When I was going through the items in our garage loft as part of a spring cleaning of the garage, I came across a small shoebox that’s been a part of our camping gear for years. When I opened the top of it and peered inside, I got excited. There’s more fun in that small box than in almost anything else that I own.
That shoebox contains a gaming travel kit, perfect for rainy days when you’re stuck in a tent or a long evening near the light of a campfire with friends. It has about $10 worth of components and a small stack of printed sheets lining the bottom. It’s something I want along on every camping trip I ever go on, and if I ever had to sell off my game collection, this would be the one thing I’d keep.
Not only that, this can be a wonderful thing to have tucked away on your shelf somewhere for a rainy day. There’s enough good entertainment in this box to last a lifetime, and you can pick up everything in that box for mere peanuts.
Three decks of playing cards These are just ordinary Bicycle cards with identical backs. Why identical backs? Some games, such as canasta, use two decks mixed together, and some (such as samba) mix together three decks with the same backs. Having three decks makes it easy to modify them as needed for pretty much any card game you might want to play.
A few pens and a thick pad of scratch paper These are included for keeping score, but also as components for other games like tic-tac-toe or the “dot game.”
A small chess and checkers combo set Our board, when folded, is about as wide as the shoebox, and we keep the pieces in a small baggie.
A small set of poker chips These are obviously useful for games like poker, but they can also be used as components for other games, particularly for score-keeping or any type of wagering.
A set of dominoes This allows us to play a quick game of dominoes. For us, this is probably the least essential component of the box, as it only allows for one game and doesn’t have the multiple uses of the other pieces.
A baggie full of miscellaneous dice These were scavenged from various places and collected in a baggie. With a few cups from the campsite, one can quickly play many different dice games, such as liar’s dice or Farkle.
The rules for a number of games, printed off and lining the bottom of the box However, there are certainly many games that aren’t covered within Hoyle’s that we quite like, such as Arimaa and Chess960. For these, we’ve printed off rules sheets, folded them in half, and used them to line the bottom of the shoebox.
There’s enough magic in this box for hundreds of hours of entertainment, and it’s portable enough to take with you on pretty much any road trip. Enjoy.