The Best Travel-Themed Games to Play at Home
As I was working on this post sharing the best ways to teach travel at home or armchair travel for children with these travel activities for kids at home, I was researching travel-themed board games and was amazed at just how many there are out there. I also noticed there were a lot of travel-themed card games, and travel trivia games to play too.
While we only have a few board games we dig out regularly - thanks mostly to my kids not yet being old enough to do more than throw everything on the floor - I always enjoyed playing board games and card games as a kid, and would have loved some of these great travel-themed games. While I wasn't quite as taken with card games, I know how fun they can be on a journey or while killing time in an airport, and my children will be old enough one day, so I thought it was also worthwhile to include some fun travel-themed card games too.
The section on the best travel trivia games I've added in because although I'm quite well-travelled, I am not as knowledgeable as people would think about countries, capital cities, flags (I am TERRIBLE at flags!) and world history. So these are listed so I can one day get my hands on a few and brush up my knowledge and do better in the (virtual) pub quizzes in my future!
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The Best Travel-Themed Board Games
TOP TIP: If you'd like to shop this list quickly right now - head over here where you can see all these great travel board games, plus some other card games and other puzzles.
Kicking off this list are the best travel-themed board games you can enjoy with friends and family. It's hard to say what age all these board games are suitable for, I would say that most can be played in some format or another from the age of 6 or 7, possibly younger if you're willing to have no rules and never win (as that seems to work for my 5-year-old son!). Of course, you can check out each board game's recommended age and reviews by clicking on the links.
The oldies really are goodies, right? Well, from my research this is the oldest travel board game I could find, and indeed it's only possible to find second hand and vintage editions that aren't super cheap. But I am definitely curious about this board game all about international travel that was first released in 1961. It also seems to be the simplest concept in terms of all you do is book travel, do the travel and repeat.
Growing up my brothers and I were obsessed with the Paris version of Monopoly my parents had. It didn't matter that we couldn't read the Chance or Community Chest cards, nor that we knew where any of the streets actually were, there was just something fun about the idea of going around Paris buying all the houses and hotels! I mean, that sounds like a fun game to me now I'm a grown up. I also have a Monopoly set that is based in the city I went to University, so I just think Monopoly is a great game to keep a certain place in your family.
There are countless Monopoly sets to consider buying (from David Bowie Monopoly through to Super Mario Brothers (!), but for the ultimate travel experience I would have to recommend this Monopoly World Edition.
Visually this board game looks stunning and it's definitely one for those who enjoy hiking and exploring the great outdoors. The game can be played in a number of ways - cooperative or competitive - but it's basic goal is to get yourself out of a certain scenario and to do so you must go on a journey through some sort of wildernis where you either help or try to beat your fellow players. So yes, this is a board game that really adds a bit of adventure.
If you love trains you have to get a Ticket to Ride board game. There are SEVERAL available and you can pick one that will resonate most with your family (there's even an Amsterdam edition!), but the premise is the same in all. Essentially, you have to connect destinations (usually by trains) as the game progresses and each player is allocated ticket cards to determine which journeys they have to make.
As I mentioned above, this is probably a game I should get as my knowledge of flags is lacking - to put it kindly - so do as I don't and get this to geek out over the flags of the world!
This game is a so-called civilisation game where players must build up cities as the game progresses. Players draw cards which then dictate actions to be taken and how their cities - each one of the seven ancient cities - develop is how winners and losers are determined. This is definitely a game for those interested in ancient history and its geography. A hugely popular game, there have since been a few spin-off board games and card games like 7 Wonders: Duel and this Armada game, based on the Spanish Armada.
This seems to be the ultimate travel trivia board game with over 1000 questions about geography, world history, sight-seeing and more. It may be more appropriate for travel-obsessed adults but perhaps I'm misjudging the kids who have done both a fair bit of world travel and a huge amount of YouTube travel videos watching!
I'm not sure if this game is simply from a bygone era, or if it is set in a time not many people alive will have lived through, but either way there's an undeniably romantic air to the Airlines game which takes you back to the dawn of commercial aviation and tasks players with setting up their own airlines and doing what they can to make them the most successful. The industry is quite different now - and indeed it's hard to think about anyone wanting to set up an airline from scratch in our current climate - so that also adds another level of nostalgia.
If you've been reading my blog for a while you'll know that we are snow-loving people and avid snowboarders, so this game looks very appealing to us (even if it seems to be more about skiing than snowboarding). Ski Run is definitely one to buy if you're going to be missing out on a ski trip this coming season.
While at first glance I did wonder if this was a cheap knock-off version of Monopoly, it does seem that the Destination series of board games are well established and certainly very popular in the UK, as they have versions for many different UK cities. Players are taxi drivers and the goal seems to be collection of fares and safe delivery of them while also exploring landmarks and famous sights.
Ever feel it's not fair that your kids miss out on all that last minute late night packing you do before bedtime (the lists!! Soooo many lists!)? Well, now they can enjoy some packing stress dressed up as good fun. All joking aside this game does look rather good, especially for younger kids as it follows a simple Bingo-esque premise but with a very travel-related theme - packing and getting your bags through an airport!
If Baggage Blunder didn't get your stress levels up high enough, you could also get Overbooked, a game that is based on the real-life job of managing flight share loads. It begs belief for me - who gets claustrophobia just thinking about a full flight - but for some it will be all the fun in the world, especially when the goal is to bump off your opponents! (Shudder!)
Finally a game that has the premise I expected all of these travel board games to have - the first person to travel around the world in this game is the winner! You advance by answering questions about world geography, and it's adjustable for a range of ages so you can make it harder or easier.
Another kid-friendly (from age 7 up) family travel-themed board game is this one which is again focused on travelling around the world and expanding players' knowledge of the countries, cultures and cuisines they explore in the game.
I'm including Canal Mania in this list as something of a private joke with my parents and brothers as my canal boat-owning parents have this game and the few times we have tried to play it I have found it too complicated and convoluted to last more than a few minutes. Some in my family have had more luck and it's definitely a game worth getting and playing if you are familiar with the UK waterways and canal boat life.
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Frances M. Thompson
Londoner turned wanderer, Frankie is an author, freelance writer and blogger. Currently based in Amsterdam, Frankie was nomadic for two years before starting a family with her Australian partner. Frankie is the author of three short story collections, and is a freelance writer for travel and creative brands. In 2017, she launched WriteNOW Cards, affirmation cards for writers that help build a productive and positive writing practice. When not writing contemporary fiction, Frankie shops for vintage clothes, dances to 70s disco music and chases her two young sons around Amsterdam.
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