Game(s) of the Month: Travel Games

This month’s games post is a special edition focusing on our favorite travel games. Since I can’t pick just one, you get six recommendations. (Lucky you.) Last month our family flew cross-country for a lovely week on my father’s property in rural Oregon. As I pointed out in last year’s travel games post, I make it a point not to use electronic screens to keep my kids busy when we travel. (I make no judgements if you do! Everyone has different strategies.) One of my standby preparations is to fill our carry-on bags with new games for the kids. I hope our favorites will inspire you to engage in a little old-fashioned family time during your vacation journeys this summer.

A selection of our favorite games to keep kids buys on car rides and airplane trips.

Sorry for the cheesy inclusion of manufacturer’s photos. I was having too much fun playing games taking photos of my kids gathering chicken eggs and wildflowers to remember to take photos for the blog! {Note: I’ve included affiliate links should you wish to learn more about a particular game.}

Word A Round. ThinkFun sent us their newest literacy game to take with us on our trip. It was a great addition to our games arsenal! Players race to read words spelled out in a continuous ring. It’s harder than it sounds and lots of fun. The game is recommended for ages 10 and up, although my 8 year old beat me handily on several rounds. He was so proud of himself when he beat me, especially when he found the harder words first. I love how the game gave him confidence. Official game play lasts until one person has collected 10 cards, but my son always wanted to play for longer. Word A Round is very portable but kids must be able to read in order to play. My husband and I enjoyed a few rounds ourselves — so it’s a nice game for adults, as well.

Spot It Junior Animals. Spot It has become one of those toys I slip into my purse as I head out the door to a restaurant and it also served as a much need distraction for my 4 year old on the airplane. There are lots of versions of this clever matching game. Among them, the Alphabet and Numbers and Shapes versions are great for early learning games for ages 3 and up and the Spot It! Basic Spanish looks fun for kids learning a foreign language. There are 5 different ways to play and the tin of cards is super-lightweight and easy to carry.

Dinosaurs Magnetic Design Set. This was a surprise hit. I actually didn’t think my 4 year old would like it that much because he has rejected similar make-a-scene activities in the past. However, I think the timing was right, because he happens to LOVE dinosaurs right now. There are 4 cards with background scenes so kids can construct their own dinos from magnetic body parts. Mudpuppy has similar kits in a variety of themes, like space and fairies, so you may be able to find a kit with just the right fit.

Iota. I may not have bought this game if I had really read the description ahead of time. I was lured in by the cute and very tiny, portable container. However, it is not a game to play on the airplane because you need a large playing space to spread out the cards. We didn’t play it until we got to our destination. Game play relies on strategy and is very similar to Qwirkle (a terrific game that was once a game of the month) and I recommend it for kids ages 7 and up.

Uno Card Game. You all know about Uno, right? It’s a classic and one of my favorite on-the-go games since both my 4 year old and 8 year old can play it equally well. It packs up small and you don’t need a large playing space. What’s not to love? There is an interesting  deck that is waterproof and durable, but unless you are playing in a mudpuddle or going on some serious backpacking adventures, I think the original will serve you just fine.

Spirograph. Okay, this isn’t actually a game. But I was sucked into buying this travel version because of the nostalgia factor! I adored Spirograph when I was a kid. I originally thought that Kiddo (age 8) would prefer it and it would be too hard for my four year old, but it was the opposite. New Kid was the one who was really into Spirograph, although he did need assistance. I think that’s just more due to the interests of my kids, rather than the age. Obviously loads of older kids (and nostalgic parents) will enjoy the design fun of Spirograph.

We also took along a couple favorites from last year’s post about games for an airplane ride: Kanoodle and Magnetic Sudoku.

What are your favorite travel games that you tote along on your family vacations?

Interested in previous game picks? See them all here: Games of the Month.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Including affiliate links supports this blog and does not affect which games I share with you! ThinkFun sent us a complimentary game to try out. All opinions are entirely my own.

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  1. Joanna Gray says

    We LOVE games, and I especially like the look of Iota and Qwirkle. I have a 6 (almost 7) year old, and 5 year old twins. We play a lot of games and often buy ones for ages 8+ that they can do. Which of the 2 would you recommend? There is a good chance I will buy both anyway, but which should I get first!

    Thank you :-)

    • Erica MomandKiddo says

      Joanna: I would go with Qwirkle. Iota is good for travel, but Qwirkle tiles are easier for small hands to manipulate.

  2. says

    Great list. We always take Uno and Set with us – they don’t require a lot of space. We also have Spot at home, but it’s not as popular as the other two. I have to consider Word a Round for the future!

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