We LOVE road trips. We travel quite a bit, and that means I have kids who are bored in the car. In the 13 years, this is Future Ticia of 2019 not the 2013 Ticia saying this, of parenting my kids haven’t had electronics in the car. Instead, they’ve read books, listened to audiobooks, and played lots of travel games. Travel games can give you something to do during the tedious parts of traveling or while you’re waiting for a table at a restaurant. Travel games are an important part of our gameschooling life.
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What I look for in a travel game:
- The travel game has a small size, a full-size board game does not pack well in my suitcase or carry on.
- It does not take a lot of space when playing, again that rules out most board games and most tile laying games.
- Preferably all 5 members of my family can play it together.
- Does not make me want to pull my hair out after 5 minutes.
Why play travel games?
- Because your kids left to themselves will often find the most destructive thing to entertain themselves (or immediately go to the pick a fight with my sibling).
- The TV in the hotel room is only showing things you’d never let your kids watch.
- It’s a way for your kids to entertain themselves that does not involve playing on their DS for 10 hours in the car, and saves you a few million batteries. Or if you’re me, we didn’t even buy the poor kids the latest portable electronics.
- Travel games let you learn more about your kids. Many of them are question type games.
Travel Games for the Car
(these travel games work best in the car, but could theoretically be played other places)
License plate game– we’ve all played this one, and of course, the ever popular version where you get to hit your brother or sister every time you see an out of state license plate…… Not that I would place that with my kids.
Travel Games while waiting in a restaurant
(these travel games assume you have some small amount of flat surface to play on)
- Doodle Game– all you need is a piece of paper and pencil and the game goes from there
- Squares– my boys love to play this game, but I will warn you they try to cheat.
- Wig Out!– You are trying to match hairstyles in a fast game to get rid of all your cards. Like many Gamewright games, the cards are nice and sturdy, and the game plays very quickly. I would say most Gamewright card games could be played anywhere, and the quality is fairly good. They usually bring a new mechanic to variations of: Go Fish, Speed, Gin Rummy, etc.
- Five Crowns– This game has a modified deck of cards that has 5 suits instead of the normal 4 (hence the FIVE crowns). You are playing a version of gin rummy where your cards gradually increase. You start with 3 cards in your hand, with 3’s wild, and each round you get another card, and the next number up is wild. I like that this game can last as long as you want it to. While it’s not supposed to end until the kings go wild, when I play with the kids we end after the 8’s go wild.
- Clue the Card Game– I love Clue, so a version that doesn’t require a board and is more portable is nice. In this version, you are figuring out who committed the crime, how they did it, and where they are escaping to. I also like that Clue the Card Game can be played by 5 people, so the whole family can play.
- Qwitch Card Game– We haven’t played this one yet, but I like the nice sturdy metal case it came in. I can neither affirm nor deny that is part of why I bought it. Another game where you’re trying to run out of cards first, gameplay looks to be similar to Speed, so you’re playing up or down, but there’s number, letter, symbol cards to play through.
- Catan Dice Game– This plays similar to scrabble, but you can choose the same combination several times, it is actually advantageous for you to do so. This packs up nicely into a small size, and could easily be carried in a purse if you put it in a Ziploc bag.
- Pass The Pigs– Jeff and I played this game nonstop when I was on bed rest in the hospital with the twins. Basically you “roll” 2 pigs, and get points for how they land. You can keep rolling as many times as you want as long as you’re still scoring, but if they land in a combination that doesn’t let you score you lose all the points from that round. This is a fun mostly brainless game to entertain yourself with, oh and it can be endlessly expanded to an infinite number of players. It just requires more pencil and paper.
- Carcassonne Dice Game– I haven’t bought this one yet, but from what I can see it plays much like the Catan Dice game. You’re trying to build up your castle to a larger size.
- Pack o Games– A fun set of games you can fit in your pocket. Each individual game is about the size of a pack of gum. They range from 2 player up to 8 player games, and there’s some really fun. There’s a wide style of gameplay from bluffing to strategy to just having fun.
Travel Games for the hotel or on a picnic at the park
(these travel games you need a slightly bigger flat surface to play them, but they still take up only a small amount of space)
- PICTUREKA Card Game– One of the things I like about Pictureka is you have several different games to play in one small little box. I also like that your pre-reader can play some of the versions of this game.
- A Fistful of Penguins– A light strategy game as you try to collect different animals for points. The lions will scare away other animals, but may not be worth enough to keep. A red squirrel is worth a lot if you have a moose, but nothing if you do not. As you can see there’s some thinking that goes into this game, but we’ve been playing it since Princess was 5, so your kindergartener can play it, it just will be challenging.
Travel Games to play with your (the parent’s) friends
(these games you may be able to play with some high school students, but a couple of these may scare young kids with the illustrations, or the sense of humor is not appropriate for kids)
- Zombie Ninja Pirates– Jeff and I think this game is rather funny, you’re a person trying to amass power, and you are doing so by becoming different things (zombie, pirate…), and gaining things that make your type more powerful. Some of the artwork might freak out a young kid, so that’s why I stuck it down here in this category. Besides it’s rather funny to say I’m a zombie pirate with a peg leg and a parrot, and I just bit you!
- Chez Geek House Party Edition– For those of you in the gaming/comic subculture you’re familiar with Steve Jackson and his rule over all things gaming. This follows the style of many of his games, complete with snarky game text and a quirky sense of humor. But, it is an adult sense of humor and he makes jokes about drugs/alcohol, and sex. This is not a game I would play with people that do not have a sense of humor, and are willing to poke fun at themselves and work. That being said, we’ve taken this with us on a couple of trips with friends and had a lot of fun. You’re trying to be the biggest slacker by entertaining yourself, buying things, or sleeping. I think it’s fun in a light hearted sort of way.
- Cheapass games– I hate the company name, but they have some very fun games. The theory behind this company is they keep the game cost down, and box size down by not including pawns, dice, etc, because you don’t need 500 6-sided dice, instead you raid another game and steal those dice. Most of the games you can play with your kids, but you will occasionally find an inappropriate comment for young kids in their games, so you have to preview it one by one. One of my favorite games by them is “Kill Doctor Lucky Game” (now produced by another company as a full board game, mine is printed on cardstock), essentially it’s the night before Clue and you’re trying to kill Dr. Lucky. Their games are fun and usually a quick play.
So, did I miss one of your favorite games to play while traveling? I will also say several of the games I covered earlier can be played on the go.
For more game ideas to play with your family, check out my pinterest board:
Here’s my overall plan for this series:
Day 9: Travel Games (today)
Day 10: Solo or Two Player Games