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Best travel board games 2023

Need travel games for your next adventure? For gamers on the go, here are the best portable board games, from Azul Mini to Railroad Ink.

Scout, one of the best travel board games

Travel board games don’t have to be dull. In the modern age of tabletop gaming, there’s a huge range of intriguing, thought-provoking, and downright fun board games that are small and simple enough to take on a trip. Coach, train, or plane – you can still get a game in if you know the best travel games to bring.

Below we’ve recommended the best board games and best card games for anyone on the go. We’ve covered games with a range of player counts and genres – so whatever kind of journey you’re taking, there’s a game for you.

These are the best travel board games:

Scout, one of the best travel board games

Scout

Scout is the perfect travel board game for several reasons. Firstly, it’s compact, with a box that could fit in a small handbag. Secondly, its components are cards and very few tokens – all of which are hard to lose when playing on a cramped table. And lastly, it’s fantastic fun.

Scout is a trick-taking card game where each player is a ringmaster scouting talent for their circus. Everyone starts with a hand of cards whose order can’t be changed. You can flip it upside down before the game begins and use the numbers on the other side, but you can’t move individual cards around.

With the starting hand decided, everyone takes turns ‘Showing’ (playing a trick), ‘Scouting’ (paying to pinch a card from the last successful trick), or performing the rare ‘Scout and Show’ where you perform both. The aim is to clear your hand the fastest and collect the most cash.

Scout is a quick and easy card game that, despite its low complexity, has plenty of replayability. Perfect for a long journey. 

Azul Mini, one of the best travel board games

Azul Mini

Azul is one of our favorite drafting games, and Azul Mini turns the tile game into an excellent travel board game. This version takes up far less table space, and the boards are designed to ensure each tiny tile stays in place.

Gorgeous and oddly soothing, Azul sees you collecting tiles at market to turn into beautiful mosaics. Placing different color tiles in various combinations can help you score big, but you’ll need to use your limited supply carefully and not waste a single piece.

Azul is a deceptively simple game that’s filled with tasty strategy. There’s enough for a board-game-loving brain to chew on, but it’s a relaxing choice for players on the move. 

Love Letter, one of the best travel board games

Love Letter

With a 20-minute playtime, Love Letter is a great game to have on hand, whatever the length of your journey. This card game combines a bit of luck with a bit of bluffing to create a classic game of political intrigue.

Players are all suitors trying to win the love of a princess – but to do so, they need their love letter to actually reach the object of their desire. Everyone is dealt a single card at the game’s start, and this represents the person currently holding their love letter. You draw a card every turn and must play one of the two from your hand.

Use the abilities on your cards wisely (and take a few deduction-based risks), and you’ll be able to climb the ranks, gathering more powerful cards and knocking opponents out of the game. Whoever has the highest-value card (or the princess, the best card in the game) when the round is over wins.

Love Letter is a top gateway game, so we recommend this one if your fellow travellers don’t usually play board games. 

Wavelength, one of the best travel board games

Wavelength

Wavelength is a travel board game that takes all strategy out of your trip. It also removes the board – as we recommend playing the app version of Wavelength rather than the tabletop version. This way, you can play a board game without taking up any more space in your luggage.

Wavelength is a social game for two or more players. The game focuses on a hidden wheel with a dial turned to a very specific position. One player or team knows its secret location, and they must draw a card with two binaries on it (for example, ‘hot and cold’ or ‘useless and useful’).

The player/team with the hidden knowledge must give a single clue that’ll explain where the dial rests between these two binaries. Points are scored if the other player/team guesses right, but Wavelength isn’t a game where you need to focus too hard on winning or losing. The joyful debates it sparks are the main source of fun. 

Railroad Ink, one of the best travel board games

Railroad Ink

We couldn’t write a travel board games guide without including a train board game. And while Ticket to Ride is a bit too fiddly for actual train journeys, Railroad Ink is perfectly sized and perfectly playable.

This is a roll-and-write board game where dice randomly determine the features of a railroad you can draw on an erasable board. The aim is to create links to as many of the board’s exit squares as possible, and incomplete routes will sap your score. This is a thoughtful game that, while short, you can lose yourself in for hours over multiple games.

We also recommend Railroad Ink as it’s a great solo board game. If you’re travelling alone, you can still get your board game fix.

For more board game recommendations, here are some cheap board games to try. Or, for games about travelling, check out our Ticket to Ride Legacy review.