10 TOP Family Favorite Travel Games for Kids + Adults

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When you think of favorite family travel games, does it bring back memories of those good, old family road trips?

The car is warmed up. Mom and dad have a thermos full of coffee, and are checking all the last minute items off the packing list. You and your siblings are bleary-eyed, holding your pillows and heading out to the car. A car full of suitcases, snacks, and too little room for you and your little brother, or irritating big sister.

It’s brisk, dark, and the promise of new sights, sounds, and experiences looms just past the sunrise and over that highway horizon.

The family car trip. An American classic. Something we all must experience then pass on to the next generation. And sure, this generation fills their travel backpacks with iPhones, airpods, electronic travel gaming systems and enough chargers to electrify a city.

But here’s the thing. While the electronics are a great fallback plan for when Charlotte starts ribbing Jackson about his girlfriend, or Hudson starts encroaching on Charlotte’s space and causing drama, family time is what a road trip is all about. And it’s hard to spend quality time together when the airpods are in, and the screens are in front of everyone’s faces.

So in the spirit of gifting our kids with the art of the old school family road trip, I’ve compiled for you a list of what our travel-loving family considers the best travel games.

These are our tried-and-true, ride-or-die games that we take with us on all our travels, whether that’s a long car ride, a lengthy flight, or even a cruise.

National Park Mom family enjoying a game while glamping north of Yellowstone National ParkPin
Enjoying time as a family while glamping north of Yellowstone National Park

Elements of a Great Family Travel Game

These road trip games are Thibodeau family tested and approved over thousands of road trip miles and many years of family travels.

In our estimation, a great travel game is one that is enjoyed by the whole family…older kids, younger kids, parents, grandparents, and anyone in between.

Each of these are simple games to learn. They are also small, lightweight, easy to pack, and portable enough to go anywhere! None have too many small pieces, or easily lost items.

So your family can enjoy these games in the car, at your campsite, during a hiking pit stop, waiting for your meal at a restaurant, spending a rainy day in a hotel room, or anywhere else your adventures take you.

Introduce your kids to the art of the old-school road trip, and buckle up for laughs, smiles, and memories to be made. No iPhone charger, electricity, or internet signal required!

family playing card game together while camping Great Smoky Mountain national parkPin
Playing Skip-Bo together…one of our top 10!

Top Ten Travel Games Your Family Will Love

favorite family travel games: rubberneckers road trip card gamePin

Rubberneckers Road Trip Card Game

Going to be cooped up in the minivan for a long day of family travel? This game is a must! Similar to I-Spy or the license plate game, but much more engaging. Family members accumulate points by spotting items on cards in their hand.

As far as fun car games go, this one is a real winner! Here’s a quick glimpse of Rubberneckers during a family road trip in Idaho
favorite family travel games: national parks playing cardPin

National Park Playing Cards

No matter where our family travels, we always take a deck of cards. It’s a great boredom buster during long waits at airports, restaurants, and during all the inevitable travel snafus that undoubtedly arise during family vacations. Our favorite family card games? Gin Rummy, Speed, Sevens, and good old-fashioned War.

National Park Mom family playing a game of Gin Rummy while glamping in West YellowstonePin
Enjoying a game of Gin Rummy while glamping in West Yellowstone
favorite family travel games: mad libs road trip editionPin

Mad Libs Road Trip Edition

What’s a family road trip without some mad libs? Goofy, silly, creative and fun…all you need is a pencil and some travel companions for this awesome, affordable family favorite.

favorite family travel games: Pit trading gamePin

Pit Trading Game

Haven’t heard of this one? Think Wall Street trading floor meets family game night. It’s loud, fast, and if your kids need to expend some energy after being cooped up in the car, this is the game to try! Quick to learn and easy to play, this game packs a big punch into a very compact, travel-ready package.

favorite family travel games: skip bo card gamePin


Kids of all ages (and adults) love this card game! Similar to Uno, but in our family’s opinion, much more fun! Skip-Bo is very portable and is often pulled out during our family trips.

familyplaying a game while camping/glamping near Great Smoky MountainsPin
Playing a game of Skip-Bo while glamping at Under Canvas Great Smoky Mountains
favorite family travel games: waterproof playing card deckPin

Waterproof Playing Cards

While not needed in the car, we’ve found these waterproof cards to be such a fun travel companion. Whether enjoying a hot tub after a long day of hiking, or splashing around on a hot day poolside, these cards are great for family games, enjoying as a couple with an adult beverage, or playing solitaire when you need a little time away from all the family togetherness!

favorite family travel games: shut the boxPin

Shut The Box

Our family was introduced to this historic game on a trip to Williamsburg. At dinner in a local tavern the waiter brought us this game and said that it was a favorite among the colonists. “How fun can it possibly be?” we thought.

Well, it’s SUPER fun, and very easy to learn and play. It comes in a tiny little, lightweight travel-ready wooden box. We never leave for a car trip without this one in tow!

Our family’s introduction to “Shut The Box” in a tavern in Colonial Williamsburg, VA. Years later, this simple dice game has provided us with hours of family fun. It’s a perfect game for a long drive (no flat surface required, just stick the box on your lap, then pass it to the next person).
favorite family travel games: play nine golf themed card gamePin

Play Nine

Brought by grandma on a recent trip to Alaska, our family played this game on trains, in planes, and on cruise ships. No one could get enough of it! Yes, it’s a golf-themed game, but if you’re not a golfer, it doesn’t matter one tiny bit. You and the rest of the family will still love it…promise!

favorite family travel games: Clue card gamePin

Clue Card Game

Col. Mustard, in the ballroom, with the candlestick! This is just like the classic you know and love…only portable!

favorite family travel games: taco cat goat cheese pizza card gamePin

Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza

In my kids’ opinions, I’ve probably saved the best for last! Ready to test your reflexes against your kids? Get ready, because this game is FAST. And if your house is anything like ours, this is a game the parents will never win, which makes it that much more of a fan-favorite in the 18 and under crowd!

The kids playing “Taco Goat Cat Cheese Pizza” while waiting for a meal at a local restaurant while traveling in Hawaii

Packing Up Your Travel Games

Pack ’em up and move ’em out! It’s time to hit the road!

To keep things organized, we like to keep all of our travel games in one spot, so they are easy to grab when we’re headed into a lodge, hiking to a picnic spot, or getting ready to get back in the car.

I suggest a travel bag, of sorts. You can use something as simple as a gallon-ziploc bag, a small paper shopping bag with handles, or a re-usable tote. I’d recommend something with a structured bottom so that things don’t flop around and inadvertently fall out.

national park mom family playing card game while glamping in Great Smoky MountainsPin
Enjoying another game of Skip-Bo while glamping in the Great Smoky Mountains

So hide those electronic devices, and get excited for your next family vacation. Amp up the nostalgia of family road trips of days gone by with some of these classic favorites, and fun new games, too.

My hope is that these fun travel games give your family some easy-to-pack, inexpensive, screen-free options for togetherness that everyone will love…during rainy days in hotel rooms, on airplane tray tables during that red-eye flight, or in the car for one of hopefully many long journeys ahead!

Pin these family travel games for later – and if you try any, leave a note on the pin! That helps others decide whether they’d like to try it as well!

TOP 10 favorite family travel games for kids and adults - tried and true winners tested on long road trips, rainy hotel room days, cruises and red eye airplane flights! You WANT these in your suitcase!Pin
happy trails, heatherPin
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About Heather Thibodeau

Heather Thibodeau is the founder and mom behind nationalparksmom.com.

She and her husband Dave (AKA Tib) are on a mission to travel to as many US national parks with their three kids in tow as they possibly can, doing their best to keep the little ones out in nature and off of screens in an increasingly digital world.

Heather has earned degrees in biology & chemistry from Virginia Tech (Go Hokies), and holds master's and doctorate degrees in physical therapy from Duke University (Go Blue Devils).

Heather is also the creative force behind The Heathered Nest where she shares her love of all things DIY and home decor.

Her work has been featured in Better Homes and Gardens, House Beautiful, Good Housekeeping, This Old House, Today.com, The Washington Post, Boston Globe, and more.

2 thoughts on “10 TOP Family Favorite Travel Games for Kids + Adults”

  1. I love this. I should think more about taking travel games with us. My grandma had Shut the Box and I loved playing it at her house. Mad Libs is a favorite. I’ll have to try some of your other great suggestions! 🙂 Visiting from the Love Your Creativity linkup.

    • That’s so fun you remember shut the box! I’m thrilled we were introduced to that game because I didn’t learn about it until I was an adult!


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