In today's digital age, it's easy for children to become absorbed in screens during travel, whether it's a smartphone, tablet, or gaming console. But too much screen time isn't good for young minds, and it's important for parents to provide alternative sources of entertainment during long journeys. In this post, we'll explore the best travel games for kids that are fun, engaging, promote cognitive and social development, and are screen-free. So, pack these games in your travel bag and keep your kids entertained while nurturing their minds.
Spot It! On The Road
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“Spot It! On The Road” is a compact, portable, and one of best travel games for kids on long car rides. It encourages observation skills, quick reflexes, and pattern recognition. The game consists of a deck of cards, each featuring various symbols and objects that one might see while traveling. The objective is to find the matching symbol between any two cards. Kids will love scanning the cards and shouting out the matching items, and it's a great way for parents to stay engaged with their children during the journey.
Travel Bingo is a classic game that never goes out of style. It's simple to play and can be easily customized to suit different ages and interests. Create or purchase travel bingo cards that feature images of common sights and objects that can be spotted during your trip. Kids can mark off the items on their cards as they see them, and the first one to complete a row or column wins. This game encourages observation skills and helps to pass the time during long trips.
Mad Libs is a word game that encourages creativity, language development, and laughter. Players take turns filling in the blanks of a story with their own choice of words, such as nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. The resulting stories are often hilarious and nonsensical, providing endless entertainment for the whole family. You can find Mad Libs books with pre-written stories, download some for free or very cheap, or create your own. Don't forget to pack a pen or pencil, because Mad Libs is one of the best travel games for kids!
I Spy is another classic travel game that requires no materials and can be played by children of all ages. One player selects an object within sight and provides a clue, such as “I spy something red.” The other players then take turns guessing what the object is. I Spy encourages observation skills, communication, and critical thinking, making it a great screen-free option for long journeys.
Rory's Story Cubes
Rory's Story Cubes are a fantastic storytelling tool that promotes creativity, imagination, and language development. The set consists of nine dice, each featuring different images on their faces. Players take turns rolling the dice and creating stories based on the images that appear. With millions of possible combinations, kids can spend hours crafting unique and entertaining tales. This game is suitable for a wide range of ages and can be played individually or as a group activity.
20 Questions is a guessing game that encourages critical thinking and communication skills. One player thinks of an object, animal, or person, and the other players take turns asking yes or no questions to figure out what the chosen item is. They have a maximum of 20 questions to guess correctly. This game can be played with just two people or as a larger group and requires no materials, making it an ideal travel game.
Magnetic Board Games
Many classic board games, such as chess, checkers, and backgammon, are available in compact magnetic travel versions. The magnetic pieces stay in place even during a bumpy ride, and the small size makes them easy to pack and play on the go. These games promote strategic thinking, problem-solving, and social interaction, offering a fantastic screen-free alternative for kids during long journeys.
Travel Scavenger Hunt Card Game
The Travel Scavenger Hunt Card Game is an exciting and engaging activity that will keep kids entertained for hours. This game comes with a deck of cards, each featuring an object or sight that can be found while traveling. Kids race to find the items on their cards, and the first one to spot a specified number of items wins. The Travel Scavenger Hunt Card Game encourages observation skills, cooperation, and friendly competition.
Printable Games and Activities
Printable games and activities offer a wealth of screen-free entertainment options for kids during travel. With a little preparation, you can create customized puzzles, coloring pages, mazes, word searches, and crossword puzzles tailored to your child's interests and abilities. There are also numerous websites that offer free, printable travel-themed games, such as road trip scavenger hunts, “find the difference” puzzles, and even travel journal templates. Simply print your chosen activities before your trip and pack them with a set of pencils or crayons. Printable games and activities are not only budget-friendly but also provide endless opportunities for creativity, learning, and fun, ensuring that your kids stay engaged and entertained during your journey.
Snowman is a simple word-guessing game that can be played with just a pen and paper, or you can purchase a travel-sized version with built-in letter tiles. You may remember this game when it went by the name Hangman. One player thinks of a word, and the other players take turns guessing letters. For each incorrect guess, a part of the “snowman” is drawn. The goal is to guess the word before the snowman is completed. Snowman promotes spelling, vocabulary, and problem-solving skills.
License Plate Game
The License Plate Game is a great way to pass the time on long road trips. The objective is to spot license plates from as many different states or countries as possible. You can create a checklist or use a premade one, and kids can mark off each unique plate they see. This game encourages observation skills, geographical knowledge, and can spark interesting conversations about different locations.
Would You Rather?
“Would You Rather?” is fun, thought-provoking, and one of the best travel games for kids as it can be played with no materials, making it an ideal screen-free travel option. Players take turns asking each other “Would you rather…?” questions, presenting two different scenarios. For example, “Would you rather be able to fly or be invisible?” This game encourages critical thinking, communication, and can lead to interesting and entertaining discussions.
Zip-It is a fast-paced, portable word game that promotes vocabulary, spelling, and quick thinking. The game consists of 24 lettered cubes and a carrying case with a built-in scoring system. Players race against each other to create a grid of interconnected words using their cubes. The first player to use all their cubes wins the round. Zip-It is suitable for a wide range of ages and can be played in just a few minutes, making it perfect for on-the-go entertainment.
Screen-free travel games are not only a fantastic way to keep kids entertained during long journeys but also promote cognitive and social development. By incorporating these games into your travel plans, you can create an enjoyable, engaging, and educational experience for your children. So, next time you hit the road or take to the skies, leave the screens behind and pack these games for a fun-filled, screen-free adventure.