What’s that one thing that all of us increasingly want? A break from technology! Be it couples, parents, or friends, each one of us long to get away from our screens. And what’s an easy, enjoyable, and convenient alternative to bond over RV camping? Board games, of course!
Lately, board games have made a comeback with soaring popularity. These can be ideal for RV camping when you simply want to stay away from technology and enjoy your time with friends.
How to Choose the Best Board Games for RV Camping?
Personality: Personality plays a significant role in determining your leaning towards a particular genre. I like more logical board games, while my partner prefers strategy-based games. You can imagine which ones we go with!
Number of players: Some board games have a maximum number of players, such as two or three, while others can go on forever. You may opt for multiplayer board games if you have a big family.
Packing Board Games in RV: Things to Consider
When packing your board games for your RV adventure, you should also consider the following things.
- Room Space: Board games can have abnormally large boxes, and many enthusiasts love this fact about them. For RV campers, this equals more room space consumption, so you need to choose your board games carefully.
- Portability: Several board games tend to have many small pieces that can easily get lost, especially with kids around. You should avoid tabletop board games with hundreds of pieces and complex items.
- Climate Control: Don’t leave board games in unconditioned RVs while in storage. Swings in temperature and humidity can ruin boxes, wooden pieces, and cardboard playing boards.
- Durability. Look for games that are waterproof or at least water-resistant. Games with lots of paper pieces won’t survive a cloudburst, and you might be playing this game at a picnic table!
- Heavy pieces. Wind will blow away lightweight cardboard and paper pieces. Reserve these games for inside the RV at the dinette!
Pro Tip: We once bought a game that had lots of little pieces. And a few got lost as kids were around. To deal with this, we told the kids they would get a bar of extra chocolate if they stayed away from the game and didn’t play around with the pieces when I wasn’t around.
Guess what? Worked like magic. We have never had an issue of missing board game pieces again, not where the kids were responsible for it, at least. Try something similar for yourself if you ever face a similar issue. Bribery works!
Top 8 Board Games for RV Camping
From more than thousands to choose from, I have shortlisted the top 3 board games that are simply spectacular. These are classics for a reason!
Catch Phrase – Best for a Rollickin’ Campfire
If you like charades, you’ll love Catch Phrase!
Players divide into two teams. Each member must describe the word that shows up on the screen until their team guesses correctly – all while a random, beeping timer is winding down! Whichever team holds the word prompter when the buzzer goes off loses a point.
- Uproarious: You’ll get a good laugh as people blank out, jump around, and speak a million miles a minute.
- All ages: Youngsters won’t know who Frank Sinatra was; you won’t know what TikTok is.
- Great for groups. There’s no limit to how many people can play, and the rules are stupidly simple. And because there’s no board, just a handheld prompter, you can easily play it around the campfire!
Alternatives to Catch Phrase
- Pictionary: Another classic board game, Pictionary uses drawings instead of descriptions to help other players guess.
- Guesstures: This charade-style has you silently acting out movements and motions while your team frantically guesses whether you’re strumming an air guitar or stitching a quilt.
- Cranium: This is a great compromise when someone in the family doesn’t like acting. Everyone can show off their talent in Creative Cat, Data Head, Star Performer, and Word Worm categories.
- Quelf: Winner of 6 awards, Quelf takes random, crazy, and possibly drunk to a whole new level!
Scrabble/Bananagrams – Best Quiet Evening In
Scrabble is a classic when it comes to board games, and it has been around since 1948. The strategy is simple: Each player picks one letter on their turn and tries to complete words vertically or horizontally.
Scrabble is a multiplayer game ideal for family outings where you need to enjoy time with pleasant company.
However, if you like Scrabble but wish it was faster, you’ll love Bananagrams! It’s like Scrabble, but with a shot of adrenaline and espresso! It’s a simple setup of letter files in a banana-shaped zippered pouch.
It’s a good alternative to a full-sized scrabble game with handy packaging. This game is ideal for a quick break, especially when driving long distances.
Scrabble or Bananagrams is my go-to choice because of the following.
- Foldable: You can buy the games in compact, foldable packaging to save space in your RV.
- Kid-friendly: Children love Scrabble as they enjoy coming up with unique words adding to the liveliness of your trip.
- Quiet: Sometimes, I just want to get away from the hustle and bustle. Word games give me an opportunity to de-stress and de-compress.
Pro Tip: Going on a big family vacation? Get two travel-size scrabbles and add the letter tiles!
Pro Tip: Also, ban all phones and dictionaries. Don’t let anyone look up a word they don’t already know. If they can’t spell it, define it or use it in a sentence, it’s not allowed!
- Upwords is scrabble played in 3D. Encourages creativity, not just vocabulary.
- PDQ, by GameWright, is a fast-paced head-to-head card game for word lovers.
- Wordical, developed by Educational Insights, teaches kids how to form words with random combinations of vowels and constants. Great game if you’re an auditory learner!
Hive Pocket – Best Travel Game for Two
If you haven’t played Hive Pocket, you’re doing yourself a disservice. It’s a delightful board game, designed in 2010, that is not restricted by a board and can be played anywhere on any flat surface.
- Fits in my pocket. You can literally take it anywhere.
- Never the same game twice. As you play, the tiles become the board.
- Over in 20 minutes. It’s a great game to play during downtime and hiking breaks.
Alternatives to Hive Pocket
- Yikerz is a Mensa award-winning game of magnet mayhem! It can be played on any flat surface, and there are just three rules but endless strategies. It’ll challenge your sleight of hand as well as your 3D imagination!
- Go is the most elegant, advanced pure strategy game on the planet. You can buy travel- and miniature editions, magnetic versions, even roll-up versions. Play it anywhere.
Monopoly National Parks Edition – Best Family Fun Fight Night!
Monopoly is another exciting board game that can become competitive very fast. People with a leaning towards business and economics like the game for its “real-life applications.” And the National Parks version will whet your appetite for future road trips!
There are a few pros that make Monopoly a go-to game for me.
- Travel Friendly: It comes in a package size (Monopoly Grab and Go).
- Variants: Monopoly also has a card and sudoku version that is fun to play and doesn’t take up much space.
Pro Tip: The big problem with Monopoly (and all similar games) is that the wind will carry away all your paper money. You can either buy the Monopoly version that uses credit cards, or substitute actual change for Monopoly money.
- $1 Bill = Penny
- $5 Bill = Nickel
- $10 Bill = Dime
- $20 Bill = Quarter
- $50 Bill = Half-Dollar*
- $100 Bill = Dollar Coin*
- $500 Bill = Your Choice
*You can get these collectible coins from your local bank! Just ask.
Pro Tip: If you play by the official rules and NO house rules, the average game of Monopoly is over in less than an hour! It’s the house rules, like putting income taxes in Free Parking, that keep money in the game and players afloat past.
Pro Tip: Also, the most valuable real estate on the board isn’t Boardwalk and Park Place. It’s the Orange properties (you’re welcome).
- Catan (and its many variations) is a cult classic! Trade resources, build your empire, and stay away from The Robber! The game has even been used in school to teach economic scarcity theory. Buy the Expansion pack to play Catan with up to six players. It’s also a great alternative to Risk.
- Chinatown is all about trading. If you love the trading and building strategy in Monopoly, you’ll love Chinatown. You’ll need to master the art of hard-bitten diplomacy.
- Ticket to Ride is easy to learn but hard to master. It’s usually not quite as cutthroat or long-winded as Monopoly. Also available in miniature.
Azul – Best Abstract Strategy Game
Azul is an elegant, abstract tile-playing strategy game. Up to four people can play. It’s best for teenagers and adults, because this is a game where strategy rules! But watch out – your play is based off the person behind you and after you.
- Easy to learn, hard to master. If you like thinking – but not too hard – then you’ll love Azul.
- Heavy pieces. The game set is made of cardboard displays and heavy tiles which won’t blow away in the wind.
- Never abjectly losing. When you play Azul, you always have hope you can come back.
Alternatives to Azul
- Sagrada offers a similarly beautiful aesthetic experience, inviting players to build a stained glass window. It’s not quite as cutthroat as Azul.
- Rummikub is the sets-and-series board game version of the classic Gin Rummy card game. When it’s your turn, you can rearrange the whole board – as long as you can visualize everything in your mind!
Yahtzee/Farkle – Best Casino Dice Game
Another interesting game that I like to play with my family is Yahtzee. This one is a classic dice game where participants try to outscore each other by throwing dice. Farkle is another alternative, which is faster-paced and encourages you to take risky chances!
- Genres: The game has many variants that add up to the fun of exploring cool new facts.
- Playing style: Several styles of Yahtzee are common such as Full Sheet and Down the Line.
There are several board games similar to Yahtzee, like Farkle and The Dice Game, which you can enjoy as well. See the Honorable Mentions section for more information.
Pro Tip: Show off your camping chops by buying the Yahtzee National Parks Edition!
- Farkle, based on an old casino game called Dix Mille, is a travel-sized alternative to Yahtzee with a dash of “Deal or No Deal?” anxiety thrown in.
- Qwixx is a popular and fast-paced Yahtzee alternative. And unlike Yahtzee, you don’t have to fill out a new score card every time!
Honorable Mentions – Best Board Games for Camping
There are so many wonderful board games out there! Here are a few of our favorites when RV camping.
- 5-Minute Dungeon: Most RPG games, like Munchkin, are far too complicated to be taught and played on the road. 5-Minute Dungeon is a simple cooperative RPG-inspired game where you battle monsters (and even pause time) while the clock is ticking!
- Battleship – because who doesn’t love sinking someone else’s ship? And fun fact: Sinking your opponent’s battleship does NOT mean you prematurely win the game! The only downside to this classic is it’s 2-player only.
- Apples to Apples is one of the all-time party game greats. It’s a non-threatening, fun way to get to know your campsite neighbors.
- Jenga is a great way to while away the time on the campsite lawn. It teaches young kids spatial awareness and dexterity of hand.
- Mancala is one of the oldest strategy games in existence. It’s also 2-player only, but it can be played darn near anywhere, in any light – even with gloves on! And if you lose a piece, just use loose change as a substitute.
- Guess Who can be played by almost any age, even toddlers! And if you really want to get into it, former NASA engineer Mark Rober even tells you how to crush your competition.
- Connect Four can be played in the rain, and no matter how many times you play, you’ll eventually get caught off guard!
- Sequence is a bit blase, but it’s a simple game the whole family can play – and you can take time to chat when it’s not your turn.
- Stratego is the classic board game version of Capture the Flag. You have an army of men, one powerful woman, and six bombs. Move wisely!
- Sorry: Try out the new “Fire and Ice” version, which speeds things up significantly.
- Blockus: A completely waterproof Tetris-style game playable by 2, 3, or 4 players.
- Backgammon: Another strategy game from antiquity, backgammon can be played quickly or strategically. You can buy a roll-up version that stows easily and lays out on any semi-flat surface.
- Checkers is another great option if you are looking for quick entertainment. Its friendly size and quick result make it stand out from other board games. You can also buy a magnetic version that could be handy, especially with kids around.
- Taboo is the perfect word-guessing game that you can enjoy with your family. Its compact size and straightforward gameplay make it a popular choice among families with children.
How to Manage Board Games When on the Road?
Playing board games in an RV can indeed become difficult, especially if you choose a long and complex game. Space is another issue that many RVers complain about when choosing board games. Here are a few tips for managing board games.
1. Get Rid of the Box
Many people attach a sentimental value to the box and want to keep it as a token. However, you should throw away your box and keep your board game in a Tupperware box or cardboard container. You can keep the boards separate from the pieces for long board games such as monopoly.
2. Get a Foldable Table/Top
If you want to play board games while on the road, buying a foldable table or top is a good idea. It won’t take a lot of space in your storage but will help set up a board game quickly. It’s not super expensive either; you can get a small one on Amazon for under $50.
3. Go for Travel-Friendly Games
Many people buy very elaborate board games that are just too time-consuming to play and store. It is always good to purchase travel-friendly versions that don’t take up a lot of space and are pleasant to play.
Pro Tip: You can buy magnetic or peg versions of many classic games, like Chess, Checkers, Chinese Checkers and Go. These versions can survive an earthquake (or Dad slamming on the brakes).
These are only some of the many board games out there. This list focuses more on board games that are easy to carry and pleasant to play. I have some of the best memories about playing board games with my loved ones around a dancing bonfire with my RV parked behind me. I hope you can share a laugh and bond over board games as you travel around in your RV!
Co-written with Andy Herrick.