Recently, I returned from a trip and now that I’m back home I want to spend my time doing one of my favorite things – playing board games. As you could guess, the idea for this post was born during a board game night, while discussing with my friends what are the best card and board games that are travel-friendly and compact enough to put in your backpack.
Even if you aren’t a hardcore board gamer, bringing a card game on your vacation can bring the whole family together for some laughter and bonding time. If you are traveling with children, most games are kid-friendly and a great way to entertain them.
So, I wanted to share some games I’ve played in the past that I recommend and are compact enough to take with you on your travels.
The 2019 List of the Best Compact Travel Games
This game is awesome! It’s such an easy, entertaining quick game to play with friends when traveling or just hanging out. The Resistance: Avalon is a game of deception, acting, and manipulation. As the name suggests, it’s based on King Arthur and the Knights of the roundtable. Depending on the number of players, at random, some will work for the good guys, alongside Merlin, and others will be the bad ones – Mordred, Assassins, and Morgana. The dedicated knights are sent on quests they need to accomplish as they try to protect Merlin from the unknown evil guys. Meanwhile, the rest will do their best to sabotage the quests and/or take out Merlin.
The cards are packed in a small compact box that would fit in any bag.
Players: 5–10 | Time: 20-30 Minutes | Age: 13+ | Complexity: Easy
Based on the French Revolution, and execution of nobles/prisoners using a guillotine, this card game brings deception and competition among friends to another level. The French nobles’ line up each day for three days (three turns) at the guillotine and players get a turn to behead each unfavorable one of them.
Each noble carries a certain amount of points, and the player with the most points after day 3 ends wins. The game also has actions cards, to help you gain more points or cause another player to lose some.
It’s an easy and quick game. It’s usually played at parties, but why not have fun beheading nobles on your trip as well?
Players: 2–5 | Time: 30 Minutes | Age: 12+ | Complexity: Easy
3. Zombie Dice
This is a fast-paced game played with 13 specially designed dice. Each player rolls three randomly drawn dice at a time to collect the most human “brains,” while trying to avoid “shotgun blasts” that will end his turn. A player wins with a score of 13 brains or more collected in the last round.
Players: 2–99 | Time: 10-20 Minutes | Age: 10+ | Complexity: Easy
This is the famous game that everyone plays at parties. It’s a fun and lighthearted game for people that don’t get offended easily. Using cards, the players answer a question given by the “Card Czar” by using a card from their hand. The “Card Czar” chooses the funniest answer and the player that submitted the chosen card gets an “Awesome Point.” The game continues until all players choose to stop or if a number of points that were agreed upon prior the start of the game are reached. The game has endless possibilities. Some can be funny, horrible, and even disgusting, but it’s certainly worth the play if you’re into endless laughing.
Of course, the player with the most points wins.
Players: 4–30 | Time: 30 Minutes | Age: 17+ | Complexity: Easy
A fast playing game, where each player has a role assigned randomly to them. Some of the characters featured include Werewolf, Troublemaker, Seer, Peasant, Drunk and Hunter, as well as many other characters. The game is won by lynching one werewolf.
With manipulation, the werewolves should convince the players they are someone else as they try to stay alive until the end and win the game. It’s a great, fast game that always has a different outcome. Not a single round is the same as the other ones, which makes it similar to the previously mentioned game The Resistance: Avalon.
Players: 3–10 | Time: 10 Minutes | Age: 8+ | Complexity: Easy
Dixit’s main goal is guessing the card the storyteller of the turn has given to the players in a clue of a sentence, sound or literally anything else. The players pick a card from the cards in their hand based on a sentence given by the storyteller, who also picks a card. The cards are shuffled randomly, the players vote on the cards, and if all players or no players guess the storyteller’s card, the storyteller gets a score of 0. Otherwise, the players that guess the card and the storyteller get 3 points each. Whoever gets to 30 points wins or if the deck of cards is finished the player with the most points win.
Players: 3–6 | Time: 30 Minutes | Age: 6+ | Complexity: Easy
7. Love Letter
It’s a quick-paced game of getting your love letter to Princess Annette before the other competing suiters. Depending on cards in your hand, you may get powerful gains and closer to getting the letter in the Princess’s hands. However, they can also backfire and make you the target of sabotage by the other gentlemen suitors.
Players: 2–4 | Time: 20 Minutes | Age: 8+ | Complexity: Easy
Yahtzee is a classic dice game that can help you kill an hour or two wherever you are; the only thing you need for a round of Yahtzee are six dice, a piece of paper per player and a pen. The game can be fast-paced or semi-slow, depending on the players. However, it has pretty simple rules that include rolling dice and filling out fields on the personal scoresheet.
The objective of the game is to collect more points than your opponents after all fields on all players’ scoresheets are filled. Even though this dice game is mainly a one that relies on players’ luck, it also requires a good strategy too for those that plan to win.
Players: 2+ | Time: 10+ | Age: 8+ | Complexity: Medium
9. Mint Works
Mint Works is one of my latest picks when it comes to the best travel board games! I recently discovered it with my friends, and we absolutely love playing it! So, basically, the game is incredibly compact and includes smaller-than standard cards as well as wooden tokens that look like mints. Some cards let you complete actions, while others give you cash. Some cards represent buildings, which give you various benefits throughout the game. Even though simple and fast, Mint Works is a very challenging and engaging card game. Plus, it fits everywhere. Like, you can carry it in your pocket. Highly recommended!
Players: 1-4 | Time: 10-20 | Age: 13+ | Complexity: Low
Not everyone would agree, but we played Carcassone at a beach bar, so I say it belongs among compact games for travel. Carcassone includes a point-tracker, meeples, and small tiles. Players randomly pick a tile and place them strategically. They also get to place the meeples on their tiles, creating farmers, knights or thieves. Despite having quite simple rules and a relatively short playtime, Carcassone is a classic game that demands a good playing strategy. The box is unnecessarily large, so you can ditch it for a smaller one and take the game on your travel adventures.
Players: 2-5 | Time: 20-50 | Age: 8+ | Complexity: Low
11. Family Business
Family Business is yet another card game that can be considered a mini board game. In this interesting pick, every player chooses their own mafia family. The point is to be the last family who survives all kinds of shootouts, intrigues and back stabs. Since it’s a card game, you won’t need too much space to play it. Just make sure that it’s not windy outside because you may end up running around trying to get your cards back.
Players: 2-6 | Time: 30-40 | Age: 8+ | Complexity: Low
Of course, I have to mention Exploding Kittens when writing about the best pocket board games. This fast-paced and thrilling game will make you hysterically laugh or go crazy angry. You try to sabotage your friends by stealing their cards or setting them up by making them draw the Exploding Kitten cards. They’ll try to do the same and the interesting cards give them the perfect tools to accomplish their mission. Exploding Kitten sessions are exciting till the very end, which is the main reason why the game has a cult following. Check out the Party Pack if you have more than 5 players.
Players: 2-5 | Time: 10-20 | Age: 7+ | Complexity: Low
I hoped you found my list of travel games that are informative and helpful. As you can see the games are not only compact, but pretty inexpensive as well. Some of them are on this Holiday’s Toy list for Christmas on Amazon, so they might just be the perfect gift.
Do you have any travel games that are travel-friendly to share with us?