As someone with limited data, I’m always astounded how few apps work well offline and without data. I’m often toying with a new phone app that I can play while on the road. After far too many apps that I’ve burned through during a long bus ride, I’ve asked my fellow bloggers for their favorite travel game apps for iPhone and Android that work perfectly offline, so even if you’re on a long plane ride, you can still enjoy playing on your phone! I’ve tried to focus this list on
- Monument Valley
- Don’t Starve
- 80 Days
- Plague Inc.
- Heads Up
- Leo’s Fortune
- Alto’s Adventure
- Broken Age
- Reigns: Her Majesty
- Old Man’s Journey
- The Escapists
- Life is Strange
- Lumosity: Train of Thought
- Hit the Light
It’s good to note that not all of these apps are free and I strongly recommend buying a power bank if you’ll be playing a lot of travel games during your trip on your phone. Games can really kill your battery, especially when the screen is bright.
The best game apps for travel for iPhone and Android
Monument Valley (and its sequels)
From the moment I discovered this game in House of Cards, I was addicted to this elegant game. Its beautiful Escher-like concept together with its clever puzzles make it a joy to play. I’ve bought the sequels as well. It has the feel of a puzzle game without the strain of doing a puzzle. (My husband is begging me for a turn!)
Device6 is a clever and unique game only for iPhones. For game lovers who are looking for different and mind-bending, try out this game. It integrates literature with fantasy and puzzles. We don’t want to ruin the surprise!
Buy for iPhone
If you are looking for something to keep you occupied during an 8-hour flight, look no further than “Don’t Starve”. In its essence, Don’t Starve is a wilderness survival game. Your character is dropped in an unfamiliar wasteland and your task is, quite simply, not to die.
Unlike most other games today, Don’t Starve doesn’t come with a tutorial which means it’s 100% up to you to figure out how to play this game. It is challenging and engaging. You need to be strategic and creative.
You’ll need to figure out how to feed yourself, how to defend yourself against enemies, and how to find shelter. If you die, you will have to start over from scratch and the world you find may be entirely different from the previous.
Challenge yourself and see how long you can survive. With my best efforts, I haven’t made it past 8 days yet! It may be a paid game, but it is worth every cent and works perfectly without an internet connection! Just be warned, it’s almost impossible to put down 😉 –Jacky
I love this choose-your-own adventure game where you try to help your character get around the world. Along the way, your character will get into all sorts of trouble (of course).
Maybe it’s my love of travel, but I have an intense love for the Victorian steampunk world full of delight, splendor, and laughs. It’s fun to play this with a friend sitting next to you–and you’ll not want to put this game down.
Ever dream of destroying the human race? Want to destroy the human race without being labeled a mass murderer? Try Plague Inc. Plague Inc. is a strategy game where you become a small microbe and get to infect people around the world. The goal is to spread quickly and kill of the humans before they notice and decide to start creating a cure.
This game is a major time killer. The standard game has four different microbes you can become at 4 difficulty levels. Each microbe has different characteristics. The different levels can make the game easy or hard. Each game is different and that’s not just due to the microbe or difficulty level.
You have to evolve your microbe. How you chose to affect the humans can vary. Do you go for the quick kill or a long drawn-out illness? Should you start your illness in a populated country or one of the more remote islands of the world? I love that each game takes less than 30 minutes and I am always experimenting new ways to destroy the world. –Jennifer
This free app with a reasonable subscription to the New York Times Crossword is so worth it if you’re into crosswords. The Saturday and Sunday crosswords are my favorite although they’re generally the hardest. It’s especially fun to do it with a loved one as you can debate on who has the correct answer to the clue!
Before a plane ride, just remember to hit download on all the crosswords that you want to be downloaded for the flight–and you should be entertained for hours. (This is even easier to use on a tablet.)
Heads Up was the perfect game to play as a group or pair when time was moving slower than a sloth getting out of bed on a Sunday. The premise is simple: one person holds their phone to their forehead while the rest of the group try to describe or act out the word on the screen. When they guess correctly, the player tilts the phone to get a new word described. While there doesn’t always need to be a “winner”, of course the person with the most correct guesses does the best!
There’s plenty to enjoy about the game; it doesn’t require much prior knowledge, involves everyone in a group, you can play as little or as long as you like, and often any language differences can add an element of hilarity to the game.
As a game that doesn’t invite too much serious competitiveness or over-challenging tasks, it’s a great way to have a laugh with new and old friends. I have extremely fond memories of this game from my travels, I associate it with meeting new people from all sorts of cultures, making great memories, and learning a thing or two about my acting and describing skills! –Suzy
Guide a green fluffball with a mustache through progressively more difficult levels of cliffs, forests, gears, levers, deserts, and more. Leo tells you his sad story as you try and help him recover his gold. His expressive eyes and fluffiness are so well-animated, it makes flinging him up on a branch that much more rewarding.
The developers spent some money on the voiceover for this game, and it shows, I genuinely missed Leo when I finished it! You will want headphones for this one to get the full experience. Lovers of platformers will particularly enjoy this game. –Erin
I’ve played this one off and on for years, as it’s a classic side-scrolling jumping game and perfect for killing time in short bursts. Alto is a snowboarder, and you’re attempting to get as far as you can while avoiding rocks, reindeer, posts and other obstacles.
There’s the added fun of trying to incorporate flips and tricks, and board sliding bunting. You eventually unlock other skiers with different skills too. It’s beautifully animated, with a minimalistic aesthetic, as you’re seeing pretty much everything in silhouette. I find it fun for short periods, but I don’t have a particularly obsessive gaming personality. Some people play this for hours! -Erin
This short, but fun game is great for puzzle lovers who are looking for something different. The game is about censorship in its various forms–and it requires that you use your sleuthing skills to figure out the story behind the actions.
Buy on Google Play Store / iTunes Store
I got sucked into this point-and-click puzzle game so quickly. Despite the childish drawings that made me initially doubt if this was for adults, this story-based game with two different characters has an engaging plot line and interesting puzzles.
I found the story very beautiful and funny. I didn’t want to stop playing this one, so consider buying this prior to a long international flight if you’re into puzzle games.
Reigns: Her Majesty
A Tinder-like decision-making game, Reigns: Her Majesty puts in the place of the Queen in the
Some are hilarious, like how to put up with your annoying husband, and others are about how to rule your kingdom. You have to walk the line between antagonizing your subjects too much and inspiring too much love –– either extreme will get you killed!
The writing here is witty, funny, and barbed, poking fun at the ways women are caught between impossible choices. It won a BAFTA award for best game, and I’m not surprised. This one can be played in short bursts or you can sink into an hour-long binge, it’s that good. –Erin
Old Man’s Journey
Old Man’s Journey is a thoughtful puzzle game where an old man looks back on his life and his memories. It’s subtle, beautifully drawn, and with dynamics that I haven’t seen in many games before this. I found the whole experience very calming, even when I was frustrated with not getting to the next level.
Break your pixellated character out of prison! This game has won several awards, and for good reason. Incorporating an old-school gaming aesthetic with a bit of crafting and the occasional round of whacking people over the head with makeshift weapons, this game is more complicated than it first appears.
There are several ways to break out of any given prison level –– from causing full-scale riots to digging tunnels to making disguises. It’s compelling enough to entertain you during a long boring train ride, but quick enough to make a short wait entertaining. -Erin
Life Is Strange
Life is Strange is a choose-your-own adventure game that is closer to a movie that you get to direct yourself. It’s emotionally gripping, cinematic, and with a poignant story. It’s fairly long, so you’ll get a lot of use out of it for a low cost (think how much you’d pay for a movie). My husband and I spent days playing this game together.
Get for iPhone only at the moment.
Framed is an amazing concept of an app where you create and rearrange comic panels in an attempt to help your spy succeed. The gameplay is a bit fast, but it’s a blast to play and you’ll lose track of time while playing Framed.
The animation of Framed is hand drawn and the music just adds another piece. I’d consider it the perfect travel game for a long wait at the airport–although you shouldn’t get too invested in it. 😉
Lumosity: Train of Thought
Lumosity is an app featuring a variety of games that reportedly train your brain to become more agile in different ways. The free version of the app serves up three games from a collection each day for your brain workout. You can play each game as often as you want during the day. I love most of the games I have played so far, but my favorite by far is Train of Thought.
Train of Thought is Lumosity’s most popular brain game. It has reportedly been played over half-a-billion times since it was launched in 2013. I am not surprised at all…Train of Thought is both addictive and aggravating like the best games always are!
So, how does it work? The game features a screen with a bunch of train stations in different colors, with tracks connecting each station to a starting point. When you are ready, trains are released onto the track from the start point one by one, and the goal is to throw switches correctly and in time for each train to head into its home station.
It sounds simple…but it gets progressively more difficult with each level. On a recent ten-hour flight to Europe, I spent every waking minute playing it (and I barely slept!), but I still could not crack my current level of 11. –Dhara
Who doesn’t enjoy a word game?! I love
The app works this way, you have box tables like the ones in Scrabble, and you will get a set of letters where you need to create words that fit on the number of boxes. If you create a word that is not needed in the table box, it will go as a bonus word.
Hit the Light
This game is the millennial take on Breakout (Bueller?). This fun game with a sleek design is fun to better played offline as the ads are far less of a nuisance. That said, if you love to cheat, you can watch the ads for additional ways to break the lights. I’ve found it delightfully addictive and fun to play late at night due to the dark colors.
I need to add the honorable mention of Board Game Arena, which works only online. This free platform with premium options features 100+ favorite board games digitized. You need to be online and at the time of editing, the app is still in Beta mode (and is best on a tablet/laptop). Still, I absolutely loved playing King of Tokyo and Ticket to Ride against strangers on my last train ride.
I recently found a new game that is totally addictive! It’s called MixedUp Max and is a magic squares type of game – you can select different pictures and different shuffle levels and then slide rows and columns to re-arrange back to the original picture! There’s a free version but I’m not a fan of ads so went for the paid for version, and best of all, it can be played without internet access so I’ve been using it on my plane and train trips!
Really like Pictoword. I play this everytime I travel. There are ads that give out coins but if you’re offline it disables the ads. No free coins, but no ads either: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pictoword-fun-new-word-games/id600674056?mt=8