Card games and chess are ubiquitous with a backpacker’s life on the road. Both options are popular and proven ways to casually get to know fellow travelers, often in hostel common areas. Whether you’re kicking a party night off with a drinking game, killing time on a rainy day, or simply enjoy the quiet challenge of a chess match, social connections are always an invitation away.
The best known, and therefore most common card games, include Hearts, Spades, Gin (Rummy), and Poker. These games frequent develop on train rides and during rainy afternoons when everyone is hostel-bound. Drinking games include the ever-popular Asshole and Bullshit. Usually, there is always one person in a given hostel common room familiar with the rules of these popular games, so don’t be afraid to suggest one even if you don’t know how to play.
For those who appreciate a slower pace to their competitive endeavors, chess can provide ample time to not only get to know your opponent, but to impress your fellow travelers with your intense patience and intellectual prowess. My fondest memory of a chess game was last year when an 18-year old German guy taught me some basic strategy the night before I left Flores, Guatemala. I was actually able to beat another person (vs. the more common stalemate) using the tips.
Picture this: after an afternoon of fishing off the coast of a small Caribbean island with new friends you met the day before, and barbecuing your fresh catch together under the moonlight, you sit around on the sandy beach and strike up a game of charades. Such was my experience in Belize last year on Caye Caulker. I had to act out “Alf,” and to my surprise, a girl guessed it despite my lame attempts to walk like the furry alien TV character.
Truth or Dare
While I have yet to play Truth or Dare in my adult life, it falls under a common category of more personal, conversational games which focus on eliciting stories and experiences from one’s past. Inevitably, these games result in flushing out the sexual histories of their participants.
What games have you enjoyed (or avoided) during your travels?