In this era of tablets and devices, it’s easy to forget that the litany of games extends beyond Angry Birds and Candy Crush. When your next adventure precludes packing a smartphone or tablet, refer to this list of easy-to-pack and easy-to-play travel games.
Dice are indestructible and easy to pack, so consider tossing a set in your pack as you prepare for that next adventure.
This game is also known as 10,000 or “the dice game,” but the official rules call it “Farkle.” This game is easy enough to teach to new people, versatile enough to play with one other person or fifty other people, and has enough variations to keep things entertaining even if you’ve been playing for years. Players take turns rolling six dice and adding up the points from each roll, but failing to roll any points can erase your entire score for one hand, which adds a level of suspense, especially if players prefer to take risks.
Although traditional cards aren’t waterproof, carrying a deck while traveling can ward off bouts of boredom (multi-day train rides, rainy afternoons in a tent, etc.). For international travel, cards can foster new friendships–in a tea house in Nepal, a group of British trekkers taught me an English betting game I’d never heard of in the States. By the end of the night everyone–Nepalese, British, American–was invested in the game.
The benefit of this game is all in the title: solitaire is designed for the solo player. If you’re tired of the traditional game, try one of these variations: Clock Solitaire, Golf Solitaire, or if you’re feeling ambitious, give FreeCell a shot. There are thousands of Solitaire variants, which should be enough to keep anyone busy during the lulls of traveling.
Also known as Spit or Slam, this is a fast-paced game for two people. There are a number of variations in the rules, but the basic premise is to get rid of your cards (or to get all of the cards, depending on the variation) by continuing runs. It’s almost as easy as War, but far less boring. If your trip includes paddling or climbing or any other hand-centric motion, be forewarned: this game involves slapping and can result in injury if played too aggressively.
Don’t let the necessity of board keep you from packing your favorite board game–learn to draw the board on a sheet of paper or a sleeping pad and leave the box and board at home.
It’s easy to find a travel-size chess set, but invariably the pieces are tiny and the board is cramped, making it difficult to see moves in advance. Rather than investing in one of these sets, consider creating a board on a white trash bag or packing paper tiles that can be spread out in a grid. Replicating chess pieces is harder, but not impossible. Sugar packets with letters indicating the pieces work well if you’re traveling by air or by train. In more remote locations, consider packing a set of short, lightweight pieces.