There is, surprisingly, a lot of downtime when you travel.
There are those long train and bus rides, cramped flights, and hours after the sun goes down and the sights are closed, but you are not yet ready for bed.
What do you do to fill this time?
Well, there are the usual things — reading, writing, listening to music, watching that movie you put on your iPod for the millionth time. But, my favourite thing to do (and a great way to make new travel friends) is by playing a game that forces you to chat with the person across from you in the train or on the other side of the bar.
My first game suggestion, Would You Rather, is one that I am sure many of you have heard of (there are board games made out of it now), but things can get a bit crazy when you are on the road and forced to come up with (often inappropriate) questions of your own. I was introduced to this game in Italy, on a train from Venice to Rome, by a group of Aussies sitting across from me.
The first question they asked me was: “Would you rather have to wear a cardigan for the rest of your life OR listen to the annoying song by The Cardigans EVERY time a song was playing?”
Now, you may have an instant reaction to one choice or the other, but here is where the fun of this game comes in — asking questions.
Will it mean that if you get married you have to wear a cardigan over your wedding dress? Would you have to wear it swimming? Would the song come on in every bar you went to and just play over and over?
See, it's not as easy as you might think, and what the game really comes down to is that no matter which option you choose, they both suck! It took me about 20 minutes to answer the cardigan question alone (clearly a great way to pass the time) and, as you can imagine, they only got more complicated from there. One of those Aussie guys from that train and I kept in touch for years, emailing ridiculous Would You Rather questions to each other from opposite sides of the world!
I was introduced to another fun meet-people-travel-game while in a bar in Vietnam.
My friend and I had just grabbed a drink and were sitting together, hoping the half empty place we were in would fill up and become more of a party than it was at that moment. We had only been in the country for a few days and had left the people that we had met behind in Hanoi the night before, so we were in the mood to make some new friends.
As we were finishing our first drinks, a guy came and sat down at our table with us and said in an Australian accent; “Don’t say anything.” Then pointing at my friend he said; “You are Irish,” and then turning to me, “and you are from Denmark. Right?!”
We both laughed and said no, we were from Canada. As soon as he heard our voices he cringed and yelled over our heads, “They’re Canadians, we were all wrong!” Turning around, we noticed a group people standing over in the corner laughing.
Apparently, they were playing a game where they would pick a person in the bar, and make bets on where the person was from just by looking at them. You were not permitted to leave the group (at the risk of getting close enough to hear them talking) until all bets were made, and then someone was nominated to go and guess where they were from to their face.
The game had started with just two guys and by the time we joined to play, they had gathered three more. By the end of the night we had a group of about ten and ended up travelling together for the rest of our time in Vietnam, picking up people as we went thanks to our nationality guessing game. Best icebreaker ever!
What sorts of games to you play to fill the time on your adventures? Do you have any good Would You Rathers for me?