11 Road Trip Games to Bring When Traveling With Kids
So you've made the brave decision to test out a road trip for the annual family vacation. Once you've packed, mapped out the route, filled up the gas tank, and stocked up on snacks, the only challenge that remains is finding a way to keep the kids occupied and hang onto some semblance of your sanity until you reach your hotel. OK, maybe just the first rest stop. Baby steps.
On the best road trips, the fun gets started way before the GPS tells you for the fifth time that "you have reached your destination." If you're envisioning being cramped in a car with whining, complaining, and do-not-make-me-pull-over fighting, it does not have to be that way. You will be prepared.
Having entertainment on hand is an essential hack for traveling with kids. There's always I Spy, and cow counting. And yes, you could just load up an iPad with movies and apps. But somewhere between endless hours of screen staring and the 98th round of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall," there is a happy medium. These car games are designed for travel, giving you hours on the road with no messes, no complicated pieces, and most importantly, no boredom.
There are solo games, games for two that stir up some friendly competition — not to be confused with fighting, and games that the whole crew, even the driver, can get in on. For the more competitive group games, it could be fun to pack a surprise bag of small treats to use as prizes.
Below, the best games for kids of every age — and kids at heart — that will make getting there so much more than just a really long drive.
Auto Backseat Bingo
When it comes to road trip games, Travel Bingo is truly a classic. The original card that was first sold in 1957 has changed very little since then and is still one of the top sellers, but Regal Games now makes cards specific to license plate states, interstate highway travel — squares include sights like a tow truck or a tree grove, and residential areas — a church or a dog, for example.
To buy: amazon.com, $10 for pack of four
Aquadoodle Travel Doodle
Melissa & Doug Travel Memory Game
This Travel Memory Game is a new twist on the original game of concentration. The wooden pieces that cover the pictures are attached with bungee cords, making them impossible to lose. It comes with seven double-sided game cards to insert, so the matching doesn't get boring. Kids can play alone or in pairs using the built-in scoreboard to keep track of who has uncovered the most matches.
To buy: amazon.com, $13 (originally $17)
Disney Princes Sticker Puzzle Book
For a game that's still stimulating, but could possibly be quiet and self-contained, try these Disney Princess Sticker Puzzles. The kit uses a numbered grid, so it tricks kids into working on numerical recognition. There are also kits for Frozen and ones that are animal-themed, all of which are especially perfect for a long drive to one of the Disney Parks.
To buy: amazon.com, $14
Briarpatch Travel Scavenger Hunt Card Game
The Travel Scavenger Hunt Card Game is a deck of 54 cards that takes the focus outside the window to search for a range of items; some are as easy to spot as a "stop sign" and some, like "bald man," are slightly more challenging. It may be a good idea to have an adult be the dealer to rule out cards that may not apply to the road trip you're on.
To buy: amazon.com, $5 (originally $10)
SmartGames IQ Fit
The IQ Fit is a 3-D puzzle with 120 challenges, ranging from simple to complex. The point is to twist the pieces into the board until all of the dots are filled, and it's a fun way to develop both problem solving and fine motor skills. Don't be surprised if you buy it for the kids and end up getting hooked yourself.
To buy: amazon.com, $11
Yellow Mountain Imports Travel Magnetic Chess Set
Mad Libs on the Road
One of the world's most popular word games, Mad Libs, has an edition that's tailor-made for road trips. With Mad Libs on the Road, you and your fellow buckled-in comrades can fill in nouns, verbs, and adjectives to create car songs, tour historical sights, and even stop at a roadside diner.
To buy: amazon.com, $5
An updated version of the word-search-inspired game Boggle comes in a compact case that's perfect for backseat fun. The best part? It's incredibly easy to set up. Just shake the grid to mix up the letter cubes, lift the lid, flip the timer, and you'll be ready to go.
To buy: amazon.com, $10 (originally $11)
Loaded Questions On the Go
Tabletopics Family is a question-based card game that's more geared toward connection than competition. The 135 age-agnostic questions range from silly to thought-provoking and are meant to act as conversation starter about the thoughts, opinions, desires, and dreams of those who play. Some example questions are: "What event in the past or future would you like to witness in person?; When is it OK to lie?; and Is it more fun to be a parent or a child?" There are also decks specific to teens, couples, and other kinds of social groups.
To buy: amazon.com, $25
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