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Discover How Board Games Can Help You Explore New Destinations 

Board games can be an excellent way to connect with locals, learn about new cultures, and create unforgettable travel memories. In this post, I’ll share some tips for using board games to enhance your travel experience, from researching local games and packing travel-friendly games to playing games in public places and using games to learn a new language.

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Learn How to Travel Authentically with Board Games

Board games are not only a fun pastime but also a great way to enhance your travel experiences. As you embark on your next adventure, consider packing a few board games in your luggage to help you connect with locals, learn about new cultures, and make lasting memories. Here are my top tips for traveling more authentically through gameplay. 

Research Local Games

Before you depart on your trip, do some research on popular board games in the area you plan to visit. Researching local games in advance can be a great way to immerse yourself in the local community and gain a deeper understanding of the place you’re visiting. Here are some of the benefits of researching local games before you travel: 

  • Connect with locals: One of the biggest advantages of researching local games is the opportunity to connect with locals. Whether you’re playing a game at a local café or participating in a game night event, you’ll have a chance to meet new people and make connections that you might not have had otherwise. Playing games together can be a fun and easy way to break the ice and connect with people from different backgrounds. 
  • Experience the local culture: Board games can help you learn about the the country you’re visiting. Many games are based on local folklore, myths, history, values and traditions, which can help you gain a deeper understanding of the people and local culture. By playing traditional games, you’ll be able to see how they have evolved over time and how they fit into the local way of life. 
  • Expand your gaming horizons: Another benefit of researching local games is the opportunity to learn about new games and expand your gaming horizons. Many countries have unique games that are not commonly played in other parts of the world. By playing these games, you’ll have the chance to learn new rules, strategies, and gameplay mechanics. Who knows, you may even discover a new favorite game! 
  • Find gaming events: In addition to learning about local games, researching in advance can help you find out about upcoming gaming events in the area. Game stores and community centers often host game nights and tournaments, which can be a great way to meet other gamers and learn about local gaming culture. 

So how can you research local games before you travel? A simple Google search can be a great starting point. Type in the name of the city or region you’ll be visiting, followed by “local board games” or “traditional games”. You can also check out local game stores or gaming groups on social media to find out about events and meetups. 

Once you’ve identified some local games, make sure to pack any necessary equipment. If you’re traveling with a group, consider bringing along a board or card game that will accommodate a large number of players. This way, you can easily play games on the go and take advantage of any opportunities to connect with locals. 

Pack travel-friendly games

When it comes to traveling, we all know that packing can be a daunting task. With so many items to choose from and limited space, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. However, one item that should definitely make it into your suitcase is a travel-friendly game. Not only are these games a great way to pass the time during long flights or train rides, but they also offer a variety of benefits that you may not have considered before. 

For starters, travel-friendly games are compact and lightweight, making them perfect for fitting into even the smallest of carry-on bags. Instead of packing heavy board games or puzzles, opt for smaller games like many card games or some dice games with storage that won’t weigh you down. (I’ve covered dice towers in more detail on this blog post.) This way, you’ll still have plenty of space for all your other travel essentials. 

Another benefit of travel-friendly games is that they are often easy to learn and quick to play. This makes them perfect for playing with friends or family members while waiting for your flight or during a long layover. Instead of scrolling through social media or watching mindless TV shows, why not engage in some friendly competition with your travel buddies? 

Some of the most popular travel-friendly games include Love Letter, Sushi Go!, and Codenames. Love Letter is a fast-paced card game that can be played with just two players, while Sushi Go! is a fun and easy-to-learn game that involves collecting different types of sushi. Codenames, on the other hand, is a word game that challenges players to come up with clues to help their teammates guess the right words. (Check out my ultimate list of portable board games here for more travel game inspo!) 

Play games in public spaces

One of the best things about playing board games in public places is the opportunity to meet locals and make new friends. It’s a great ice-breaker that can help you strike up a conversation with someone who might otherwise have been a stranger. Whether you’re playing in a local park, a coffee shop, a pub, or even the lobby of your hostel, people are naturally drawn to the fun and excitement of board games, especially if it’s a familiar one. 

The best part is that you don’t have to be a board game expert to join in on the fun. Most board games are easy to learn and can be played by anyone. Plus, you can always offer to teach someone a game that they’ve never played before. 
Of course, playing board games in public places isn’t without its challenges. You’ll need to be mindful of noise levels and respectful of the space you’re using. Also, keep in mind that not everyone will be interested in playing or might not have the time. But don’t let that discourage you from trying. 

Use games to learn the local language 

When you’re traveling to a new country, there’s no better way than by learning the language. Board games, card games, and even dice games can all be used as tools to help you learn new words and phrases.  

One of the best things about using games to learn a language is that they involve reading, writing, and speaking. For example, if you’re playing a game with cards that have words on them, you’ll need to read those words to understand the rules of the game. You’ll also need to write down your scores or keep track of your progress, which will help reinforce the words in your mind. And of course, you’ll be speaking with your fellow players as you play the game, which will help you practice your pronunciation and grammar. 

And unlike real-life conversations where there is often a fear of making mistakes, board games offer a safe space to practice speaking without the fear of judgment. As you play, you can experiment with new vocabulary and sentence structures without worrying about getting everything right the first time. 

Bananagrams and Boggle are both word games that require players to create words using a set of letter tiles. In Bananagrams, players race to use up all their tiles by creating interconnected words, while in Boggle, players have a set amount of time to find as many words as possible in a grid of jumbled letters. Both can be good portable game options that can help you improve your vocabulary and spelling skills. Check out the prices here and here, respectively.

Board games can also provide an opportunity to practice writing in the target language. Many games require you to take notes or write down answers, which can be an excellent way to practice your writing skills. You can also use board games to practice writing in a way that’s more engaging and entertaining than traditional writing exercises. 

Learning the language is an excellent opportunity to connect with locals. If you’re staying in a hostel, you can organize a game night and invite other travelers or locals to join. This can be a great way to make new friends and practice your language skills in a relaxed setting. 

Take advantage of downtime 

Travel can be unpredictable, with long layovers and delays. Take advantage of these downtime moments to play games. After all, the activity has mental health benefits. Games require focus and attention, which can help distract from anxious thoughts or worries. After a full day of exploring, your mind can feel exhausted and overloaded with new information. Playing a board game can provide a welcomed break and a chance to simply relax, unwind and let go of the stress that may have accumulated throughout the day. 

Document your gaming experiences 

It’s no secret that gaming while traveling is a unique experience that can create memories that last a lifetime. However, keeping those memories fresh in your mind can be a challenge. One way to preserve and share your gaming experiences is by documenting them. Not only does this help you remember the people, places, and games you played, but it also allows you to share your adventures with others. 

So how do you go about documenting your gaming experiences while traveling? There are several options, depending on your preferences and the resources available to you. For example, taking pictures of the games you play, the people you meet, and the locations you visit is a great way to capture the moment. The visuals will remind you of the time, atmosphere and vibe of the game night or session. 

Another way to document your gaming experiences is by writing about them in a travel journal or blog. Not only does this help you remember the details of the game, but it also allows you to reflect on your experience and share it with others who might be interested in gaming or travel. With a travel journal, you can jot down notes about the games you played, the strategies you used, the people you met, and the lessons you learned. 

As for a blog, you can create a post that is dedicated to the gaming experiences you had during your travels. This will allow you to share your experiences with a larger audience and inspire others to try new games or explore different gaming cultures. It’s also a great way to meet like-minded people and share tips and tricks about gaming while traveling. 

Personally, I find that associating the games I played with the place I played them helps me to remember the details more vividly. It’s like an additional layer of memory that helps me recall even the smallest of things. For example, if I played a game of Monopoly at a friend’s cabin in the mountains, I remember the smell of pine trees, the chill of the night air and the sound of the fireplace crackling in the background. Or if I played a game of Catan at a pub in Dublin, I can remember the taste of the local brew, the buzz of the conversations around us and the warmth of the pub interior. It’s amazing how even seemingly unimportant details come flooding back with the association of the game and the place. 

So, if you’re traveling and looking to document your gaming experiences, don’t be afraid to get creative! Take pictures, jot down notes, start a blog, or find any other method that works for you. You’ll be surprised at how much joy it can bring to revisit those memories and share them with others. Plus, documenting your experiences can also serve as a guide for future travels and help you discover new gaming communities and cultures around the world. 

The Final Score 

I hope this post has sparked your imagination and given you some new ideas for how to make your travels more engaging and memorable. By incorporating games into your travel plans, you’ll be able to create connections with locals and gain a deeper understanding of the places you visit. And who knows, you might even discover a new favorite game or two along the way!  

Remember, traveling is not just about ticking off items on a bucket list. It’s about exploring new horizons, immersing yourself in new cultures, and making meaningful connections with people from all walks of life. So why not add a touch of playfulness to your next adventure and see where it takes you? 

I can’t wait to hear about your leveled-up adventures with gaming and travel, so be sure to share them with me and the community. Together, we can continue to discover new ways to make the most of our travels. Happy travels and happy gaming! 

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