Ten Drinking Games to Entertain You on Your Travels

There is probably no other period in your life when you’ll have more spare time than when you’re backpacking. And when the sights have been seen, your book has been read, all the hostel movies exhausted, and the nightlife has drained every last dollar out of your budget, how do you fill those extra hours?

Drinking games.

Ok, so that’s not how everyone fills their backpacking spare time – trip planning, getting an early night, engaging in long philosophical discussions, or simply staring at your belly button also rank as pretty good time fillers. But sometimes there is nothing like some short, sharp drinking fun to get a party started or fill a rainy evening stuck in the hostel kitchen.

Find some likeminded playmates, locate the cheapest booze you can find (a game in its own right) and check out these ten drinking games. I can’t promise they will enhance your life in any way, but you may end up with an extra story or two to tell when you get back home.

Note: for the non-drinkers, all of these games can be played without drinking alcohol, so there’s no need to feel left out.

Essential equipment for all drinking games: a camera to help you remember the course of the evening and a hostel that isn’t against the idea of a party.

The Games:

1. Spoons


  • Enough spoons for every player apart from one.
  • Deck of cards.

How to play:

Arrange the spoons in the middle of the table in a circular shape, making sure everyone can reach. Deal four to seven cards face down to each player to start (the fewer cards each person receives, the longer the game will take). Each player should look only at their own cards. The dealer then selects cards one at a time from the remaining, non-dealt cards and decides whether he wants to keep the card and discard one of his own or pass the new card to his right. The person on the right does the same and so on around the group. The aim is to keep turning over, discarding and passing on new cards until someone ends up with four of a kind.


When someone has four of a kind, they reach for a spoon, which is the prompt for the rest of the players to grab a spoon as quickly as they can. The person left without a spoon incurs a drinking penalty.

The key to this game is speed.

2. Cereal box game


  • Empty cereal box.
  • A course in flexibility.

How to play:

Take an empty cereal box and place it on the floor. In turn, each player must bend over and pick the box up with their teeth. Sounds easy? There is one extra rule: the only part of the body that can touch the floor while attempting to pick up the box is one or both soles of the feet. Every failed attempt or additional body part that touches the floor incurs a drinking penalty. People can try each round as many times as they want. Once everyone has picked up the box or the unsuccessful people have admitted defeat, an inch (couple of centimetres) should be cut or ripped away from the top of the box. The game continues until there is nothing more than the base of the box left. Then you’ll be hoping for a sticky tongue to help you get the cardboard off the floor.

3. Spoof


  • Three coins per person.
  • One large mug.

How to play:

Each player places their hands behind their back and shuffles zero to three coins into their right hand. The players then hold their right hand out, fist closed, concealing the number of coins they possess and the game begins. Going clockwise the players each have to guess how many coins are collectively held by the group. No two players are allowed make the same guess. When everyone has made their bid, the coins are revealed and the person who guessed correct (or closest) is out and adds part of his or her drink to the mug. The game continues until there is an ultimate loser who must drink the contents of the mug.

4. Drug dealer


  • Deck of cards.

How to play:

Sort the deck of cards so there is one King, one Ace and one numbered card for each of the remaining players. Deal the cards face down. Each player should discreetly look at their card to see if they are the King (the Drug Dealer), the Ace (the Cop) or a numbered card (a Bystander). The aim is for the Drug Dealer to secretly “kill” the Bystanders one at a time by winking at them. When winked at, the bystanders must declare themselves out (dramatically faking death is to be encouraged). Meanwhile it is the Cop’s job to detect who the Drug Dealer is. For every Bystander that is killed without the Cop catching the Dealer, the Cop must take a drink. If the Drug Dealer “kills” the Cop, the Drug Dealer must finish the contents of their drink.

Once again, the key to this game is speed, otherwise the Bystanders will get bored pretty quickly.

5. Beer Pong


  • 22 cups gathered from around your hostel or cheap disposable plastic cups.
  • 1 ping pong ball.
  • A reasonably long table.

How to play:

Fill 20 of the cups with a drinkable amount of beer and arrange them in a triangle shape with rows of  four cups, three, then two, and one cup at the front. The triangles of cups should be at opposite ends of the table. Fill the 2 remaining cups with water for rinsing the ping pong ball and give one to each side of the table. The aim is to throw the ping pong ball across the table and into one of the beer filled cups. If you get the ball into one of the cups, your opponent has to drink the contents of the cup until one team has drunk all of the contents of the cups. The game is best played in two teams of three to help share the drinking. In the interests of remaining friends with your new hostel mates, rinse the ball in the water cup if it bounces on the floor. More complicated rules can be added including removing cups, defending and bouncing the ball as you prefer.

The bonus of this game is that it is as much fun to watch as it is to play.

6. Bottle Balance


  • Deck of cards (the good news is that for this game the pack doesn’t need to be complete).
  • Bottle of alcohol, ideally a liter for height purposes.

How to play:

Balance the deck of cards on top of the bottle. Every player must take turns blowing at the cards with the intention of blowing at least one or more off the top of the bottle. The person who topples the whole deck or the last card off the bottle incurs a drinking penalty. If you want to add alternative fun, you can substitute drinking penalties for forfeits, or if you’re feeling particularly daring and want to get more friendly with your hostel mates, the penalty can be an item of clothing.

The best part about this game is its utter simplicity.

7. Hundreds/Century Club

Warning: this is a pretty serious drinking game and should come with a health warning…or at least an exclusion of liability…but we’re all grown-ups, so we’ll let you take your own counsel on whether you want to play this game.


  • Shot glass for each player.
  • A watch or phone with a second counter.

How to play:

This game is all about endurance. The rules are very simple – to drink one shot of beer on the minute, every minute for 100 minutes (around 6 to 8 cans of beers depending on the size of shot you pour). The aim is to be the person who can drink for the longest time. A player becomes disqualified if they can no longer drink or do not hold their alcohol inside (includes using the bathroom or the beer coming back the way it went in).

If you want a tamer version of this game, reduce the number of shots played and/or mix the beer with lemonade – a whole different challenge as the combined bubbles work to fill you up faster. Whatever you do, don’t try this with spirits. Trust me on that one.

8. Ring of Fire


  • Deck of cards.
  • Paper and pen.
  • One large mug.

How to play:

Fan the cards out face down so that they form a circle with every card touching one other. Take the paper and pen and create a list of rules with one rule relevant for each card number. You can be as creative as you like, but some common rules/suggestions are below. The idea is that each person, going clockwise, selects a card and then must comply with the rule that applies to the card:

  • 2 to 8 red: drink the number of sips shown on the card.
  • 2 to 8 black: designate someone else to drink the number of sips shown on the card.
  • 9: rhyme – select a work and proceed around the group saying a word that rhymes with the chosen word until someone fails to do so e.g. bar, car etc. The person who breaks the rhyme incurs a drinking penalty.
  • 10: categories – select a category and proceed around the group naming something from that category until someone fails to do so e.g. fruits: apple, pear etc. The person who fails to name something from the category incurs a drinking penalty.
  • Jack: create a rule – when a person selects a Jack they must set a new rule e.g. no drinking with the left hand.
  • Queen: dance moves – the person selecting Queen must makes up a dance move. Going clockwise, the next person must perform that move and add their own. Each following person must perform the moves from the people before them and add their own until someone is unable to complete the sequence. The person who fails to complete the full sequence of dance moves incurs a drinking penalty.
  • King: Kind of cups – this is where the cup in the middle comes into play. Each person who selects a King contributes part of their drink to the cup in the middle. The person who selects the last King has to drink the contents of the mug.
  • Ace: Waterfall – each player starts to drink at the same time and must continue to drink until the person who selected the card stops.

There is plenty of potential for applying new rules to numbers 2 to 8 and new rules will be added as the Jacks are drawn. Any player that breaks the ring i.e. leaves any cards not touching, incurs a drinking penalty.

9. I have never


  • Nothing more than a good dose of honesty.

How to play:

This is a great game for getting to know your fellow hostel mates. A person starts by saying “I have never…” and completing the sentence with a statement e.g. “I have never…been to Australia.” Every other person who has done the thing stated e.g. been to Australia – must take a drink. Speed is the key to this game as is imagination – it usually doesn’t take too long for the “I have never…” statements to become much more interesting.

10. Buzz


  • Nothing.

How to play:

Those good at math will enjoy this game. Everyone else will get drunk.  Starting with one player and moving clockwise around the group, the aim is simply to keep counting from one upwards until someone goes wrong. The complication is that the word “buzz” must be said instead of the following numbers:

  • Any number with a 7 in it e.g. 7, 17, 27
  • Any double number e.g. 11, 22, 33
  • Any multiple of 7 e.g. 7, 14, 21

Play fast and apply a drinking penalty to anyone who gets it wrong.

And now for the important stuff:

Drinking can be a fun activity but it can also turn a great night into something you come to regret. So, to keep it fun:

  • Do make sure you drink responsibly.
  • Don’t let the peer pressure take you beyond your usual drinking limits.
  • Add some water into the drinking mix (it will also help keep hangovers at bay).
  • And don’t forget to eat to soak up the alcohol.

Whether you bookmark this page, print it out, or commit it to memory, when the rain is coming down or all other activities are exhausted and someone asks, “Does anyone know any drinking games?” – you’ll be prepared.

If you’ve got any others to share, let me know in the comments below.

For more on drinking around the world, check out the following articles:

Photo credits:  Shaylorwhatsername, walknboston, ccarlsteadsnowflakegirl, gcfairch, philosophygeek, tac1980Bennett for Senate, WalkingWounded


Filed under: Drink, featured