Many travellers consider a deck of playing cards an essential item to pack. But that old boring deck of 52 playing cards limits you to playing just a few standard games. Soon enough, everyone gets sick of playing yet another round of Shithead or Spoons.

What if you want to play something a bit different? I asked my friend Glenn, who has a blog about casual games called Best Play, to share his recommended travel-size board and card games.

Whether you’re travelling for just a weekend or going away for months you need some entertainment. Not only can games provide this they but they can also be a great ice breaker and help you get to know your fellow travellers. Space is a premium though and you only have room for a few tiny boxes that you’d be happy to play over and over again. So what board or card games should you take on your next trip? 


Love Letter

Love letter is tiny. In fact, it’s comprised of just 16 cards and a few little red cubes in a delightful velvety bag. It’s a simple game about getting your love letter to the princess, but there are some helpful and not so helpful people in your way. It’s a great intro to board games for people as well, with incredibly simple rules that are almost entirely on the cards themselves.

There are even several fun spin off versions like the Adventure Time edition, a wedding themed version … or Batman, bizarrely.

Get it here on Amazon


Hive (Pocket)

Hive is a wonderful two player strategy game. The object is to surround your opponent’s queen bee before they surround yours. You do that with a set of chunky bug tiles. Each one works in a different way. Beetles clamber across the top of the hive, grasshoppers jump around the outside and spiders can speed around as quickly as they like.

Every move must be considered. When do you need to attack and when should you defend? Can you lure your opponent intro a trap that you’ve planned a few moves ahead?

Get it here on Amazon


Dark Stories

Dark stories is potentially the smallest game on this list given that you can play it with just one card (although don’t worry: there are plenty in a pack). It’s a game about solving a mystery with just yes/no questions and they can be often become quite tricky, and are frequently ridiculous.

The beauty of how it works means that you don’t all have to be sat around a table. Your guessers might be everyone else in the car (drivers, please keep your eyes on the road) or on the end of a phone call. There are plenty of packs to collect so you can keep the mysteries going for years, if you want.

Get it here on Amazon 


Zombie Dice

A push your luck kind of game in which you are the zombie. The first to eat 13 brains without getting theirs blown out wins. Not all dice are full of brains though. The red ones are more likely to see you lose your head than find your victims. So when do you keep rolling those dice? And when do you “bank” your brains? Thats the simple gamble you get to take. A bit like The Weakest Link, in a way.

Once more, this game is simple to learn but features plenty of tension and screams of delight. Once you’ve had your fill there are even more dice you can buy (like the school bus) and still fit them all in the same tube.

Get it here on Amazon



Matroyshka is the baby of the list, having come out only very recently. It’s a trading game about building the best collection of Russian Dolls. In this economy though, the only thing you can trade is more dolls. Every turn you must offer up one of your little beauties and everyone must secretly bid for it with one of theirs. After a few rounds of trading, whichever player has the best collection wins.

The trick comes from knowing which dolls to keep and which to trade, as the game goes on you reveal more of the collection in your hand. The idea here is to subtly reveal to the others what it is you might need, but perhaps also keeping back that mighty surprise still in your hand.

Get it here.


And there you have it, five tiny games perfect to take with you wherever you go for all kinds of occasions. If you’ve still not got your fix of travel games check out this snappy article on games from the kings of tiny games Oink. 

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