The best games for travel with kids

From when my daughter was young, we’ve always packed board games for travel, along with cards and paper games as she got older.

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Perfect for whiling away a wait in restaurants, unexpectedly wet Wednesdays or winding down at the end of the day, we have a string of tried-and-tested favourites, plus I always find some new inspiration among the great games for kids on Wicked Uncle, which you can filter by age and interest.

So while I’ve packed everything from dominoes and Pass the Pigs to Dobble, Rummikub and Uno over the years, it’s well worth saving space in your suitcase for these.

Want games for travel fans rather than to take travelling? If you’re looking for something to get kids excited about travelling the world, Go Genius World for age 7+ teaches facts galore about the world as you answer questions to travel around the globe

Who’s in the bag

Who’s in the Bag is a twist on charades and 20 questions – with 850 characters in the bag, you can mime, describe or impersonate the personality you draw (as long as you don’t say their name).

Your team mates have to guess as many as they can correctly in a minute. There are blank cards and it comes in a waterproof bag, so you could even take it to the beach.

Blue and yellow box and blue cloth bag with round playing pieces for Who's in the bag guessing game from Wicked Uncle - one of my top picks for great games for travel with kids

Tape measure quiz

You could literally slip this one into your pocket if you wanted – although you need a bit more space to fully extend this 10ft fun tape measure.

Packed with 60 fun facts and statistics on both sides, from how fast a snail can travel to how high a pig can jump (and lots of non animal-related trivia), it’s a good one to get all the family involved guessing the answers to the brain-teasers.

Smart Ass

Another guessing game, Smart Ass is great with tweens and older – with 90 question cards, players have to guess who, where or what the answer is by shouting out the correct guess first.

With eight clues that get progressively easier, the more correct answers you get, the more chance you have of becoming the ultimate Smart Ass. Guaranteed to bring out your competitive side!

Bright yellow box with donkey picture for the Smart Ass quiz board game from Wicked Uncle - one of the great games for travel with kids to pack this summer

Herd Mentality

You need four players or more for Herd Mentality, but it’s huge fun to see if you really know what your family thinks – simply answer the questions, but with the twist that you want your answer to match everyone else’s.

If you’re the odd one out, you get the dreaded Pink Cow – and until you get rid of it again, you can’t win. With just cards, cow and pencils needed, you could even take it out of its (already pretty small/lightweight) box to save even more space.

Pass the Pigs

This is completely addictive and one of the most practical to take out while you’re travelling – lightweight, you don’t need much space to play Pass the Pigs (just a flat surface) and it’s easy for all ages.

Just throw (or roll) the two pigs, and depending how they fall, you score points. Or lose them of course. First to 100 wins.

Image of silver case with small pink pig and separate pig from Pass the Pigs and gold-edged tin for Harry Potter themed Dobble with several cards in front - two of my favourite games for travel with kids

Dobble

Classic Dobble or one of the themed variations, it’s up to you – my daughter loves the Harry Potter version of Dobble, not least because she keeps beating me hands down!

Great for helping kids match and spot patterns, the quickest and sharpest eyed definitely has an advantage.

Where’s Wally?

Not the classic books, the Where’s Wally? Find it fast game still involves you trying to spot the famous figure in his red and white stripes.

Pick a card, roll the picture dice and the first player to find it wins – find the most matches in total, and you’re the overall winner.

Small beige plastic square game with ball, steps and crocodiles in water - Temple Trap Logic Puzzle from Wicked Uncle is one of my top games for travel with kids

Logic puzzles

If you’re looking for ways to entertain older kids, there are some great logic puzzles to get their brains working overtime.

Temple Trap has 60 different challenges at different levels to help the adventurer escape (perfect for Indiana Jones fans or if you’re off to Cambodia!).

Or check out the brightly coloured IQ Love, where you have to build hearts (not as easy as it sounds) and Asteroid Escape.

For a two player game Rush Hour Shift sounds simple – choose a starting set-up then play your cards to try to move the other pieces and get to the other side. I promise you, it’s definitely not so easy!

Brain Master

If you remember playing the Mastermind board game as a kid, you’ll recognise Brain Master – one player picks four coloured pieces to set the hidden code, and their opponent gets 10 tries to work out the answer with white and black pegs giving clues about which of their guesses are correct (or nearly correct).

This version has a compartment to store the pieces so it’s an easy one to pack and play while you’re away, without too much risk of losing all the bits!

Wooden board with coloured glass playing pieces and colourful box for Mancala from Wicked Uncle - one of the oldest games in the world, it's a great option if you're looking at games for travel with kids

Mancala

One of the world’s oldest games, Mancala has been played since the time of the Pharaohs – so if you’re looking for the perfect games for travel with kids on a holiday in Egypt, this has to be on the list.

Each game takes five minutes, so this test of strategy is also a good one if you’re looking for something quick and fun. The solid wooden board piece means you won’t want to carry it around all day but it’s fairly compact so won’t take up too much space.

Sleeping Queens

We came across Sleeping Queens in an AirBNB in Devon and loved it so much, we bought the card game ourselves once we got home – it’s another one which is suitable for two or more players as well.

The goal is to awaken five Queens (or Queens totalling 50 points) and stop your opponent from getting there first, with knights, dragons, wands, magic potions and a bit of sneaky maths as a bonus, as you try to discard useless number cards.

Red box with cartoon of sleeping woman and dragon for Sleeping Queens, and turquoise box with roaring green dinosaur for On a Scale of One to T-Rex, two of my favourite games for travel with kids

On a Scale of 1 to T-Rex

From the makers of Exploding Kittens (scroll down to card games if you haven’t come across that one before!), On a Scale of 1 to T-Rex is definitely not one to play in a crowded restaurant.

With different versions if you’re playing with two, or a group of three or more, you have to perform an action – sometimes very ordinary, sometimes utterly ridiculous – at the intensity and volume shown on your own card. All at the same time.

Very loud, very funny, very silly.

Classic games for travel with kids

If you’re short of space, you can’t go wrong with the following too, which take up hardly any room in a suitcase or hand luggage.

Card games

How many games can you play with a single pack of playing cards? Over 1,000 and possibly up to 10,000 according to accepted wisdom. Not that we play quite that many but Crazy Eights is a favourite, along with Whist.

You can start with easy games like Snap, see if they’ll entertain themselves with a game of Patience (or Solitaire), and I have vivid memories of playing Racing Demon with my brother too.

Plus there are plenty of other card games to try, including Uno, Top Trumps and Exploding Kittens – in the latter, your goal is to avoid getting the Exploding Kitten card, while forcing your opponents to explode.

Or try Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire! where you have three facts on your card, one a big fat fib – roll the dice to see which one you read aloud, try to keep a straight face, and discover if your family can work out if you’re telling the truth or not.

Scattered playing cards and dominoes and a pack of cards for Uno - some of my favourite travel games with kids

Dominoes

Another great one that’s good for all ages, my daughter’s earliest set had matching dog faces (and is still played years on) – similar to this dinosaur domino game.

Our latest acquisition (this one found in an AirBNB in Norfolk) is Double Nine Dominoes – with more combinations, it’s an even more exciting game. Although more tiles does make it a bit heavier, so we tend to take this on UK breaks.

Travel board games

Plenty of family favourites come as travel versions, so it’s well worth checking what’s out there – we’ve got travel versions of Scrabble and Yahtzee, and you can find travel Monopoly and travel Cluedo as well.

If you’ve got younger children, you’ll still find a string of classic board games for travel with kids – Orchard Toys has lightweight versions of Snakes & Ladders and bingo in its mini games collection, as well as its own creations like Llamas in Pyjamas.

One of our favourites to play at home is Ticket to Ride: Europe – perfect for getting kids excited about travel travel, teaching a bit of geography (even if some of the names are a little outdated!) and being hugely fun. Not an easy one to transport, alas, but there is a card version.

Rummikub

Rummy is another childhood favourite card game, but we also love playing Rummikub, a similar version with tiles.

The full-size version isn’t huge but there’s also a travel version of Rummikub that’s worth considering too.

My daughter holds a card in the Match A Mummy Ancient Egypt matching game for kids - finding the best games for travel with kids

Snap/matching pairs

You can play snap with a basic set of cards, or there are plenty of other fun matching games to try – always a favourite with younger kids, my daughter loves the Match a Mummy game in particular.

Themed around Ancient Egypt, it’s fun for older kids as you learn more about the civilisation and its beliefs as you have to remember the pairs as well as finding where they’re hidden.

Magnetic games

If you’re travelling with younger kids, magnetic games are one of the most practical options when you’re on the move, as you’re less likely to be picking up dropped pieces.

Magnetic Monster Factory is a fun one for age 3+ – you get 34 magnetic pieces, a tin with four monsters to decorate, and you can mix and match to your heart’s content. Great for on planes.

Or these Magnetic Books fold out and let you create different scenes – choose from dinosaurs, play at the park, ballet and a string of others.

If you’re looking for more ways to entertain younger kids, my daughter was fascinated by lacing cards when she was little, spending a large part of the car journeys on our California road trip playing with hers – these Alphabet Lacing cards have letters on the back of the cute pictures, to help kids learn their alphabet at the same time

Disclosure: Compiled in association with Wicked Uncle – all opinions on the best games for travel with kids are my own (and my daughter’s). This post contains affiliate links: any purchases you make are unaffected but I may receive a small commission

Main image courtesy of Depositphotos, Pass the Pigs/Sleeping Queens/cards & dominos/Match a Mummy images copyright MummyTravels, all others courtesy of Wicked Uncle

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