Whether by plane, train, or automobile, being in transit on your way out of town can be mind-numbingly boring depending on the length of travel time and the ease at which you are entertained. With that being said, we should all be thankful that we live in a world where stationary board games can be transformed into travel games by simply shrinking the pieces and stuffing them into portable sacks.
You may be asking, “But Steven, why do I need to pack a travel game when I can easily download fun apps on my smartphone?” My answer to that is twofold — first, because the most fun games like Words with Friends and Draw Something don’t work on airplanes (unless you keep your phone off airplane mode or pay for in-flight wifi, neither of which I recommend), and second, because I don’t think we should put too much trust in all these newfangled apparatuses lest we wish to one day be ruled by malevolent robot overlords.
But enough chatter about my distrust of technology — here are Travel Freak’s top ten travel games to play with a buddy on your journeys:
M.A.S.H. is not technically a travel game, but it makes this list because of how easy it is to take with you on the go — all you need to play this game of divination is a pen, some paper, and a little bit of imagination. The acronym stands for Mansion, Apartment, Shack or House, and when these living options are combined with categories like spouse, job, location, and number of children, the result is a fictional future for you or the person you’re playing with. If you never played M.A.S.H. in grade school against some bully who always stuck you in a shack married to the ugly Backstreet Boy, you can find out how to play on this site.
Anyone who knows what colors and numbers are can play Uno, which makes it the perfect game to bring on a solo trip to a country where you don’t speak the language. No more lonely nights in that hostel in Moscow playing solitaire if you pack Uno in your carry-on. All you have to do is make eye contact with the hip looking Russians in the common room and suggestively hold up a deck of Uno cards and a bottle of vodka, and you’ll be playing game after rousing game until the sun rises over the Kremlin.
Uno: breaking the language barrier, one “wild card” at a time.
World travelers will be especially interested in this game, which has roots dating back to ancient Ethiopia. You can even see centuries old Mancala boards carved into stone in Axum, the former capital of the once-great Aksumite Kingdom of Ethiopia. Hey, who knew a game that entails moving beads from one hole to another could be so riveting?
7. Old Maid
Full disclosure: I have absolutely no idea how to play Old Maid. Someone tried to teach me once on an 11-hour Amtrak ride to Montreal, but then the dining car opened and I got distracted by a surprisingly delicious microwaved cheeseburger. I may not have learned the rules, but that doesn’t mean you can’t — find out how to play the (surprisingly easy looking) card game here.
And if you need solid proof that Old Maid is a quality travel game, there’s an episode of Sex and the City titled “Luck Be an Old Lady” in which the game plays an integral role during the ladies’ bus trip to Atlantic City. If that doesn’t make you want to run out and buy a deck of cards, I don’t know what will.
6. Trivial Pursuit Singles
Let’s face it, avid travelers can be real know-it-alls. I mean, we’ve been everywhere and seen so much that we naturally know more than everyone else, right? That’s why this pared-down version of Trivial Pursuit is a great option for the gamer on the go. The bulky board has been removed, and the best part is that each pack contains only one of the six classic Trivial Pursuit topics so you can select your strongest subject and show off to whoever has the misfortune of sitting next to you on the plane.
Go on to the next page to see the top 5 travel games!