There is nothing we enjoy more than slipping off for the day and parking up somewhere green and leafy. We’ll take lunch, our bikes, and always our campervan games collection.
It’s lovely to not have the kids asking for screen time and to switch off and have some good old fashioned family time.
Space is at a premium in a campervan so we are mindful of which ones to bring and predictably many of them are card games. Games are always one of the first items on our campervan packing list.
We are a family of four, with two kids under 12 and regularly have friends and their kids, and sometimes grandparents hang out with us so the games need to suit a range of ages and abilities.
These are the travel games residing permanently in our campervan:
The first time I played UNO was in Spain in 1994. My Spanish was pretty basic but luckily it didn’t need to be good to play UNO with my new Spanish friends. It was the perfect way to break the ice with people I didn’t know and to start bonding. UNO has a universal language of its own.
The game is so easy to understand and enjoyable to play, it is a favourite for all age groups. The UNO pack we play with today was purchased in Spain many years ago. It will always be my number one choice of travel card game to play
There is a junior version of this game for very young children with animal pictures instead of numbers.
Each player is dealt a hand of 7 cards. They consist of number cards of four different colours, and various action cards. The other players use their action cards to trip you up as you play so they can be the first to discard all their cards.
The objective of the game is pretty simple – be the first to lose all 7 of your cards and win.
The stated age range is 7+ but I’d argue kids younger than 7 can get the hang of UNO. Our kids have been playing since they could recognise numbers.
From the maker of UNO, comes Skip-Bo. I was introduced to this game in Australia in 2005. In those days Australian TV seemed to consist mostly of old episodes of the Bill, or US crime series with various acronyms (NCIS, CSI, etc), or reality cooking shows. None of these interested me much, so many an evening was given up to board and card games.
As much as I love UNO I have to say Skip Bo comes in a close second. Once you start playing it is utterly addictive and before you know it, it’s way past midnight and you’re still going. You know you’re on to a winner when you just can’t walk away and go to bed.
The rules and objective of Skip-Bo are more complex than UNO so might be a bit out of reach for younger kids, but I’d say the 7+ rating given on the box is accurate.
Each player has a stockpile of cards, how many depends on how lengthy a game you want to play. You spend the cards in your stockpile by building up piles in the centre of the table from numbers one to twelve in chronological order.
The objective of the game is to lose your stockpile of cards first. The winner is the first player who manages to discard their pile.
Lots of strategy in this game, lots of opportunity to thwart your opponents. As I said, utterly addictive.
We purchased Dobble for our first camper van trip with the kids. As a family, we absolutely love this game. The kids wipe the floor with us every time, they are so quick.
We’ve played this game one-on-one, as a group of four and all the mini games they all also suggest on the instructions. It really is a level playing field this one and a game where the kids have the upper hand it seems so it’s a favourite with them.
This last New Years Eve, our friends came to stay and we jumped on the bandwagon and purchased ‘Cards Against Humanity’. Everyone we knew had played it and sung it praises so we went out and bought it. We did two rounds and I would happily never see it again. I’m no prude and I have a decent sense of humour. I just found the premise of it really juvenile.
We put it away and out came Dobble. A game for juveniles. We played it until the small hours, absolutely hilarious. Never gets boring, you just get more competitive, especially if you start scoring.
We’ve also got the Harry Potter version of Dobble, but it doesn’t really improve on the original. Even though we are very familiar with Harry Potter, we’ve read all the books, watched all the films, I haven’t got the recall for the people or objects in the series to win. Give me the original any day.
The cards are dealt out equally amongst the players. Each player plays a card face up simultaneously on the table and the first one to call out a picture which appears on both cards, wins the cards.
The objective is simple – to win the most cards.
We used to have a Boggle lunchtime club at my old place of work. I wouldn’t miss it, brilliant fun. There was one guy who wiped the floor with the rest of us. His cognitive function was on another level.
There were 5 letter and 6 letter words he would pull out of the grid that none of the rest of us spotted. Every. Single. Lunchtime. I learned a lot from him though to up my game, so I didn’t mind the daily thrashing.
Many a wet afternoon has been whiled away in the van playing Boggle. It’s a more challenging game for younger players so we have special rules for younger players so that everyone can take part.
The game starts with the 16 cubic dice being shaken in a covered tray. They settle into a space and 16 letters are left faced up. The countdown is on to spot words in the grid.
The objective of this game is to spot the most words with the letters joined in the grid of letters with the longer the word, the more you score. The highest scorer wins.
5. Monopoly Deal Card Game
I’m pretty sure at one time we had 10 different Monopoly sets in this house, ranging from a Simpsons version, to various cities and countries.
Imagine our glee when a card version of Monopoly came out – Monopoly Deal.
Like all the best games, it’s addictive and hard to walk away. A quick trial round to pick up the basics and you’re good to go.
It’s much quicker than a normal game of Monopoly, which sadly I don’t have enough time to play these days.
The game starts with players collecting a maximum number of cards in their hand. You can charge rent, swap properties, steal properties and demand money from the other players.
The objective is to be the first player to create three sets of properties. The first to do so is the winner.
Not a travel game for younger kids due to the strategy involved.
6. Sushi Go!
It might seem odd, but this card game is based on a sushi meal. In our house, sushi is our no 1 favourite treat. No surprise then that this game made its way into our campervan game collection.
The kids love the cute kawaii-style illustrations on the cards as much as they love eating sushi itself.
The game is won on a points-based system, amassed over three rounds so the 8+ age limit suggested on the box is possibly a bit unrealistic. Younger kids would struggle to follow the objective of the game and be able to engage with it.
The objective of the game is to collect groups of sushi and score the most points.
7. Matilda Card Game
This lovely card game is inspired by the Roald Dahl book, Matilda. It is a version of the traditional chase the ace card game.
The Matilda card game is a favourite with our kids as it is so easy to play and especially so if they are familiar with characters in the story. This has been a keeper in our travel games collection as it is great for young children to understand the rules of how to play and win.
The cards are dealt out evenly between the players. Each player keeps their cards close to their chests. The cards are fanned out and offered to the person on the left to choose one. If they select a card they also possess, they have a matching pair and those cards are discarded from the game.
The objective of the game is to NOT be left with the Trunchball card in your hand at the end of the game.
These cards are beautifully illustrated by Quentin Blake, just as in the Roald Dahl story books.
Perudo is another one of those games introduced to me in Australia. It was a firm favourite on the board game/card game circuit before I had young children.
It has all the hallmarks of a good game, strategy, addictiveness and brilliant fun to play with a group of friends.
Perudo comes out now for mostly the grown-ups to play as the rules are a bit hard to understand for younger players.
It’s a dice and cup game, so takes up a bit more space than the card games so we only bring it if we know we are going to have the right group to play with.
Perudo is a version of Liar Dice, and takes bluff, guesswork, skill and a bit of luck. Great fun.
Each player has 5 coloured dice and a corresponding coloured cup. Simultaneously, each player shakes their dice in the cup and turns the cup onto the table. Holding it there over the dice, the player takes a peek to see what numbers have been shaken.
The objective of the game is to bluff and trick the other players in to guessing how many of each number of dice they have under their cup. The next player in line calls “dudo” (“I doubt it” in Spanish) if they think the player is lying.
Players lose dice through being caught out.
The objective is to be the only player left with dice in the game.
The recommended age is 8+, but I’d say age 8 is too young to play this game properly. More suitable for young teens upwards.
9. Exploding Kittens
This card game is a hilarious favourite with the kids. The cute card illustrations and the slightly shouty language used in the game tap into exactly into what the kids are into.
It’s a bit quirky, as some of the (strange) cartoons our kids like to watch. Think Adventure Time, Gravity Falls, or Star and the Forces of Evil. I put this game in the same category.
Not one of my absolute favourite games, but playable enough. There’s good strategy involved and interesting twists and quirks in the game to keep interest. A round lasts from 10-20 minutes depending on how many players are in the game.
Players draw a card from the draw pile. The idea is to avoid drawing an exploding kitten card as this removes the player from the game. If they do draw an exploding kitten card, it can be counteracted with a number of actions.
The objective is to be the last player standing with the other players having been eliminated from the game.
Favourite campervan games, for now
We’ve shared with you our current and proven favourite campervan travel games.
We often try out new games and will feature any that become regulars. One thing is clear – campervan games are always part of our campervan holiday packing list.