“Mom, are we there, yet! Mom. Mom … MOM! I’m bored!” Any parent that has been brave enough to venture out on a vacation with his or her children and spouse in tow should recognize the cry of a bored child. Yes, vacations can be great and a wonderful way to make memories, but you have to survive getting to your destination without wanting to strangle the kids (a la Homer Simpson) to make those memories. Technology to the rescue! Gone are the days of parents shrinking in embarrassment when a child’s boredom led to cries for entertainment aboard a fully packed airplane.
Not only is technology here to help, it’s now portable! There are loads of games that can be played on the mobile phone or tablet that are easy to learn and family friendly. All of them can be played with the Internet disconnected and airplane mode turned on.
1. Carcassonne ($4.99 Android and $9.99 Apple)
One of the most popular tile-based board games, Carcassonne is available for mobile devices. You score points by connecting features such as castles, roads, and fields. This game requires a bit of strategy and creativity to win. Carcassonne has a number of paid expansions which add depth and diversity to the game. It is easy to pass and play while sitting in tiny economy class seats with up to six players.
You can download the app from CarcassonneApp.com.
Read the next page to find out about a travel-themed travel game.
2. Ticket To Ride ($6.99 Android and $6.99 Apple)
Not only is this a fun travel game, it is a fun game about travel! This is a game of building rail lines to connect cities to earn points. Each player is assigned destinations that they must complete. The rules are fairly simple, but games can last awhile, providing good entertainment on long flights. Additionally, up to five human players can play on one device, ensuring the whole family can enjoy together. The main game is a map of the United States, however, in-app purchases are available to unlock other destinations, such as Europe, Asia, the Nordic countries, and India.
Next up, a modern take on a classic game.
3. Battleships Fleet Battle (Free Android and Free Apple)
Fleet Battle is a modern version of the classic Battleship board game. While there are a number of Battleship apps available on the market, Fleet Battle is very well done with smooth, crisp, clean graphics and a well-supported multiplayer platform. This is a great game for younger children as the concept is very simple and replayability is very high. It does include an in-app purchase of $2.99 to remove ads. The only downside is that Fleet Battle is a two player max game.
Next, a personal favorite.
4. Kingdom Builder ($2.99 Android and $2.99 Apple)
One of my favorite board games of all time makes for a great way to pass the time while flying. Even my wife and I like playing Kingdom Builder on flights. The concept is to place your kingdom tokens down on a randomly generated map to maximize point values. Each game has randomly drawn rules for gaining points, such as connecting castles, placing them adjacent to water, or creating large clusters of your game tokens. Games can go by quickly, but with every board being different and ways of scoring changing, this is a game with extremely high replayability. Kingdom Builder supports up to four players at once.
Last, but not least…
5. Small World 2 ($6.99 Android and $6.99 Apple)
This is the sequel to the wildly successful Small World board game which has won several awards. It is perhaps the most complicated of the games listed, but provides a lot of fun and strategy. Each player takes on the role of a race (such as humans, wizards, orcs, etc.) that have special powers. Some of these powers give you extra points or abilities. You then attempt to conquer each other on a map. However, at any turn you can decided to abandon your race and switch to a new one. The game is basically about managing your rise and decline. Up to five players can play at once on one device.
You can download the app from here.
Each family has its favorite games to play while traveling. It is better to try one of these apps out on your phone or tablet than to have each member quietly be antisocial for the whole trip. At the very least, I hope that these games can help distract you from the fact that you are in a tiny pressurized tube for several more hours. If nothing else, it is more civil than having your fellow passengers hear the shrieks of your child!
What mobile games does your family like playing while flying?