When it comes to staying entertained on road trips, on planes, and during downtime in hotel rooms, there are plenty of fun travel games for kids that parents will love just as much.

We own most of these best travel games and have played all of them. I’ve included our travel board games, dice games, magnetic games, strategy games, tabletop games, and classic favorites in portable versions that are popular and favorably reviewed best-sellers.

Whether your kids are toddlers or teens (or both), there’s something on this list that they’ll love to play with you. All of the portable games recommended here are fairly cheap and easy to find so that you can stock up before your next family vacation and keep everyone unplugged from their devices.

Some of our travel games that we own spread out on a table.
Part of our travel game arsenal

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Car Travel Games for Road Trips

Minimize the “Are we there yet?” questions on repeat with some fun travel games for long family road trips. Truthfully, many of the games on this list can be played in the car, but these have minimal pieces or road trip themes.

1. Rory’s Story Cubes

Recommended ages: 6+

Rory’s Story Cubes is one of the hottest games out there. These games, which have multiple themes (including Harry Potter) are thankfully very convenient to travel with and easy to learn how to play. The cubes for this dice game also fit neatly into a small pouch that you can tuck into a handbag or backpack.

Players roll the dice and tell a story based on the pictures facing upward on the dice after being rolled. While it’s fun with multiple players, I’ve seen kids play it independently, too. Since storytelling is the main feature, it can be one of the perfect travel games for the car, especially if you have a small tray to roll the dice on.

Pros: We like it because there are no wrong answers, it gets the creative juices flowing, and different (usually funny) tales are told every time. The little pouch with dice takes up barely any space in my purse or my daughter’s backpack.

Cons: It can be a little tough to come up with stories if your creative juices aren’t flowing, but remember that’s part of the fun!

2. Travel Scavenger Hunt Card Game

Recommended ages: 7+

Scavenger Hunt is a perfect family road trip game for kids. They will love keeping an eye out for items on these cards ranging from stop signs to license plates with certain letters.

The deck of cards also includes some fun “feel it” style cards designed for road bumps and unexpected things one might experience during car rides. You can play these card games with two or more players.

Pros: It’s the size of a typical deck of cards. Kids can play on their own.

Cons: Cards can get lost or be a little messy if scattered.

3. Pass the Pigs

Recommended ages: 7+

This travel game for kids crossed my radar recently. It’s wildly popular and happens to be very portable. Basically, you roll pigs instead of dice and score them by how the pigs land. It sounds crazy, but in this case, the stellar reviews also don’t lie. Also, beware that there are lots of pig puns ahead in Pass the Pigs.

Pros: Kids can play together in the backseat as long as they have a surface, like a backseat divider, to roll the pigs on.

Cons: The pigs can get lost or fall into crevices.

4. Travel Spirograph

Recommended ages: 5–12

Yes! Spirograph is now in travel form! This little device comes with six wheels, pens, and its own container for making cool geometric designs on the go. Love it.

Pros: I mean many of us remember Spirograph from our own childhoods and it’s super cool to share making designs with kids and grandkids.

Cons: I can’t really think of any. Sometimes, as you may remember, the little disk pops out when making a design if you’re too eager.

5. Skillmatics Card Games

Recommended ages: 6+ (the junior version is ages 3-6)

If you like edutainment, this award-winning family travel card game is for you. It’s so fun that the kids will never know they’re learning as they play. The portable box comes with 35 game cards and 10 guider tiles. You’ll ask up to 10 questions to guess the animal or thing on the drawn game card.

Pros: It comes in multiple versions and… edutainment while having fun!

Cons: I don’t think it’s as silly as some other card travel games on the market (but it’s educational).

Magnetic Travel Games

The beauty of magnetic travel games is for kids, teens, and adults is that the pieces stay in place better than their traditional counterparts do. You’ll still need to be careful not to lose the pieces. Many of these games do not come with extras, so there goes your game if one goes missing.

6. Take N Play Bingo (and Other Games)

Recommended ages: 4-8

This two-player bingo magnetic travel game means that the pieces are tough to lose. The weight of the tin is just over six ounces and 7″ square in size. It stores the pieces, serves as the game board, and can easily slip into a handbag or travel gear.

We have many Take N Play games ranging from dominos to checkers and consider them one of the best travel games for kids.

Pros: Love these because they don’t weigh much and come in a variety of games.

Cons: We’ve found that if you drop the tin too many times, it dents and then can be hard to open and close.

7. QuadPro Magnetic Chess

Recommended ages: 6+

Take chess on the road with you with this QuadPro Magnetic Chess set. The travel chess set folds up and stores the pieces inside for easy portability. The tabletop board game weighs less than 1 lb.

The magnetic pieces stick to the board so that they withstand car and plane movement. The board game folds out to 9.84 x 9.84 x 0.78 inches.

Pros: Strong magnetic hold so the pieces are stable.

Cons: I mean, this could be a pro, but chess can be a long game to play, as you know.

8. The Purple Cow Magnetic Travel Games

Recommended ages: 5–15

We also own many magnetic travel games by The Purple Cow including dominoes, checkers, sudoku shapes, puzzles, and more. These travel games for kids are very, very lightweight. Items are stored inside of the tin.

Pros: Very thin cases and sooo many game choices.

Cons: Depending on the game, some of the magnetic pieces can be small and easy to lose or hard to pick up. We’ve dropped ours many times and dented the tin, making it hard to open and close.

Travel Games for Toddlers

If you’re searching for fun options that entertain this age group and come with pieces big enough for them to manipulate, here are a few other ideas. (Also, The Purple Cow magnetic games mentioned above are very popular for supervised traveling toddlers who can handle the pieces.)

9. Travel Tangram

Recommended ages: 3+

A tangram is a puzzle with pieces in seven flat shapes that are called tans. The goal is to put the tans together, without overlapping, to form a specific shape. The book that comes in this set contains 360 different shape possibilities of varying difficulty so that adults are challenged just as much as toddlers.

These exercises are excellent STEM activities. A pocket inside of this Travel Tangrams book neatly stores the tans. The Purple Cow, mentioned above, offers a magnetic tangrams game.

Pros: Kids can play on their own or with someone else.

Cons: We haven’t experienced this with our game, but some people report that the magnets don’t stick as well as they should as time goes on.

10. Wikki Stix

Recommended ages: 3+ (My daughter started playing with them while supervised at age 2.)

If there’s a travel toy or game I could not have lived without during the toddler years, it’s Wikki Stix. I always kept a pack or two in my handbag to use spontaneously.

Kids can play with these bendable sticks anywhere — on airplane tray tables, in the car, at restaurants, and more.

The individual packs come with a puzzle or shape for the kids to make with the Wikki Stix. You can also buy kits, like the Wikki Stix Traveler playset that comes with even more activities.

Pros: Super small travel packs, each with a small paper with a connect the dots puzzle inside.

Cons: If you reuse the sticks too many times they can pick up dirt and fuzz and get a little gross.

Travel Board Games

Your favorite classics come in smaller sizes for easy packing to play on laps or tabletops.

11. Hasbro Family Travel Board Games Bundle

Recommended ages: 8+

Clue, Monopoly, Connect 4, and Hungry Hungry Hippo Board Grab and Go Games come in all-in-one travel versions that also store pieces for you to play as a family when on the road.

Buy this Hasbro set of four for a constant supply of games for the whole family to play.

Pros: These are games grandparents and parents played in their youths.

Cons: It would be a little difficult to take all four with you due to box size so you’d want to pick one!

12. Travel Scrabble

Recommended ages: 6+

Travel Scrabble is the must-have word game that earns its recommendations on best travel games lists like this one.

Parents, grandparents, teens, tweens, and elementary school kids can earn points for creating creative words from whatever alphabet letters they pull randomly from a pouch.

There are several portable versions to choose from, but this one comes in a handy zip-up carrying case (ours is in a snap case and much less convenient — get this zippered one).

Pros: This is a good multigenerational game that doesn’t need much introduction.

Cons: Scrabble can be a time commitment, and it’s heavier (but not like heavy) to carry around than other travel games for kids mentioned above. Sometimes, you have to look up the rules, as even seasoned players forget what’s allowed.

Travel Games for Hotels and Airport Lounges — Best Played on Tables

Table games can be played anywhere you can secure a flat surface, be it in an airport lounge, a hotel room, a vacation rental, or a camping table.

13. Bananagrams

Recommended ages: 7+

Bananagrams is an awesome word game and comes in a small banana-shaped pouch for easy transport. It’s similar to Scrabble but played without a board. We play it as a family, and even my 95-year-old grandma enjoys it.

Gather 1–8 players around a table to make a word grid with the tiles that grows until someone runs out of tiles. I promise it’s awesome for family game night on the road, and even teens enjoy it.

Pros: The thousands of positive customer reviews are not wrong. It’s more compact than Scrabble.

Cons: It’s heavier than other travel games for kids on this list.

14. Spot It!

Recommended ages: 7+

Spot It! comes in various themes, and its 55 cards store well in a small circular tin. This fast-paced travel card game is best for hotels and airplane lounges as the playing cards would be easy to lose between airplane seats.

It’s a memory game with a race aspect that is a great motor skill builder. Between any two cards, there is always one and only one matching symbol. Spot it fast to win and play with 1–8 players.

Pros: Small tin and fast pace. I like it.

Cons: Not great for road trips or planes because you need to use so many cards to play. We’ve lost a few cards in airport lounges.

15. Rummikub On the Go

Recommended ages: 8+

You’ll create sets and runs, rummy-meets-mahjong style, on the table with the goal of being the first person to use all of your tiles. The addition of jokers puts an extra spin on the fun.

Rummikub on the Go is a popular game for 2-4 players and multiple generations of family members or friends who want to play together.

You’ll definitely exercise STEM skills when it comes to recognizing patterns and strategies. This is one of the best travel games for teens and older kids.

Pros: Really good for getting your brain juices flowing.

Cons: Too hard or complicated for younger kids.

16. Kanoodle

Recommended ages: 8+ (There is also a Kanoodle Junior for ages 4+)

From 12 puzzle pieces come over 200 Kanoodle challenges of varying levels. You’ll choose a design from the included book and position the connecting beads to create 2D and 3D puzzles.

The pocket-sized carrying case makes it easy to slip into a handbag or backpack. The company is so convinced you’ll love its best-selling product that they offer a 365-day guarantee or your money back.

Pros: So many challenges means that it’s different every time you play.

Cons: You’ll want to be mindful of the pieces, and it’s really a one-player game.

17. Scattergories

Recommended ages: 8+

The classic 1980s favorite comes in a card version that makes it one of the easy travel games to carry around. You’ll play Scattergories with two decks of cards: a category deck and a letter deck.

The first player to slap the “I Know” card and give an appropriate answer to the displayed category and letter gets the cards (like “dog” for the letter “d” and category “pets”). The player with the most cards wins.

Pros: Excellent for critical thinking.

Cons: It’s a lot of cards.

18. Travel Boggle

Recommended ages: 8+

All you need to do is grab a pen and paper (or LCD writing tablet like the Boogie Board mentioned below), shake up the letters, let them fall into each slot, set the timer, and then find as many words as you can.

Pros: It’s a multigenerational travel game beloved by parents and grandparents and also good for critical thinking.

Cons: Not suitable for younger kids who can’t yet read or spell.

Printable Travel Games for Kids

Etsy is a fantastic place to source professionally-designed printable travel games that you can purchase once for a small fee and use it again in future travels.

Pros: You can purchase printables and print as many times as you need to making this potentially good value.

Cons: Unless you print on cardstock, the quality can feel flimsy

19. Printable Travel Bingo

You can find a ton of really neat travel bingo cards on Etsy where passengers can look for certain road signs, cows, motorcycles, and more until the winner gets five (or whatever the amount is) across for bingo.

20. Printable Scavenger Hunt

Here’s another inexpensive printable travel game with colorful illustrations that appeal to all ages. The first person to find all of the scavenger hunt items wins.

21. Printable Camping Scavenger Hunt

What is neat about this printable camping scavenger hunt is that some fonts, text, and colors can be customized. So, if you wanted to title it “The Jones Family Scavenger Hunt” or “Mike’s Birthday Scavenger Hunt” you can.

You’ll receive a printable scavenger hunt bag cover, a clues sheet with directions, and a sheet where participants can mark off what they’ve found.

Travel Games for Airplanes

The one thing we try to avoid on airplanes is dropping things on the floor and in between the seats. No one, especially in today’s world, wants to dig into these crevices. And, we all know what happens when a child finds out that something is irretrievable — the friendly skies become a little less so.

So, travel games for airplanes need most pieces attached, large pieces that are easy to find. Or use something replaceable, like a pen. Fun games that kids love help time fly and keep the whole family sane during delayed flights.

22. Mad Libs

Recommended ages: 5+ (depending on the version)

So many Mad Libs, so little time! Make sure the ones you buy for younger kids are Mad Libs Junior because the stories are more relatable to little ones.

Regular Mad Libs (Dog Ate My Mad Libs, Diary of a Wimpy Kid Mad Libs, and more) are geared to the 8–12 years old range.

Just be mindful that there are adult Mad Libs versions that you will want to stay clear of for kids. Mad Libs for kids are a great way to kill time on the tarmac, while waiting for food in a restaurant, and in many more family vacation scenarios. Also check your app store for a new Mad Libs app so that you always have something funny to play!

Pros: They are funny!

Cons: The books are hard to reuse (we very rarely reuse them).

23. Boogie Board

Recommended ages: Basically, if you can hold a pen, you’re good.

This isn’t really an organized game, but I’m such a fan of using LCD writing tablets for travel games that I have to mention it. The Boogie Board comes with a stylus that you write on the LCD screen with. The stylus is kept secured on to the tablet but I recommend buying extra in case you lose it. The entire screen clears with the touch of a button.

We play hangman, and tic-tac-toe, and even use it as scratch paper for math homework. Like other game pieces, keep an eye on the stylus, which can be easy to drop. Or, pack extra styluses. Tuck it in a handbag or backpack for play anywhere.

There are a bunch of different versions. I like the basic one pictured above but there is one specifically for younger kids.

Pros: You can even use it for homework. I keep one near my computer for random notes.

Cons: Be careful not to scratch the screen.

24. Shashibo Shape Shifting box

Recommended ages: 8+

The Shashibo tear-proof, shape-shifting sensory box fits into the palm of your hand. You can spend hours trying to solve the magnetic puzzles to build sculptures and solve brain teasers. It comes in multiple artistic design and is great for keeping kids entertained on their own. You can also combine two or more boxes to build even bigger shapes.

Pros: It’s a one-player game with multiple puzzles to attempt.

Cons: The seams start to tear over time. So, you will go through more than one (thank goodness it comes in multiple colors and patterns)

25. IQ Fit

Recommended ages: 6+

IQ Fit is a puzzle strategy game where players have to figure out how to fit the 3-D pieces flat on the game board and without holes exposed. Believe it or not, there are over 100 different challenges in this highly-rated game.

Pros: Easy to pick up pieces with a lot of puzzle options.

Cons: The case can get wonky and start not to close very well. Some people say the puzzles are too easy.

26. Melissa and Doug Flip to Win Travel Hangman

Recommended ages: 6–10

It is a wooden travel game with a dry-erase board and 37 flip letters. The pen self-stores in the wood board. The fact that it has no loose pieces makes Flip to Win Travel Hangman a great travel game for kids.

Pros: It’s a self-contained game where you don’t have to worry about the game pieces falling into cracks.

Cons: The wood does make it a tad bit heavier than magnetic travel games for kids.

Travel Games for the Beach and Pool

27. Waterproof Uno

Recommended ages: 7+

Uno was one of my favorite games as a child and I’m pleased that it’s still popular even among teens in our orbit. This is one of my favorite beach games because the cards are waterproof and flip together. So why not bring them on your next tropical vacation or to your hotel swimming pool. It’s matching card game with colors and numbers and the first person to be rid of all of their cards wins.

Pros: We parents love to play this one. Plus, games can be rather quick—5-10 minutes on average!

Cons: Like any card game, you could lose the cards. Be careful that none get buried in the sand.

Free Travel Games for Kids and Adults

Fun on a family vacation doesn’t have to cost money, and this also goes for family travel games that are very easy to learn. Aside from being fun road trip games that don’t involve pieces to juggle in the car, you can play them at home or at your next party.

Pros: Verbal travel games for kids involve zero pieces and zero cost.

Cons: They can get a little tiring when you’re not in the mood.

28. I Spy

I Spy can be played with two or more people anywhere. The game’s premise is that one person spies something that everyone can see and keeps it a secret for the other players to guess based on little revealed close or tips.

The player holding the secret gives clues by saying, “I spy with my little eye something that is [insert clue which could be color, shape, size, etc.].” The other players try to guess what the secret object is. The player holding the secret responds only with yes or no. He or she will give another hint starting with, “I spy with my little eye something that is [clue].”

The cycle repeats until someone guesses correctly. That winner can then choose a secret object, and the game starts again.

29. 20 Questions

You can play 20 Questions with two or more players, but it’s best in a small group. The person who is “It” thinks of a person, place, or thing that is familiar to all players.

The rest of the players ask the “It” person up to 20 yes or no questions to figure out what the secret object is. If someone guesses the secret object correctly prior to 20 questions being asked, that person is the next “It.” Then, the game repeats itself.

30. Would You Rather

Would You Rather can also be played with two or more people and is a fun way to get to know someone. One player thinks of a question that has two possible outcomes.

It could be as simple as, “Would you rather eat ice cream or potato salad?” The person being asked the question provides the answer and asks another player a similar question.

31. The Alphabet Game

Younger kids, older kids, and adults can all play the alphabet game together on car trips. All players need to do is look out the window to spot things that start with each alphabet letter in sequence from A to Z.


Finally, don’t forget to arm yourself with a huge arsenal of knock-knock jokes for kids and car games for kids that are also very handy for lightening the mood on the go.

What are your favorite fun travel games for kids?

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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2 Comments

  1. Love your roundup! My oldest son is really in to puzzles so I’m going to look into IQ Fit. We’re big fans of story cubes too.