Being prepared with games and toys can make road trips fun. Photo courtesy of Megy Karydes, Foodie TravelingMom.

Being prepared with games and toys can make road trips fun. Photo courtesy of Megy Karydes, Foodie TravelingMom.

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Traveling with kids and need ideas for some fun and compact games kids can play that don’t involve electronics? When families are confined to small spaces, they need to either become creative with their toys or find ways to entertain themselves without losing game pieces. Different ages add another challenge. Over the years, we’ve found a few favorites for traveling with kids that have stood the test of time.

30 Second Mysteries by Spinner Books apparently is based off a popular board game but we’ve never played the board game and you don’t need to have played it for the book to work. Nor are the books mysteries as in the sense that the stories are suspenseful.

Rather, 30 Second Mysteries are very short passages (as in one or two paragraphs) to be read and, using the clues below each passage, the reader needs to figure out the answer (that’s where the mystery part comes in).

We found the book at an indie bookshop while traveling (naturally) but didn’t realize how great it would be for traveling until we opened it up and began reading. Our kids, ages 8 and 10, take turns reading out loud one case each and the entire family in the car works together to solve the case. Some of the cases might be hard for the younger ones but my 8 year old gets into it just as my older one and my husband and I are often scratching our heads trying to piece together clues that will solve the case, too. Some are easy enough for the kids to figure out, which makes the book that much more fun.

Rory’s Story Cubes is perfect for storytellers and active imaginations. There are 9 cubes (dice) that fit neatly into an orange pouch so carrying it around is easy. If you’re on an airplane or car, though, you’ll want to secure a space where the cubes stay contained and not roll to the ground after they’re thrown. One option is the Lay N Go which Good N Crazy TravelingMom Carissa Rogers uses to corral smaller toys for her kids while traveling.

Sampling local foods during road trips is a great way to learn about local cuisine and make a game out of finding where to stop to taste them. Photo courtesy of Megy Karydes, Foodie TravelingMom.

Sampling local foods during road trips is a great way to learn about local cuisine and make a game out of finding where to stop to taste them. Photo courtesy of Megy Karydes, Foodie TravelingMom.

The idea behind this game is each person takes a turn rolling the cubes. Different images are on each side of each cube such as a turtle, flower, book, apple, and so on. A story has to be created using each of the nine images. Using the above cube sides, the person would have to come up with a story that involves a turtle, book, flower and apple as well as the other 5 cubes. The game’s rules aren’t set in stone. Some people choose to use only 3 cubes at a time to create a story.

Miles of Smiles: TravelingMom Shannon Entin likes Miles of Smiles and although we’ve not tried that one yet, I’m adding it to my list of ones to buy for this coming summer’s travel plans. It may be a bit young for my kids but for those traveling with younger children, this might be just the right game to keep them entertained while learning.

DIY Velcro Craft Sticks. My kids are too old for this type of activity, but if they were younger, this is one craft idea that even I could master (and that’s saying a lot!). Karen (aka Desert Chica TravelingMom) tried this out with her kids on a recent trip to Chicago with success.

Sampling Local Foods. This isn’t necessarily a game, per se, but it is fun when we’re doing a road trip. I’ll do some research in advance to learn what the areas we’re passing are known for and see if we can find a local restaurant that serves that item. For example, Wisconsin is known for its cheese curds and we’d never had them (even living in a neighboring state). So it became a game to try and find a place to enjoy them (which wasn’t hard at all but, still, the kids had fun being on the lookout for them!).

What are some of your favorite ways to keep the kids — young and older — entertained during travel delays and trips, whether they’re road trips or involve airplanes?