The Best Board Games to Play When Travelling
Here at NZ Pocket Guide, we are a bit nerdy. We love board games, especially when travelling around New Zealand. There is nothing like bringing people together in a holiday park, campsite or hostel with a board game. Travel games are a fun way to break the ice when meeting complete strangers from another country.
So in this list, we will go over the best travel board games that are available this year and beyond. Our main criteria for this list of the best travel board games is that they should pack as much fun as possible in a package as small as possible. That way, you still have plenty of luggage space for that rain jacket that we keep recommending for you to pack.
For more tips on things to pack, check out What Clothes to Pack to Backpack in New Zealand and What to Pack in Your Carry-On for New Zealand. We also have a ton of articles in our Gear & Packing Lists category with more advice.
1. Archeology: The New Expedition
This set collection game is quite simple. There is a bunch of cards in the middle of the table and all cards have a numbered value. On your turn, you will get to pick a card and exchange as many cards from your hand as you want with cards in the middle that totals the same value. Why? You are trying to create sets that will make your museum the best of all. You can hold onto valuable cards to be able to do better exchange later but there are storms and thieves around that could make you lose them all! Or you can fill your museum with pot chards and ensure a low but steady point count. There are multiple variants in the game that make it replayable again and again and again… A sure bet if you ask us!
Check Archeology: The New Expedition out!
2. The Mind
A fantastic travel game and an even better social game, The Mind is a co-operative game where you win or lose together. The game contains 100 cards numbered one to 100. Every player gets a set number of cards each round and has to play them on the board in ascending order. You work together to empty your hands of cards and move onto the next level. If at any point somebody plays a card lower than what you have on hand, your whole team loses a life “rabbit”. Lose all your life rabbits; lose the game. There’s one catch though: nobody can speak. You are just waiting, as if in a Western shootout, to see if somebody will place something. No, nobody, sure? Ok, I will place my 12 then… Suddenly somebody comes rushing with a 13 not wanting to be beaten by Laura that has a 16 in hand, while Robin relaxes in the corner as he has a 78 on hand and just wait his moment to strike. It is tense yet fun and gets your “minds” in synch like no other game.
Check The Mind out!
The concept is very simple: you are trying to create the best fireworks display by arranging cards in coloured suits and ascending numbers. Simple right? What if I told you that you did not have the right to look at your cards?! That’s right, this game is a co-operative game in which you win together or you lose together. Using only a selected number of clues, you need to guide your teammates to play the correct card on their turn. If they play a card that did not fit in any suit, the fireworks get ever closer to being fired incomplete! Trying to get maximum score together is incredibly hard but a ton of fun, after a couple of games you’ll learn to read the stressed eye-twitches on your teammates faces more than any verbal clue.
Check Hanabi out!
4. Zombie Dice
This classic dice-chucking game asks you to roll dice three by three. For every “brain” you roll, you get a point. For every “footstep”, you get a reroll. For every “shotgun”, you get closer to losing it all. Roll more dice or stop while you are ahead: it’s your choice. If you ever get three shotgun blasts, you lose all the points you accumulated in the round. If you choose to stop, you get to keep the points. The first person to get 13 points win. Yahtzee-style dice throwing is universal and it is an incredibly fun game to play over a few evening drinks.
Check Zombie Dice out!
5. Cinko Linko
This game is so travel-friendly that it comes with a carabiner! Each player is given a set of coloured squares that can be played on the table/floor/matt. They must be played horizontally one to another or vertically one to another. The first person to link five of them horizontally, vertically or diagonally wins. But wait! If nobody succeeded once the players run out of squares (which happens often) each player gets to pick one of their squares and replace it elsewhere on the board. So, will you remove a token that will create an opening for your opponent? Will you place your token to block the next player from winning? Or will you place it to further your own path to victory? The concept is simple but the execution is… Well, you’ll see!
Check Cinko Linko out!
6. For Sale
It’s the better version of Monopoly! In this super small box, you will find two sets of cards and a set of money tokens. The game has two phases. In Phase One, you will need to bid money to buy the best properties possible. In Phase Two, you will need to bid/sell those properties for the most amount of money possible. At the end of the game, you count all your earnings and the winner is the player with the most money. It takes about 15 minutes to play the whole game but it will take you a while to master it. Plus, buying and selling houses is kind of universal so the theme isn’t hard to understand.
Check For Sale out!
7. Love Letter
Admittedly, this is the one game on our list that we have played the most. This game comes in a ton of flavours, from Marvel to Munchkin. What’s more, it is the smallest game on our list with under 20 cards! In this game, you are trying to gain the favours of the princess by scheming around the castle’s court. You are given one card that has a special power written on it and a “value” in the top left corner. On your turn, pick one extra card and choose one of these two cards to play. Use this power, for instance, “get one player to compare cards with you, the smaller card is out”. The last person standing wins the round. Or, if more than one player stands at the end of the round, the highest value wins. The rules are on the cards so the game requires no teaching time, and each round takes only three minutes. We’ve taught it to hundreds of people!
Check Love Letter out!
8. Sushi Go!
This party game is the smaller version of the game Sushi Go! Party – great to take with you on-the-go. In this game, you need to create the perfect sushi menu by picking a card from your hand and placing it in your menu. The trick is that you then have to pass your hand to the player on your left and receive your new hand from the player on your right. In short, the hands of cards constantly rotate. This means that what you pick to place in front of you is as important as what you are choosing to pass to the next player, as you may just give them the card they’ve been waiting for. Get the best combination of cards to get the most points and win the round! It’s super cute, perfectly themed, and most important of all, easy to teach.
Check Sushi Go! out!
9. Struggle for Catan
If you have ever heard anything about the board gaming culture, you probably have heard about Catan. This card version of the cult classic works pretty much the same than normal Catan in which you have to gather or trade resources to build your settlement and reach a certain point threshold first to claim victory. It is a cheap game that will scratch the “gamers’ itch” for many hours.
Check Struggle for Catan out!
Illusion comes in a very small box so it is easy to carry, but it is also a really great travel card game. There is a thick deck of cards in the box, each card having different shapes and colours. The game is to arrange the cards one-by-one depending on the percentage of a particular colour on it. So what do you think: does this card has 15% of red on it or 17% or red on it? And is that more or less than the previous card? Or do you think that somebody before you made a mistake and want to call them out? It is super simple, not language dependent at all, and really tricky to master. All in all, it’s a travel game that’s a lot of fun!
Check Illusion out!