Family travel is a fantastic way to expose kids to new cultures, new cuisines, and spectacular scenery. It can help them shape their young minds about the world around them and help them develop into compassionate and responsible teenagers and adults. However, traveling with kids can either be an amazing adventure or the ultimate test of your sanity, sometimes at the same time! Dealing with kids who are constantly fighting or incessantly complaining about being bored can zap the fun out of any family adventure and it is always a good idea to have some fun travel games for kids in your back pocket to keep the whole family, including grumpy spouses, entertained!
Have fun all over the world with Adventures from Scratch!
If you’re constantly searching for games and activities to keep the kids occupied while you travel, look no further than Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition. Expertly designed, this book has more than 50 scratch-off adventures that you can do at home or on the road! With fun indoor activities that are perfect for a rainy day and on-the-go challenges to do when you are out and about, this book gives you the perfect opportunity to enjoy every moment of your family vacation!
The Best Travel Games for Kids
Here at Let’s Roam, we can’t wait to go on our next adventure and we love bringing kids of all ages along for the ride. We are strong proponents of family travel and think that the whole family deserves to have some fun regardless if they are two years old or 80 years old!
In saying that, we also know that family travel can be a bit more stressful than a romantic getaway or an adventure trip.
Below you’ll find a list of great travel games for kids of all ages. We have divided them into board games and card games, and road trip games. We have also highlighted whether they are better for younger kids or older kids or if everyone can join in on hours of family fun!
Besides bringing some family games along, we also suggest bringing some travel toys with you too. This will help keep the youngest of travelers occupied for a bit longer than some of the fun travel games listed below and can save you from hours of bickering and crying.
Card and Board Games
After traveling extensively for decades, here is our list of great card and board games that you can play in hotel rooms or at restaurants, rest stops, and even on planes and airplanes! You may recognize many of the classic games on this list and we have also added some great new ones that are easy to play while on the move.
Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you’re going to have a trunk full of board games. You can actually find many travel versions of your favorite games with their very own carrying case (and even magnetic travel games which work well for tiny fingers but not so well for adult ones) that are much easier to throw into the car or in your suitcase when you’re preparing for your vacay.
You can buy many of the travel board games listed below from websites like Amazon or you can find printables on some of your favorite family-friendly websites. We highly recommend going this route if you’re likely only going to play it a few times
Scratch-Off Adventure Books
Scratch-off adventure books are an amazing way to keep the whole family entertained while on the move! These books are designed to bring families together with tons of great out-of-the-box activities that can be done in hotels, cabins, and even in the car. Best of all, you won’t know what the challenge is until the big reveal. Not only do you get to learn a lot about one another but you’ll be making wonderful memories that you’ll cherish forever!
This game is pretty straightforward as many of us played it as kids (or bored adults). The premise of this strategy game is to make a straight or diagonal line on a nine-block board. The first person to go puts an X wherever they want while the second person puts an O. Whoever makes a line of three straight wins the game. This is fast and can be played both online or with dry-erase markers and a travel size whiteboard so it’s perfect for keeping kids occupied while you’re waiting for food at a restaurant or for your flight to board at the airport.
Another strategy game that can keep competitive siblings busy for hours, Connect 4 can be played on a tablet or with a physical playing board if you want to keep the games screen-free. During the game, players try to make a line of four red or yellow checkers in a stand-up grid. Each player can either focus on making a line as fast as possible, try to keep the other player from doing so, or a mixture of both strategies. Whoever connects four first, wins!
Each player is dealt seven cards to start the game. Throughout the game, each player must match either the color, symbol or the number of the card laid by the player before them. The first person to get rid of all their cards wins the round; however, they must yell at Uno when they have one card left or they could be “penalized” by their teammates and be forced to draw additional cards.
While this sounds super simple, there are non-numeric cards thrown in the mix that causes the game to either change direction, skip a player, or make one player draw additional cards. Depending on how much time you have, you can either play a certain amount of rounds (one, best out of three, etc) or you can tally up points at the end of the game to determine a winner.
Also known as Spot It, Dobble is an image-matching game where players must match the images from their cards with a card placed in the middle of the table. Each card has around eight images on it which can vary in size card by card so it can take a few seconds for the images to be matched correctly. The player then wins the card. The player that has the most cards at the end of the 55-card deck is the winner.
Great for older kids, Scrabble is a word game where each player is given letters that they then use to make words on the game board. Depending on where the words are placed, their length, and the number of letters used, you’re then given points. The letters used are then replaced from a bag of mixed letter tiles. The winner is the person with the most points at the end.
This is an excellent game for helping kids build vocabulary and spelling skills but it can get tricky if your kids are of very different ages or educational levels. It works well when played between friends or kids of similar ages.
Like Scrabble, Bananagrams uses letter tiles to make a variety of words. However, rather than players taking turns to add their words to the board, they race against one another to spell out words using a preset number of tiles. Whoever uses all of their tiles first wins. Along the way, players can either pick up or dump letters as needed until there are fewer tiles left than the number of players. It’s a fun game that helps young kids (and adults) work on spelling while focusing on creativity and critical thinking skills.
When Monopoly was first invented at the start of the 20th century, it was created to teach people about the economy. Well over 100 years after it hit the shelves, it’s still a popular way for parents to teach their kids about money management, investments, and the diversification of wealth. Although these are all pretty serious topics, the game has proven to be fun for older kids and adults. Not to mention, it has probably started countless family feuds.
There are many different versions of Monopoly, some of which are designed for young kids. For all the travel lovers out there, we are happy to report that there’s even a travel-themed Monopoly game complete with a dry-erase game board that players can stamp with special token stampers to show the destinations that they have visited.
Another classic game, checkers has been keeping people occupied for millennia. The first checkers game dates back to 3,000 BC in Iraq, making it by far the oldest game on this list. In checkers, each player attempts to move their 12 discs diagonally across a game board consisting of 64 alternating light and dark squares. You can remove your player’s discs from the board by jumping them which allows you to progress toward the other player’s side. The first person who captures all of the other player’s checkers wins.
Checkers is definitely a game of strategy and can help kids learn how to plan and strategize on how their movements will impact other players. It can also help them increase concentration skills and improve their brain processing speed.
The premise behind this classic dice game is a simple one. Each player tries to get the highest score after 13 rounds of rolling the dice using a cup and five dice. Players can roll up to three times each round in an attempt to get the highest score based on a certain combination of numbers. You can only score each combination once and keep careful track of what you roll on a score sheet. The winner is the person who gets the highest total score.
While many people think that Yahtzee is simply based on luck, it does require a good amount of skill to decide which combinations you should be seeking. This makes it great for older kids who love to strategize and maybe, just maybe, it will keep them out of trouble!
Pass the Pigs
This was definitely one of my favorites growing up! Pass the Pigs is a game of luck where you throw two tiny, rubber pigs and see how they land. You’re then rewarded with a certain amount of points depending on whether they have landed on their backs, sides, or feet. At the end of the game, the player with the highest number of points wins. This is ideal to play if you have a large playing surface like a table but in a pinch, you can also play it on an airplane tray table. Just make sure the kids toss the pigs lightly as they can be surprisingly bouncy!
Another childhood favorite of yours truly, Guess Who is a board game where players are able to view a number of characters on little plastic doors that you can lift off of the board. Each player then draws a card of a character. The first person asks whether or not the character has a certain physical characteristic such as if they have brown hair or are wearing a hat or glasses. The other player then looks at their character card to see whether or not their character looks like that and answers yes or no.
The first player then lowers the little plastic doors of all of the characters that don’t have the same characteristics. This continues going back and forth until one player can finally guess what character the other player has, making them the winner.
Frequently played by groups of elderly Chinese women all over the world, mahjong is a four-person game that entails players trying to make matching sets and pairs of tiles using 144 tiles and two dice. To start the game, each player is given 13 tiles. From there, each player can pick up and discard tiles as needed throughout the game until someone has finally been able to compile the needed sets to win the game.
Although the rules can be a bit tricky to get a hang of at first, mahjong is a great way for kids and older adults to improve their short-term memory and concentration skills. It’s ideal for all family members both young and old! The games can drag on a bit so this is a good game on a rainy day in a beach resort or when cooped up in an Airbnb.
Using a clunky, 20-sided dice printed with the letters of the alphabet, each player rolls the dice to decide which letter every word in the category must start with. For every word that a person guesses that no one else has, they get a point. During each round, the players have an answer sheet with 12 blank spots on it that they need to fill in as much as possible during the three-minute round based on a particular category. The player at the end with the highest score wins the game. This is great for creative thinking but ideally, kids of roughly the same age or academic level will play together to help even out the playing field a bit!
Cards Against Humanity
While this game is infamous for being a go-to party game for adults, there’s a family version that promises just as much laughter and creativity as the adults-only one. With 600 words covering topics like toilets, butt spaghetti, and friends of your mom, Cards Against Humanity is designed to make any occasion a fun one. If you don’t believe us, just remember that the whole point of the game is to see who can make people laugh the most!
The game starts by handing each player 10 white cards. One person begins the game by drawing a black card that has a question or fill-in-the-blank phrase written on it. The other players then lay out a card that they think answers or complete the card best. Each pair is read out and the one that makes the cardholder laughs the most wins the card. Whoever has the most cards at the end wins.
This famous game is most often played by tipsy college students across the country but that is no reason not to include it in your travel game toolbox. During a game of corn hole, players stand on either end of a predetermined stretch of space. They then try to throw bean bags through a hole cut out in the middle of each cornhole board. Each player throws four bags and keeps track of how many they are able to land in the hole. The person who scores the most points over the course of the game is the winner!
Collapsible cornhole is a good option for active kids who need a bit of physical activity throughout the day. It’s helpful for building hand-eye coordination and if you want to make it a little harder, you simply need to increase the distance between the cornhole boards.
Travel Ping Pong Set
Like collapsible cornhole, travel ping pong is good for kids who need to play some actual physical games while on the road. A travel set can be set up on any table as long as there’s space around the table itself and there’s nothing breakable in sight. They aren’t particularly stable so this is usually a better choice for younger kids than big strapping teenagers but it’s good to always have them in your car to help kids burn off some nervous energy before going to bed or getting back in the car!
Although they may not have all the bells and whistles as some of the other games on this list, sometimes you can’t beat a good old pack of playing cards. These can be used to play a ton of different games including rummy, Go Fish!, Old Maid, Memory, and Solitaire. If you can’t get your kids to concentrate on a card game, you can also just hand them the deck and let them build their own little castle.
App-based scavenger hunts
While you’re making your way from one place to another, why not stop and enjoy the journey? Let’s Roam’s app-based scavenger hunts are a great way to make a normal bathroom or lunch stop into something fun and memorable as you solve interesting trivia questions and take part in unique challenges. With hunts in hundreds of cities around the world, there’s sure to be one near you!
Road Trip Games
We have done plenty of long road trips with little ones in tow, and trust us, you’ll want to have an arsenal of road trip games at your disposal. Below you’ll find a list of a few of our favorite road trip activities. These generally need very little in terms of game pieces, boards, or even paper and pens, making them perfect to play during long car rides. For more fun road trip games like Would You Rather and I-Spy, make sure to check out our list of great road trip games!
Hangman is the perfect, quick game to keep your kiddos occupied. You simply need a piece of paper and a pen. The first player thinks of a word without telling the other player and draws the appropriate number of blank spaces. The second player then needs to guess what letters make up the word and the word itself before the entire “hangman” is drawn. For every incorrect answer, a new body part is drawn. While the game is slightly morbid, it’s a good way for kids to practice their vocabulary and encourages creative thinking.
Melissa & Doug Flip-to-Win License Plate Game
A fun take on the old license plate game, Melissa & Doug Flip to Win game features a game board printed with a map of the United States. Within each state, there’s a little flap that can be opened when a license plate from that state is spotted. This is great for car trips, especially for kids that tend to get motion sickness and need help focusing on the landscape passing by.
This is a great take on the classic game that you can make at home for your next road trip! You simply need to create a grid of objects that you’re likely to see during the car ride or when you get to a destination. Each player gets a card with all of these items located in different places. As you go, players can mark off or put stickers on the items that they see. The first person to make a straight or diagonal line and yells Bingo is the winner. Not only is this easy to play but you can also keep it as a fun souvenir of your trip!
Ready to roam?
We hope that this article has gotten you ready for your upcoming family road trips or family vacations with an extensive list of some fun ways to pass the time during long car rides. As always, we would love to hear your feedback and please let us know if there are any great travel games that we may have missed!
Frequently Asked Questions
When you are traveling with kids, it can get a little stressful! Make sure to have plenty of family-friendly travel games and road trip games ready for them to play both in the car and in hotel rooms!
When you are on the move, you can play fun travel games like the license plate game, Hangman, Pass the Pigs, or even Travel Bingo. Be as creative as you want!
Absolutely! Traveling is a fantastic way for kids to learn more about the world around them. Make sure to have plenty of road trip games and travel board games available to keep little minds occupied.
Why not let your very own adventure book decide what activities you will do? Scratch-off adventure books are a great way for families to spend time together and try new things
When you are traveling, memory games, spelling games, and anything that helps children build critical thinking skills are great games to play while you are traveling.