Gaming On The Road


Totem Pole

Spring break is upon us and soon it will be summer vacation. That often means travel, if not to some exotic destination then a family visit or camping trip. Many hard core board gamers pack games for their vacations (I’ve seen some go to great lengths to break a large game down into a tiny travel box), but many people never consider taking games along on their travels. Yet games can be a useful and fun addition to the packing list. Why? Here are eight reasons why games and vacations should go together.

  1. Fill a rainy day. Weather happens on vacation and it can ruin your day. However, if you have a few games or game apps that pay you real money along you can spend the day in the hotel doing something besides watching the Weather Channel and hoping the storm passes.
  2. Meet new people. I’ve found that pulling out a game in a public space like a hotel lobby, picnic table, or restaurant often leads people to come over and ask what we’re doing. Some even join in for a game or two. We’ve met some really cool people this way. We’ve also gone to public game nights at local game stores in our destinations and met other gamers that way, too.
  3. Save a social event. Family reunions, conferences, and parties can get boring once the usual avenues of conversation are exhausted. If you have a game on hand, you can pull it out and get things going again. (If not for the whole gathering, at least for your little table of lucky people.)
  4. Pass the travel time. Layovers, cancelled flights, long train rides, and cross country car trips to Wally World are boring. Games can help pass the time and keep the kids (and adults) from killing each other.
  5. Free entertainment. Vacations can get expensive, but if you schedule a game night as part of your entertainment, that’s at least one night where you won’t have to fork over a ton of money. Go down to the pool or beach and set up under an umbrella, or go to a local game store for their game night. 
  6. You finally have the time to play. Know how you constantly complain that you never have time to game? A vacation is your chance. You don’t have the usual distractions of home and work, so you have no excuse for not getting in at least a quick game or two. Use the time to cross an unplayed game off your list.
  7. Bond with family and friends. You can pull out games on a visit to grandma’s house and keep people entertained while spending some quality time together. Even if you’re not visiting family on your travels, you can use the gaming time to better get to know your travel party.
  8. Relaxation. You don’t want to run yourself ragged on vacation. Rather than scheduling every minute of your vacation with sightseeing and visiting, take some downtime and play some games. Sure, you want to see the things your destination has to offer, but you also want to come home refreshed. Take an afternoon and game over a leisurely lunch, or play by the pool.
Camping can be a great time for games, but any vacation should have games!

What types of games work well on vacation? Anything small, like a card game or a small box board game (think Kosmos-series sized games) packs well. Dice and sturdy components like bakelite tiles travel well and resist damage and weather. Party games are great for getting reluctant gamers into the fray and are useful for salvaging social events. There are plenty of great options on the market and you’re limited only by your interests. So take some games along on your vacation this year. Be the person who gets credited with saving the trip when everything else goes wrong.

I like games with tiles/modular boards that set up and play differently each time. I'm also one of "those people" who likes dice and revels in randomness.

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