Board Games That Inspire Wanderlust
Written by: Stephanie on September 01, 2022
If you’re not out exploring the world, capture that spirit of adventure by gathering around the table and playing travel-inspired board games together.
Gone are the days of simply rolling dice and moving around the board, mindlessly performing the action on the space where you land. Today’s games are all about creative themes, modern game mechanics, and interesting decision-making…even for the youngest board gamers.
While most modern board games are most easily purchased at a Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS, as they are lovingly referred to in the hobby), Amazon, Target, and Barnes & Noble have great selections too.
Here are a few entry-level modern board games – low enough in complexity, but interesting enough to hold your attention – that celebrate travel in its various forms.
Ticket to Ride
The 2004 winner of the esteemed Spiel des Jahres (the highest award in board gaming which honors the best family board game of the year), Ticket to Ride has persisted as one of the most beloved entry-level games in the hobby. Players collect the correct number of colored cards to lay train routes between U.S. destinations, while blocking opponents and scoring points by claiming these routes. Bonus points are awarded for securing routes on personal objective cards, which remain secret throughout the duration of the game.
Trekking the World
In Trekking the World, 2-5 players race to visit their bucket list destinations around the world, collecting special souvenirs along the way. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, explore Giza, hike The Grand Canyon, spot wildlife at Yellowstone, or marvel at hot air balloons in Cappadocia. Combining a bit of luck with strategy, Trekking the World is a beautiful, sprawling game that provides a slight increase in complexity from Ticket to Ride.
Take a hike through the country’s most beautiful national parks, photographing wildlife, collecting rocks, acorns, and leaves, and turning them in at the end of the trail to earn wilderness badges. This game’s publisher, Keymaster Games, is known in the industry for stunning art and game production, so this game really captures the eye upon first unboxing the components. Trails is a smaller game, but it still packs a major wow-factor. For a bit more complexity, try its large and longer predecessor, PARKS.
Leisurely walk the East Sea Road of Japan, deciding where to stop along the journey to interact with people, sample cuisine, collect souvenirs, paint panoramas, or visit temples. The goal is to become the most interesting traveler, one who has experienced all the beautiful countryside has to offer and has amassed the most points while doing so. Tokaido feels like a more relaxing than competitive board game experience, and the game pairs nicely with a curated music playlist from Melodice.
Taking another step up from Ticket to Ride and Trekking the World, in Pan Am players vie to secure air routes around the world to compete with the legendary Pan American Airways. As players’ empires grow, selling routes to Pan Am for profit and purchasing additional stock in the company paves the path to victory. Combining vintage-inspired art, a sweeping look at the company’s history, and a gorgeous table presence, Pan Am is a fun route-building game with a light economic focus.
Avid board gamers often proclaim that tabletop board gaming is the perfect hobby. Gathering around the table without screens, talking and laughing, and making decisions that work our brains are a few reasons why board gamers are so obsessed. Why not incorporate your passion for travel into a family game night for all ages?