15 Great Travel Card Games: Best Card Games For Families

Whether you’re gearing up for a big family trip, or planning a weekend getaway, having entertainment options (such as travel card games) for your kids is key. If your family is like ours, you’re probably on the lookout for the best card games for families to help encourage family bonding on your trip.

As a traveling digital nomad family, being mindful of the types of travel card games we bring along is important. We prioritize games that 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.

Playing games as a family in New York City

We’ve played some fun games as a family over the years. So I thought I’d take some time to share with you our picks for the best card games for families. These are perfect for occupying time during the down moments of your trip.

This post was originally published on June 21, 2020.

This post may contain affiliate links. That means I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase something. But don't worry, this will not result in any extra costs to you.

Top picks for best card games for families

Want some help in picking travel card games for your family? Here are my top 5 picks for the best card games for families who travel:

  1. Stack The Scoops
  2. Sushi Go!
  3. Unstable Unicorns
  4. Exploding Kittens
  5. The Mind

Travel tips for families, plus my favorite travel card games

We love bringing along travel card games on our trips to play in our hotel room, Airbnb, or house sitting stay. We travel with only a few card games at a time. But if you have more space (for example, you’re doing a road trip) you can always bring more games.

Playing travel card games as a family (photo credit by Astrid Vinje)

For our family, we like taking the travel card games out of their boxes and putting them into Stashers. This helps us save valuable space and weight. Then we put the Stashers in Cotopaxi packing cubes, to keep them all in one place. Packing cubes for family travel are an easy way to transport games.

In this post, I wanted to offer you an all ages mix of the best card games for families. These games also make great travel gifts for kids and families! I’ve included a short description, recommended ages, and the average time it takes our family to play the travel game.

Ready for a change? Take the first step to living a life of full time travel.

1. Stack The Scoops, our pick for best travel card games

My first pick and all time favorite choice for best card games for families is Stack The Scoops. This game is a set collection card game where players build sets of ice cream treats to score points. Sets are created by matching a base, an ice cream scoop, and a topping card within the same color. You can double or triple your points for a set by playing special Double Scoop or Triple Scoop cards.

We created Stack The Scoops as a family in 2020. Our then 9-year-old daughter came up with the concept, and my husband filled in the gaps of the game rules. Since then, we’ve sold over 3,000 copies to families in the United States and around the world through our game company, ViBuGo.

Cute design that’s fun for kids to play

One of the things we love about Stack The Scoops is it’s fun for our kids to play. The ice cream theme makes the game interesting for the kids. And the quick game play is competitive without being too cut-throat.

We also love the game illustrations. My husband spent six years in corporate design, so that experience came in handy for our game. The cards have the right feel of fun and whimsy.

Award-winning educational game

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 are some strategic elements to the game as well.

Our award-winning game, Stack The Scoops (photo credit by Astrid Vinje)

Since launching Stack The Scoops, we’ve received several awards, including awards from Mom’s Choice Award and Creative Child. Additionally, Stack The Scoops was included in a few gift guides from Toy Insider, and we’ve also been interviewed by the media!

Easy to take for travel

We’ve had amazing feedback from families who play Stack The Scoops. Because it’s small and compact, it’s easy to take along on trips. This game is our top choice for travel card games for families.

Playing Stack The Scoops, one of the best card games for families (photo credit by Astrid Vinje)

Many families have personally told us that it’s one of the best card games for families with young kids!

Recommended for ages 5+

Game play: 15-45 minutes

2. Set

Another choice for travel card games that we love is Set. We traveled with this game for a couple of years during our big trip. Set helps kids reinforce matching skills, and problem-solving skills.

Set, a great choice for travel card games (photo credit by Astrid Vinje)

It’s easy to adjust the game play for younger kids by playing with a smaller set of cards. Plus, we like that Set doesn’t have words on it, so it’s great for kids who can’t read yet. Set is a great choice for travel card games with cards that only have illustrations.

Recommended for ages 6+

Game play: 20 minutes

3. Rainbow Bunny Bop

If you’re traveling with really young kids, you’ll want travel card games that aren’t too complicated. An easy game to play is Rainbow Bunny Bop. It’s a speed game based on rainbows and bunnies! Players compete to be the first to run out of cards by putting them in rainbow order in the central playing area. 

Rainbow Bunny Bop's cute bunny-themed cards (photo credit by Astrid Vinje)

We know the creator of Rainbow Bunny Bop and think it’s another choice for the best card games for families with really young kids. It helps them learn their colors and also practice hand-eye coordination. 

Recommended for ages 6+

Game play: 10 minutes

Learn more about the amazing family travel resources we use for worldschooling!

passport, journal, and sunglasses

4. Hasty Baker

Another choice for travel card games we enjoy is Hasty Baker. In this game, players compete to complete baking recipes using the cards in their hands. The first player to complete a certain number of recipes wins.

Hasty Baker, a fun game for families to play while traveling (photo credit by Astrid Vinje)

This baking-themed game helps kids learn strategy. But it’s also cute and fun to play. We are friends with the creator, and he’s a travel-loving parent like my husband and me! Hasty Baker is definitely another one of our top choices for best card games for families.

Recommended for ages 7+

Game play: 30 minutes

5. UNO

If you’re looking for a classic game to add to your selection of travel card games, then UNO is your pick. The rules for UNO are so simple that even young children can learn it. You essentially have to match either the color or the number of the card in the central play pile. Wild cards can help make matching cards easier.

UNO, our go-to for travel card games (photo credit by Astrid Vinje)

We enjoy UNO because it helps our kids with simple math concepts like color and number matching. But there is also some strategy involved.

Recommended for ages 7+

Game play: 20 minutes

6. UNO Flip!

One game we started playing during our travels was UNO Flip! It’s played just like regular UNO, but there’s also a second side that can be played as well. 

Travel card games for families: UNO Flip! (photo credit by Astrid Vinje)

We discovered UNO Flip! at a boardgame café in Vietnam, and we just love playing it as a family. Like classic UNO, it’s easy to learn. And since it’s only cards, they’re easy to pack in your bag. They’re the perfect choice for travel card games!

Recommended for ages 7+

Game play: 20 minutes

7. Mille Bornes

For a more unique choice for travel card games, consider playing Mille Bornes. It’s an old card game that our family has been playing for years. Mille Bornes is a race car themed game that has players collect miles and avoid obstacles like flat tires, speed limits, and accidents. 

Mille Bornes, a fun game to take on road trips (photo credit by Astrid Vinje)

This game is mainly chance-based, but there is some strategy involved too, like many of the other travel games on our list. This one takes a long time to play, so kids with short attention spans may have some difficulty playing. However, I think it’s one of the best card games for families because not only is it fun to play, but it fits perfectly with the type of travel we love to do: road trips!

Recommended for ages 7+

Game play: 30 minutes

8. Exploding Kittens

If you’re a family that’s looking for some silly travel card games, then you’re going to enjoy Exploding Kittens. We love playing this fun card game as a family because of the game’s creative graphics. Exploding Kittens is designed by one of our favorite cartoon artists, The Oatmeal.

Exploding Kittens, a fun game for families (photo credit by Astrid Vinje)

In Exploding Kittens, players compete to be the last person standing by avoiding drawing the exploding kitten card from the top card of the draw pile. It’s essentially a game of chance. But there are some silly cards in there that let you take actions against other players. This is a fun quick-play option for the best card games for families.

Recommended for ages 7+

Game play: 15 minutes

9. Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza

For a game that’s a little more action-oriented, then add Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza to your list of travel card games. This game really tests your coordination skills! And it can get pretty rowdy, so be sure to play this in a place where people won’t mind you getting loud. 

Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza is one of the most silly travel card games! (photo credit by Astrid Vinje)

We were reluctant to try Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza at first, because there didn’t seem to be a lot of strategy involved in the game. But once we played, we could see why many families think this is one of the best card games for families. It’s just so silly, and gets us laughing every time!

Recommended for ages 7+

Game play: 10 minutes

Family travel resources for a famiy

Get weekly worldschooling tips sent to your inbox with my Worldschooling Wednesday email series.

10. Sushi Go!

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! 

Sushi Go! is a great game for practicing math (photo credit by Astrid Vinje)

Recommended for ages 8+

Game play: 30 minutes

Learn how to travel and learn with your kids with my worldschooling posts.

11. Dutch Blitz

If you’re a fan of speed games, consider adding Dutch Blitz to your collection of travel card games. This game helps kids with matching, counting, and hand-eye coordination. And it’s a quick game, so it’s a great option to pass the time while you’re waiting for food at a restaurant, or waiting at an airport gate.

Playing Dutch Blitz (photo credit by Astrid Vinje)

This is a fun game to play to help build up your quick thinking and reflex skills. However, if you or your kid tend to get frustrated in stressful situations, you might not want to play this game. Or you can play cooperatively rather than competitively (our house rules).

Recommended for ages 8+

Game play: 15 minutes

12. The Mind

We first played The Mind at a gameschooling conference called GameSchoolCon (yes, there’s a convention for homeschoolers who like to game!). It’s an easy to learn cooperative game that encourages nonverbal communication and intuition. We like playing this as a family because it helps us get on the same wavelength.

The Mind, one of the best card games for families to encourage bonding (photo credit by Astrid Vinje)

The Mind is a great choice for travel card games if you’re looking for something you can play quickly. It doesn’t take a lot of space, and is fairly quiet to play.

Recommended for ages 8+

Game play: 20 minutes

13. Not Parent Approved

If you're looking for a kid-friendly party game for a big family trip, then consider bringing Not Parent Approved as one of your travel card games. This game is similar to Cards Against Humanity, but much more family friendly (and without the inappropriate humor). 

Examples of cards from Not Parent Approved (photo credit by Astrid Vinje)

Basically, one player selects a blue question card, and they must choose a red answer card out of the cards provided by the other players that best fits the question. The answers are silly, and oftentimes nonsensical. So you need to provide an answer that you think is most applicable to the question, and hope the player who’s it chooses your card.

Recommended for ages 8+

Game play: 10 minutes

14. Unstable Unicorns

Who doesn’t love unicorns? Unstable Unicorns is one of our favorite travel card games to bring along when we travel. We love the fun graphics. And the game play is long enough that it makes for a satisfying experience (sometimes those short games just end too soon!). 

Unstable Unicorns, one of our picks for best card games for families (photo credit by Astrid Vinje)

Unstable Unicorns is a great strategy game for helping kids learn skills for planning ahead. Your kids will need to be able to read, because many of the cards have their own special instructions. However, I think it’s an excellent starter game for introducing kids to more complex travel board games. It truly is one of the best card games for families.

Recommended for ages 8+

Game play: 30-60 minutes

15. Village Green

We love games about traveling the world. If you’re a big fan of all things Britain, make sure you add Village Green to your list of travel card games. In this game, players compete to collect the most points for the gardens they create using their cards. Points can be earned from the flowers, trees, ponds, grass, or gazebos they have in their gardens. Playing this game really brought me back to walking through English gardens in the West Midlands with kids, or visiting one of the villages in the Cotswolds.

Playing Village Green with my friends (photo credit by Astrid Vinje)

I recently played Village Green with my friends Vanessa from Wanderlust Crew and Marcie from Marcie in Mommyland, and we had a blast playing together. Village Green is a fairly quiet and gentle game. But it really encourages you to use your strategy skills to plot out the best cards to play that will earn you the most points.

Recommended for ages 14+

Game play: 30 minutes

Travel card games to play with a 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 simple games with the kids. We also use the deck of cards for math drills by having the kids add up or multiply pairs of number cards. 

Playing travel card games with a deck of cards (photo credit by Astrid Vinje)

One of the best card games for families we like to play with our kids is Go Fish. There are dozens of games you can play with a deck of cards. Here are a few to get you started. Some of these games are also great choices for travel card games for 2:

  1. Slapjack
  2. Spit
  3. War
  4. Spoons
  5. Old Maid
  6. Solitaire
  7. Crazy Eights
  8. Spades
  9. Hearts
  10. Gin Rummy

If you’re looking for ideas for games you can play with a deck of cards, Card Games 101 For Travelers is a good book to take along on your trips. It comes with two decks of cards.

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.

Playing Stack The Scoops while traveling (photo credit by Astrid Vinje)

Whether we're visiting New York City, Bali, or Paris, we like having down time at the end of the day. And especially when we want to do some family bonding activities, making a game night is easy when you carry along a few fun travel card games.

Another reason why we enjoy bringing some of the best card games for families on our trips 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 slow traveling worldschooling family like us, you find creative ways to help your kids learn!

Read more ideas for homeschool activities families can do anywhere.

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, rather than a travel board game that has multiple components. Card games travel better than board games, in my opinion.

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. Some of the best card games for families are ones that teach you skills like math, problem solving, or strategy, but aren't actually about those topics at all! 

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.

Get prepared for any emergency with the insurance made for digital nomads!

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’s good to have a couple of games to pull out to entertain the kids.

Traveling in Seville, Spain (photo credit by Clint Bush)

The best card games for families are ones that help them spend time with each other and bond. And they can also help with building skills like strategy, problem solving, sportsmanship, and math. While all the games I feature in this post are targeted for families, they also make fun travel card games for adults too.

What are your picks for the best travel card games to play with your family? Send me a message and let me know. And don’t forget to buy a copy of our game, Stack The Scoops, too!

Are you longing for a big trip with your family? Use my ebook, Hey Kids, Let's Go Travel! for family travel advice on planning and prepping for a family gap year.

15 Great Travel Card Games: Best Card Games For Families | The Wandering Daughter

Need help thinking through how to budget for a family trip? My Travel Budget Worksheet is just the tool you need! Click here to receive your free copy by signing up for my newsletter.

Want to connect with me on social media? Find me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. And for those of you who are dedicated to traveling more responsibly, sustainably, and ethically, join over 200 like-minded families on my Facebook group, Responsible Family Travel.

Sharing is caring!

Related Posts

Sign up to get travel tips in your inbox!


This website participates in affiliate programs such as Amazon Associates, Stay22, Viator, Lingopie, AvantLink, and SafetyWing. As an affiliate for these programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Contact us

Copyright ©2023 Astrid Vinje TheWanderingDaughter.com