A family trip to the beach sounds idyllic. Getting there? Not so much. Whether you’re traveling by plane, train or automobile, having the whole gang cooped up in an enclosed space for hours on end will make even the happiest of families go a little crazy. Here, 21 great travel games for kids to keep the peace (and the “Are we there yet?” questions to a minimum).
1. Rory’s Story Cubes
Check out these fun cubes for a game that’s different every time you play and will bring out your family’s creative side. Simply give them a roll and then tell a story based on whatever images are facing upward. The best part? There are no wrong answers.
2. Travel Chess Set
Worried about losing pieces? Don’t fret—this nifty board is magnetized. So if you decide to take it with you to the countryside, you can rest assured that everything will make it back home. (Your kid’s rain boots, on the other hand, are another story.)
3. Mad Libs
It was hilarious to play this fill-in-the-blank game when you were a kid, and yep, it’s just as funny now. Just make sure you pick the right pack for each age group. (Psst: The Junior version is great for the under-8 set.)
4. Pass the Pigs
Kids ages 7 and up will love rolling these pigs (instead of dice) and keeping score depending on how they land. Silly? Yep. But that’s exactly why it’ll keep them entertained for hours.
5. Connect 4 GRAB & GO
Try to get four colored checkers in a row without your opponent blocking you. It’s simple yet surprisingly fun. (And this travel version folds up for easy storage.)
6. Scavenger Hunt
How can you go on a scavenger hunt when trapped in your car? Easy. These imaginative cards are designed with road trips in mind and ask kids to keep their eyes peeled for tow trucks, yellow houses, motorcycles and more. (There’s even a card for bad smells, which you know they’ll love.)
Race against your family members to see who can complete their very own crossword grid first using all their tiles. The banana-shaped pouch makes for easy transportation (and is also pretty darn cute).
8. IQ Puzzler Pro
The best games aren’t just fun but also sneak in some learning. This pick comes in a compact size but features a staggering 120 challenges in three different playing modes (including 3-D brainteasers). Best for ages 6 and up.
9. Apples to Apples on the Go
Here’s how to play: Deal the deck and then select the card from your hand that you think best describes the card played by the judge. If the judge picks your card, then you win that round. Easy entertainment for ages 12 and up.
Go old-school with just a pen and paper or check out this travel-friendly version featuring wooden tiles, an erasable whiteboard, a self-storing dry-erase marker and an eraser.
11. Brain Games
Marketed to kids from age 6 to 99, this one is educational fun for everyone (even Grandma). And the reusable activity mats mean you can play again and again.
12. Flip-to-Win Memory Game
Featuring seven double-sided themed game cards, this one should keep the whole crew going until you arrive at your destination. And with no loose pieces and easy storage, it’s ideal for travel.
13. Travel Scrabble
A firm family favorite, but the regular version isn’t exactly ideal on the go. This handy travel board comes in an easy-to-transport case and has a raised grid so that tiles stay put. How many points for “genius”?
Another classic game where all you really need is a pen and paper. But how cute is this wooden board? Let the kids take turns to see who can get three knots or crosses in a row.
15. Monopoly Deal
A plane ride is no place for the original Monopoly (how would the banker keep track of all those notes?), but this card version can easily fit into your carry-on and is readily played on tray tables.
16. Rummikub Travel
Rummy meets mah-jongg in this strategic game where the goal is to get rid of all your tiles using runs (like 7, 8 and 9) and groups (like a red 4, a blue 4 and a black 4). A miniature version of the original, this pick is great for ages 8 and up and can be played with two to four players.
17. The License Plate Game
Road-tripping across the country? Here’s a game that will keep everyone (driver included) occupied. See how many license plates from different states you can spot and keep track on this wooden board. Yes, it’s a pretty bulky item to pack, but it will keep the kids occupied and they’ll also learn some geography while they’re at it. (Bonus points if they know the state’s capital.)
18. 45 Games... Travel!
Puzzles and observation games and mazes, oh my! With 45 different activities for kids to choose from (plus an erasable pen so that they can start over again and again), this just might keep your munchkin occupied until you arrive at your destination. (Maybe.)
19. Charades for Kids Travel Version
With three different levels of clues, this one is great for kids ages 4 to 8 (each card has a picture so there’s no reading required). Your mini will love acting out a toothbrush or pretending to be a bumblebee. But can she guess Mom’s spaghetti-eating impression or Dad’s air guitar moves? The kit includes 150 charade cards, a sand timer and a game die. (Just maybe save this one for the hotel and not the airplane.)
20. Air Deck Travel Playing Cards
Regular paper playing cards tear, stain and bend easily, but this deck can handle even the bumpiest of journeys. Its slim shape means it’ll easily fit in your pocket, and it’s also 100 percent waterproof (hello, beach).
21. TAKE ’N’ PLAY ANYWHERE BINGO
It’s the classic game but in a magnetic, travel-size form. Kids ages 4 and up will love trying to get five animals in a row. Just don’t forget to shout “Bingo!” when you do.