Best Travel Board Games

Best Travel Board Games!

My last “non-travel” travel blog was about travel films.

For this one, I thought I would combine travelling with one of my other favourite hobbies… board games! Woohoo!

To be considered for the best travel board games blog, games obviously had to be fairly light and compact. I am also assuming that in most cases you will want to hack the boxes in order to save space.

Traditional Games

I don’t want to write a lot about traditional games like Backgammon, Ludo, Chess and Dominoes since they are universally known. However, spending some time to learn these games will take you a long way on your travels.

Whether it’s playing an impromptu game of Ludo in Nigeria, getting beaten at Chess by a 12 year old Russian on the Trans-Siberian Railroad or slamming down dominoes over tea and a water pipe in Egypt, these games turn up everywhere and will easily make you new friends if you are mildly competent at them.

Ludo is a popular board game in Nigeria. It is one of the best travel board games to learn so you can join in a game anywhere.

No Thanks! / Phase 10 / Skip-Bo / UNO

I am including these together as they are fairly interchangeable. They are quite mainstream, but you can usually find them at the airport when you inevitably forget your other games.

All light card games, one of these usually gets thrown in the bottom of our bag as they are fun with a high degree of replayability. They are also really easy to teach to other travellers you meet along the way.

Another epic session of UNO.  Somewhere in India.

Oink Games

Oink Games is a Japanese board game publisher known for their ability to cram surprisingly engaging games into ridiculously tiny boxes. Perfect for trips where you move around a lot and need to travel light.

Some of my more popular ones are Deep Sea Adventure, A Fake Artist Goes to New York, Modern Art, Startups and Insider. However with over 30 titles in their catalogue, they will definitely have a game to suit anyone’s taste.

A deck of cards

No, it’s not exciting, but a deck of cards goes a long way in this world and are a universal language that needs no translation. I can’t imagine how many games of “shithead” I’ve played in hostels around the world.

However double-check on countries like Thailand, Korea, Italy (yes, Italy), Brazil, Saudi Arabia and Iran which may have some bizarre restrictions on their import.

Social Games

This section is focused on lighter/sillier games that are good with a few drinks in the common room of a hostel or guesthouse.

Super Rhino – easier to carry than Jenga and much more fun when you are drunk.

The Mind – you will either love or hate this co-operative game about silently reading the other players minds. Good to drink with and easy to explain the rules – for a game without talking it’s a good laugh. And perfect for travellers you meet that do not speak English.

Exploding Kittens – a silly but fun card game.

Sushi Go – is a popular card drafting game with a fun theme.

Codenames – while not my favourite style of game, this “party game” can be played with up to 8 people and is a fun way to include larger groups of people. However, it’s a bit tougher to play with people who speak English as a second language.

Bang! The Dice Game – a light bluffing game about shooting people that handles up to 8 people.

Goodcritters – an update of the out-of-print German game Tiefe Taschen, this bluffing/negotiation/voting game for up to 8 people is a good way to turn your new friends into enemies for life.

A game of Ludo in a cafe in Lahore, Pakistan.

Board / Card Games

Love Letter – is a popular card based deduction game that takes up very little room.

Mint Works – I really like this clever worker placement game. And it literally fits in a mint box. Amazing.

Gloom – this beautifully designed game with a gothic theme uses a unique system of layering cards to modify players abilities.

Oh My Goods / Port Royal – I’m including these together because are similar and offer different mechanics such as collecting sets and pushing your luck.

Eight-Minute Empire – as the title suggests, a quick and impressively tiny game which includes building your empire and conquering land.

Tiny Epic Series – is an entire series of different games offering a wide variety of themes in small boxes.

2-Player Games

If Twilight Struggle won’t fit in your bag, maybe check out the following:

Patchwork – this is one of my all time favourite games in which 2 players compete over piecing together a patchwork quilt. It takes up a bit more room, so might be only useful on single destination trips.

That’s Pretty Clever – this works well with 2 players and is recommended if you are tired of endlessly playing Yathzee.

7 Wonders Duel – this a decent 2 player version of the popular card drafting game 7 Wonders.

Fox in the Forest – with beautiful artwork, this clever trick taking game is great for 2 players.

Mountaintop game of Carrom somewhere near Darjeeling, India.

Bonus Games

Still looking for more of the best travel board games? These games are a little bit bigger or more involved, but if you are looking for something different, maybe give them a try. I will try to add future recommendations here.

Splendor – this game is really easy to teach and yet strategic enough to players of different experience interested. And another which requres no translation.

Settlers of Catan Travel Edition – still quite big for a “travel edition” it is a decent size if you are on a holiday where you are not relocating a lot.

One of the oldest board games in the world.  The Egyptian board game of "Senet" thought to be at least 5000 years old.  From the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Clarifications / Tips

  • Do not be afraid to hack boxes to reduce size.
  • I generally dislike social deduction games, so no Avalon, Resistance, Coup, Werewolf, etc.
  • If you throw in 5 dice you can easily play Yahtzee.
  • If you enjoy Chess, you may like to bring along Hive or Ingenious. They are all quite light, but pack a big punch.
  • Be careful on bringing certain games to Saudi Arabia or Iran as they may be prohibited if they are considered “gambling”.
Chess is big in Nigeria.


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