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When the battery operated distractions die and the summer reading list has been burned through long before reaching your destination, it helps to have a stash of kid-friendly toys and boredom busters at hand and ready to go. These travel games run the gamut from look and find toddler games and classic paper games like tic tac toe to complicated five in a row strategy games. Parents will love easy to play classics like Rubberneckers, and kids will enjoy discovering new favorites with up and coming favorites like Avocado Smash.
A great toy for young children on their first road trip, travel bingo encourages them to notice all the different types of vehicles, and practice reading road signs. With several card choices, they can hit bingo once, then move on to other, more difficult cards. Will they see a helicopter out in the country? A cow in the big city? They’ll have to look, listen, and keep their eyes peeled.
- Good for Preschool and Elementary
- No removable pieces, nothing can get lost
- No mess, easy to play in a car seat
A great toy for older kids who may have the patience for longer trips, but even they need more than a book and some headphones to last through a multi-leg flight or multi-state road trip. UNO is fun for two players, but can easily expand to accommodate up to 10, so it’s a great choice for kids on long trips for camp, competitions, or traveling to sporting events.
- Fun for parents
- Not just for travel
- Good for big groups
Unlike a lot of travel board games, it’s easy to take a restroom break or pause for a snack with travel Battleship. Each player has their own play pieces which aren’t shared, and the lid snaps shut, preventing opponents from seeing the other board. It’s also an easy game for siblings with significant age gaps to play with, unlike Candy Land, which skews very young, or Clue, which leans significantly older. As long as the youngest player is old enough to learn to tell the ships apart by sight, they won’t have any trouble.
- Easy to learn
- Packs up neatly
- Lots of tiny parts
For kids who enjoy art, or are just likely to need a break from rowdy siblings, this mini marker set by Crayola makes it easy for them to play solo, or use the included drawing pad for games of hangman, tic tac toe, or for keeping score while playing other games.
- Good for quiet play
- Good for only children
- Easy to share
Large families face an uphill battle keeping multiple children occupied on trips; who has the money for a separate iPad for each child when you have a car full? This multi-pack of games lets kids divvy up the entertainment for themselves, whether there are two players, four, or more. Keep your crew organized with seat back pockets with dividers; great for snacks, art supplies, books, and more.
- Good for a wide age range
- Good for large groups
- Hungry Hungry Hippos is great for letting out some energy
While this version of Scrabble is marketed for traveling, anyone who’s ever bumped the table on family game night can see the appeal of click and lock tiles on the Scrabble board, even for home use. You can still lose pieces that haven’t been played yet, so don’t forget to pick up a tray table with raised edges; it’s never fun to start off vacation by digging game pieces out from under the seat in front of yours.
- Good for playing quietly
- Plastic pieces, unlike the original
A classic two-player guessing game, Guess Who has been revamped and redesigned, and this Disney version brings familiar characters into the mix. While most kids games have a Disney Princess version now- we’re looking at you, princess Candy Land– very few princess games are available in travel-friendly designs. Guess Who has long been a favorite game for traveling, and we’re excited to have an option for kids who are firmly set in their princess fascination.
- Travels well
- Easily re-playable
- Princess version is much more expensive than the original
Instead of the multi-hour (or, let’s be honest, multi-day) ordeal that the standard board game version of Monopoly can easily become, Monopoly Deal has easier objectives and a more dynamic play style. It’s fun to play with a smaller group, and there aren’t tedious Banker duties, so no one feels sidelined. There are still strategies to consider, especially when learning how to play with new cards like Deal Breaker, that can change your fortune on a dime.
- No paper money, little houses, or easily lost parts
- Put some fun back in Monopoly
- Good for any kind of travel
“I bought this for a family trip, hoping to keep my three kids engaged in scenic drives and enjoying desert views instead of their electronic devices. It was a huge hit, and we played every time we got in the car. I highly recommend this game.”
Considered a must-have accessory for family road trips, it is a consensus among reviewers that Rubber Neckers takes the iSpy we all grew up with and makes it a more engaging, more entertaining, and- thanks to an easy to track point system- more competitive. Fun for all ages, it’s won numerous game and toy awards for effectively keeping families entertained and engaged, whether on long summer road trips, or just the morning commute.
- Road Bingo but someone can actually win cause we’re keeping score
- Easy to sort cards by difficulty so kids who can’t read plates can still play
- Only practical for car trips, not flights
Knock-Knock sells several different styles of these multi-game paper pads. This one has tic-tac-toe, five in a row, and the category game. While the category game can be played with any number of people, both other games require only two players, so this set is best for families with two children close in age. For larger groups or older children, the on the go game pads make more sense; the games take longer and require more skill.
- Good for killing time anywhere, not just while traveling
- A large variety of game pads means something for everyone
Great for bumpy car or train rides, these mini magnetic versions of some of our favorite games can keep kids occupied for hours, without requiring that the car is scoured for missing parts and pieces during every restroom break. We love magnetic hangman for the consistency of play; no more of that cheating older sibling nonsense where the hanged man gets socks, a belt, or a hat. To make sure these aren’t single use games, help kids be responsible for keeping up with them; a hard side case makes a great place to keep toys and games stored while not in use.
- A wide range of ages will enjoy these games
- If not stored carefully, parts will be easy to lose
- Convenient to take breaks and resume games
For toddlers or children too young to play structured games, the Busy Town books are a great way to learn the basics of I Spy, Bingo, and other classic travel games. Play creatively by telling stories about the pictures in the book, then apply those new narrative skills to other things seen on vacation.
- A classic children’s favorite
- Many different versions available
- Good for all types of travel
Avocado Smash is an easy to learn discard-based game that requires quick reflexes to master. Based on games like snaps, jacks, and UNO, players compete to get rid of their cards without being the last to react during smash rounds. Though it’s rated 6 and up, younger children can definitely pick up the basics and play along. Comes in an avocado-shaped carrying case and provides hours of entertainment at home or on the go.
- Easy to clean up and store
- Play at home or on the go
- Lots of movement and shouting required