Solo Travel and Card Games: Tips for Making New Friends Abroad

How card games can enhance your solo travel experience and share tips for making friends abroad using this age-old pastime.


Venturing alone? It’s a profound journey, a deep dive into one’s soul. It’s not just about unearthing personal might and whims; it’s also a dance with strangers, a plunge into diverse world rhythms. One unexpected way to bridge the cultural gap and make new friends? Card games. They are universal, require minimal language skills, and can be an icebreaker in unfamiliar territories. In this article, we’ll discuss how card games can enhance your solo travel experience and share tips for making friends abroad using this age-old pastime.

The Global Language of Card Games

Before diving into tips, it’s essential to understand the universal appeal of card games. Card games exist in almost every culture, and the basics remain remarkably similar. In the USA, it’s poker. In India? Rummy. And in Germany, they’re shuffling pinochle. Yet, strategy, fortune, and chitchat? Universally stitched in.

Keen on delving into the card game labyrinth? Perhaps, the art of “card counting” beckons you. While it’s a strategy mostly associated with blackjack, understanding this technique can make for an engaging conversation starter; learn more about how to count cards

Benefits of Playing Card Games While Traveling Solo

  1. Instant Icebreaker: Whether you’re in a hostel, coffee shop, or on a train journey, pulling out a deck of cards can lead to hours of entertainment and bond-forming.
  2. Language Barrier Overcome: Basic card games can be understood with simple gestures and minimal words, making it easy to play even when you don’t share a common language.
  3. Insight into Local Culture: Every region has its unique card games or variations. Playing these games can offer a deeper understanding of local traditions.

Tips for Making Friends Abroad with Card Games

  1. Always Carry a Deck: Having a deck of cards in your backpack or purse ensures you’re always ready for an impromptu game.
  2. Learn Local Games Before You Go: A little research about popular card games at your travel destination can be a great way to impress and connect with locals.
  3. Join Card Game Nights: Many hostels or local cafes host game nights. Participate actively and show genuine interest.
  4. Be Open to Teaching: If locals are unfamiliar with a game you know, take the time to teach them. It’s an excellent way for reciprocal learning and fostering connections.

Popular Card Games Around the World

  1. Durak (Russia): A game of strategy in which the objective is NOT to be the last player with cards in your hand.
  2. Scopa (Italy): A game played with a 40-card deck, Scopa requires players to capture cards that total a certain number.
  3. Daifugo (Japan): Also known as “Rich Man, Poor Man”, this game requires players to get rid of all their cards as soon as possible.
  4. Tichu (China): A trick-taking game for four players, Tichu combines strategy and teamwork.

Being Respectful and Mindful

When engaging in card games, especially in a new country, it’s essential to be respectful. Remember that gambling might be illegal or frowned upon in some cultures. Always make sure to clarify the rules before starting a game and ensure that everyone is comfortable with the stakes even if they’re just for fun.


Venturing alone, it’s a thrilling ride amplified with a sprinkle of card games. These aren’t just pastimes; they’re cultural storytellers. More than mere global connectors, they’re windows to diverse cultural tapestries, offering insights into traditions and values. A deck can transform a solitary journey, turning strangers into companions with shared laughter over a game. So when gearing up for that lone voyage, don’t just pack your essentials; tuck in a deck. In the heart of a distant city or atop a mountain, those cards might just be the bridge to new stories, memories, and, perhaps, lifelong pals in foreign lands.

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Travel Begins at 40

Travel Begins at 40 Editor

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