Are there any better childhood memories than playing board games with your family?
Going camping and playing cards by torchlight? We love playing games as a family, both at home and when we’re away. And whenever we’re travelling, I always have a pack of cards with me, ready to whip out if things get a little slow. Our collection of travelling card and board games have gotten us through many plane delays, long journeys, and rainy days!
And I’m sure we’re not the only ones who love a good game night. So we’ve put together this list of the best board games for travel so that you can stock up on a few good ones before heading off on your trips.
We’ve got some classic but travel-size board games on our list, some that are new twists on old favourites and some that are brand new to the market.
We’ve got educational games that will help your children with life skills like forward planning and strategic thinking, some that are just silly, and at least one that’s rather disgusting. But they’re all family-friendly and great to play with your kids or with friends on vacation. We hope you find a few that will help keep your family entertained, off their screens, and making family vacation memories!
What You'll Find in This Post
- Best Small Travel Board Games
- Best Tile And Dice Games
- Best Small Card Games
Best Small Travel Board Games
Starting with a classic. Chess is a brilliant game to begin playing at a young age; it’s a life skill that will help children learn patience and develop cognitive reasoning. And what better time to learn than when you’re on vacation with plenty of spare time?
This set is perfect for your travels. It’s magnetic, allowing for play on the road without worry about losing pieces. And the board folds up to save space while keeping the game pieces safe. Also, this is a 3-in-1 mini travel game set with Checkers and Backgammon included, two equally classic board games that every child should learn to play!
The ultimate strategy, deduction, and guessing board game that is a classic for a reason! Arrange your fleet as safely as possible, then try to sink your opponent’s ships before they can sink yours!
This travel set has two battleship stations. Each closes up tight to keep playing pieces safe and unfolds to form a privacy shield against your opponent. Pegs and ships slot tightly into the holes in the board to allow for play while travelling without worry about pieces falling over or rolling away.
Unlike most games on our list, this one is not competitive but a cooperative game where all players must work together to succeed. Children will have to learn about teamwork and make strategic choices and sacrifices to win this game.
However, all they’ll probably notice is that they’re on a treasure-hunting adventure! The game includes cards, tokens and figurines, and is played on any flat surface rather than a board. It’s packed into a tin case which is a little larger than ideal when you’re on the move, but Amazon sells a board game travel case for those who want something more compact.
This travel-sized version of the classic Trouble game includes the signature Pop-o-Matic dice roller, which is fun for kids to use and stops your dice from getting lost. Once the players have finished racing their tokens around the board, the lid slots back onto the board. All the pieces remain securely inside for easy storage.
5. Connect Four
One of the simplest and best board games for travelling is Connect Four. Get your children planning ahead and weighing their options as they try to beat you at this family favourite game. This travel version has a lightweight board that folds away neatly and stores the counters inside for safekeeping.
6. Where to?
What better activity is there on vacation than playing games about travelling the world? This game lets little travellers learn world geography and explore 50 destinations as they test their luck and make memories in order to win. The board folds in quarters and packs into a thin box to easily travel with you to your next destination.
Best Tile And Dice Games
We can’t have a list of games without including scrabble, and this is an excellent travel version of the classic game. The case is compact and has handy features for travelling, the tiles clip into the board securely and the tile racks have privacy shields and lids to enable you to stop mid-game without losing your place. Perfect for word games on the go.
A brilliant scrabble-esque word game that is perfect for travel as it requires no board, no pen or pencil, just a table or flat surface. Players race to create as many words as possible with their tiles, with no waiting to take turns or structured score-taking slowing them down. Frantic but educational, this fun game comes packed in a soft banana-shaped bag that is perfect for travel.
A bright, colourful game that encourages logic and strategic thinking as players plan out their moves to maximize points. The tiles are embossed with different shapes and colours and must be laid next to other tiles with the same shape or colour. Points are scored for each tile laid and extra points for completed lines or ‘Quirkles’.
The travel edition comes in a soft squashy bag perfect for travelling and doesn’t require a board to play on. You just need a pen and paper for scorekeeping.
10. Hive Pocket
This award-winning strategy game consists of 22 tiles, 11 white and 11 black embossed with different insects and each with a unique way of moving – as in chess. The aim of the game is to surround your opponent’s Queen while protecting your own. This game is competitive and highly addictive.
It requires no game board, pen or paper, only a flat surface on which to place the tiles, and comes in a soft cloth bag perfect for travel. Both the classic and pocket editions of Smart Zone Games Hive are portable, but the pocket set has two additional insect tiles that expand the game. Reviews praise this game as being a brilliant intro to chess.
11. Pass The Pigs
One of the easiest travel games for kids is this simple but enjoyable game where players roll two pigs as though they were dice. Points are scored for how the pigs land, for example, on their backs or balanced on their noses.
The game comes with a plastic dice cup to help roll the pigs and a lid so you can keep the pigs, scorecards, rules and pencil together when not playing. The game takes up very little space to store or to play as you only need a small surface on which to roll the pigs.
12. Catan Dice Game
The popular travel-themed board games series, Catan, is not great when you’re on the move because it’s a card game with a board and many pieces, and it comes in a bulky box. But not to worry, the Catan dice game is a small, lightweight and portable way to enjoy the adventure.
The game consists of 6 colourful dice, which are rolled to help you discover and explore the world and a pad of maps on which players can record their scores. One person can also play this game, so it’s a great option for solitary strategic thinkers and beginner world builders.
Best Small Card Games
13. Playing Cards
A must-have on any trip is just a regular deck of playing cards. You can entertain a whole family for hours and hours with unlimited games suitable for everyone. From snap and rummy for little ones to poker and blackjack for teens and solitaire for quiet afternoons.
One of our top travel tips is always to pack a deck of cards and keep it near to hand at all times! A basic deck is easy to find and won’t cost you much, but this one is waterproof and comes in a plastic case which is ideal to stop cards from getting too battered in transit.
An absolute classic of a family card game, the object is to get rid of all your cards while making others pick up as many as possible. Who doesn’t remember the evil joy of hitting their sibling with a ‘pick up 4’ card? This game is the size of a standard pack of cards and does not require a board or even a flat surface. UNO is perfect for travelling and easy to pick up and play.
The game comes in an astounding array of editions, including ones with customizable wild cards for adding your own rules, themed decks based on your child’s favourite books and characters and My First UNO sets suitable for children as young as 3.
15. Monopoly Deal
One of the best things to happen to the game industry in years, Monopoly Deal is extremely popular and for good reason. The classic board game has been reimagined here with the money, properties, action and chance cards now represented on playing cards. The aim of the game is to collect three complete sets of properties (fairly or by taking them from other players) without going bankrupt.
Games can be as quick as 15 minutes and all you need is the cards and a table on which to play. There’s no faffing around with paper money, bankers, tokens or boards. This is one of the best travel card games around; it has all the enjoyable elements of classic Monopoly without any of the fiddly bits or hours-long game time.
This was one of the card games we took with us then we travelled fulltime for 1 year.
Another reimagined classic here is Clue without the need for a board. Instead, the classic mystery game is played with a deck of cards featuring murder weapons, locations and all the recognizable characters from the original game. Players ask each other questions as they race to solve the murder mystery.
Children will enjoy playing the detective as they try to deduce the killer. Again, all that’s needed for play is the cards and a table or flat surface.
17. Pictionary Cards
One more classic transformed for travel. Mattel Games Pictionary Cards is Pictionary like you’ve never played it before. Instead of drawing, teams race to act out their clues using charades and the simple clue cards contained in the pack.
A fun, energetic game for all the family, that only requires the cards and enough space to act your heart out.
One of the favourite card games in our family, this raucous, fast-paced game is fun for all ages. Every card in the round deck has several pictures on it – a snowflake, a carrot, a crescent moon etc, and each card shares at least one picture with every other card in the deck.
Players try to match the cards in their hands to the cards on the table, shouting out the matching picture as they do so and collecting as many cards as possible.
The game is simple enough to play, but matches can be surprisingly tricky to spot, and as players race to collect cards, it all gets rather loud and frantic. At least it does in our house, which is why we think it is one of the best games to play on vacation with friends.
Another game that sounds so simple but takes more skill than you’d think. A fun take on snap, this game consists of cards featuring a taco, a cat, a goat, cheese or pizza. Players turn over their cards without looking at them and lay them in the middle saying “taco”, “cat”, “goat”, “cheese”, “pizza” in turn as they do so.
A snap is made, not when two cards match but when the person lays a card that is the same as the word they’ve just said. If you’re the last one to make the snap, forget what you’re doing, say the wrong word or get too confused, you lose and have to pick up the cards.
This is easy, silly, fun that you can play anywhere and that we think is suitable for kids younger than the 8 years recommended age.
20. Taco vs Burrito
A strangely addictive game where players compete to create the weirdest meal possible for points. At any time their meal might get thwarted by a tummy ache or a health inspector. Another player might steal their cards or challenge them to a food fight!
The gameplay is quick and unpredictable to keep everyone engaged. This game was created by a 7-year-old and achieved rapid funding on Kickstarter to become the wildly popular, award-winning game it is today.
21. Poo Pocalypse
If your kids are all about toilet humour and you enjoy giggling at endless fart jokes, then this is the game for you. It is a surprisingly strategic card game where players fight it out to become The Poo King while dodging Crap Attacks from other players.
The game consists of a deck of cards each featuring a creatively named poo character and you need only a table – and a good sense of humour – to play.
22. Love Letter
If your family is more into princesses than poop, try this one. A ruthless game of deduction, risk and luck as players battle it out to win the trust of the princess. The goal is to be the first one to deliver your love letter to the princess while stopping others from delivering theirs.
The game includes cards and tokens in a soft bag perfect for taking away with you. In the new edition of the game, the artwork and back story has been modernized and there is a slightly more diverse cast of characters. The new set also allows for six players compared to four in the old version.
The family-friendly version of the Cards Against Humanity classic. This hilarious party game sticks to the question and answer model of play with players competing to have the funniest answer in each round. The game is designed for children of 10 years plus.
The manufacturers are clear that the cards contain ‘age-appropriate toilet humour’ and ‘layers of innuendo’ intended to keep the parents amused. So any parents who are worried about inappropriate content should read the cards beforehand and remove any they don’t approve of. If your family loves it, check out the various expansion packs available to keep the fun going.
24. Jungle Speed
Not quite a board game but more than a card game. This fast-paced, addictive game is brilliant fun, easy to play and might lead to some (good-natured) family fights. The cards, featuring different combinations of patterns and colours, are dealt out to the players.
Each player turns a card over in turn, and when two cards match, the two players whose cards they are must try to grab the totem pole from the middle of the table. The winner is the one who’s quickest – or strongest – and the loser must pick up all the cards.
The game packs away small into a soft bag and is a perfect easy to learn, fun to play, game for travelling.
Hopefully, you’ve found one or two games on this list that sound fun enough to keep your family entertained and engaged for a few hours – or days in case of bad weather! We hope everyone gets involved and play doesn’t get too competitive, happy travelling and happy gaming!
Do you have any favourite travel games that we missed?