reviewed some of our favorite board games for teens, and these are perfect for long trips when you are driving and have plenty of room in your car to pack them. But for plane or train trips, you’ll want to have some more compact games to tuck into your carry-on bag. Here are some of our favorite travel games for kids – including links for where you can purchase them. Some are better for older kids, while others are better for little kids.
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Fun Travel Games for Kids
UNO has always been one of my favorite, easy to play, card games, and it’s a great option for travel. Several years ago, on our Adventures by Disney Greece trip, one of our adventure guides pulled out a deck of UNO cards while we waited for our flight to Santorini. The kids all loved playing, and it became one of the more popular games for our kids when we are on vacation.
Like a lot of classic favorites, UNO has several different variations available including themed cards and games with different rules. However, the original version is still our favorite. While there are versions with a smaller deck of cards, the standard size is still very portable and it’s very easy to pack in your carry-on bags.
To play this fun card game, you have to match the upright card from your deck with either color or number (or special card). It can take a while to play, but it’s too much of a time commitment. You could definitely play on a flight as long as you are seated together.
You can find UNO in most stores with a toy section, as well as on Amazon.com.
Road Trip Games
If you are hitting the road for your next vacation, there are lots of fun car games that you can get to keep everyone occupied. Family road trips can be lots of fun, but you’ll often be looking for ways to spent the time.
Driving for a long-distance? The license plate game can be lots of fun. You can find free printables online, but if you’d prefer a more reusable option, the Melissa and Doug flip to win game is a great choice. It can be purchased on Amazon.
Kids also love a travel scavenger hunt on long road trips. We have travel bingo cards that are fun to play. They don’t work well in traffic, because you won’t see as much, but they are great for rides at a steady pace. You can also find road trip scavenger hunt cards that are better for young children on road trips.
Of course, you’ll want to make sure that the road trip play doesn’t interfere with the driver. If for some reason the road is more hazardous, you may want to pause the games for a little while.
We’ve reviewed some of the best car games for your long car rides here.
We love playing Monopoly, but everyone knows that the board game can take up a whole day. Monopoly Deal is the travel version of traditional Monopoly. But it’s easier to play and doesn’t involve individual game pieces or a game board.
Monopoly Deal can be played in much less time. While the package states that it can take about 15 minutes, we’ve found that it typically takes us a little longer than that. It includes all of the fun features of Monopoly, like action cards, property sets, and money.
The Catan travel game is another one that eliminates the board to make the whole game more compact. In this dice-based game, you’ll roll these customized dice to collect various resources. As you gather the resources, you can build different elements for points.
Rolling the dice is a major element of this game, so it’s probably best to play on a flat surface. Because of this, you probably won’t want to play in the back of a car or on a plane trip. But it’s still very portable to bring with you and play on the go, and it’s a fun game for the whole family.
You’ll use a scorepad to keep track of your points and building. Once you run out of sheets, a free download is available to print out. You can purchase the Catan travel game on Amazon.com.
Clue Card Game
I love the board game Clue, but admittedly, the board is a bit annoying and unnecessary. In the Clue card game, you’ll still need to know whodunit, where they did it, and what they used, but you won’t have to worry about the game board.
This game is made for kids aged 8 plus and is for 3-4 players. I find that Clue is best played with four players, but you can also have three. It’s small enough to pack in a carry-on bag and can be played on the go. It can be purchased on Amazon.com.
iPad Play and Pass Games
I know that most families try to limit screen time and electronic devices, especially on vacation. However, some of the best travel games can conveniently be played on an iPad. Play and Pass games on the iPad are reasonably priced (with a few in-game purchase upgrades that are completely optional.
The Game of Life on the iPad lets you spin the wheel, move your car, and choose various paths. Once you finish your turn, you can pass your iPad over to the next player for their turn. We’ve loved playing this game on road trips because it’s very easy to play and while there is some strategy involved, it isn’t too complicated.
Monopoly and Clue are also available as Play and Pass games. They are very similar to their corresponding board games and have similar rules. All of these games can be purchased on the app store.
When I think of travel games, I typically think of those old-school magnetic games. These games are simple to play, and the magnets are a great way to prevent the pieces from falling or moving when you are playing on the go. Missing pieces are always a risk when you play a game on the go.
Amazon.com sells a set of twelve individually wrapped mini travel games. The set includes traditional games such as tic tac toe, snakes and ladders, chess, and backgammon. These would be fun to have for a long plane ride or car trip – the directions are fairly simple and they are easy to play.
You can find these magnetic travel games on Amazon.com.
Exploding Kittens has quickly become a classic card game. There are several different versions, including one featuring the Minions.
It’s a fast-paced game in which users taking turns turning over the Exploding Kittens cards. Once you turn over an exploding kitten card, you are out of the game and lose. There are various other components to the game too, including special cards that can change your turns.
Once you get used to the game, you can purchase expansion packs with new cards to add to the gameplay, making it feel like a new game. It’s a portable game and is easy to pack and play.
You can find Exploding Kittens and the various expansion packs on their website and on Amazon.com.
Sushi Go! is another one of our favorite games – both at home and on the go. The cards featuring the sushi are so adorable, and the game is fun to play.
It’s a fast-paced game where you try to collect points as you make various sets of sushi. You’ll need to pay close attention because gameplay moves quickly.
You really do need to sit in a circle for this game to be more effective, so it’s not something you can play on a plane or in a car. You’ll probably prefer to play it once you are at your destination.
Sushi Go! can be purchased on Amazon.com. It’s recommended for kids aged 8+.