Best Travel Games for Kids from Preschoolers to Teens

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Whether your family is flying the friendly skies, taking a train, or road tripping it, you're going to need to keep your offspring occupied. Thankfully, many board games come in travel sizes to entertain kids on the go. Card games and board games keep minds active during the journey, at restaurants and back in the hotel room. Here are my picks for the best travel games for kids from preschoolers to teens.

Best Travel Games for Kids from Babies to Teens

Best Travel Games for Preschoolers

Matching Games

When traveling with preschoolers, matching games are the way to go! These travel games for kids come in many themes and are easily portable. Build your child's memory skills (and yours!) with such options as Baby Animals, Curious George, or Thomas and Friends. If embarking on a Disney vacation, buy a Disney Frozen or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse matching game to build excitement and tie into your vacation theme. (Ages 3+ for most versions.)

My First Bananagrams

Preschoolers can learn letters and words on the go with My First Bananagrams, a junior version of the popular Bananagrams word game.

(Choking hazard, for ages 4+.)

Peaceable Kingdom Preschool Write and Wipe Games to Go!

Another fun option for little ones are the Peaceable Kingdom Preschool Write and Wipe Games to Go! Activity Book. Activities can be completed by one or two players. Be sure to buy additional erasable pens since they dry out quickly. (Ages 3 – 6.)

Best Travel Games for Grade School Kids

Checkers Take ‘N' Play Anywhere

I was obsessed with playing Checkers as a child and now so are my kids. This Checkers Take ‘N' Play Anywhere travel game allows children to jump opponents and say, “King me!” while traveling. (Ages 6+.)

Cards

Purchase this darling pack of four children's card games that includes Crazy Eights, Hearts, Old Maid, and Animal Rummy. Each comes with its own set of directions. The colorful pictures make learning a new game easier and more fun for kids. I always keep a deck of cards (like this one, featuring the images of U.S. presidents) in my purse to keep my family content and communicating at restaurants, on board airplanes and beyond. (Ages 4+.)

Connect 4 Grab and Go Game

Although it has lots of wee pieces to keep track of, Connect 4 Grab and Go Game is fun for both kids and adults to play while on vacation. (Ages 6+.)

Mad Libs

A round of Mad Libs spurs creativity and lots of giggles. Review grammar basics while creating silly stories from family members' picks of adjectives, nouns, adverbs and more. Mad Libs on the Road is perfect for a family road trip. Science fiction lovers will get a kick out of Star Wars Mad Libs. (Recommended for ages 8+ or younger kids can play along with Mad Libs Junior.)

Best Travel Games for Tweens and Teens

Backgammon

At age 15 I spent two weeks in Greece with one of my best friends and her big Greek family. My friend and I spent every single day at the beach swimming, talking, flirting with boys, and playing round after round of Backgammon. As a parent, I'd rather my teen spend time playing backgammon than flirting! Choose from a compact magnetic travel Backgammon game, a suede roll-up version, a classic Backgammon board with leatherette case, or a this macdaddy Backgammon set. (Ages 8+)

Loaded Questions On The Go

Get your tweens and teens talking (and laughing!) with this Loaded Questions On the Go travel game for kids. It's full of fun queries like, “What super power is not very super?” and, “Whose voice can you best imitate?” There are no right or wrong answers! (Ages 8+.)

Get the Loaded Questions Junior On the Go game to play with younger siblings. (Ages 6+).

Chess

Strategic thinkers rejoice, Chess can be played on the go! This inexpensive magnetic travel chess game comes with bling-y gold and silver pieces. (Appropriate age? Bobby Fischer learned to play chess at age 6 from his big sister. Kids can learn even earlier if they show interest.)

Bananagrams

Competitive wordsmiths will dig Bananagrams, a timed game for which players must make words from rearranging tiled letters. It's like Scrabble on speed. I love the compact cloth banana-shaped carrying case. (The manufacturer recommends this game for ages 7+, but I'd go with 9+. Or, get My First Bananagrams, included under the Preschoolers section.)

Apples To Apples On The Go

I loved playing the original Apples to Apples board game with my triplet niece and nephews when they were tweens. Now it's a fun game that encourages creativity and conversation for my family of four. Apples to Apples On The Go is a portable version of this popular game. (I recommend this one for ages 7+.)

For additional ideas for keeping kids content and while traveling, check out the Best Travel Toys for Kids from Babies to Teens.

What are your favorite travel games for kids? Are there any we should add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!

This story was originally posted in 2015 and was updated with new games and links in 2017.

About Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of TravelMamas.com. As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show, NBCNews.com, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

Comments

  1. Carcassonne can be a winner for teens too. It packs down small, but isn’t good for in-flight or in-car gaming as a table is needed.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      I’ve never heard of that game, Craig. (But I did visit the town of Carcassonne in France years ago!) I will have to go look it up!

    • Oh, and something like Bohnanza is a great single-pack-of-cards game perfect for most ages.

  2. Great list – there are so many great games out there now that didn’t exist when my kids were young! I think my tween/teen girls would enjoy Loaded Questions – it sounds like fun!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      My husband and I love to play the board game version of Loaded Questions on game nights with friends. Super fun!

  3. Have you heard of Munckin? Our older kids are loving this strategy game, and it’s easy to travel with because it only involves a deck of speciality cards. So fun!

  4. There are some of our family favorites on here. We are also fans of card games so I often pack Uno and SkipBo. For the car I have a deckopedia box of road trip games that comes in very handy.

  5. Some great picks here!

  6. Awesome! Always great to get recs from other families …

  7. We love Mad Libs! Kids can start with them in preschool and never grow out of them. They are a family road trip staple for us.

  8. Mad Libs in paper and app version are staples on our trips!

  9. A refreshing list of some great travel games to carry. I especially loved that you indicated the recommended age for each toy. Most of these toys are useful not only during travel, but also keeping kids engaged during the trip.

  10. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

    So true, Trisk! Thank you for your comment!

  11. This is such an awesome resource! I love that you included games for all ages. Kids get bored, not matter how old they are, and no matter how old they are, when they get bored, they get annoying. Bwahahahaha.

  12. We travel quite a lot so if I can find some games that will pass the time I will definitely do it. This is quite a great list of games to play. I will definitely be pinning this.

  13. This is awesome. We’re headed to Tennessee for Christmas. It is a looong drive from Florida!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Enjoy your holiday travels, Mandie! I hope the travel games make the journey more enjoyable!

  14. Great ideas. We are always looking for games that will keep our tween/teen entertained.

  15. I love having games like this on hand for when we travel. We need new games since the kids are getting older now.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      It’s amazing how kids change. The minute we think we’ve got this parenting thing down, the kids change and so must we!

  16. These are great ideas. I really love the Write and Wipe games. They would make great gifts!

  17. These are all great travel games. Battleship is another one we used to play while we traveled.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

      Oh! Good one! I might add that one. I play Battleship with my son at home all the time!

  18. Claudia Krusch says:

    I am always looking for new games for our next road trip. I will have to pick up a few of these. My Son will love them.

  19. Lisa Bristol says:

    I have a few games we keep just for the car that way the kids do not get bored of them. Now that the kids are a little older they like to bring their Nintendo DS with them in the car.

  20. These are all great games for trips, for sure. But our family favorite is Bananagrams! Our whole family can play that one for hours on end.

  21. This post is perfect for my family. We travel a ton and I’m always looking for new ways to entertain the family.

  22. These look fun! I bet my kids will love these!

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