Best Family Travel Games

Family Games: The 15 Best Travel Games for Kids

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Update: We have added some new games that our family has been enjoying and some great recommendations from other families.

When we travel, one of the things I enjoy the most is how unplugged we are.  Sure, we travel with ipods and ipads and rely heavily on them on flights and in airports.  But in the evenings, I love that most nights we get together and play a game.  We are a pretty serious game family and have a few favorites that I want to share with you.  These are small and compact games for travelling, suitable for families.  We want to make sure you don’t waste precious suitcase room on boring games.  Bring the best travel games for kids on your next trip for great family fun (and lots of learning too).

Our kids are 5, 7 and 9 years old and most of these games can span all of these ages and still be fun for the parents too.  There is nothing like playing a card game together while watching a beautiful sunset or waiting for your meal in a restaurant when traveling.  It is a great wholesome, non-electronic way to spend time together.

Related Read: Unplugged Travel Activities for Kids (great for road trips)

The 10 Best Travel Games for Kids

  1. Uno

    Uno is listed as #1 because in our books it is the best travel game for kids.  I am sure this is one that most families have in their games drawers and it is for good reason.  This simple and easy to play game is fun for the whole family.  Our kids have played it with kids that speak other languages, in Spanish classes to learn their colours and numbers and they know that there is the official rules and “house” rules.  Our youngest has been playing this game since he was 3, even though the recommended age is 7.  The purpose of the game is to match colours and numbers and try to get rid of all your cards, before your opponents.  Uno is a commercialized version of Crazy 8s, but so much fun.  2-10 players, Official Recommendation 7+, Our Recommendation 3+.  Check the latest prices here.

  2. Rat-A-Tat-Cat

    I can’t say enough good things about this game.  It won a Mensa Award years ago, so you can truly believe that it is educational.  But it is also super fun and our kids absolutely love it.  The purpose of the game is to get the lowest sum of your four cards by trading in cards.  The catch is you can only see two of your cards and so you have to gamble and remember the value of your face down cards.  It is like poker for kids and once you think you have the lowest hand out there, you knock and your opponents receive one last turn.  This game is made by Gamewright, which has so many top notch games.  2-6 players, Official Recommendation 6+, Our Recommendation 5+.  Check the latest prices here.  

  3. Skipbo

    Skipbo is another one of the best travel games for kids and is played often on our trips.  It is like a group Solitaire where each player works to get rid of all their cards by sequencing them in the group piles.  Players use strategy to decide when to use their WILD cards and how to block other players.  The one down side is that you can only play with 4 players, so we usually have a parent team up with our youngest.  Like all of the games I am suggesting, this one is fun for parents too (unlike games like “Go Fish”).  2-4 players, Official Recommendation 7-15, Our Recommendation 5+.  Check the latest prices here.  

    family card games

    Uno while waiting for breakfast in India

  4. Wig Out!

    Officially called “Wig Out! A Wild and Hairy Card Game”, this is one of the best Gamewright games.  The cards feature unique and interesting characters and the purpose is to act quickly and create character matches.  This is one of those games that requires zero skills, but is still really fun to play.  You can play with the whole family, but we tend to play this game with two players.  We like it because it has simple rules and takes less then 5 minutes to play a game.  Generally the adult will want to play a bit slower to allow the younger ones a chance. This is a great first travel card game for families with younger kids.   2-6 players.  Official Recommendation 6+, Our Recommendation 4+.  Check the latest prices here.

  5. Bananagrams

    The first non-card game to make the list, Bananagrams is a portable Scrabble like game.  Use letters to create crossword grids of words and as the slogan says “go bananas for anagrams”.  This game works best for two players, but you can play as a family as well.  This game can also be played alone, making it really versatile for traveling.  Banangrams is better for older kids.  Like all of these games, the kids will have so much fun playing, they won’t realize it is educational too.  1-8 players, Official Recommendation 7+.  Check the latest prices here.  

  6. Sushi G0 (NEW)

    We had been hearing rave reviews about this game for awhile and we have just spent the week testing it out.  It is a huge hit with the kids and they try to squeeze in a game any time they can.  In this winner from Gamewright, players try to collect the best combination of sushi dishes in a card-passing quick-paced game.  This is a light and fun game that you can play in 15 minutes with fairly simple rules.  2-5 players, Official Recommendation 8+, Our Recommendation 6+.  Check the latest prices here. 

  7. Qwirkle Travel (NEW)

    We have the full size Qwirkle game and it is one of those games that the adults like just as much as the kids.  I had no idea that they had a travel size version of the game until someone mentioned it to me.  In this tile-based game similar to Scrabble but with colours and shapes, you are trying to earn the most points by laying out tiles that share one of the same attributes.  There is lots of opportunity to strategize but even younger players can pick up the basics. This game has won numberous awards and is one we come back to over and over again.  2-4 players, Official Recommendation 6+.  Check the latest prices here. 

  8. Quiddler (NEW)

    This is a great game for kids and families who like word-based games.  Like Scrabble, you have to use the letters in your hand to make words with the highest scores.  The first hand you start with three cards and each hand adds a card.  So in the beginning you are making a 3-letter word, but towards the end of the game you have more cards and are making either longer words or a few short words with the cards in your hand.  In each round you pick up and discard cards, collecting the letters you need.  Once someone knocks, the other players get one last turn before everyone reveals their words.  1-8 players, Official Recommendation 8+.  Check the latest prices here.

    There is also a Quiddler Junior version for kids 6+.  Check the latest prices here.

  9. Cheat (NEW)

    Grab a regular deck of playing cards and test the family’s poker faces.  Deal out all the cards and each player tries to be the first to get rid of all their cards.  Players discard cards (first player starts with Aces, next player 2s…) face down in a pile and say “two-2s”.  Others players can choose to call “Cheat” on them.  If they are right the cheater picks up all the cards in the pile.  If they are wrong, the person who called Cheat picks up the pile.  You can read the full rules here.  3+ players, Our Recommendation 6+.

  10. 5 Crowns (NEW)

    This game is from the same makers as Quiddler and is a rummy-style game getting great reviews from families with older kids.  This game may not have the pretty pictures or super creative style of the Gamewright games, but adults and older kids appreciate the challenge of the game that can be learned quickly.  It is like rummy but with five suits and wild cards.  Its an addictive and social game for families looking for the next level of card game.  You can also play a solitaire style of game with only one player.  1-8 players, Official Recommendation 8+.  Click here to check the latest prices.

  11. Zeus on the Loose

    Another great product from Gamewright and another card game on our list of the best travel games for kids.  Zeus on the Loose will get your kids interested in Greek mythology while reinforcing addition and subtraction as they fight to conquer Zeus.  This game really is educational and fun all at the same time and it even helps Mum and Dad with their quick sums.  I had never heard of this game before I found it in a bargain bin in the Canadian Arctic ironically.  But since we love Gamewright so much, I was quick to pick it up and it is another hit with the kids.  2-5 players, Official Recommendation 8-14 years, Our Recommendation 6+.  Check the latest prices here.  

    best travel games for kids

    Uno, by the pool

  12. Family Charades In-a-Box

    Our daughter in particular loves Charades, but all of our kids love acting out people, places and things.  This game comes in a full size that we play at home, but when we hit the road we just bring a couple of the decks of cards.  The game is perfect for families with a variety of ages because there are different decks of cards for different ages and reading levels.  My youngest uses the deck with pictures, while my middle child uses one with very simplistic words and my oldest and the adults, use one with phrases and more complicated things. This is the best kids game for creative kids and you could even incorporate charade themes from your travels. 2+ players, Official Recommendation 4+.  Check the latest prices here.

  13. Math Dice Junior

    From the title you can see that this is a blatantly educational one, but it is fun at the same time.  You role the 12 sided target dice and then roll the other dice and add, subtract, multiply and divide to hit your target number.  We usually play this game with one kid at a time as older children will have an advantage.  The game grows with your kids because they will use the more complex equations (multiply/divide) as they get older.  2+ players, Official Recommendation 6+.  Check the latest prices here.

  14. Yahtzee

    I fondly remember playing Yahtzee as a child and the travel version is one of the best travel games for kids, especially older kids.  Roll the five dice and strategically complete each category to maximize your points.  This game is portable and great for playing while waiting for a meal at a restaurant.  As always, it is educational and the kids will learn probability and strategy while competing against their opponents.  2+ players, Official Recommendation 8+.  Check the latest prices here.

  15. Sleeping Queens

    This is a new one for us that I have just ordered, but comes with raving reviews.  It is another Gamewright winner that was dreamed up by a 6 year old.  The goal is to wake the most queens by using strategy, quick thinking and some luck.  We are excited to try it out ourselves and I am sure it will become one of our best family games.  2-5 players, Official Recommendation 8+ (many reviewers say 6+ can play).  Check the latest prices here.

Kids card holder

Waiting out the rain, Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

11. Sushi Go

 

 

To help younger players keep track of their cards, we find the Gamewright Little Hands Card Holder really helpful.  Before we had one, our 5 year old used to put his cards down on the table or floor.  Now he can play like the big kids and hold his cards in his hand with help from this holder.

So there you have it – our list of the 10 best travel games for kids.  These are tried and true recommendations based on our travels all over the world.  Our cards games in particular are very worn and well loved and some of my best travel memories are when we are all together playing a game.  So grab some of these games before your next family trip and keep the kids entertained the old fashioned way.

What are your favourite family travel games?  We are always looking for new kids travel games to try out and I would love to hear what you and your kids enjoy.  Let me know in the comments.  

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