When you’re packing for a holiday with kids, it’s always worth taking a moment to think about the journey. Slipping a couple of children’s travel games into your hand luggage can help turn a tedious flight or train trip into a fun time, perfect for family bonding. Based on discussions I’ve had with other parents, online and in real life, I’ve pulled together a selection of the best travel games for kids. These are travel games for children aged from around six upwards. Check the age guide for each individual game.
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Travel card games: Uno
You can see from the well-loved state of the packet that Uno is a big favourite in our house. It’s an easy game to grasp, and it can only take a few minutes to play, so it’s a good travel game for when you have just a short time to spare (when you’re waiting for a delayed flight, eg).
To play, the dealer gives each player seven cards. The rest of the cards are placed in a pile, with the top card turned over. The first player has to match the card in the pile with one of their own seven cards. They need to lay down a matching number or colour. For example, if the card played is a yellow 6, the next player must throw down a yellow card or a 6 of any colour. The player can also play a Wild Card. Newer sets have customisable Wild Cards. My son enjoyed being inventive with his own Wild Card suggestions, making up forfeits like ‘look at someone else’s cards’ or ‘take 12 cards from the pile’.
Once one player has no cards left, they’ve won and the game is over.
Recommended age: 7 and over
Travel word games: Bananagrams
Bananagrams is from Asmodee’s Fun Fast Games range. The game pack consists of a set of letter tiles that you can carry round in a handy banana-shaped travel pouch. People who enjoy Scrabble, will love Bananagrams. Like Scrabble, you have to think up lots of different words using a given set of letters. But Bananagrams belongs in any decent list of games for travelling. It’s quicker, and more portable than Scrabble.
Players take 21 letters, and try to make interconnecting words out of them – which end up looking a bit like a crossword puzzle. The player who uses all their letters up first, and isn’t successfully challenged because of any ‘rotten banana’ made-up non-words, wins.
Recommended age: 10 and over.
Food-based games: Dough Nab
Dough Nab, a new game from Ginger Fox, is the perfect game for playing in a hotel room or self-catering villa. The game pack includes three brightly coloured, life-sized doughnuts (you can’t eat them, though!), a ‘Head Baker’ hat, a turn tracker and 60 doughnut cards.
The aim of the game is to get rid of all your cards, by grabbing one of the ‘real’ doughnuts when you see three of the same coloured doughnut cards on the dough nab piles. The rules take a round or two to fully grasp, but just like doughnuts, once you’ve fully mastered it, Dough Nab is pretty addictive.
Recommended age: 8 and over
Mini travel games: Dobble
Dobble is one of those mini travel games that slips easily into your handbag, but brings hours of fun. The game features a set of cards, printed with a range of brightly coloured pictures, in a lightweight tin. When I posted about Dobble on Facebook, I had loads of comments from people telling me they loved the game. It’s a big favourite!
Part of Dobble’s appeal is its simplicity. It takes only a minute or two to grasp. To play, you start with one card, with the picture side showing. A player turns over another card from the central pile. There will always be one picture in common on any set of two cards. The first player to spot the matching picture and shout out its name – ‘sunglasses’, ‘spider web’ etc – wins both cards. The player who ends up with all the cards, after spotting the most matching pictures, wins. Simple….but genius, eh? Dobble is aimed at children over six, but as one of my Facebook friends said, “I’ll happily play Dobble with my three year old”.
Recommended age: 6 and over.
Travel card games: Tetris Speed
Remember the video game Tetris? Well, now you don’t have to be in front of a screen to play it. For 2-8 players, Tetris Speed features cards with an iconic Tetris shape (a ‘Tetrimino’) on each card. Once the cards have been dealt, the aim of the game is to get rid of all your cards. You do this by matching your shapes with the next Tetrimino to be played. It’s a race to match the cards – the first person to make a match, wins. So the game’s a good test of speed, reaction, and understanding of shapes. A bit of learning by stealth!
Tetris Speed is fun and although you do need a table or flat surface to play it, the pack is no bigger than a standard pack of cards, so it’s an excellent travel game for kids.
Recommended age: 6 and over.
If you’re looking for more inspiration for gifts, check out our feature on gifts for families that love adventure.
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