Travel Games for Adults: Keep Yourself Entertained En Route

Megan Lee
Just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean you have to leave your beloved sports and games behind, especially if one of your chief goals in travel is to meet new folks. You’d be hard pressed to find a better way to make friends abroad than through something as simple as games and sports. These activities come in all shapes and sizes: some call on your brain, some call on your fitness, some are just pure luck and a lot of laughs. Be the cool kid around the card table—or the field—with these great travel games for adults to play on the go.

Games That Will Fit in Your Pack

Since you’re likely traveling carry on only and don’t want to dedicate too much of your mobile real estate to games, here are some specially-picked options that pack small. They’re great for a chill night in with tons of laughter—perfect for the hostel dinner table or community room.

Deck of Cards

No game is more versatile and intercultural than a 52 card game itself. Try games like Hearts, Gin Rummy, Crazy Eights, or Euchre for the more advanced card sharks. Not sure of the rules? There’s an app for that. If the hearts, spades, diamonds, and clubs aren’t your style, swap the traditional deck for another fan-favorite like UNO or up your card game with über popular German-born 6 Nimmt.


This game is like 20 questions, but with a fun, new twist. It’s a combo word-social deduction guessing game that also requires one of the players to download a free app. The app is used to share a randomized word, and each player is given a role via cards provider—the Mayor, the Seer, the Werewolf, or the Villager. If you’re looking for an even more packable version of a 20 questions-esque game, check out Insider from Oink Games.


Since packing an entire chess board is a little less than practical, the game of Hive is one of the best travel board games for adults (and can still scratch your Queen’s itch!). All of the pieces of this fun, easy to learn, and heavily strategic two player game fit neatly into a small bag. The goal is to surround your opponent’s bee—jump your grasshopper, stack your beetle, crawl your spider, and save YOUR bee before it’s too late!

Code Names

The secret to making this game travel backpack friendly is to repackage the cards and game pieces rather than storing them in their original game box. I’ve played this game with up to 20 people and all of them have walked away wanting to buy their own copy! Grab your friends, set up the board (it looks like a grown up match game), and do your best to communicate your cards to the rest of your team using only a single word and a number at a time. Code Names is one of the best travel games for adults!
Love Letter This pint-sized game is the perfect activity for a lowkey night in the hostel. In this game, your goal is to deliver your confession of adoration—love letter—into the Princess’s hands before her competing suitors. This game of subtraction, risk, and luck will have you hooked without weighing down your gear.

Mint Works

This game is the ultimate compact board game for travel—it comes in a standard-size mint tin! Good luck getting your hands on this popular worker placement game. Choose to pass or play by moving your mints (workers) to action cards (locations) in the “play phase,” then seal your victory in the “upkeep” phase.

Adult Travel Games That Don’t Require Gear

Sometimes you just can’t sacrifice any cubic square inch of your pack for a game, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still play sports and games while traveling abroad. Here are some of our favorite boardless, cardless games for the road.

Would You Rather…?

Would you rather… get stuck at a shadless bus station in Mumbai at noon on a hot day or get stuck on train from Njombe to Dar Es’ Salaam for 40 hours? Pick themes for questions to make your game a little more interesting. “Never Have I Ever” is a derivative of this style of game, but can quickly get naughty. Nothing like sharing some dirty little secrets to bring strangers closer together, right!?

Two Truths & a Lie

Everyone’s favorite ice breaker comes in clutch when you’re surrounded by a group of friendly strangers in the hostel common room. Pro tip: Write these down in advance for yourself and save it in your Notes app, lest your mind goes blank in the moment and you come up with really lame options.

Guess Our Story

This is a game that’s great for a group of friends that already knows each other a little bit. Ask 1-2 players (ideally 2) to leave the group to go to another room—tell them that while you’re gone, the rest of the group is going to write a story (that these two players will later guess via yes and no questions). The secret is that the answer to the guessers’ questions is always YES for questions that end with the letter “E” and NO for questions that end with any other letter.
  • “Did it take place in outer space?” YES!
  • “Was it at a rock concert?” NO
The trick is that the guessers end up writing their own story, and it usually comes out pretty funny!

Telephone Charades

Telephone Charades is a hilarious game and a great way to quickly make friends. One person acts out a charade only for the next person in the line, who then acts out what they just saw for the next person in line. The last person attempts to guess what the original clue was.

Sports Games Without Gear

Breathe new life into childhood favorites from the playground like Toilet Tag, Chicken Nuggets (jump in the ocean, come to shore and roll around in the sand, jump back into the water!), Capture the Flag, Steal the Bacon… if you make new friends who are game for old school games, then don’t hesitate to get silly!

Creative or Find Adult Travel Games & Sports

Bring Packable Sports Equipment

If you love any excuse to get out and move, whether with old travel buds or new ones you make along the way, bring some fun equipment along to liven up an afternoon! Flying discs like the Aerobie are always a hit, and you can usually find somewhere to blow up a soccer or volleyball, or buy one and donate it to local kids when you leave.

Find Meet Up Groups is a great resource to find other people nearby who share your affinity for games of all kinds—ultimate frisbee, Dungeons & Dragons, board games, dodgeball, a quick sand volleyball match, and more. See if “Geeks Who Drink” has an event in town, too!

Ask Your Host About Related Events

Some hostels will host their own trivia nights, or will have the inside scoop about local bars and restaurants that host similar events. They might know about free public fitness/sporting events like the Hash House Harriers, Hey!Robics, or the November Project. They might even know about local board game shops that run special events for testing new games or other events designed to bring the gaming community together. Don’t hesitate to ask your host at an Airbnb, hostel welcoming committee, or hotel concierge about games you can join.

Hit Google or Facebook and Search

If your hosts don’t speak games and sports, consider hitting the interwebs to find other resources that share information on hyper-local activities. Almost every group has a page with their calendar and info on meetups.


You’re accustomed to meeting new travel buds at the bar, or even the beach, but you can also meet them around a board game or ball field! Don’t discount the ease of befriending strangers through board games, no-equipment games, meetup groups, sports, and other free fitness opportunities!  

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