We like to spend some designated family time each week offline. Usually, this happens every Sunday. It took us a while to find what worked consistently for our RVing family, and Sunday seems to be the best day.
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During our family time, we have fun together, offline, doing a variety of activities. Sometimes we are having our family time while boondocking on BLM land and conserving power, and other times, we simply take a break from screens in our travel trailer to have fun doing other things together.
Of course, there is usually always the option for hiking and playing outside, sitting around the campfire with friends in the evenings, or baking (and yes, you can cook in an RV kitchen). And while storage is a premium – we can’t have a full closet filled with boxes and boxes of board games – we do have a few favorite games we managed to find room for that we play together in our RV.
Are you looking for gift ideas for an RVing family, or looking to make a list of some new family activities for your next camping trip? We have compiled a list of a few of our favorite ways to pass the time on rainy days or “screen-free” family times.
I asked our three boys (currently 9, 11, and 14 years old) to create a list of their favorite games to play together offline, and then they each narrowed their lists down to a top favorite one.
Our boys also came up with a list of fun things they like doing while offline by themselves on the days we are not going out to do something from our nine free things to do with kids list.
Here are our family’s favorite board games and card games while camping:
Joel – age 14: Best Group Games For Camping
Settlers of Catan – a few hours and a minimum of 3 players
Settlers of Catan: This board game is heavily strategy-based, with a bit of luck involved in trading, building, and upgrading your pieces.
We enjoyed Settlers of Catan so much that we purchased an expansion pack called Cities and Knights.
The Cities and Knights expansion pack makes the game more involved and adds an additional level of strategy, making each time we play the game unique from previous times.
(This one earns bonus points as a lightweight and compact camping board game since the board itself breaks into multiple pieces. The entire game fits in a ziplock bag which is less bulky to store, instead of making room to store the box that it comes in).
Note: You can’t play the board game with just this expansion pack – if you’d like to use the Cities and Knights Expansion, you’ll also need to own the original Settlers of Catan game.
Monopoly – a few hours
Monopoly is a classic board game that has fewer variables than Settlers of Catan, so it is more predictable for all 5 of us to play. It is also an easier game for younger kids, like our 9-year-old son, Ian.
Monopoly has been coming out with some variations on the original classic board game. One of our family’s favorites is Monopoly Cheater’s Edition.
Sushi Go! – 20-30 minutes
This is a card game of combinations … so many combinations that I (Adam) can get confused while playing it, which makes it less fun for me. But everyone else in our family loves Sushi Go! so much that the card game made it on all three of our boys’ lists.
UNO All Wild – 20-30 minutes
This is a fun variation on the classic UNO card game. UNO All Wild ended up being our youngest son Ian’s favorite camping card game.
Joel – age 14: An exciting card game (if not a bit unconventional)
1000 Blank White Cards game
Made with blank cards, the players start the game by writing out actions on 50-60 cards that all players then have to execute to play the game.
At the end of the game, you eliminate cards that didn’t work well and create new card ideas for the next round.
Zac – age 11: Group Games
Qwirkle – 20-30 minutes
Similar to Scrabble Tiles, this game includes a bag of tiles printed with six different shapes in a variety of six colors.
Set down tiles in different combinations in a row of either the same shape or color. Then add up the number of tiles you play on each turn for your earned points. If you make “Quirkle” – complete a full row of 6 tiles with the same color or shape – you win 12 bonus points.
Once all of the tiles are played, the player with the highest amount of points wins. We love this compact game because it can be played on any flat surface and doesn’t require a board.
We packed this game for our 7-month trip to Europe and played it multiple times while riding planes and trains there.
Sequence for kids – 20-30 minutes
Even though this game isn’t very compact – it includes a board and some plastic chips – we decided to make room for it in our limited RV storage space because our boys really enjoy it.
A player draws cards that match squares on the game board. Play a card in your hand by placing a chip on the matching square.
Play until you get 4 in a row – a sequence. Complete 2 sequences to win.
Tic-Tac-Toe – takes seconds
This is an economical and space-conscious game choice.
Sushi-Go! – 20-30 minutes
(See the description in Joel’s list above). Our boys can often be found playing this game together.
Zac’s favorite Camping Card Game:
SKIP-BO – 20-30 minutes
This game is a very simple card game with just a few rules and is simple enough that if you can count to 12, you can play.
This is one of the games we love so much that we packed it to entertain us in the airports, planes, and trains when we spent 7 months petsitting in Europe. Celine and I are also quick to grab the Skip-bo card game in the evening after the boys go to bed to play a few rounds together.
This card game takes just enough concentration to stay engaging but not enough to get in the way of conversation.
Ian – 9: Group Games
Uno Flip – 20-30 minutes
Like a classic game of UNO except all of the cards are 2 sided with a light side and a dark side.
When a flip card is played, everyone turns their hand of cards around, flips the main pile over, and continues with their new hand of cards – completely different from what they were holding before the flip.
Sushi-Go. 20-30 minutes
See? All three of our boys love this game. It’s great for big kids and adults!
Ono 99 – 20-30 minutes
A variation on Uno. When Ian told me about this one, his exact words were, “I can’t remember how you play it, but it’s hilarious.” How is that for a 9-year-old’s review?
Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza – 20-30 minutes
Like Sushi-Go, this one has too many combinations and variables for me to remember, so I just watch, but the boys all love this card game, complete with sounds and actions and (from what I can tell) a lot of table slapping.
Ian’s Favorite Card Game For Camping:
Uno All Wild – 10-20 minutes
This is a variation of UNO where all of the cards are wild cards. It’s a bit dizzying that you can have a whole handful of ‘skip-a-turn’ cards or ‘pick up 4’ cards, but the silliness is part of the appeal for our boys.
Usually, a round or two is enough and we’re ready to move on to something else, but for an UNO game lover, this variation is a lot of fun.
Things our boys like to do by themselves in the RV:
Yes, we love family time, but we also enjoy time to ourselves. And while we’re having a break from screens, it is good to enjoy some personal time. Here are things our boys enjoy doing on their own:
Joel – 13:
- Browse and organize his Pokemon card collection
- Solve his Rubik’s cube
- Read a book (Dog man comic book series is his favorite right now)
Zac – 11:
Ian – 9:
- Peg board game
- Self Tic-Tac-Toe (just regular tic tac toe, except Ian thinks it’s funny to get to choose if the X or the O wins)
- Reading Dog Man comic books
- Science experiment kits for kids
- Draw or color
What about Celine and I?
I’d be lying if I said we didn’t play with some of the boys’ games after they go to bed. Our go-to games are usually Skip-bo, Uno, or Quirkle.
They are family games after all – for kids and adults!
Camping Board Games we’ve considered
We have considered expanding our collection of games to include more camping-themed board games – not just board games that are good for adults or kids while camping.
Here are some that we’ve considered but haven’t played:
Having board games and card games on hand is one of our favorite RV Life Hacks. It allows us to have fun during our purposeful family time while traveling. Read about the 21 RV Life hacks every RVer should learn.