Some of the best camping memories are made with the simplest of traditions, and gathering everyone around the picnic table or fire ring for a friendly game of chance or skill is one of those times. Family game night is one of the best ways to wind down after a day of outdoor adventure. A simple card or dice game can be the perfect boredom buster on long drives and a cozy interlude when the weather keeps you inside.
Whether you’re staying in your own tent or RV, you’ve set up home base in a Deluxe or Camping Cabin, or you’re glamping in a KOA yurt or tree house, you need games that pack well, don’t take up much space, set up easily, and keep everyone in your group entertained. Give these fun, road-tested options a try during your next KOA camping getaway.
Travel Games for Kids to Play in the Car
If you are traveling with kids on a long trip in the car or RV, you need ways to keep them entertained — and playing road trip games is an excellent option. Teach your kids that the journey is part of the fun with these road trip games:
1. Spot It!
Test your focus and perception by picking out matching pairs in a packable canister of 55 cards that are simply illustrated for young players, but have subtle differences that test your powers of observation.
2. Travel Scavenger Hunt
Keep your passengers busy on long drives with a scavenger hunt for 54 things you’re likely to see along the highway. Take turns drawing cards and matching the drawing on the card (like a yellow car or a restaurant) to what you see along your route. You can’t discard your card until you’ve found a match. The first person to discard all their cards wins. Extend the game with expansion packs for smells (like a skunk) and sounds (like a siren) that you find along the way.
3. The License Plate Game
There are several variations to this game, and to play, all you need to give your kids is a piece of paper and something to write with. One version is to have your kids write down the alphabet and cross out or circle the letters as they see them on passing plates. The first one to get all 26 letters wins.
Another variation is to search for the different states, with the goal being to find all 50. When you’re traveling to a popular destination for tourists, this version is a great way to pass the time.
4. Dr. Seuss Cat in the Hat
Young fans of the classic Dr. Seuss character will love drawing cards with pictures of their favorite cartoon character and following the card instructions. On your turn, flip over three cards and act them out in sequence in this comical twist on charades for children three and up.
5. 20 Questions
Kids love to ask questions, especially when they start to get bored. Entertain them with a simple question-and-answer game that you can play without a board, cards or an app. Start by deciding on any object, place, person or another concrete thing. Give the kids 20 chances to ask yes or no questions about what you’re thinking of. If they guess correctly, they win.
6. Kids on Stage Charades
Take turns drawing from a deck of 100 cards and acting out a description of the animals, objects, and actions to get your teammates to guess what your card says. Kids as young as three can play this simplified version of adult charades.
7. Tabletop Curling
If your family got into the curling craze during the last winter Olympics, they’re going to love this compact and portable tabletop version of the sport. Sweep miniature curling stones across the game board and into the target to score points for your team. Play as many rounds as you like, with the highest-scoring team declaring victory at the end. The whole things rolls up into a compact box for storage when you’re finished.
8. Stack the States
This learning app is a great car ride game to get the kids interested in exploring the world around them, perfect for having a good time on the road. Stack the States teaches kids about the geography of the United States with fun, interactive displays. As they play through the game’s levels, several map challenges load that will test their memory and build on new knowledge.
9. Apples to Apples
A perfect game for big groups of up to 10 campers, Apples to Apples is a word game that will have you creating witty, and sometimes wacky, combinations of nouns and adjectives to win the game. Take turns picking a card from a deck of description cards and placing them face up on the game board. Everyone plays the noun that they think best fits with the description card. Then it’s up to the player who picked the card to decide which noun wins the round.
10. Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar
This app from Fisher-Price teaches kids about numbers and helps them hone their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Download Code-a-Pillar to give your kids a variety of games wrapped into one, with mazes, counting problems and more.
Travel Games For Teens and Adults
For something more mature for your older kids and adult traveling buddies, try these car ride games:
11. Snip, Snap, Snorem
Deal a full deck of cards then, starting to the left of the dealer, the first player places any card face up on the table. Other players must match the card’s rank (like all 5s or all queens). If a player can’t match the rank, they have to pass. Once all four cards in the rank have been played, the next person plays a card with a new rank that must be matched. The first person to get rid of all the cards in their hand is the winner.
12. Mad Libs
This famous fill-in-the-blank word game has been around since the 1950s. While you can still play with paper and pen, Mad Libs have evolved into a travel-friendly app that you can download to your phone for hours of word play on the road or at your campsite.
13. Story Time
Playing this game is simple and can result in some hilarious nonsense. Someone starts telling a random story, and each player takes turns adding a line or two. It is best played in rapid-fire mode, where the object is to talk immediately when it is your turn without taking time to think about the direction the story is heading.
Become a 19th-century novelist to earn points and win this deck-building word game. Players can team up and work together to battle literary opponents and reach the 60-point finish line first.
15. Exploding Kittens
Even the most passionate cat-lovers will enjoy this quirky card game. Take turns drawing cards from the deck, hoping you don’t draw a game-ending Exploding Kitten card. If you do, you can play other cards in your hand to stay in the game, or pass the Exploding Kitten on to another player. The simple illustrations are enough to get everyone laughing, but there’s actually serious strategy behind the card play. The player that’s still in the game after all the cards have been drawn is the winner.
16. Sushi Go
Pretend you’re eating at one of those conveyor belt sushi restaurants in this fast-paced grad-and-pass card game. Earn points for card combinations that match your favorite sushi rolls to win.
17. The Game of Things
There are no right or wrong answers when you play the Game of Things, just lots of quick thinking and uncontrollable laughter. Cards with a “thing” theme pose topics like “Things you wish grew on trees.” Everyone writes down their answer and throws it in a pile. When the answers are read aloud, everyone has to match the responses to the player who wrote them.
If travel and food writer Ann Gibson enjoys hiking, backpacking, paddling, biking, running and skiing. As she travels in her RV, she writes about the destinations that she has found the most love for and her passion for sports. She splits her time between her home base in the Carolinas and nomad life, volunteering often in the parks she visits with her husband and two Aussies.