Around here, we like board games… a lot. They’re great to play, but they aren’t always easy to travel with. Small board games are great way to pass the time in the car and they easily can fit on a pull down tray in an airplane.
It can be difficult to find the perfect small board game for travel so we reviewed several options that are available and narrowed it down to our top five. Our criteria for our selection includes other gamer opinions, the amount of play time required, and space needed for setup.
View the Top 10 Small Board Games for Travel
1. Taco Vs Burrito
This is not your usual card game. In Taco vs Burrito cards are the ingredients and your aim is to use them to create the weirdest meal imaginable. It may sound simple, but there are some fun twists. Winning is a matter of strategy, not just drawing cards until you get the right ingredient card for your taco or burrito. Your combination of ingredients might cause a tummy ache or get you in trouble with the health inspector.
Taco vs Burrito is designed for two to four players and it’s a great small board game for travel. It consists of action cards, ingredient cards, and burrito shaped card holders which makes it easy to pack in your carry-on luggage.
|Players: 2-4||Play time: 10 minutes||Brand: Taco vs Burrito|
2. Love Letter
Love Letter is a game of deduction and risk. Your goal is to get your letter to the Princess of Tempest and edge out other potential suitors. Players start with one card in their hand. Every round, they draw a new card and play another in an attempt to knock other players out of the game and get their letter in the right hands.
The question is how much of a risk you’re willing to take. Big risks have big rewards but they’ll make you a target for other players, while smaller risks may never pay off at all. Check out our full review of Love Letter to learn more.
|Players: 2-4||Play time: 20 minutes||Brand: Alderac Entertainment Group|
3. Mastermind Game
Mastermind, as its name suggests, is a small board game that pits your mind against the mind of your opponent in ciphering and deciphering code. Either you or your opponent will be the Codemaker and the other will be the Codebreaker. After setting up your code, you, as the Codemaker, will give the Codebreaker hints to help them crack the code. With a bit of critical thinking and some luck, your opponent will match your code. There are more than 2,000 combinations possible with the colored pegs provided so you can Mastermind your way through a long haul flight and not get bored.
To make it easier to set up when you’re in the car or on a flight, you can attach all the game’s pieces to the board itself.
|Players: 2||Play time: 30 minutes||Brand: Mastermind|
4. Hive Pocket Edition
This is a smaller, more portable version of the standard Hive tile game, ideal for on-the-move gaming. Its tiles are smaller and less thick than the ones in the full version. The goal is to capture your opponents queen bee by placing spiders, beetles, grasshoppers, and even soldier ant tiles. The travel version of the game is even more intriguing as it has two extra pieces- the ladybug and the mosquito.
Hive Pocket Edition can easily be packed in your backpack as the tiles come with a bright orange drawstring bag to keep the game safe.
|Players: 2||Play time: 5 minutes||Brand: Smart Zone Games|
5. Sushi Go!
Sushi Go is a pick and pass card game where the goal is to make the best sushi dish possible. Each player earns points based on the combination of cards that are collected. For example-if you collect two Tempura cards, you automatically get five points. Or you can collect dumpling cards which grows in value for each additional card you get your hands on.
Sushi Go! is playable as a two player board game, but I recommend playing with four players if you can. If your family vacation involves long stretches of travel, don’t leave your Shush Go! cards behind.
|Players: 2-5||Play time: 15 minutes||Brand: Gamewright|
6. Spot It!
Spot it! is easy to learn and its key objective is to find the only matching symbol between any two cards. It’s a great game to play with kids as it’s easy to learn, fast to play, and has five variations to keep the game fresh.
In Spot it! you need to have a quick eye and sharp reflexes. A typical game only lasts about 15 minutes so it’s great to bring along if you are passing the time in an airport.
|Players: 2-8||Play time: 15 minutes||Brand:Zygomatic|
7. Deep Sea Adventure
Deep Sea Adventures is a small dice game that allows up to six players and you must find a way to get the sunken treasure back to the boat before your competitors. Be careful to not run out of oxygen as you collect more treasure.
Deep Sea Adventures is one of my favorite small board games. It measures a modest 4.33 x 2.56 x 1.38” and weighs a little over three ounces so it will be barely noticeable while you travel.
|Players: 2-6||Play time: 15 minutes||Brand: Oink Games|
Bananagrams is the perfect gift for Scrabble fans. Each player is given a handful of letter tiles. The goal is simple: Be the first to make your own crossword puzzle using all of the letters you’re given.
No board means Bananagrams travels a bit better than Scrabble, and there’s no pencil or paper required. It made our small board games list because it’s great when you are in the airport or on a plane. It’s not so great in a car unless you have decent sized flat surface to play on.
|Players: 1-8||Play time: 15 minutes||Brand: Bananagrams|
9. Zombie Dice
Zombie Dice is a really simple game. I carry it in my bag when I suspect I might need some amusement while I’m out. The premise is simple: You’re the zombie. You want brains. You roll the dice to reveal your fate: If you’re lucky, you get brains. If you’re having an off-day, your victims get to run away, and if you’re really unlucky, you get blast by a shotgun. If you’re a smart zombie, you’ll quit while you’re ahead and keep all the brains you’ve earned to nom on. After three shotgun blasts, you’re done with your turn and you lose any brains from that round. First zombie to 13 brains wins!
I recommend also getting the expansion, Zombie Dice 2. It introduces a special Santa die. Good zombies can earn double brains or get an energy drink that lets them capture brains more easily. There’s also Zombie Dice 3: School Bus Edition.
|Players: 2+||Play time: 10 minutes||Brand: Steve Jackson Games|
10. North Star Games Say Anything
Say Anything is a small board game that is made for family game nights, which makes it an absolute must-carry for vacations. Anyone above the age of eight can play this board game- all it takes is for one player to read a question and for all the other players to write the answer. The player who happens to have written your favorite answer wins.
The format of this game allows players to get as wild and humorous as they can, while still keeping things appropriate for all ages. You will be amazed by the creativity in the answers given for each question.
Say anything is not the best for playing in an airport, but it’s easy to play once you’ve arrived at your destination or in the car.
|Players: 3-6||Play time: 30 minutes||Brand: North Star Games|
Other Small Board Games for Travel to Consider
11. Timeline: Inventions
You can boost your bank of general knowledge while having loads of fun by playing Timeline. It is a form of trivia that tests how well you know the dates in which different items were invented. The small board game consists of a deck of miniature cards with some invention and dates printed on them.
Each player is handed a few cards and one serves as a starting point of the timeline. Players then place their cards on the timeline in turn at the point where they feel the invention on the card was created. The first player to deposit all their cards wins.
You can have up to eight players in Timeline, making it ideal for family downtime or vacations.
|Players: 2-8||Play time: 15 minutes||Brand: Asmodee|
12. Hasbro Electronic Catch Phrase
The Hasbro Electronic Catch Phrase is the ideal travel board game for a family getaway. It works best if you have an even number of players so you can divide yourselves into two teams, but it’s also fun to play without teams if you need to pass the time.
Catch Phrase has a number of categories to choose from and over 5000 words and phrases total. A member of each team takes a turn describing the word while your teammates try to guess the word. If you are successful, quickly pass it to the other team before the buzzer runs out. It is a guaranteed source of laughs that can take the boredom out of a long road trip.
Catch Phrase is great to bring on a long road trip and is a good game to break out in the evenings with family.
|Players: 4+||Play time: Unlimited||Brand: Hasbro|
13. The Fox in the Forest
The Fox in the Forest is an easy-to-play, two-player, trick taking, card game that you can play on a long flight or drive. To begin with, a dealer will shuffle a deck of 33 cards before handing each player 13 cards. A decree card is pulled from the top of the pile of remaining cards and placed face-up on the playing surface beside the extra cards, which are placed face-down. The scoring tokens are also placed on the surface.
You and your opponent then begin to place your cards on the table and the one with the highest value wins. However, the player who puts down a trump suit card wins regardless of the value of the other player’s card. If both you and your opponent put down trump suit cards, the one with the higher value will win. Whoever wins sweeps up both cards on the table into their deck.
|Players: 2||Play time: 30 minutes||Brand: Renegade Game Studios|
14. Dungeon Roll
Dungeon Roll is going to sound a bit similar to another game on our gift guide, Dungeon Dice. It’s a “press your luck” dice game: Players assemble a party of various fantasy races and raid a dungeon. Each turn, a player rolls his or party dice, while another player takes on the role of Dungeon Lord and rolls the dice that determine what evil creatures the party will face. The worst of them all of course is the dragon. But defeating bad guys earns players experience points as well as treasure.
|Players: 1-4||Play time: 15 minutes||Brand: Tasty Minstrel Games|
15. The Resistance: Avalon
I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for anything King Arthur. Avalon is a stand-alone spin-off of the original game Resistance, with an Arthurian twist. Players either support Arthur or his nemesis Mordred. The play is mostly similar to the original game, but the game adds a new character, Merlin. Merlin is on the side of good, but he knows from the beginning who Mordred’s minions are. The more players you add to the Avalon game the more special roles you see, with appearances from Percival, who knows Merlin’s identity and protects him, Mordred himself, and Morgana.
Avalon is a stand-alone variant, but you can combine it with The Resistance for more interesting play.
|Players: 5-10||Play time: 30 minutes||Brand: Indie Boards and Cards|
What small board games have you played while on vacation? Tell us about them!