Keep kids interested when you travel

Travel games are a great way to keep little minds engaged on long trips, but you also need to pack well so that your case isn’t bulging with heavy items.

A good idea is to pack games that don’t take up much space as well as being lightweight. Cards fit the bill in most cases.

Go Fish

This is the perfect game to learn about numbers and patterns. Ages 4+

Go Fish is best for 3-6 players, but it is possible for 2 to play. A standard 52 card deck is used. The dealer deals 5 cards to each player (7 each for 2 players). The remaining cards are placed face down to form a stock.

Use a standard 52-card deck. Deal face-down, so that no player can see the face of the card being dealt to them. As soon as all the cards are dealt, players may pick up and view their own cards (but no one else’s). If any player has a pair of the same cards (such as two sevens), he will put it in his pile of pairs. The remaining cards that are not dealt out already will be placed in a pile between the two players.

Hold your cards like a fan. They should face so that you can identify each of your cards, but no one else can. You can also hold all your cards in a stack to reduce the risk of another player seeing your hand.

Fish for cards. Generally, the youngest player will play first, and the game rotates clockwise from there. The player will hold up his cards and say “Do you have a __ ?” Ask for a card that will match a single card you already own. If another player has the number or letter on one of his cards, he will give the person who asked for that card and put it in his pile of matches of cards. If nobody has the called card, they will say “Go fish”, and the player must take a card from the pile in between them. Then the player will ask the same question except they will say a number or letter from their hand of cards.

Continue taking turns asking the questions until you have no more cards left and count your pairs. The player with the most pairs wins the game. If you play again, the winner of the last game will deal the cards and ask the question first.

Pig

Collect four of a kind in this quick and rather funny game. Ages 5+

For each player, take four of a kind out of the deck and put aside the rest of the cards. If you are playing with younger children, try to make sure that the cards are as different from each other as possible. For example, if you were playing with 3 players you might choose the 4s, 8s and Queens. Shuffle your chosen cards well.

Deal the cards so that each player has four. Now each player looks at their hand and sorts the cards out. The aim of the game is to collect four of a kind, at which point you quickly, and quietly, put a finger on your nose. If you see another player put a finger on their nose, you must do so too (regardless of whether you have 4 of a kind or not). The last player to put a finger on their nose gets a letter – first P, then I, then G.

To play, choose which cards you want to collect then choose a card to discard and put it, face down, on the table in front of you. When everyone has a card on the table, simultaneously pass your card to the player on your left and then pick up the card which has been passed to you. Try to establish a rhythm – it can help if an adult says “down – pass – pick up, down – pass – pick up” to keep everyone going!

The first player to reach “P-I-G” is the loser. If you want a longer game, try playing with D-O-N-K-E-Y instead.

Snap

This game is fast paced and can be adjusted to suit age level. Get ready to flex and test your skills. Ages 3+

Deal out all the cards, face-down. Players don’t look at their cards, but hold them in a stack in front of them, face down.

To begin, the player to the left of the dealer takes his top card, turns it over and places it face up next to his own pile. The next player does the same, starting a pile of his own.

Continue until a player notices that two cards on top of any of the face-up piles are the same. Shout “Snap!” The first to do so receives all the cards in both of the matched piles and adds them to the bottom of his own face-down pile. The game then continues, with the person to the left of the winner continuing play.

If, at any point, a player runs out of face-down cards, he simply overturns his face-up pile and starts again.

If two players shout “Snap!” at exactly the same time, they form a snap pool, with the two matched piles of cards placed together, face-up, in the centre. Play then continues as normal, until someone turns up a card which matches the top card in the snap pool. Whoever then shouts “Snap pool!” fastest takes the whole pool.

If a player incorrectly calls “Snap!” at any point, he should pay every player one card from his face-down pile.

If a player runs out of both face-up and face-down cards, he is out. The winner is the player who ends up with all the cards.

The aim of the game is to win all of the cards.

Hint: Pack a set of cards into your child’s travel case.
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