Board games used to be a favorite pastime of mine. They still are on the occasion I get to play, I guess. These times are just much more rare. Strategy games are generally my favorite, far more than games of chance, although most good ones have some luck involved. Games with particular themes tend to appeal as well. As you might suspect, anything that involves travel or geography is sure to be a winner. I’d like to highlight five of my favorite travel and geography board games in this post.
My Five Favorite Travel and Geography Board Games
Strictly speaking, I prefer geography to travel, although one of my favorite games appeals to another obsession: air travel. Anything that involves flying between cities is sure to be a winner (although I’d still actually rather be flying in person). Other great board games are more strictly geography. The best geography board games teach you something as you play. Here are some of the best geography and travel board games I’ve encountered:
This was a huge hit when I was in my tweens to teens. I hadn’t played it for years until we picked it off the shelf at my parents’ house a few months back. The older of my boys enjoys it immensely. Depending on your kids’ reading skill and attention span, the game is good for 8-12 year olds. The mechanics are simple, and it is rated 6+, but my highly-distracted 6-year-old is not ready for it.
Sadly, Takeoff is no longer manufactured. You can buy it used on Ebay. It’s also on Amazon, but quite pricey.
Ticket to Ride
This train game is a perennial favorite even with people who aren’t interested in travel. There are a ton of versions, including America, Europe, and India. America is the original classic, I believe. I actually learned on Europe and didn’t know there were a bunch of others for years. I’ve only played the three mentioned.
There are new mechanics for a few of the different versions, and some of the maps can be more frustrating than others. I recommend Europe since it is a) not the familiar US of A, and b) the mechanics are more than simple yet not overly complex to make it interesting and quite fun. The historic and local language (albeit anglicized) names for many of the cities are also cool.
I was introduced to this game this winter and really enjoyed it. You control a small airline in the ‘golden age of travel’ that bid on routes, builds airports, and does their best to dominate the global air market. The game seemed complicated at first, but the mechanics are simple. It’s essentially worker placement as you seek to optimize airline income and ultimately stock, which is what you want to win the game. It has a great depth of strategy with enough luck to keep it interesting.
Pan Am Airlines in the game actually acts as a non-player algorithm, which is a cool twist. The asymmetrical expansion of Pan Am can definitely either make or break who wins.
This is an excellent game that you can enjoy in just 20-30 minutes. You are dealt cards with which you need to plan a continuous route around the globe, scoring bonus points for visiting every continent and as many islands as possible. It’ll teach kids geography, as you’ll need to find a number small countries to determine whether you can make a particular connection. For kids very unfamiliar with world geography, the difficulty level will be pretty high.
Sadly, my family hardly played this game with me when I was a teen. I’ve always loved geography, and unless I had a truly terrible set of cards dealt to me, it was no contest.
Trekking the World
This is the only one of the bunch that I have not played, but it has come recommended by friends and family. I reviewed the rules with a friend of mine, and it seems like the perfect game to play to keep you dreaming of traveling. You trek your way around the globe, taking tours of exotic destinations and collecting souvenirs. Given the lack of travel right now, maybe this is too inspiring for wanderlust.
If you’re looking to fill that travel void in your life right now, consider picking up one or more travel or geography board games. With COVID-19 restrictions constantly changing and many people being unwilling to travel until the situation improves, this is one way to still “see” the world. Maybe it’ll even spark some ideas for trip planning.
What are some of the best travel board games you’ve played?
Featured image courtesy of Padaguan used without changes under CC-BY-4.0 license.