A board game is a great way to spend time as a family on a trip. These are the best travel board games. Over the years, I’ve found that there are generally two types of travelers.
On one side, you have the folks who like to relax as much as they can while they’re on a bus, car, or plane. They may pick a book to read, listen to some music or podcasts, or make light conversation.
On the other side, you have travelers who are so excitable or prone to boredom during the trip that they need something to keep themselves preoccupied, something to focus on.
Portable board games are ideal travel companions for those with energy to burn or boredom to quell. Play them while you’re on the road and take your mind off your fatigue and the long journey still remaining.
In this article, I’ve highlighted my personal choices for the best travel board games. I’ve included some options for both kids and adults, so there’s something for everyone!
Check them out yourself and see if you want to bring them along for your next vacation.
Are you looking for the best 2-player travel board games? In that case, I recommend checking out Bananagrams Duel. If you’re familiar with the regular version of Bananagrams, then you’ll be able to pick up on this portable version quickly.
The goal remains the same. You have to compete with the other player and see who can build their word grid faster. For this version of the game, the word cubes are smaller and the word grids are no longer present. Start your next game anywhere you want!
Although the word cubes are small, they haven’t been downsized too much. Even if one falls on the floor of your car, you should be able to find it easily enough.
I also like that you can follow the banana-shaped cards and play with a theme if you want to. Change things up to have a different playing experience.
My main issue with this portable edition of the game is that it can be over too quickly. Adults may find that it gets old in a hurry. It’s still great for kids though.
- Perfectly suited for two players
- Word cubes aren’t too small to lose easily
- Stored in a very compact, very fun banana shaped case
- No more grids needed
- Theme cards can change up the gameplay
- Games can finish too quickly
- Can get boring for adults
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Hasbro is one of the leading brands in the toy industry and has been for decades. It should come as no surprise that Hasbro travel board games are readily available. For this entry, we’re shining the spotlight on their Battleship Grab and Go Game.
You’ve played Battleship before, right? Hasn’t everyone? Barely escaping the finishing blow on your last warship is thrilling and landing that final blow yourself is even more exciting!
This portable board game does its best to emulate the experiences you had as a kid. For the most part, this smaller edition of the board game does manage to deliver a similar experience. Some of the games may finish faster because of the smaller playing area though.
I love that both players still get a game unit each. You’re not compromising by playing on a shared board.
With a game like Battleships, it’s natural to worry about some of the small pieces potentially getting lost. Thankfully, the brightly colored pegs are easy enough to spot.
Handling the pegs is another matter though and it can be tough to stick them in place sometimes.
Simply put, Battleships is just a ton of fun. I think this portable version should be considered among the best travel board games even with the peg issues accounted for.
- Two game units provided
- Units open and block your opponent’s view easily
- 10 ships to play with
- Different kinds of ships included
- Very compact
- Pegs can sometimes be hard to place
- Storage unit could be better
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Players in the mood for commerce, business, trade, empire-building, and exploration can find a travel game that caters to their interests as well. The Catan Dice Game may be one of the best travel games currently available.
The regular Catan Game is a very immersive and time-intensive experience. It’s the kind of game that you can pick up as a real hobby and put several hours into.
You may have been interested in Catan for a while now, if so, you’ll love this new spin on the game. If you’re new to Catan, this portable version can serve as a great introduction to the cult classic.
Catan travel games can be completed in around 30 minutes, but they remain fun. The included pieces are also well-detailed.
Travel-friendly Catan also makes sense for family outings. Up to four players can join in on a game so nobody has to be left out.
I do not recommend the Catan Dice Game to those who are expecting the regular version of it though. Due to the way the game has been downsized, you may find the experience of playing to be unsatisfying. It can be tough to get into for those who already know what regular Catan is like.
- Accommodates up to four players
- Detailed pieces provided
- Games can be finished in about 30 minutes
- Easy to bring for travels
- Great for new players interested in trying regular Catan
- Might not offer a satisfying experience to veteran Catan players
- You’ll need a pen to play
Codenames is one of those sneakily addictive board games that you’ll easily find yourself getting hooked on. There are a lot of strategies involved in this type of game. You have to meticulously lay out your plan of attack together with your team.
If you end up making contact with the assassin, you could find yourself in heaps of trouble! I think Codenames is one of the best travel board games because it works best for large parties, and travel-size board games typically aren’t meant for that many players.
Codenames is also easy to get into. Once you understand how the game is supposed to work, you’ll start hanging on to each reveal.
To make the game more portable, the manufacturers have included a handy carrying pouch, that holds the game easily.
The downside is that the game doesn’t work as well if you’re just playing one-on-one. I don’t think it’s fun to experience that way. Consider that when thinking about whether or not to purchase this game.
- A great choice for a traveling party game
- Suitable for up to 12 players
- Carrying pouch provided
- Pieces are not easy to lose
- Games can be completed in about 15 to 20 minutes
- Not a good choice for two players
- Not the best game for younger kids
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Connect 4 is one of the most well-known and accessible board games ever made. After learning the mechanics of the game, you can quickly put it up and start playing rounds endlessly. It’s an all-time great travel board game.
What makes Connect 4 such a good travel game is that the experience is not affected no matter where you play it. Whether you’re playing the regular version or this Grab and Go version, the experience remains the same.
Both players get 21 checkers each at the start of the game. That means you have plenty of opportunities to make those connections.
I also like the way the tray is designed. You can fold it up next to the playing grid to make the whole thing pretty compact.
The design of the playing grid itself is a bit problematic. Because of the way the holes are designed, the checkers tend to fall out of them. You’ll likely open up one of your bags and find the checkers scattered inside it.
The whole thing also feels a bit flimsy. It may get damaged if you handle it too roughly or if you store it incorrectly. Keep that in mind when traveling with this portable toy.
- Allows you to enjoy the complete Connect 4 experience on the go
- 21 checkers provided to each player
- Checkers tray folds up next to the playing grid
- Becomes very compact when folded
- Easy to assemble
- Checkers can fall out of the playing grid
- The item feels somewhat flimsy
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What are the best board games to travel with?
Some will say that the best travel board games are the ones that come with no pieces to lose. That way, you can just focus on the game and not worry about anything dropping on the ground somewhere.
The Flip to Win Travel Memory Game from the Melissa & Doug Store is a personal favorite because of that; no small pieces, but easy-to-find cards!
All you have to do is slide the game card in place and start playing. The set includes seven double-sided cards so you and your kids will have plenty of options to choose from. The cards are also laminated so they won’t tear easily.
You’ll have to tell your kids to be careful when playing though.
The windows tend to be jarringly loud when they’re shut normally. Your kids will have to learn to close it slowly in order to avoid disrupting any other passengers.
- No small pieces
- Seven-double sided game cards provided
- Game cards are laminated
- Sliding scorekeeper built into the toy
- Solidly built
- Windows can be loud when closed
- Small windows are designed for small hands
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Just because you’re on vacation, doesn’t mean you should stop exercising your mind. A good way to keep your mind sharp is to play a few matches of chess. The QuadPro Magnetic Travel Chess Set is one of the best travel-size board games out there.
I love the way QuadPro has scaled down the chess pieces without sacrificing much in the way of detail. The pieces don’t look or feel cheap at all.
The one complaint I do have about the chess pieces is that they don’t stick to the board equally well.
Some pieces have seemingly been outfitted with better magnets than others, or maybe it’s the shape and size of the pieces. Either way, it’s not exactly great considering the game sells itself as magnetic.
As for the board, it’s very smart and clean-lined. It can be on the delicate side though; the black paint on the board can be scratched easily, so do be careful.
You don’t need a big space to start playing. Even a small surface will do and that’s why I rate this classic as one of the best travel board games.
When you’re done playing, you can store all the pieces inside the foldable board. The board has a pretty good catch to secure it, so you can expect the pieces to remain in there. It also comes with a handy travel pouch.
- Chess pieces are well detailed
- Foldable chess board provided
- All the pieces fit inside the board easily
- You can play even on a small surface
- Small pouch provided
- Black paint on the board can be scratched easily
- Magnets vary in strength
Good board game manufacturers will find a way to take a tried and true formula and translate it well to the travel format. That’s exactly what you’re getting in The Card Game version of Scattergories!
For this version of the game, players use cards. Letter and category cards are provided, which can be separated easily to avoid making a mess.
This portable version of Scattergories may have introduced some tweaks to the original game, but the experience you get remains highly enjoyable, and it’s the same kind of fun you’ve come to expect from playing this household favorite.
There is a lot to like about this portable game, but as it is scaled down from the original, I did find the categories to be lacking.
It won’t take long before the game starts to feel repetitive.
- A great twist on a classic game
- Cards are easy to store
- Cards will not move all over the place while in storage
- Games can be finished in 30 minutes
- Works for up to four players
- Cards are susceptible to damage
- More category cards would be welcome
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Our list of the best travel board games would not be complete without Scrabble. For this article, I want to draw your attention to the travel-friendly version of Scrabble made by the WS Game Company.
You would expect a full Scrabble set to be heavy, but that is not the case at all with this item. The wooden case only weighs one and a half pounds.
The case also uses magnets to keep it shut when you’re traveling. I also love how the case looks when it’s closed – it’s pretty fancy. Weight can be an issue with the tiles, but it’s not because they’re heavy.
If anything, they’re too light and that can lead to them falling off the board after minor bumps. Make sure you keep the tiles out of play inside the bag so you don’t lose them.
I do want to mention that the text on the board is quite small. Those with poor eyesight may struggle to read the board properly.
- Very lightweight
- The case looks elegant when closed
- Magnets keep the case tightly shut
- Tiles can be stored inside the board
- Pouch for the tiles also provided
- Tiles are too lightweight
- Writings on the board can be tough to read
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Checkers is a good game to play while in transit. It involves a good amount of engagement, but it’s not quite as demanding as chess. If you’re a traveling checkers fan, then check out the Take ‘N’ Play Anywhere Checkers. It is arguably the top iteration of travel checkers board games.
You’re getting 12 magnetic red checkers as well 12 magnetic black checkers. They stay on the board pretty well too. The checkers won’t get dislodged even if your vehicle goes over a bump on the road.
Do note however that the checkers will not stick to one another via magnets. That can be a problem if one of your pieces has been kinged. The checker on top may fall off quite often.
The markings on the checkers tend to rub off quickly too. You can still play even if the markings rub off, but it’s a bit lame that they’re so fragile.
Overall, I regard this as one of the better travel board games. It’s a faithful recreation of a popular game and it translates well to a portable package.