Family trips can be some of the most fun experiences in the world. As every parent knows, though, when you’re on a long road trip, sometimes the kids can get bored. These days, most kids have smartphones. They can entertain themselves if they want to, and unfortunately usually choose technology over interaction. Since looking on the phone is a solo activity, you might miss the chance to bond with your kids. Playing games together in the car or at a campsite can be a lot of fun and keep the kids occupied, while still giving you time together as a family. It’s easy to forget how important those small times are, and it’s good for the whole family to bond over having some fun.
Here are 8 games that the entire family will love to play, no matter where you are or what you’re doing on your family trip.
If your kids like to play cards, “Jungle Speed” might be a game they would want. Using a deck of cards with colored shapes on them, get rid of all the cards in your hand when two cards match in both shape and color. You can battle to give someone all of your cards, using a totem that you have to grab. It’s a great way to teach little kids about shapes and colors while they’re having fun, and it’s a fast-paced game that’s easy to learn and go through many rounds. You can even make your own cards with your own shapes and colors if you’d like.
For older kids who like to play cards, “Dominion” is a fun choice. It’s a medieval deck building game which can also appeal to your inner geek. You have to incorporate as many different kinds of cards as possible into your hand to create the perfect deck. Depending on what you want the deck to do, there are thousands of different combinations of cards you can use. It can be a tricky game to learn because there are so many different ways to build the deck. Since no two games are the same, this deck builder will never get boring.
For big groups, “Shanghai Rummy” can last as long as you want, with as many people as you want. You just need to make sure that you have enough cards, and there’s no problem with putting together a couple decks if you need more. Every round has a specific goal, like getting two sets of three cards. Any cards that are still in your hand after someone gets rid of all their cards count against you for points. The person with the lowest score wins.
If board games are more your style, try “Cribbage.” This is the perfect game for traveling snowbirds, but watch out, they will likely bring their best. Cribbage is a fun game for all ages and can provide hours of entertainment. Use a board and pegs to keep score, until you reach 121 points. Most of the time, two people play, but three or four can play at once also. If for no other reason than to bond across the generations, this game can be a lot of fun, and worth the learning curve that goes with it.
For fun and mentally challenging game, look no further than the old favorite, “Charades.” Just about everyone knows how to play this game – someone acts out a word or phrase without talking, and the rest of the group has to guess what it is. You can split into teams, have a few people perform at once, whatever you’d like. Since the game is all about improvisation, no two games are the same, and you never know what’s going to happen.
“Mafia” is a deductive game where your group is trying to keep themselves alive through the night because some members of the group are mafia members. Some of them might be protected by the doctor, while the detective is trying to figure out who the mafia members are and catch them. As different members are killed or driven out of the town, the power balance shifts between the mafia and the police, and the last person standing gains control of the town.
For a deductive game that’s a bit friendlier for younger kids, try “Contact.” Every player picks a word, whatever they like. Then, to give the other players a chance to guess their word, each player asks the other players a question, whose answer starts with the next letter in their word. When someone wants to guess the word, they say “contact.” The secret words can be part of a theme, vocabulary, or about the trip that day. This game could even be educational if you want to sneak that in with the kids.
Another guessing game your family might like is “Botticelli,” which is essentially a longer version of “21 Questions.” Pick the name of a famous person, then reveal the first letter of their last name. Then, in the same style as “Contact,” allow players to ask questions and reveal more letters until they successfully guess the name. You could make your own version of trivia about your family, to tell some funny stories or just reminisce.
All of these games can provide you and your kids with hours of fun, helping everyone have a good time on any trip. There are always things that don’t go quite perfectly on family road trips, like sore feet or traffic jams, but having something fun to do makes those times fly by. And, of course, there’s nothing better than family time, so try out one of these games whenever you can.