Boards Abroad – Getting Your Gaming Fix on the Go

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Recently, I had the chance to contribute to an article about some of the best games for people who love to travel that was all about games that you can play at home that can add value to your travel. It’s a super great idea, especially during this time when so many are still finding it hard to travel. They’re fun, educational, and an amazing way to destress at the end of the day. 

But what about once everyone starts traveling again? Do we really want to leave our games behind? Or is it possible to bring them along? 

Back to the basics

When you’re looking at traveling light but still want to be able to play some games, you can’t go wrong with a simple deck of cards. 

Cards are versatile, lightweight, and can easily fit in your travel bag or pocket to bring along with you. And because they can be easily found pretty much anywhere in the world, they can be a great option for something to play even if you didn’t bring any with you! Just pop over to the nearest gift shop or grocery store, and grab a deck. 

Though they’re not quite as common as cards, the same principle can apply to other common game gear as well. Dice, dominoes, or even pencil and paper can all be used for tons of great games without needing to pack a whole lot. 

Playing Cards

If you’re looking for some ideas for card games to play, definitely check out Bicycle’s website.

Travel Versions

Sometimes, though, you just want a little more complexity than you can get from a standard card game. Luckily, a lot of games have travel versions! 

Travel versions of games, as the name suggests, are versions of larger board games made specifically for travel. As such, they will typically have a smaller overall footprint than the original versions, more secure ways to contain the pieces, and often they use magnets or other methods to make the game playable even in bumpy conditions. 

The trade-off is that the visual experience of the game is usually degraded a bit, the smaller pieces are harder to handle, and the selection of travel versions is fairly slim. Widely popular games, like Battleship, Connect Four, or chess all have travel versions, but games with a narrower audience usually will not.  

I personally love the idea of travel versions of games, but rarely like them in practice. Still, there are some great-looking travel versions out there! 

Hive Pocket

Hive is a strategic game of head-to-head insect strategy that plays out like a free-form chess. The original version is already pretty portable but if you want something even smaller, the pocket version fits the bill.

CATAN Board Game Traveler Edition 

CATAN is one of the best-known and well-loved board games around, and it served as a starting point for many gamers, myself included. The travel version has a special board that allows pieces to lock in and keeps them from sliding around. However, the trade-off is that this version isn’t compatible with any of the expansions. If you can live with that, it’s a great way to bring a classic with you.

Road Trip Series Scrabble

I grew up playing Scrabble with my family every Thanksgiving and Christmas until I got banned for winning too often. If you’re still allowed at the table, it’s a fun game for the whole family and a great way to grow your vocabulary.

The travel version gets you the full-sized experience in a smaller package, and will let you fold up your board mid-game without losing you placement. Perfect if you’re prone to spur-of-the-moment trips out from your hotel!

Small Games

A great alternative to getting the travel version of a game is to simply find a game that doesn’t take up that much space to begin with. There are a ton of great games out there that come in a smaller enough format to travel with, and there are entire companies that specialize in making small games, like Tiny Epic, which has a huge selection of tiny games. 

Tiny Epic Galaxies

I absolutely love the entire concept of Tiny Epic Games! They’re all about providing a big box game experience in as small of a form factor as possible, and in many ways they deliver. They have a huge variety of themes and gameplay styles in their games, but they all give a ton of game for not a lot of box.

Tiny Epic Galaxies is all about space exploration, and while the game can support between 1 and 5 players, it did get the award for Solo game of the year back in 2015. Play it by yourself, or with friends. Either way, its a great game.

Tiny Epic Defenders

Tiny Epic Defenders is a cooperative game set in a fantasy kingdom where you and your friends have to defend the kingdom from the incoming monster armies. I LOVE cooperative style games for both how fun they are and for the lack of hurt feelings at the end of the game.

Tiny Epic Zombies

Tiny Epic Zombies is another cooperative game for those who love defending themselves from the undead, but as a twist it can also be competitive, with some playing the survivors while others become the zombies! It’s a flexible and fun game that everyone can love.

Tiny Epic has a ton of other options to check out, too! Browse the full selection on Amazon, here!

Other games might not be designed specifically for travel, but have a small enough form factor to make it work. For instance, Asmadi Games’ One Deck Dungeon does a great job of making a suitably complex game in a package that is easy to transport. 

Or, for an even smaller overhead, consider role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, or collectible card games, like Magic: The Gathering, as long as you’re ok limiting yourself to just a few decks.  

Go Big

Of course, once you start thinking about bringing a board game or two along on your travels, you might also consider just simply tossing in an entire big box game. After all, it is your favorite game! 

This can definitely work for any road trip where you have extra cargo space in the back. However, if you’re traveling by plane, bringing along an entire big box board game isn’t usually the best way to get your game fix on the go. If you want to do it anyways, there are a few ways to make it work.

Go Boxless

One of the best ways to save on space when traveling with a full-sized board game is to take the different pieces of the game out of their original packaging. Most large board game boxes have a lot of extra air in the box, anyways. The one thing to note here is that the original boxes do protect the board itself, so if you don’t want dinged corners on your boards you will need to find an alternative way to protect them. 

It’s also possible to consolidate multiple different games into a single box, using storage bags to keep the games separate. This does wonders for maximizing your space. Alternatively, you could get a game organizer designed to hold multiple different board games, like this GeekOn Game Organizer.

Or Get a Game Bag

If you’re traveling with more than one large game, it can be handy to get your games their own bag. I travel pretty light, so I’ve not done this, but there are some pretty spectacular-looking bags out there that tons of board gamers have sworn by. 

ENHANCE: Board Game Backpack

I love the look of this bag, and it is super well-rated. If you’re planning on short plan rides or car trips, this one is definitely one to consider.

Go Virtual

The last option is probably the best solution for saving on space and weight, but it does come with some major trade-offs. 

There are a ton of great board games out there that have digital versions that can allow you to play from anywhere that you have an internet connection. This means you can travel without worrying about damaging or losing your games, without worrying about meeting luggage weight limits, and without worrying about finding a table big enough to spread out on.

Virtual board games also give you a lot more people to play with, since you can usually play online as well as locally. 

But it also means losing the tactile feel of playing a board game and exchanging it for what is essentially a video game. 

Still, playing virtually has a lot of great advantages. 

I personally love the variety and quality of digital board games put out by Asmodee, which includes great games like Ticket to Ride, Pandemic, and Gloomhaven, but there are tons of options out there for almost any kind of gamer. 

If you’re looking for a particular board game and you can’t find a digital version of it, you could also try checking out Board Game Arena. They have a ton of great options there, as well as a built-in community for playing all sorts of games. The graphics on their site can be a little disappointing at times, but if you want to play a quick game, it’s a great option. 

While it may not seem like it at first, board games and travel actually complement each other rather well. That’s because while one is focused on getting out and the other is focused on staying in, they both are ultimately about the people around you and strengthening the sense of community.

And honestly, who isn’t game for that?

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