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 PackSince 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.
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!
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.
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 GearSometimes 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 LieEveryone’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 StoryThis 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