Best Games for Travel

When you and your friends and family are on a long trip, it’s always nice to have some games to take along for when you’re waiting at an airport or train station, in transit, or even just relaxing at your final destination. However, the realities of packing and travel narrow your options. Just ask anyone who has ever had a game of Risk ruined when their little brother accidentally bumped the table and sent the pieces flying, and they’ll tell you that you’ll want games that don’t rely on large numbers of tiny pieces to be subject to sudden movements.

Have another game you love to travel with?  Comment below, and our editors will consider adding it to our list!

1. Magnetic Chess, Checkers, Backgammon 3-in-1!

 3 in 1 Magnetic Chess, Checkers, Backgammon

This nifty travel kit allows you to play checkers, chess, and backgammon anywhere you please. The magnetized pieces are a great feature for keeping the pieces in order, even on a bumpy road or turbulent flight.

2. BananaGrams

 Click here to shop for Bananagrams!

BananaGrams is like Scrabble at light speed! From the minute the game starts to the moment the last letter is used, the pressure is on to create the biggest crossword grid! No board required, this game is great for families on the go.

3. Ingenius Travel Edition

Ingenious: Travel Edition

This 2-player abstract strategy game got rave reviews from the gaming community on boardgamegeek.com, winning a nomination for Best 2-Player Game of 2007. Originally popularized in Europe, this game’s depth provides satisfying gameplay for even the most demanding travelers.

4. Playing Cards

Click to shop for Bicycle Guardians Playing Cards
OK, so playing cards may not be a board game. But from solitaire to spades, there are few ways to pass as much time with as little suitcase space as with a deck of cards.

5. Yahtzee To Go

Click to shop for Yahtzee to Go Travel Game

According to Wikipedia, over 50 million Yahtzee sets are sold each year. The game’s enduring popularity since its invention in the 1940s can be attributed to fast gameplay, straightforward strategy, and the thrill of getting a lucky roll and shouting YAHTZEE!

Top Board Games for Kids Under Age 10

1. Parcheesi

Click here to shop for Parcheesi!
Parcheesi is descended from an ancient game played by royalty in ancient India. According to historical accounts, the game was originally played on a massive outdoor “board” using royal servants instead of pieces. That the game has survived the ages (and downsizing to plastic pawns) is a testament to its enduring entertainment value. The rules are easy for kids to understand, but there is enough room for strategy to make this game fun for all generations.

2. Mouse Trap

Click here to shop for Mousetrap!
In Mouse Trap, players build an elaborate contraption to, well, trap mice. This is one of the best board games for kids who are mechanically minded – there is nothing like the thrill of seeing their own carefully constructed trap spring into action!

3. Candyland
Shop for Candy Land – The Kingdom of Sweets

Candyland has a special place in the hearts of board gamers everywhere as one of their earliest memories. A colorful cast of characters and delicious artwork delight children as they race to reach King Kandy and his castle made of sweets!

4. Hungry Hungry Hippos

Click Here to shop for Hungry Hungry Hippos!
Up to 4 people can compete in the fast-paced tabletop action of Hungry Hungry Hippos. Smack your hippo to gobble up marbles faster than your opponents!!

5. Snakes and Ladders

Click to Shop for Snakes and Ladders!
Also known as Chutes and Ladders, this simple game is great for kids. Climb the ladders to be the first to the top, and avoid hitting snakes and slithering back down the board!

Top 10 Educational Board Games

1. Cranium


Click here to shop for Cranium!

An evolution of classic games like Charades and Pictionary, Cranium forces players to use a mix of musical, artistic, and acting skills to help their team win. Hundreds of unique challenges await – whether humming a perfect tune, sculpting a pristine model, penning a detailed drawing, or miming an impeccable impersonation is your forte, Cranium is sure to please.

2. Qwirkle

Click here to shop for Qwirkle!

This addicting strategy game is the winner of countless awards, including the Parent’s Choice Foundation’s GOLD Award. Two to four (2-4) people can play the game, which resembles Scrabble in gameplay – tiles with different colors and shapes must be matched in a crossword-like grid to score points. The game is easy to learn (ages 6 and up) but impossible to master, meaning it stays engaging as kids grow older!

3. Sneaky-Snacky Squirrel

Click to shop for The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game!

Cute squirrels get hungry too! Kids ages 3 and up can enjoy feeding sneaky squirrels in this great pre-K game that teaches sorting by colors, motor skills, and hand-eye coordination.

4. Bananagrams
Click here to shop for Bananagrams!
BananaGrams is like Scrabble at light speed! From the minute the game starts to the moment the last letter is used, the pressure is on to create the biggest crossword grid! No board required, this game is great for families on the go.

5. Set

Click here to shop for Set now!

This fast-paced game of visual perception challenges all ages to push brains to be the first to recognize “sets”. While the rules are simple, Set provides hours of fun as you face off with friends and family. While there aren’t any facts to memorize, Set is great for building logical pattern recognition skills of the same sort used in the SAT and other standardized tests.

6. Masterpiece

Click here to shop for Masterpiece – The Art Auction Game!
This highly collectible Parker Brothers game was originally published in the 1970s. The game centers around high-stakes auctions for famous works of art from the likes of Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and Edward Hopper. But buyer beware – some of the “Masterpieces” are counterfeit phonies!

7. Mastermind

Click here to shop for Mastermind!
Generations of budding codebreakers have sharpened their logic and deduction skills with Mastermind! Two players go head to head – it’s codemaker vs. codebreaker. The goal of the codebreaker is to break the code in 10 moves or fewer by using his opponents cryptic clues.

8. Trivial Pursuit

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Trivial Pursuit is the classic trivia game. Keep in mind that there are many versions of this game, with different levels of difficulty. For instance, the Master Edition is recommended for ages 18 and up. The Family Edition of the game helps bridge the generations with separate stacks of cards for kids and adults, keeping the playing field fair (that is, until the kids start winning!)

9. Wooden Sudoku

Click Here to shop for Wooden Sudoku boards!

Sudoku can seem mysterious to kids whose only exposure to the game comes from having the comics page of the newspaper stolen by parents looking for their brain-teaser fix. The Wooden Sudoku Board brings the action to life, complete with miniature “thinking tiles” which help visualize the process of elimination that is key to the game.

10. Snap Circuits

Click to shop Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100!

Snap Circuits is more of a project kit than a game, but we include it on our list because it is a great way for kids to collaborate and learn fundamental concepts of science and electricity. With the Snap Circuits Jr. edition, kids build a real working circuit and can illuminate lights, control buzzers, and make fans spin! More advanced kits are also available.

Scrabble

Before there was Words With Friends, there was Scrabble. This classic game pits players in an epic battle of words and wit – on second thought, scratch the wit. Your only weapon is, well, words.
Scrabble, fun for all ages, makes a great gift. Click here to shop!

In the game of Scrabble, you are dealt a hand of tiles containing random letters. After you use tiles to form a word, you get new ones to replace them.

How to Win

The object of the game is to place these letters on the board to form interlocking words with the letter tiles already on the board.  The player with the most points when all the letters have been used is the winner!

Runner-Up

The title of Runner-Up goes to the player with 2nd most points. To become Runner-Up, you have to get more points than every player except the winner. It is not possible to become Runner-Up when playing alone.

If you can’t find anyone to play with in person, the game Words with Friends is a great way to get in on the action from your smartphone.

 Click here to download Words with Friends FREE!

 

Monopoly

Monopoly could be called The Great American Board Game. It’s got everything – money, power, and a man with a monocle.

Monopoly gets a bad reputation for taking a long time to play. However, if you find a group that is excited about the game, it can move quickly  and stay exciting the whole time. Depending on how Lady Luck casts the dice, games can end relatively quickly – if she is feeling particularly devilish, the game can last as little as 21 seconds.

Despite all the cards, houses, hotels, multi-colored money, and unique game pieces (I claim the battleship!!), you can still pick up Monopoly – The Classic Edition for under $20.

Click here to shop for Monopoly – Classic Edition!

History of the Game

As usual, if you want the full scoop, there’s nowhere better to turn than Wikipedia. But here’s the short story. A lady named Elizabeth Magie invented the game in the early 1900s. She originally called it “The Landlord’s Game”. Her intention was actually to make a political comment – she wanted to show that the capitalist system of landlords extracting rent from tenants was BAD.  However, a copycat version of the game made by a man named Charles Darrow (which the Atlantic City, NJ property names we’ve all come to know)  was sold to Parker Brothers in 1934, and the rest is history.  Of course, Darrow’s version of the game had one little difference – “GREED, for the lack of a better word, IS GOOD.”

Rules (And Rules Broken)

If you want to read the official rules, there’s a set in the box. That said, there are a few popular variations of the game which greatly affect gameplay, and should be agreed upon prior to the beginning of the game. Believe me – this avoids unnecessary squabbles later in the game, after the competitive juices start flowing and tensions are running high.

Free Parking

If you’re like many people, you learned as a kid that landing on Free Parking means collecting a (hopefully) big pile of cash that has been accumulating in the middle of the board.

In the official rules, however, the sources of funds that accumulate in the Free Parking pot, (usually Luxury Tax, Income Tax, and penalties from Chance and Community Chest cards), actually go back to the bank, not to a jackpot for some lucky roller.

The Auction Rule

When a player lands on an un-owned property, they have the right to buy the property at the price indicated on the board.  If you play with the auction rule, this doesn’t change.  What changes is the scenario in which the player who lands on a space chooses NOT to buy the property – this is where the auction rule kicks in.

When the Auction Rule is in effect, unowned properties initially refused by the person who lands on them are immediately sold to the highest bidder, as determined in an auction. The winning bidder pays the bank, and the property is theirs.  One important note is that the person who initially refused the property can still bid – if his opponents are cash-strapped, he may even get the property for less than the sticker price!

Strategy

To win Monopoly, the ultimate goal is to outsurvive the other players. Buying properties and building improvements are crucial in order to develop income streams which suck money away from your opponents and keep you rolling with fat stacks, as it were.  A word of caution – be careful not to overextend your spending capacity. Keep an eye on your opponents’ holdings to get an eyeballed estimate of a “worst case” next couple turns rolls you could have, in terms of costs, and try to maintain enough cash that you won’t go bankrupt if you get unlucky.

Some people have gone to great lengths to develop sure-fire strategies to win Monopoly – read at your own risk, and bring a calculator.  If number-crunching isn’t for you, there are some easy-to-remember takeaways.  First, railroads are a great early investment, but only if you have more than one. Try to get a relatively cheap Monopoly – orange, light blue, and light purple are best, since they command decent rents but it’s cheap to build houses.  Note that the highest rent jump happens when you build your third house – once you have a monopoly, getting up to 3 houses on each is almost certainly the best way to invest your money. After that, you can go back to exploring new conquests.

A final note – never forget that bargaining is on the table (though it’s polite to only initiate deals on your turn).  If you need cash quick, remember that it doesn’t matter what your property is worth to you, it’s what the other guy will pay for it.