Traveling is great. Exploring new parts of the world is one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences in life. However, sometimes the process of getting to that exciting new place can be a little boring or irritating. It’s a good thing that there are plenty of video games to make the long drives, flights, and bus rides bearable. Mobile games and other features available on handheld systems can also make meeting new friends and exploring unknown towns a breeze. Games only become better travel companions with time and these were the qualities we considered when responding to the question:
I fully acknowledge that I’m cheating the question a bit, but I want to give props to the StreetPass feature in the Nintendo 3DS that wirelessly swapped information with other 3DS owners you walked by. What data was exchanged varied by game, but it was always affirming to know a stranger had the same tastes as you. The idea that you could be going about your business and suddenly your 3DS would light up indicating someone around you had a 3DS too would always make you feel less lonely no matter where you were going.
StreetPass encouraged people to get out of the house and be social in the same way Pokemon Go did. It gave birth to many meetups across the world. I’ve made a handful of friends from attending those. As much as I love my Switch, taking it out in public isn’t nearly as gratifying as connecting with strangers felt through exchanging digital “hellos” through StreetPass.
The Pokemon series will forever be the definition of the travel game and, for me, Pokemon Silver is the best one out of all of them for its extended runtime over two regions. It’s such a fitting adventure to accompany your travels: a young adult setting off to explore the vast world, seek their fortune, and become the very best. Pokemon is easy to pick up for a few minutes while you wait for a bus but it’s also perfect for marathon sessions on planes and that was especially true back when AA batteries could power the Gameboy Color for dozens of hours. On my most recent travel, I departed feeling like I had enough entertainment to get me through a long plane ride with a few books, my music, and a Switch loaded with Breath of the Wild, Octopath Traveler, and Mario Kart 8. Once my flight took off, however, all I really wanted to do was start a new adventure in Johto.
Pokemon Go is also perfect motivation for exploring a new city and making friends with strangers, though the intensity of that experience has declined over the past two years.
These days, I don’t play games much when traveling. Most of that is probably because I don’t have a portable system. But, I’ve got a phone, and games like Two Dots, Bookworm, And Snakebird have all helped me pass time on a bus or waiting at an airport. Back in my Gameboy Color days, I was right there with Evan dumping dozens of hours into Pokémon Gold and Silver.