So, here we are. The school Easter holiday. I’m sitting at my desk looking out at the grey sky mentally packing. Tomorrow, we’re taking Betsy the caravan across to Long Beach Camping and Touring site in Hemsby, Norfolk, where she’ll take up residency for the season. But I think rain is forecast – again Warm clothes, bedding, hot water bottles, towels, wellies, waterproofs – and travel games – are high on the packing list.
This will be the sixth season that we’ve had Betsy caravan. The children were just 5 and 3 when we first got the camping bug. As they’ve grown, and we’ve learned what you need/don’t need in such a restricted space – travel games have remained a constant. Wrapped up in blankets, drinking hot chocolate, playing travel games while the rain lashes down onto the roof. When you camp in the UK, you have to prepare for these eventualities!
I thought we’d share with you today some of our favourite travel games. These are all games that are ‘suitcase-able’ … small enough to take wherever, not just camping. Most of the first five games have travelled the world with us. If you’ve played any of these, or have suggestions of games we must try, please leave a comment at the end. Click on the hyperlinks to read our detailed reviews of the games.
OK Play! is by Big Potato Games. This is such a simple game – but that’s a main reason why we like it so much. Toby, the youngest in our family, wins most often. OK Play! is a game that has no age restrictions. It all fits together in coloured stacks, making it very portable.
Each player takes a stack of coloured counters. The object of the game is to get a row of 5 – vertically, horizontally or diagonally. It’s a sort of travel Connect 4, but you can have up to 4 players. You take it in turns to place a counter, either blocking someone else’s efforts, or building your own line.
A game lasts about 5 minutes. We often play ‘best of 3’. When we’ve had enough, we simply feed the counters back onto their posts and clip them back into the holder.
Pass the Pigs
We all own this game, surely? I was a teenager (a long time ago) when I first bought a Pass the Pigs set. It’s been a favourite of mine for over 30 years! We have the game in two formats – the small travel version, and also an inflatable version that we took to the Maldives with us last summer.
The same rules apply for both versions. You have two pigs. You take it in turns to shake them and drop them (together) on the ground/table. Depending upon how they land, you score points. With the travel game, you get a score sheet – when you get to the bottom of the scorecard, the winner is the person with the highest score.
What makes Pass the Pigs funny for all ages is the names given to some of the positions that the pigs land in. A little bit risqué at times, but only the adults understand.
Again, it’s very simple. You have some round cards that you shuffle and you place face upwards. There’s two sections to each card: around the edge is the category, and in the middle is a letter. One player is designated the dealer and they take the top card, read out the category (i.e. ‘body part’), and place it next to the stack of cards. The top card in the stack gives the letter – so, for example you are looking for a body part beginning with L. The first person to shout out a suitable answer (“Leg!”) wins the first card. The top card then becomes the category card and is placed next to the stack.
You carry on until all the cards have been won. The winner is the person with the most cards.
CatStax: The Purrfect Puzzle
CatStax by Brainwright is a box containing a range of colourful plastic cats in different poses and of different sizes. There’s also a stack of cards. The grey-tabbed cards are the solution cards (the answers), so put these aside as hopefully you won’t need them! The cards are also colour coded into different levels of difficulty. This game can become quite difficult, so definitely start at ‘Beginner’ level.
The cards tell you which cats you’ll need for your challenge, and how many layers they need to be stacked. The beginner cards are mainly just one layer (I found these difficult enough!) The object of your challenge is to fit all the cats into the grid you are given.
There isn’t really a winner – you either work as a team to beat the challenges or try to solve them yourself. There’s undoubtedly some frustration at times, but a huge amount of satisfaction once you’ve worked a puzzle out.
My son LOVES this game. We play it all the time. It’s another simple one 🙂 Pizza Party by DICEcapades! is all contained within a plastic box in the shape of a pizza slice. Inside you’ll find 40 pizza slice cards and 10 dice with pizza topping ingredients on each face.
Ideally this game is for 2 players. You each take 5 dice and 1 randomly picked pizza slice card. At the same time as your opponent, you turn your card and start rolling all your dice. You race against each other. When you roll one of the ingredients on your pizza slice, you place the dice on that square. You then quickly roll the other dice, repeating, until you’ve found all the ingredients. The winner is the first person to fill their pizza slice.
Warning: when siblings go head to head with this game – it often gets quite loud and competitive!
How could we not include Top Trumps, by Winning Moves! It doesn’t matter where we’re going – a day out, weekend away, camping, a road trip or long-haul flight … a selection of Top Trump games will always come with us.
Current favourites include Top Trumps Dinosaurs, Volcanoes, Horrible Histories, Dogs, Army and Harry Potter. Both children have grown up with Top Trumps: there’s always a set to get them as stocking fillers depending on what they are into at the time!
Toby wants me to play ‘Army’ Top Trumps now … so I’ll be back in a few minutes …
And now for some travel games that we’ve not yet played, but we have here waiting for our next trip (camping, tomorrow!)
5 Second Rule Mini Game
5 Second Rule Mini Game is made by University Games. This small box contains 90 question cards (a total of 180 questions), 6 PASS ON cards, 6 SWITCH cards, 1 spiral timer and 1 set of rules. According to the back of the box:
“It should be easy to name 3 Animals found in a Zoo – but can you do it under the pressure of 5 seconds twisting down and with the other players staring, waiting for you to get flustered?”
This sounds a lot of fun – there’s clearly options to pass on and switch certain questions.
Mobi: Bringing numbers to life!
Mobi is a game of tiles that are contained within a zipped fabric bag in the shape of a whale. It’s ‘maths Scrabble’. There are two types of tiles – blue number ones and white ‘operation’ ones (+, -, x, divide, =). To set the game up you lay all the blue tiles face down on the table. The white tiles are double-sided and can be accessed by all players at any time.
You start by taking 5 or 7 blue tiles, depending on number of players. You all start at the same time, turning over your number tiles. Using these numbers, the object of the game is to use all your numbers up in mathematical sums … so if you have 4 and 2 and 6 you can pick a + and = from the white tiles to lay it out: 4 + 2 = 6. You then try to use your remaining numbers, alongside the others. So, if you have a 7 and 9 you can pick another + and = from the white pile and add them to the 2 above: 2 + 7 = 9. And so on.
But you’ll end up with number tiles that you just can’t use – so you shout FLIP and then all players draw 3 additional blue tiles. You carry on building your web of sums, until someone has used up all their blue tiles. That person is the winner.
My son, who gets a bit number blind at times, will find this game a real help. And it will be fun. I’m looking forward to playing this in the caravan.
Quadrio is a game by Hurrican Games. We’ve not tried this yet, but it looks like the perfect travel game. It is for 2 players. Quadrio consists of a plastic grid, 16 orange tokens and 16 white tokens, the rules and a drawstring bag to keep everything in.
The object of the game is to get ‘four in a row’. But it isn’t that easy. You take it in turns to slide a coloured disc into the game grid. This disc can move within the grid however, which is where the game gets complicated. When you hand your grid to your opponent, they can flip the grid over, or tip it, moving your counter to a different position. They then add their disc before handing it back to you.
I think this is a game that you need to play to understand the rules and difficulty level. It sounds quite complicated. So please do come back to read a full review once we’ve given it a good test!
Switcheroo Mini Game
Switcheroo Mini Game is by University Games. It is designed for ages 10+, for 2 or more players or teams. Inside the ‘transportable’ sized box, are 142 Switcheroo cards (77 subject cards, 58 letter cards, 7 wild cards), 1 x ten second timer, and the rules.
According to the box:
“Players try to get rid of their cards first by responding to hilarious subjects. Play the subject with a letter card, or the other way around! Stop the timer and pass to the next player … but be careful, a Switcheroo can happen at any time, changing the subject, just when you had a great response in mind!”
I think we’re going to have a lot of fun playing this 🙂
This concludes our round up. Have we missed any ‘must play’ travel games? With summer (hopefully) approaching, we have lots of travel planned, so we’ll need lots of games to take with us!