For those times we’re stuck at home and simply can’t leave the house, I’ve got 17 travel-themed board games to turn that “bored” upside down. Actually, I’m going to remove the e, push the r and the d together, then add in an a. But you get my drift!
Besides, flipping the board upside down doesn’t usually happen until like the third round when I’m losing by a large margin and this sh*t just ain’t fair anymore.
As much as we love to travel, there are some times when we just can’t.
- Maybe we’re sick (or, if you’re anything like me, you got sick while traveling).
- Maybe we have work or family responsibilities.
- Perhaps we’re going through some financial hardships (no doubt brought on by TMT—too much travel).
- Maybe we live in the United States where our jobs offer only a pathetic excuse for a vacation policy.
- Or, maybe there’s even a global reason forcing us all to shelter-in-place. Hey, anything’s possible.
And since we’re all masochists, we may spur on the pain by watching our favorite travel-related movies and TV shows. Or maybe we’ll turn to our favorite travelific (I’m trademarking that) books to take us to faraway places while our asses are busy socially distancing.
However, since misery does, in fact, love company, maybe we’ll recruit our loved ones and roommates to join in our pain of staying put. And for those times when not leaving the house is just too sad to bear alone, pick up one of these 17 travel-themed board games. Self-quarantining: fun for the whole family!
17 Travel-themed board games
If you’re looking to pretend like you’re traveling when you physically can’t, start here with this list of travel-themed board games. (Maybe you’re just looking to show off how much worldly knowledge you’ve picked up in places like Mexico, Italy, or that toilet restaurant in Taiwan? That’s cool too.)
These games will get you out of your sofa funk, though not off the sofa. They’ll get you back into a world of culture, unpredictability, and questionable logistical moves… without actually getting you back into the world. What more could you ask for! (Don’t answer that.)
This list of travel-themed board games is in no particular order.
Carcassonne the board game is named after Carcassonne the fortified French town home to about 50,000 people. It’s located in the far south of France and is just gluttonous with castles and jaw-dropping beauty. Blech. Besides tourism, Carcassonne’s key economic sector is wine-making. (Did someone say “Let’s make this a drinking game!”?)
Carcassonne the board game involves arranging tiles to create rivers, grasslands, and mountain ranges. Then, stake your claim as a tiny wooden man called a ‘meeple’ for reasons beyond me. You get points for the length of the rivers/ranges/fields you’ve claimed and how many castles are on them. After all the tiles are placed, the person with the most points wins.
- Players: 2-5, but best with 2
- Solo variant: Rules here. Even if you’re completely self-isolating, you can still play this game!
- Time: 45 – 60 minutes (more wine = more time)
- Ages: 7+
- Probability of a hissy fit: Low
- Also Available: Due to its popularity, many additional versions of Carcassonne have been released. Maybe you have something against France? If so, check out: Carcassonne Hunters & Gatherers, Carcassonne South Seas, Carcassonne Amazonas, and a plethora of others not specifically related to travel.
2. Monopoly: Here & Now
Now let’s talk about Monopoly—I’m taking it back to the old school, ‘cause I’m an old fool, who’s so cool. (Though my use of Tag Team lyrics begs to differ.)
Monopoly is classic board gaming and now there are editions for just about everyone. There’s Monopoly for WWII buffs, Stranger Things Monopoly, even Monopoly Cash Grab where you stuff all the money into a “blaster” that shoots Monopoly money out. If turning your quarantine into a rap video is high on your agenda, then whoomp, there it is!
In the world of travel-themed board games, there’s even a Monopoly for that. Monopoly Here & Now is a modernized take on the classic with inflation out the wazoo, interest on credit card debt, and new game tokens like McDonalds french fries. Actually, this sounds a little too realistic to not be depressing.
Monopoly Here & Now: US Edition
Regardless, Monopoly Here & Now: U.S. Edition has you battling to own your favorite cities, where the goal is to collect stamps and fill up your passport faster than your opponents. (A glaring production error if there ever was one.)
Monopoly Here & Now: World Edition
Monopoly Here & Now: World Edition has you traveling to cities all over the world to build properties from mud huts to skyscrapers. You’ll actually learn interesting, real life facts from the cards and it utilizes an electronic banking device—no cash required.
- Players: 2-4
- Time: 1 hour, said no one who’s played Monopoly ever
- Age: 8+
- Probability of a hissy fit: Medium to High, I mean have you seen the price of bail nowadays?
3. Travel Blog, the board game
On this week’s episode of “I can’t even believe this is real” Ashley tells you about some travel-themed board games that she just. can’t. even.
In Travel Blog, you’re given a stipend and have to make it last as long as possible while traveling the world. The player with the most money at the end of the game wins. This is not a game. This is life.
The back of the box reads:
Your task is to pick states or countries most suitable for your trip and to do it faster than your opponents. How many borders do you cross on your trip from France to Russia? Is it more or less than from Norway to Turkey? Detailed knowledge of the map is an advantage but can be easily beaten by good intuition and fast decision making.
So… Travel Blog the board game is like if travel bloggers had to plan trips without the use of the internet? You do know what blogging is, right?
Travel Blog is a game for up to 6 players which is just plain hilarious because no one knows self-isolation like bloggers. Our friends are often a globe away and you can typically find us holed up all alone in our living rooms under cat that drools in his sleep. And those are just our working hours.
Want to experience life as a travel blogger without leaving your house? You could just spend 80 hours a week in front of your computer in your pajamas. The player with the most heinous insults from strangers wins! Or maybe just play Travel Blog the board game. Travel Blog has been especially hard to find lately, but when you do, buy it with money you’ve made from display ads.
Travel Blog information
- Players: 2-6
- Time: 30 minutes, less time than it’s taking me to proof-read this blog post. Wildly inaccurate if you ask me.
- Age: 8+ (but know the trolls in this game aren’t the cute sparkly ones who sing a lot)
- Probability of a hissy fit: Depends on how close this is to real travel blogging. (You could have a potential meltdown on your hands.)
- Want to understand this game better? Start your own travel blog. Good luck. You have chosen… poorly.
4. Ticket to Ride
In Ticket to Ride, players compete to create railways across North America—I’m guessing somewhere in the timeframe of Back to the Future Part III based on the characters on the box. But also because there’s no way I’m taking a train across the country in 2020.
The longer the railway you build, the more points you earn. Seems pretty straightforward.
Given this game’s instant popularity after coming out in 2004, I’m left to believe its propensity for causing rage-induced table flipping is at a minimum. Likewise, it too has birthed many offshoot versions like: Ticket to Ride Europe, Ticket to Ride Japan, Ticket to Ride Germany complete with a dirndl’ed character and the child version of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, and many more.
Ticket to Ride information
- Players: 2-5
- Time: 30-60 minutes
- Age: 8+
- Probability of a hissy fit: I’m guessing low
Wow. The building isn’t even complete yet and there’s already a board game named after it. Yes, I’m talking about Sagrada Familia—the unreal cathedral in Barcelona from the mind of Antoni Gaudí.
Construction on it began in 1882, around the same time ladies with parasols were taking trains across North America. Finally, after almost 140 years of construction, Sagrada Familia is scheduled to be finished around the first of… just kidding. It’ll never be done.
Regardless, it’s still one of the most amazing structures I’ve ever seen with my own eyes. Obviously the corresponding board game is super colorful, super pretty, and probably just as confusing as the real thing.
The official description of Sagrada says:
As a skilled artisan, you will use tools-of-the-trade and careful planning to construct a stained glass window masterpiece in the Sagrada Familia.
Since I am not a skilled artisan and “careful planning” is not a favorite board game quality of mine, I don’t foresee this ending well. (I’m more of a darts kinda girl where throwing things is already the main objective.)
Whatever kind of game you prefer, at least this game is way off course from the rest of them. Not many board games have the objective to “gain prestige by adapting to the preferences of your fickle admirers.” I feel smarter already.
- Players: 1-4, finally! A game you can play alone in your basement! (‘Cause probably no one is playing this with you.)
- Time: 140 years (or 30-45 minutes)
- Age: 14+
- Probably of a hissy fit: Well, it’s a game that revolves around “dice drafting” and since I don’t even know what that is, I already wanna throw things.
- Also available: Sagrada: Passion–where you can get “rewarded for carefully meeting new symmetry and balance public objectives.” Because who wants to play travel-themed board games that lack the stress of real life careers?
6. Puerto Rico
I’ve been playing the board game Puerto Rico for over a decade. And 100% of the time has been against my will. It’s a highly rated board game modeled after the European colonization of the island of Puerto Rico. (Wait a minute…)
You have to decide which role you’ll play in the New World: prospector, captain, builder, mayor, craftsman, settler, and trader. (Umm, this for real?) Throughout the game you work towards building the most profitable buildings (like factories and wharfs) and owning and staffing the most prosperous plantations (You serious?).
Okay, regardless of its lack of social awareness it’s actually a great game for those who love high stakes strategy games. For those of us who don’t, be prepared to play the “divorce” card once or twice.
Puerto Rico information
- Players: 3-5 players – yes, you have to find 3-5 like-minded individuals to go there with you
- 2-player Variant: Yes, it exists.
- Time: For-f*cking-ever. (1.5 hours to 2.5 hours)
- Age: 12+ but please explain “colonization” to them first
- Probability of a hissy fit: the highest of all the travel-themed board games in this post.
- Also available: San Juan, the card game version based on the Puerto Rico board game
- Fun fact: I once played Puerto Rico in Puerto Rico. Is that cool or extremely offensive? (Don’t answer that.)
7. Flags Around the World
As a big ol’ flag nerd I’m really excited these travel-themed board games exist. Flags Around the World is a fact-packed game utilizing questions on every country in the world. You get to learn about countries, flags, and world capitals! Score!
This game really comes in handy for learning about, not only flags, but world geography in general. I am so tired of people being like “Oooh Ashley!” when a geography category comes on Jeopardy! (…and I don’t know a single answer despite travel literally being how I earn my living).
You can make this game harder with open-ended questions, or easier by using multiple choice—like for when your kid crashes your very adult, high stakes wine-drinking game night.
Flags Around the World information
- Players: 2-6
- Solo Variant: Just go through the cards and see if you know the answers, while drinking wine
- Age: 8+
- Probability of a hissy fit: Oh, I know I know nothing about geography. This will not shock me.
- Fun fact: I collect miniature flags of all the countries I’ve been to. I may actually win at this game!!!!!!!!!!!
Looking for other ways to pass your quarantine? Check out my post on how to recreate a Turkish hammam at home. It’s got 9 totally accurate steps to get you to baby-soft skin and tons of laughs.
8. Airlines: Europe
From the mind that brought us Ticket to Ride comes Airlines: Europe—a WTF board game of anxiety-inducing proportions.
In the game Airlines: Europe, the time is… a wicked long time ago. The objective, to start the most profitable airline in Europe by investing your influence and cash wisely. You earn points for the stock you hold in certain airlines.
Plan air routes, buy stock in airlines, try not to run out of airplanes. Bonus points if you can form a continuous path between your home airport and your target destination. (As opposed to a partial path? This is horrific gameplay.) Combine this with the #17 game on this list and you’ve got yourself a real challenge!
Airlines: Europe information
- Players: 2-5
- Time: 75 minutes
- Age: 10+ because, sure, 10 year olds know about stock investing. (Do they?)
- Probability of a hissy fit: Likely
Admittedly, I was kinda shocked to see how well-received this of all travel-themed board games is. I chose it because it’s simply nice to look at and reminds me of faraway places. But it’s actually much more than that.
Where I was like, “Oh cool, this game is pretty and reminds me of Portugal!” Azul board game creators be like:
Introduced by the Moors, azulejos (originally white and blue ceramic tiles) were fully embraced by the Portuguese, when their king Manuel I, on a visit to the Alhambra palace in Southern Spain, was mesmerized by the stunning beauty of the Moorish decorative tiles.
The king, awestruck by the interior beauty of the Alhambra, immediately ordered that his own palace in Portugal be decorated with similar wall tiles. Azul brings you, a tile laying artist, to embellish the walls of the Royal Palace of Evora.
In this game, you earn points based on how you’ve placed your tiles to decorate the palace. The player with the most points wins. (The King’s counting on you. Don’t f*ck this up.) Anyway, it’s won a crapload of awards.
- Players: 2-4
- Time: 30-45 minutes
- Age: 8+ (At what point do they assume you won’t swallow any of the pieces? Asking for a friend.)
- Probability of a hissy fit: Pretty colors, no math, I’m guessing a low probability.
- Also available: Azul: Summer Pavilion, Azul: Crystal Mosaic, and Azul: Stained Glass of Sintra (I certainly did not expect more than one stained glass board game when I drafted the outline for this post.)
Imma tell you right now, the number of cards involved in Tokaido kinda gives me anxiety just to look at. However, the description and the beauty of it all really make me want to play. According to the official literature, the objective of the game is:
The players are travelers in Japan in days of old. They will follow the prestigious Tokaido and try to make this journey as rich an experience as possible.
That’s quite lovely actually.
To do this: they will pass through magnificent countryside, taste delicious culinary specialties, purchase souvenirs, benefit from the virtues of hot springs, and have unforgettable experiences.
Okay, that sounds a little too Dungeons & Dragons to me. But, if you’re looking to travel without actually leaving your house, this sounds like a great way to use your imagination and forget that you’re actually on 24-hour lockdown.
Tokaido is full of beautifully-drawn scenery, accurate traveler descriptions, miso soup cards, and you even score points by collecting sushi. Count me in!
- Players: 2-5
- Time: 45 minutes
- Age: 8+
- Probability of a hissy fit: I’m not sure yet, but this one seems tolerable.
- Also available: Tokaido: Crossroads and Tokaido: Matsuri
11. Passport to Culture
As far as travel-themed board games go, this one is pretty straightforward. In Passport to Culture you travel around the world testing your knowledge of different cultures, food & drink, customs and traditions, greetings, etc.
Maybe everyone should play this before they head abroad? Just a thought.
The goal? To fill your passport with stamps. Very much like real life! This game uses a 20” x 20” map game board, 370 question cards, 30 culture cards, 6 passports, 60 passport stamps (jealous!), and miscellaneous other playing pieces.
Time to sharpen your travel wit before heading out into the world again! While you’re at it, pick up one of these Culture Smart! guidebooks as well.
Passport to Culture information
- Players: 2-6
- Time: 1 hour
- Age: 12+
- Probability of a hissy fit: Low – what I don’t know will not surprise me
- Also available: Passport to Culture: Travel Edition. Umm… hmm… and how is this different?
12. Trekking the National Parks
Trekking the National Parks is an award-winning board game that’s fun for the whole family! Or just for you and your husband who are about at your wits’ ends. The game is meant to be both fun and educational, like all the best board games are. (Okay, except Operation. I thought we had spare ribs this whole time.)
The product description reads:
Players compete for points by claiming Park Cards and collecting trail stones as they race across the country experiencing the wonders at each of these magnificent landscapes.
The Park Cards feature facts about the national parks and photos to coincide. The U.S. National Park Service is a real gift, and being on house arrest shouldn’t mean you can’t enjoy it.
However, I do think the saddest part of the product description is where it says, “It’s the perfect gift for anyone who loves the outdoors.” Ahh knife! Gut! That one hurt. Maybe take this one out to the porch and play with your eyes closed for full effect.
Trekking the National Parks information
- Players: 2-5
- Time: 30-60 minutes
- Age: 10+
- Probability of a hissy fit: Low, the meeples have little backpacks 🙂
- Also available: Trekking the National Parks: the Trivia Game
13. Who Knows Where
Who Knows Where is the “ultimate global location guessing game.” Also known as Life Before GPS and Oh Crap I Fell Asleep On the Train.
This travel-themed board game features over 1,000 questions in five categories like cities and towns, capitals, events and facts, famous tourist sites, and iconic landmarks. I already like this one because the description lists “flexible rules.”
This game is a great way to learn about the world, but also to reminisce about the glory days when we could come and go as we pleased.
Who Knows Where information
- Players: 2-4 players
- Time: I couldn’t find this anywhere. Report back, mmkay?
- Age: 12+
- Probability of a hissy fit: 5% – I’m solely basing this on the one guy who left a 1-star review on Amazon who clearly had one and blamed it on the game.
14. Tokyo Metro
In this game, players become private investors looking to build stations and increase train routes across a shared network in Tokyo. You can invest in train lines, ride trains across the Metro map, discover advantageous new station locations, all in a real replication of Tokyo, Japan.
I’mma tell you right now, the product description…
This heavy 120+ minute economic simulator brings a lot to the table in a small box. Featuring an era deck worker placement system, with an interactive map and separate train line income track, TOKYO METRO will challenge economists and gamers alike!
…gives me anxiety. A two-hour economic simulator? That’s actually my nightmare. Regardless, I know a large percentage of the population for whom economic strategies as games are like catnip. Bonus points if you’re familiar with the Tokyo metro. It may just bring back some terrifying, anxiety-ridden lovely travel memories.
Tokyo Metro information
- Players: 1-5, oh good you can play this alone so no one can see you weeping
- Time: 120+ minutes apparently
- Age: 7+, because I can totally see a 7-year-old spending two hours on an economic simulator and not on picking his nose and wiping it on the kitchen table
- Probability of a hissy fit: the likeliest of likelihoods
- Also available: Tokyo Tsukiji Market and Tokyo Game Show which I bet is AWESOME.
15. Mapominoes: Europe
Okay maybe it’s not the greatest name, but it does tell it like it is. Mapominoes: Europe combines maps and—drumroll, please—dominos. Oh, you don’t know how to play Dominos because you aren’t an 80-year old man in the park? Watch this video.
In this game, you’ll create a “map of Europe” by building on the Mapominoes country cards. But, you can only build with countries that have common borders. (If you knew how to play Dominos that would totally make sense.) No geography knowledge required (yes!), only acquired.
Mapominoes: Europe information
- Players: 2-5
- Time: 30 minutes
- Age: 8+
- Probability of a hissy fit: Lowest of the low I bet.
- Also available: Mapominoes: USA, Mapominoes: Africa, Mapominoes: Asia & Australasia, Mapominoes: North & South America
16. The World Game
The World Game is listed as the most complete geography card game in the world that lets all 194 countries participate. Players compete with country facts and there are special challenges like location, flag, capital city, and the continent challenge.
It’s fun and educational! It’s great for kids and adults! I bet you could make a really stellar drinking game out of this! “You missed the question on France, you gotta chug the champagne!”…”You got Ireland wrong! Take a shot of whiskey.”
Or, you know, you’re probably home-schooling your children right now so it’s good for the brain too. The options are endless.
The World Game information
- Players: 2-5
- Time: 20-60 minutes
- Age: 5+
- Probability of a hissy fit: I would say ‘low’… but if you’re letting 5-year-olds play, I’m not so sure. It also depends on how many questions about Mexico you miss. (Too much tequila… I’m just saying.)
In the board game Pandemic, four diseases have broken out and it’s up to a team of specialists to find cures and save the world before mankind is completely wiped out. (Too soon?)
In this high-stakes strategy game, players must work together to best utilize each of their particular disease-fighting skills to eradicate the diseases before it’s too late.
For real though, this game has a 5-star rating on Amazon after 5,300 reviews and has won a long list of awards. Terrifying likeness to reality aside, it must be pretty damn good as far as travel-themed board games go.
I do like the fact that all the players must work together as a team to save the world. It’s simply beautiful and really the only way to win against this madness! I’m just saying.
Bonus if you’re playing travel-themed board games because you can’t leave your house: the 2013 edition of Pandemic features a Quarantine Specialist as one of the characters.
- Players: 2-4
- Time: Who knows!? When will it all end!? I mean, 45 minutes
- Age: 8+
- Probability of a hissy fit: How much toilet paper you got?
- Also available: Pandemic: Legacy, Pandemic: On the Brink, Pandemic: In the Lab, and actually a ton more.
Have you ever played any travel-themed board games?
Let me know below!
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Fun Post! I love Carcassonne and most people don’t know about it!
Thank you! And yes, that one is my favorite!