As families gear up for summer trips, it’s time to start thinking about entertainment options for moments of down time that you’ll undoubtedly have on your trips. If your family is like ours, you might be interested in bringing along some travel card games to keep your kids occupied.
Since we travel full time, being mindful of the travel card games we bring along is important. The ones we choose are small. That way, they can fit into our bags without taking up too much space. And we also like to choose games that are playable for all members of our family.
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Why we love taking along travel card games
It’s easy to rely on electronics to keep our kids occupied during travel. I’m not afraid to admit that my kids get A LOT of electronics time when we’re on the road. But sometimes it’s nice to have a non-electronics option when it comes to entertainment and games. And especially when we want to do family night, making a game night is easy when you carry along a few fun games.
Another reason why we enjoy taking along travel card games is that they are a useful tool for homeschool activities. Many of our games help our kids build skills like math, problem solving, and strategy. And some of them also help build competition and cooperation skills. When you’re a worldschooling family like us, you find creative ways to help your kids learn!
What to look for in travel card games
When you’re choosing your family’s travel card games, keep in mind that you want ones that are easy to pack. Our family prefers games that are just decks of cards, without any additional props. That makes it easy to transport. If you’re bringing along a card game in a hard box, you can take them out of the box and travel with them in a Ziploc bag. This makes them less bulky.
Another thing to look for in card games is the educational value of the game. As I mentioned before, we use card games as part of our worldschooling lessons. This means we prefer games that have a learning component. However, it doesn’t have to be blatantly educational. You can have a game that involves addition or multiplication, yet the point of the game isn’t about math. Or you can have a game that encourages problem solving or strategy, but is also focused on art.
Finally, a card game for traveling families should be fun for the whole family to play. Choose games that are age-appropriate for your kids. But also, don’t shy away from a game because you think that it might be too advanced for your child. You can always modify the rules to simplify it for younger players.
Our favorite travel card games (and why we love them!)
We travel with only a few card games at a time. But depending on how much space you want to allot in your travel bag, you can always bring more games. We know a full-time traveling family that travels with 7 kilos worth of card games! They use packing cubes for family travel to transport their games.
For our family, our games fit into a couple small sacks, which I carry in my checked bag. They don’t take up a lot of space, and also don’t add a lot of weight to our bag. Here are some of our favorite travel card games that we take wherever we go.
UNO is a classic card game. And the rules are so simple that even young children can learn it. We enjoy UNO because it helps our kids with simple math concepts like color and number matching. But there is also some strategy involved.
One of our family’s favorite travel card games is Sushi Go! This matching card game has players build sets of sushi and nigiri to earn points. Besides the math component, there is also a strategy component too. Some cards will make you lose points if you have the least amount of them at the end of the game!
Mille Bornes is an old card game that our family has been playing for years. It’s a race car themed game that has players collect miles and avoid obstacles like flat tires, speed limits, and accidents. This game is mainly chance-based, but there is some strategy involved too, like many of the other games on our list. This one takes a long time to play, so kids with short attention spans may have some difficulty playing.
One game we recently discovered is UNO Flip! It’s played just like regular UNO, but there’s also a second side that can be played as well. We discovered this game at a café in Vietnam, and just love playing it as a family.
Another card game that we recently rediscovered is Set. We bought this game before we left for our family gap year, but we didn’t end up taking it with us traveling until just recently. Set helps kids reinforce matching skills, and problem-solving skills. It’s easy to adjust the game play for younger kids by playing with a smaller set of cards.
Bears Vs. Babies
We like playing quirky travel card games as well. Bears Vs. Babies is a fun one to play as a family, purely for the creative graphics of the game, designed by one of our favorite cartoon artist, The Oatmeal. Bears Vs. Babies encourages kids to use their creativity. There’s also a competitive element to the game, as well as strategy.
Deck of cards
Of course, no set of travel card games would be complete without an old-fashioned deck of cards. We bring along a deck of cards to play games like War, Go Fish, and Slap Jack. We also use the deck of cards for math drills by having the kids add up or multiply pairs of number cards. The Book of Cards For Kids is a good book to take along to give you ideas for games you can play with a deck of cards.
Apps for travel card games
If you don’t have much space in your travel bag to carry along your favorite game, see if you can find it as an app. We like playing Mysterium on our phone and iPad. And we recently discovered that Exploding Kittens, another popular game by The Oatmeal, is also available as an app.
Introducing our own card game: Stack The Scoops!
During our quarantine, our family decided to create a new card game. Our 9-year-old daughter came up with the concept, and my husband helped fill in the gaps of the game rules. Thus, our game, Stack The Scoops was born!
Stack The Scoops is a matching card game that has players build sets of ice cream treats to score points. Sets are created by matching a base, an ice cream scoop, and a topping within the same color card. Each card has a specific number of points, and scoring is done by adding up the total points for each set. You can double or triple your points for a set by playing special Double Scoop or Triple Scoop cards.
When we initially created the game, we just drew out the cards on plain white paper and had our kids design the picture. But after playing several rounds, we decided to make the game into an actual product to share with other families.
Fun for the kids
One of the things we love about Stack The Scoops is that it’s fun for our kids to play. The ice cream theme makes the game interesting for the kids. And the game play is competitive without being too cut-throat. The game plays fairly quickly, but the outcomes vary with each round. There’s not always the same winner with each round.
Help your kids build math skills
As you might guess, we like travel card games that help our kids build skills. Stack The Scoops helps reinforce addition and multiplication skills for early math learners. And even for older kids, there is some strategic elements to the game as well.
Cute and playful design
Another thing we love about our game is the design. In a past life, my husband spent six years of his career in corporate design. That experience came in handy when designing our game. It has the right feel of fun and whimsy, while still being polished.
Pre-order your set of Stack The Scoops travel card games soon!
We think you’ll love our game too, and hope you’ll add it to your collection of travel card games. We’re planning to officially launch the game on July 31, 2020. And we’ll start taking pre-orders on July 1st. But you can stay up to date for when our pre-orders open up by signing up for our mailing list. And for those who subscribe to our mailing list, we’re actually offering a code for 30% off your pre-order!
Making travel card games a must-have in your travel bag
No matter what game (or games) you choose for your family, it helps to have travel card games as part of your travel must-haves. Family vacations are often full of down time. And in those down moments, it good to have a couple of games to pull out to entertain the kids.
What are your favorite travel card games to play with your family? Share them in the comments below. And don’t forget to check out our game, Stack The Scoops!
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