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5 Family-Friendly Travel Games

Hicela Headshot-1

Hicela (Leslie) Arreaza
Newman’s Own Foundation Fellow, Capacity Building


Family trips are filled with adventures. These adventures are sometimes planned, likes hikes or picnics, and sometimes unplanned, like traffic jams, flight delays, and long layovers. Want to make even the longest wait or drive fun?  Here are some family-friendly games you can take with you wherever you go (and we mean anywhere!).


1. Painter’s Tape Games


Painter’s tape is easy to carry and comes off of anything you stick it on without hassle, making it the perfect kid-friendly travel companion.

Items Needed:
  • A roll (or two!) of painter’s tape
  • Depending on the activities you choose below, it might be helpful to pack a few additional supplies to pair with your painter’s tape (i.e. toy race cars, marbles, or markers).
What To Do:
  • Pick your games (see below) and pack your supplies before heading out on the road.
  • Find a surface for your painter’s tape and start playing! Build roads, write out words, or make your very own portable game of Tic-Tac-Toe:

Pro Tip: We’ve heard from one our own staff members that painter’s tape makes an awesome diversion mid-flight for toddlers!



2. The Building Box


If your little one loves to build, a portable builder’s box may be for them. This kit, dreamed up by blogger Jen,  allows for you to build on-the-go; it even includes a base to build on and a place to keep unused building bricks to avoid losing them. 

Items Needed:
  • Structured, rectangular lunchbox, tackle box, or similar  
  • 1 building brick set of choice
  • 2 large pieces of building brick base 
  • Hot glue or mounting tape (to secure the base pieces to the lunchbox)
  • Measuring tape
What To Do:
  • Measure and cut one of the building brick bases to fit inside one lid of the lunchbox. If your lunchbox has rounded corners, you may need to sand down the corners of the base sheet to fit inside.
  • Glue this piece flat against the inside of one lid. This will be your base to build on.
  • Measure the other lid of the lunchbox and cut the second building brick base into a piece that will cover about ½ of the height.
  • Secure this ½ piece on the bottom half of that inside lid. This time, however, glue only the edges of the building brick base against the edges of the lunchbox, so that once secure there is a sort of pocket, or compartment, you’ve created between the base and the inside lid. This will be your “fence” and help keep the building bricks inside the upper half of the lunchbox when it’s open. 
  • Once dry, pour the building bricks inside this new compartment.   
  • There you have it! Grab your box and build away.

Pro Tip: If you want to reduce the noise you can glue felt to the inside of the lunchbox where the building bricks are stored. 



3. iSpy 2.0


Do you love iSpy? This twist on the classic game is great for long road trips or quick stops. Here’s how to make it extra fun!

Items Needed:
  • A clear water bottle or mason jarany clear bottle works, but 850 mL to 1 L bottles will work best
  • Rice
  • Small items—anything goes. This could be small alphabet letters, colored paper clips, little toys, etc. Just make sure to keep a list before adding them.
What To Do:
  • Fill ¼ of the bottle with rice (or similar).
  • Add the toys.
  • Fill the rest of the bottle with more rice leaving enough room for the items to mix in the bottle.
  • Now, give it a whirl. It’s the same game you know, but within the confines of your bottle!

Pro tip: To make the game more challenging, add a layer of lentils or beans instead of the second layer of rice.



4. Pipe Cleaner Creations 


Pipe cleaners are light and packable, and the possibilities are (almost) endless.

Items Needed:
  • Lots of pipe cleaners—the more the merrier!
  • Bag or pencil box to store pipe cleaners
What To Do:
  • Pack your pipe cleaners for the road—and let your little one’s imagination soar!
    • For bracelets, try braiding or twisting different colored pipe cleaners together. You can also pack a few large wooden beads (or similar) in a small to-go container to string onto jewelry.
    • To create animals, it can be helpful to pick a theme – such as farm animals or woodland creatures – and build a mini collection or village from there.
    • For shapes, numbers, and letters, you can call one out and let your youngster make their best circle, square, diamond, and so on. If playing with multiple kids, try adding some silly rules that encourage teamwork and/or interactive play, such as:
      • Have two players create the shape, each using only one hand.
      • Have players only use their non-dominant hand.
    • Have each player create a character of their choice and then come together to create a story about them both!

Pro Tip: Before playing with pipe cleaners, ensure the child is old enough to handle pipe cleaners’ sharp and pointed wire edges, or use with the oversight of an adult.


5. 20 Questions Meets GUESS WHO?®


Inspired by our love of Hasbro’s classic board game, this version is road trip-ready. Pass the time, or the miles, with some good, old-fashioned guessing. 

Items Needed:
  • 2+ players
  • Some creativity!
  • Optional: Take it up notch with some paper and crayons. See the Pro Tip below!
What To Do:
  1. Pick a category for the round. This could be family and friends, celebrities, fictional characters, kids’ movies, and so on. 
  2. From there, one player thinks of a person and the remaining player(s) can ask a total of 20 questions to try to guess who this mystery person is. All answers given must be “yes” or “no.” For example, if guessing, you might ask: 
    1. Does this person wear glasses? 
    2. Is this person a kid? 
    3. Is this person related to us? 
  3. Based on the responses, the guessing player can start to hone in on who this mystery person might be! With more than one guessing player, simply take turns asking the twenty questions. 
  4. When you think you know who the mystery person is, make a guess on your next turn. Be sure to only guess when you’re ready—if your guess is wrong, you’ll lose the round!
  5. Play as many rounds as you’d like, tallying who gets the most guesses right!

Pro Tip: It’s the night before a big trip and you still have to pack? Give your kids some paper (or old file folders) and crayons to make up their own character cards—complete with creative names—to use on the road. Once they’ve each drawn five characters, have them switch and make an identical set so they’ll both have all the characters. If you have a copier at home, you can make two or more identical sets in a flash!

On the road, on a plane, or in a lobby, these games are sure to make any moment an adventure. Safe travels!



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