I love traveling and I love board games. Perfect combination, right?
Whether you’re on a plane, stuck in the DMV, or out enjoying a nice day, there’s always time for a board game.
That doesn’t mean you need to carry around an entire backpack full of big-box games. Some games are perfectly suited to travel, and can even fit into your pocket (you too, ladies).
Let’s check out some of the best travel board games that you can always take with you!
🏆 Our Top Picks
In a hurry? Check out our favorites below.
Best Pub Game
#1. Tiny Epic Galaxies (or any Tiny Epic)
Honestly, any of the Tiny Epic series deserves a spot on this list.
Each one uses a different set of mechanics and themes and comes in a tiny box (usually with cool-looking meeples).
The amazing thing about these games is that even though they’re all designed to be very compact, each one has a ton of gameplay.
They’re constantly putting out new games and you’re bound to find something you like that easily fits in a backpack.
Tiny Epic Galaxies is one of my favorites, and they manage to put an entire galactic conquest game into a handful of cards.
Your spies are hidden throughout the area and it’s up to you and your team to successfully recover them from the field!
Codenames is an easy-to-learn party game in which players try to locate their team’s hidden spies on the board, without accidentally hitting a civilian or an assassin.
It’s primarily a word game where one player gives simple hints to try and guide their team to the correct card on the board.
#3. Secret Hitler
Political ramifications aside, Secret Hitler is one of the most popular social deduction games out there. It cautions players about the seemingly quick rise of fascism and the comments on the political systems that allow it to rise. It’s mostly lying and screaming at your friends, though.
Secret Hitler is a ton of fun and can fit into a very small package. You could probably just take the whole game and fit it into an envelope if you wanted to travel light.
There’s also a free print-and-play version available on their website that can be printed and cut out smaller than the original if you’re unconcerned with card stock or at-home print quality.
- A fast-paced game of deception and betrayal
- Beautiful wooden components
- Solid game boards with foil inlay
Players take on the role of merchants and need to successfully navigate the wide world of commerce.
Sell camels, buy goods, whatever path you take it’s all up to you. The more goods sold, the cheaper the price gets. Be careful though, if you wait too long you may miss out on some sweet deals.
Jaipur is very small with only cards and some tokens, which make it easily packed away for travel.
- A classic, award-winning card game by Sebastian pauchon
- New, beautiful artwork by Vincent Dutrait. Same great gameplay
- Easy to learn game that offers a lot of depth and strategy.
Dominos has always been a classic travel game. When I was on deployment in the navy, inevitably there was a game going on down below decks somewhere.
If you’re not so much into the classics and are looking for something a bit more exciting and modern, Kingdomino takes the similar concept of Dominos but turns it into a fun little civ builder.
Players are in charge of their kingdom and need to match up tiles to build the kingdom with the most points.
It folds down even smaller than most domino sets as well. The domino tiles are cardboard instead of heavy plastic or stone.
- Family strategy game for ages 8 and up
- 2017 Spiel de Jahres Winner (Game of the Year)
- Build the best Kingdom!
#6. Love Letter
The entire game is 16 cards. I’ve known guys with more credit cards in their wallets.
This is probably the most portable game I’ve ever seen and our deck has seen some serious use. It’s the perfect quick game to pull out and play wherever you are.
The designers have managed to put a very solid deduction/bluffing game into only a handful of cards and it’s a game that will see continuous use.
If you don’t like the theme or artwork, there are tons of other versions with different fandoms, so you’re guaranteed to find something good.
#7. For Sale
I first played For Sale with Kendra’s family when we first started dating. Her uncle Carl introduced me to the game and it’s a lot of fun. I didn’t do particularly well.
It’s a fun family-friendly bidding game where players try to gain the most amount of money by bidding on various properties.
It’s part of a series of games from Eagle-Gryphon Games that fit perfectly together on the shelf, so when it’s not in your travel bag, it looks amazing on the shelf.
I’m a little weird about my board game aesthetics.
#8. Sushi Go!
Sushi Go! is a very cutesy game, but it’s also an excellent game. Players collect sushi cards to add to their “menu”. Each different type of sushi is freaking adorable and scores differently. The player with the most points at the end of the meal wins.
It’s an awesome gateway game, very easy to learn and great for families and kids.
The entire game is a handful of cards, so it can easily be taken and played wherever you go.
If you’re not into adorably cute sushi, check out the multilingual edition with some creepy alternative artwork.
You can check out our full review of Sushi Go! Party here.
- Includes 108 cards
- Rules of play
- Reinforces probability, visual discrimination and strategic...
#9. Hive or Hive Pocket
Hive is an excellent 2-player game that only requires a flat surface and a set of tiles.
Players place their insects on the board attempting to encircle the opposing queen.
It reminds me a lot of Chess, but a little more modern.
There’s even a special travel size version that’s the full game, just pocket-sized and fits in a small bag.
#10. Lost Cities: The Card Game
Who didn’t dream of being Indiana Jones as a kid? I mean I still do, but that’s beside the point.
Lost Cities is a simple press-your-luck card game where players try to mount ever more profitable expeditions.
It’s a fantastic 2-player travel game in its own right, but they’ve made it easier than ever to grab and go with the Lost Cities To-Go edition (if you can find it).
It’s even smaller and easier to play wherever you may be.
- Two explorers embark on research journeys to remote corners of...
- Explore Himalayan mountains, The central American rainforest, the...
- The expedition routes take shape and the explorers earn points
Citadels is a simple role-based card game.
Players secretly choose roles at the beginning of the round to gain an advantage while trying to build up the city for the most victory points.
It’s simple to learn and offers a ton of variety for players.
Most of the game is cards with only several tokens to keep track of money. It’s an easy choice for players on-the-go.
Coup is a handful of cards and some tokens. The box is small enough to carry around in a pair of men’s slacks (sorry ladies but your pockets suck).
The box can even pull double duty if you take out the insert. Then you’ll be able to fit a few other games. I managed to fit Love Letter and a Munchkin deck into my Coup box while traveling.
It’s a great hidden role game that I’ve had a ton of success introducing newbie gamers to and it’s great for getting to know people during your travels or at a bar.
#13. Forbidden Island, Desert, or Sky
These come in a little bit bigger packages than most of our travel games.
The majority of the boards in both games are made of tiles, and can easily be transferred into a smaller box for transport.
The Forbidden series are fantastic challenging cooperative games and personally Forbidden Desert is my current favorite.
- Forbidden Island
- Forbidden Desert
- Forbidden Sky
Players have to rush around the board and search for either relics or pieces of your broken airship (depending upon which game you’re playing) and then escape before everyone dies.
It’s an excellent way to get a big box game on-the-go.
#14. Tides of Time
Tides of Time is another 2-player card game on the list. Perfect for a duo on-the-go.
Players compete by building up their civilization over the course of several rounds. Each round, players will draft cards for their kingdom and score at the end of the round.
One building is leftover from each round as a relic of the past to help gain some bonus points.
It’s a quick, lighthearted civ builder that works very well on-the-go and doesn’t need much table space. I love civ-builders and it’s always nifty to have an entire civilization sitting in your back pocket.
- Micro game that plays in about 20 minutes
- Unique 2 player draft
- Big cards with awesome artwork
#15. The Great Dalmuti
This is a bit of an oldie and could probably be played with a modified standard deck of cards, but you’ll miss out on all the fancy artwork of these cards.
In The Great Dalmuti, players will try to be the first to go out. Each turn, players try to play cards into the center to finish off their hand of cards before everyone else.
It’s simple enough to teach anyone and is a great time waster.
- 80-card commercial deck contains cards ranked from 12 to 1, along...
- Each card bears a number, which is not only its rank, but also...
- A light card game where players gain status by going out first
Pairs is a rather simple game.
The object of the game is to… not get pairs.
For some reason that irritates me, but the 55 card deck is simple to play, easy to learn, and can fit in your back pocket.
It’s a great game to take to the bar and perfect for groups.
If you’re into print-and-play you could also make your own deck as a fun DIY project. (We did.)
What happens when you have a crew full of incompetent illuminators?
They misplace all the fireworks and threaten the whole celebration!
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened in Hanabi, so it’s up to the bumbling pyrotechnicians to fix their mistake. Players will have a handful of cards but won’t be able to see their own hands. Instead, they’ll see everyone else’s cards.
Players need to play the fireworks in successive order to perform the most spectacular show possible… or they fail and disappoint everyone.
- For 2-5 players
- 2013 Spiele des Jahres game of the year
- Takes about 20-30 minutes to play
People either love or hate Munchkin. Personally, I’m a fan of the game and Kendra and I play it all the time.
Any of the core sets of the game are about the size of 2 large decks of cards. It can start to take over the table with all the equipment and upgrade cards, but it’s a quick and dirty D&D-inspired card game where you get to stab your buddies in the back.
What’s not to love?
#19. Goat Lords
As you might be able to tell from the name of the website, we like farm animals. Goats are no exception.
Goat Lords is a simple card game with wacky artwork. Players will attempt to build the largest goat herd for the most amount of points, but as with all of these types of games, it’s never that simple.
Players will have several action cards to steal and gain more goats.
My personal favorite is the Escape Goat!
It’s dumb and silly, but it’s fun and can fit easily into your travel bag on-the-go.
- CERTAIN GOAT CARD ONLY INCLUDED IN GOAT LORDS EXPANSION --- #1...
- HILARIOUS CARD GAME for adults and wildly-fun card game for kids....
- EXCITING FUN FOR 2-6 PLAYERS. Consistent SHRIEKING and WHOOPING...
#20. Exploding Kittens
I freaking love the Oatmeal comics. The author is such a weird dude, and his drawings of children are usually pretty spot-on.
Exploding Kittens is a handful of cards, so it’s as portable as you want it to be.
The object of the game is to simply not explode. That may be something we all excel in on a daily basis, but it’s actually rather difficult in-game.
Kittens that explode + amazing artwork = an awesome game.
- Hologram ensures Authenticity.
- Exploding kittens is a card game for people who are into kittens...
- Family-friendly, party game for 2-5 players (up to 9 players with...
#21. Unstable Unicorns
If ever life gives you the option, always choose to be a unicorn. That must be a bumper sticker somewhere.
Unstable Unicorns is the adorable card game where you try to build the most impressive stable of unicorns.
It’s filled with absurd and often irreverent depictions of unicorns and depending upon the expansion, can be completely kid-friendly or 100% adult only.
It’s silly, adorable, and can easily sit in your travel bag.
- A strategic card game that will destroy your friendships...but in...
- One of kickstarter’s top 50 most backed projects of all time!
- Ages 14+ , 30-45 minutes playtime
Bananagrams is silly.
I mostly am attracted to dumb-looking things, which may be where my love of Bruce Campbell movies come from, but that’s beside the point.
Bananagrams is a classic word game in the vein of scrabble but it comes in an adorable cloth banana bag.
It’s simple, and great for families. Bananagrams even comes in multiple languages which is great if you want to practice your language skills while traveling.
- FUN FOR EVERYONE – Gather your family and friends and race...
- ENTERTAINING AND EDUCATIONAL – While this game is easy to play,...
- GREAT FOR TRAVEL – Bananagrams comes in a fun banana-shaped...
The smash-hit Catan now comes in all flavors and varieties from Game of Thrones to historical recreations. It’s such a simple concept, but it’s also very easy to sink hours and hours of your life into the game.
If you’re a crazy person like me, you can also bring along Catan wherever you go in case the need to trade sheep for wheat strikes your fancy.
Catan: Dice recreates the well-loved sheep-driven economy with a handful of dice that’s more similar to Yahtzee than Catan, but still fun.
If you want a more authentic Catan experience you can pick up Rivals for Catan which reproduces the Catan gameplay but alters it for a 2-player experience.
For the purists among you, they even make Catan Traveler, which is a complete Catan board that fits within its own travel case and folds up.
I love Carcassonne. It’s so simple yet so much fun. I think most of my family members actually have a copy tucked into the glovebox.
This simple tile-laying game can easily be transported in a cloth draw bag. If you get the Traders & Builders expansion it comes with a bag the perfect size, or any fancy cloth bag works well.
It’s one of the first non-Parker Bros games that most people play… and there’s a reason for it.
It’s an amazing gateway game with lots of replayability and can be played almost anywhere.
- Completely redesigned rulebook to make learning the game easier
- Introduces the Abbot mini-expansion and a new version of the...
- Game and expansions have sold over 10 million copies worldwide
Tikal is different from a lot of games on this list because it is a big box game.
There’s not a lot of those on this list because… well, they come in a big box and they’re harder to travel with.
Tikal is here because Kendra’s cousin Nick showed us how he made it travel-friendly. The board itself is a little unnecessary and only really needs the starting tile locations.
Nick actually traced out the starting tiles, threw all the components in the bag, and it actually worked well as a travel game. You’re probably not going to be able to take it out in the pub, but he takes it with him camping, and to music festivals when he has some downtime.
If you’re looking for a big box in Ziplocs, then Tikal is where it’s at.
- Each player is the director of an expedition intent on exploring...
- Ages: 10 and up
- Number of Players: 2 to 4
There’s something fascinating about sugar skull artwork.
Skull is a beautifully designed, yet simple game. Players have a set of flowers and a singular skull card. Players try to set down cards while tricking their fellow players to call their bluff.
If a bluff is called and a skull is revealed then that player loses a card.
Simple yet hard to master with only a handful of cards, Skull makes an excellent travel game. Just be careful, the cards are coaster-shaped and you could easily mistake them for a drink coaster and set a drink or two down on your cards.
- Tricky bluffing game with deep tactics and strategy
- Reinvented art to bring new life to this deceptively simple game
- Created by renowned designer Herve Marly
The weirdest place I ever played a board game had to have been at the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles in the US). I was bored out of my mind and was playing a card game with my brother when we were children. Before you knew it, all of the other kids stuck there were playing with us and we actually had fun.
What’s your travel game story? Did your favorite game not make the list?
Leave a comment below — we’d love to hear from you.