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As exciting as travel is, there’s usually a fair share of dull downtime to fill whether it be waiting in a hotel lobby for check-in time or waiting for a flight at the airport.

Sure, you can fill that time with endless scrolling on Facebook , but if you’re without Wi-Fi or data , or simply want to be a bit more social, card games are a great way to pass the time.

When travelling solo, you may be forced to settle for playing solitaire or searching for online casino games like poker, blackjack, or some of the newer exciting different kinds of slingo games. However, when travelling with friends or family, there are numerous card games that will keep you entertained for hours.

Card games are also a great way to meet new people while travelling, as they can be a great ice breaker when staying in places like hostels.

So, if you’re looking for that ace up your sleeve the next time you’re bored while on holiday, check out one of these top card games for travellers.

Best Card Games You Can Play While Travelling

Poker card game cafe RF

Knockout Whist

A fun British card game you may not be that familiar with, especially if you’re from the U.S., is called Knockout Whist. While it may be a trick-taking game, it’s definitely not all that tricky to play.

What you’ll need: All you’ll need for Knockout Whist is a standard 52-card deck and the game is suitable for 2 to 7 players.

Each player is dealt 7 cards to start the game and the top card of the remaining deck of cards is turned up to reveal what is known as the trump suit. This trump suit may not have any presidential ambitions, but it does determine how tricks will be won.

The goal is to lay down the highest ranking trump suited card to win the trick but you must follow the lead suit laid down by the first player. The player left of the dealer leads the first trick and can choose to play a card of any suit they have in their hand.

Each subsequent player must play a card that matches the lead suit if they have one in their hand. If they don’t have a card of that suit, they can play a high ranking card of the trump suit to win the trick.

If no trump suited cards are played, it will be the highest ranking card of the lead suit which will win the trick. The player that wins the trick gets to lead the next trick with a lead card of once again a suit of their choice.

A round ends once each player has lead a trick, with the player winning the most tricks getting to choose the trump suit during the next round.

You must win at least one trick each round or you are knocked out of the game. However, there is what is known as a “dog’s life” for the first player that goes without winning a trick during the first round that could help keep them in the game longer.

Lastly, the amount of cards dealt to remaining players is reduced by one each new round. Cards are ranked with Ace being the highest and 2 being the lowest.

Monopoly Deal

Monopoly Deal

Monopoly Deal is a great card game for travellers who love the traditional Monopoly board game but only want to spend 10-15 minutes per game rather than hours.

The best part of Monopoly Deal is that it’s a really cheap card game to purchase and is much more convenient to pack than the traditional board game.

The game can be played between 2 to 5 players. The deck includes a mix of 110 cards that includes property cards, rent collection cards, action cards, and special wild cards.

The goal is to collect three complete sets of properties, but watch out because people can steal individual properties or complete sets of properties from you during the game.

You may also be forced to give up a property if you fail to have enough physical cash to pay out other players forcing you to hand over money.

Faced-paced Monopoly Deal offers all the fun of classic Monopoly without the fear of losing any small pieces while travelling. It’s suitable for ages 8 and over, or younger if you’re exceptionally clever for your age.


As its name implies, the Backpacker card game was made for people who love travel. The world quite literally fits in your pocket with a card game that sees you go on a journey around the world as you visit different countries and partake in a range of different adventures and activities.

Much like real travel, the aim is to avoid travel hiccups along the way that may come in the form of getting sick while travelling or experiencing travel delays. Watch out, because other players will most likely be causing you the headaches, which may also be just like reality.

The game is suitable for 2 to 6 players and is quite fun in that it is inspired by real life travel experiences many of us have lived through.

Each player holds a hand of five cards and will need to play the right cards at the right time to score points and ultimately win. Each player takes turns drawing and playing cards until the draw pile is exhausted.

The goal of the card game is to arrive safely back at home having collected or taken the most photos. To win, just like in enjoying real-life successful travel, it’ll require a bit of careful planning and some luck.

The most fun aspect of the game is that each time you play is different and it’s quite easy to learn quickly. Unlike some of the other card games mentioned here, this one does take a bit longer to play (about an hour).

Phase 10

card game RF

This exciting rummy-style card game comes from the same company that brought us UNO. If you love UNO, you’ll therefore find Phase 10 to be right up your alley.

The game can be played between 2-6 players and usually takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to complete.

Phase 10 involves using a special 108-card deck which includes mostly numbered cards ranging from 1 to 12 that come in four different colours. Each player is dealt 10 cards and the goal of the game is to complete what are known as phases.

You must complete all 10 phases before your opponents in order to win the game, and only once you complete a phase can you move on to the next phase.

The ten phases of the game involve putting together the right combination of cards which is specified in each phase. A phase may involve going for runs of cards, a certain number of cards in one colour, or combinations such as 3 sets of 3 or 4 sets of 2.

The game is made even more interesting by the inclusion of wild cards which can be made to be any number or colour needed to complete a phase. Skip cards can be played to force another player to lose their turn.


Cards game RF

This shedding-style card game uses an ordinary deck of 52 cards and is easy to pick up quickly. You normally play a game with a maximum of four players but more people can be added if you combine two 52-card decks.

The card deck is dealt out evenly among all players so no cards remain. One or more players may end up with an extra card depending on the number of players. The goal of the game is to get rid of all the cards in your hand.

So, how do you get rid of your cards?

The game begins with the player to the left of the dealer playing any aces they may have in their hand and placing them face down in the discard pile which starts out empty. The next player to the left then plays any twos they have in their hand, the next player threes, and so on until you reach Aces again and start over.

But what if you don’t happen to have any cards of the value you are required to play? This is where the game gets its name.


Because cards are placed face down in the discard pile, you simply have to say how many twos, fives, jacks, etc. you are placing down. You could be lying and often will be lying in order to get rid of all your cards.

Your hope is that other players believe you, but if one does not, they can try to call you on your bluff. If someone accuses you of lying by yelling out BULLSHIT! or CHEAT!, the cards you placed down will be revealed.

If you weren’t lying, the person calling you out must take all the cards in the pile and add them to the cards in their hand. If you did indeed lie, then you must take all the cards in the pile.

Because the goal of the game again is to get rid of all your cards first, you definitely do not want to add any cards back to your hand by getting caught lying or incorrectly calling someone out.

So, put on your best poker face and learn to read others’ to come out on top in this entertaining game of deception.

Cards Against Humanity

Cards against humanity

Image credit: anokarina (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

This purely adult party game is self-described as being despicable and awkward. There really isn’t an objective or winner to the game like the other card games mentioned, but it’s no less fun and absolutely hilarious at times, as long as you have a sense of humour.

The game contains a mix of black and white cards of which black cards each state a question or fill-in-the-blank statement while white cards contain words or phrases that you can select to fill-in-the-blanks or answer the questions found on the black cards.

Each person is dealt 10 white cards and the goal is to pair your white card words or phrases with the black card questions or fill-in-the-blanks so that you create the funniest or most politically incorrect statement or answer.

One person becomes the “Card Czar” for each round whose job it is to play a black card and choose a player who best used a white card to answer the black card, not knowing who played what white card. A new Card Czar is chosen for each subsequent round and 10 new white cards are dealt to each player.

In addition to the game’s standard cards, there are also extra expansion cards available, of which many sets are themed. Additional themed packs include topics such as marijuana, college, rear-ends, and even female periods which states the cards are lightly scented to help prevent odours and are best played every 25-35 days.

As stated before, the game is meant to be crude, politically incorrect, and sometimes a bit offensive.


The classic card game can be played online, with a much better user experience that includes strategies, hints, and a history of the game.

Airports are notorious for “killing time”, what better way to do it than improving your brain’s cognitive skills, and letting your brain enter a relaxed state. 

Play the many variations of Solitaire offered, as well as pick a custom background, card set, and color theme as you wait out the flight times and delays.

Check out Solitaire here.


Hearts, a timeless trick-taking card game, is perfect for airport downtime. In this engaging game, you play against three opponents, aiming to avoid collecting hearts and the dreaded Queen of Spades.

Each heart card is worth one point, and the Queen of Spades carries a hefty 13 points. The goal is to finish with the lowest score possible.

Sharpen your strategic skills as you carefully plan each move, trying to avoid points and outsmart your opponents. Relax and enjoy the challenge while waiting for your flight.

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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