The 5 Best Portable Board Games

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Whether it's time spent waiting at the airport, driving long stretches on a road trip, or during quiet nights spent indoors with family or friends, playing a board game often makes downtime during traveling far more fun. However, since there's not always room to pack bulky board games in your luggage or bags, the best portable board games are compact in size, making them easy to carry around.

When shopping for a portable board game, keep an eye out for board-less board games as well as travel versions of classic board games. Both of these options lend themselves to portability since, without a large full-size board and box, they'll typically be easier to pack or transport.

You'll also want to keep in mind the size of your group. Most portable board games are designed for two players, although it is possible to find ones that can accommodate more people. The length of gameplay should also be considered. The best travel-sized games are often simplified from their full-sized versions and/or relatively quick to learn and play without a lot of complicated rules to remember.

See the list below for five of the best portable board games to take on your next trip.

1. Hive — A Game Crawling With Possibilities

Age: 8 and up

Number of players: 2

What's great about it: Similar to chess but with pieces featuring different bugs instead of knights and rooks, Hive is a fun and fast game that can be played on any surface, since it doesn't require a board. The game's objective is to capture the other player's Queen Bee tile by surrounding it with your own tiles. When you're done, the durable plastic tiles can be put away in the included zippered nylon bag.

What fans say: "I bought this game for camping trips, and it is exactly what I was looking for! It's portable, durable, beautiful to look at, and incredibly fun! It's a lot like a wacky, abstract version of chess (but more fun). The carrying case is awesome and durable, and I love that it zips up. You can totally toss this around and beat it up all you want on road trips, camping, etc. It's great!"

2. Bananagrams Game

Age: 7 and up

Number of players: 1 to 16

What's great about it: If you love Scrabble and other word-building games, you might want to pick up Bananagrams for your next trip. Tucked inside the banana-shaped carrying bag are 288 letter tiles that players use to build crossword grids. Instead of counting up points, the fastest person to use up all of their letters wins Bananagrams.

What fans say: "This couldn't be a simpler game but very effective and competitive. The young ones can beat the adults because it is not the long words that will net the win, but the diverse words. The family has enjoyed this many a morning while we enjoy our coffee. One of the easiest games to travel with and always a good time when it comes out."

3. Scrabble To Go Board Game

Age: 8 and up

Number of players: 2 to 4

What's great about it: Scrabble has been popular for almost 100 years for a reason — it's a fun word game that multiple people can play at once. This Scrabble To Go board has everything you love about the larger version, but a foldable board, snap-in tiles, and lightweight, plastic privacy shields make this a great portable board game. Even better, the board, the tiles, the score pad, and the privacy shields can all fit into the case and zip closed, so you can toss it in your car or carry-on and go.

What fans say: "Just received our travel scrabble board. We are very pleased with this travel game board. It seems very sturdy with a strong zipper. It holds everything within the zippered board; the board, the trays, the bag of tiles, the instructions, the score sheet pad and a place for 2 pencils. It will be easy to throw into a travel or rolling bag. The game board snaps into place and stays open nicely."

4. Catan Traveler

Age: 10 and up

Number of players: 2 to 4

What's great about it: A more portable version of a classic game, this traveler Catan is a great buy, even if you've never played the larger version. This portable board allows you to settle the isle of Catan just like the larger version, but the board has built-in drawers to store roads, settlements, and cities, and the board it self has holes where you can plug in the game pieces. This makes it easy to travel with, and a breeze to play when you're on the go whether by plane, train, or automobile.

What fans say: "This traveler edition is AMAZING. My friend bought me an early copy from GenCon. For perspective, I've played all versions of Catan and expansions. My favorite is Cities and Knights, so I was unsure about how much play I'd get out of this version, given that I haven't played 'regular' Catan in a while. The biggest pro about this traveler edition is ease of set-up - it takes literally 30 seconds to be ready to play, as opposed to 5-10 minutes for setting up the full version. The drawers hold the mini card-caddies with cards and all of the playing pieces, so all you have to do is unfold the case, randomly place your board tiles (there are 6 pieces, each reversible, making for many board variation possibilities), place the robber, and you're done - off and ready to play."

5. Magnetic Games 5-In-1 Travel Games

Age: 3 and up

Number of players: 2

What's great about it: Want more than one board game option to take with you on the go? This five-in-one magnetic travel set contains classic games like chess, checkers, dominoes, backgammon, and playing cards — all conveniently sized to fit inside a single box that's weighs a little more than a pound.

What fans say: "We had a lot fun with this during our trip. The size is ideal for both kids and parents. We used it for chess and checkers games but also learned how to play dominoes and playing card games. Most importantly the price is pretty low for five different games in one single set."

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