There’s an old saying that getting there is half the fun. That’s true if you are hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. But what if you’re on a plane with nothing to see but clouds? Or stuck in traffic on a freeway? Not much fun. For those times, you might want something to distract and entertain you. We looked at dozens of new toys, games and activities, and selected a handful that are easy to pack for your summer travels. We can’t guarantee that playing with them will provide half the fun of your vacation, but it would definitely be better than staring at clouds.
Do you like to figure out how things fit together? These two palm-size games will have you puzzling for hours. Kanoodle Gravity (Educational Insights, $17.99) includes 10 colored pieces that stack up in a vertical board. Pick from 40 challenges that get increasingly difficult. The board, with colored blocks inside, snaps into a tray for storage, so the game fits easily into a seat pocket or suitcase.
Future space travelers can navigate through an asteroid field in Asteroid Escape (SmartGames, $14.99). Pick a challenge and arrange the spaceship and seven squares with asteroids on the board. Use the one open space to maneuver the ship off the game board. It’s no easy task with those pesky asteroids in the way.
If you like cube games but are looking for something more creative, try Shashibo (Fun in Motion Toys, $19.99). This three-inch cube, which is held together with magnets, has a pattern on the outside and three on the inside. With twists and turns, you can form 70 geometric designs.
Building sets aren’t always a good choice for taking on a trip. But Lego has several sets that make it easy to keep the little pieces from getting lost. The Friends Heart Box ($7.99) features one girl and accessories related to something she likes to do (play guitar, go camping). The pieces fit inside a heart-shaped box that also must be assembled. There are five sets, with about 85 pieces each, and all five stack together.
Travelers who have more room should check out two new “Lego Movie 2” sets. Emmet’s Builder Box and Lucy’s Builder Box (Lego, $29.99 each) include about 130 pieces and instructions to build three small models. Everything fits inside plastic mini briefcases with room to bring along a few other mini figures.
Card games and summer vacations went together even before Grandma was little. She probably played Go Fish and Old Maid. You might want something less traditional. Not Parent Approved ($24.99) definitely fits the bill. It’s a fill-in-the-blank game — with the focus on awkward moments and toilet humor. The game starts with a burp contest to see who will read the cards (the Burp Boss). Players use cards in their hand to respond to statements such as “My sister is most annoying when she is . . .” The Burp Boss determines which answers win points. The game is for four to 10 players — maybe even Grandma. It’s your call as to whether she would want to be a Burp Boss. (Correction: An earlier version of this story listed the price of the game at $19.99. )
If vacation means leaving your beloved pet back home, bring along Rescue Runts Babies (KD Kids, $9.99). The small plush animals are supposed to come straight from a pretend rescue organization. The dogs, cats and wild animals look scruffy at first, but new owners can brush their fur, add a ribbon collar and turn their crate into a little house or carrier. Certainly they won’t take the place of Bailey the beagle or Sadie the Siamese, but they’ll give you a furry friend for the ride.