Let’s Play Backpacker Bingo!


Let's Play Backpacker Bingo! - A Game for Travelers

So, I’ve got this idea for a game. It’s a kind of BINGO for travelers, based on all the many cliches we see –and participate in– while on the road. It’s goofy, easy to play and takes up no room in your pack.

There are 20 Basic categories of tourists in the game to watch for as you travel. When you spot someone that fits the description, point them out to your opponent/s and you get a letter (or you can make your opponent lose a letter, if you’re falling behind and want to prolong the game). The first person to spell BINGO wins. Easy!

Just to make things interesting, there are 5 Wild Cards: travelers who are worth double, allowing you to add a letter and your opponent/s to lose one.

For example, say we’re walking along and you spot a Bloody Harry, a guy drinking before 11am. You point him out and now have the letter “B”. The Bloody Harry category is now closed. (Otherwise, you could walk by a bar filled with Aussies and the game would be over.)

Next you see a Commit Already!, a backpacker with a henna tatto — point her out and you’re at “BI”. Your opponent gets lucky next, though, and sights a Wild Card, aDouble Ansel — a tourist with two cameras. You lose a letter, dropping you to “B” and he gets his first letter, tying the game.

Obviously, this does require a bit of math, in that you have to be able to count to 5. Shouldn’t be a problem for most of us but most Lithuanians should probably stop reading now.

I recommend being discrete when announcing your spotting — shouting “Mr Thang!” as you point at a drunken, shirtless jock could lead to a more adventurous holiday than you’d planned on. A whispered “Mr Thang to your left” will save on dental bills.

And without further ado, here are the categories:

The Basics (+1 for you OR -1 for your opponent)
Hey Grandpa! — a man wearing shorts and black socks
Mr/Miz Thang — anyone showing too much skin for the culture/place
Bloody Harry — any guy drinking before 11am
Penny Saved — tourist arguing with a taxi/tuk tuk driver
Armpits and Beer — a guy wearing a beer logo “wife beater”/singlet

REI Rebel — anyone wearing a North Face jacket
Careful, Spielberg! — a guy videotaping while walking down the street
In Yo Face — someone taking a photo less than 2 ft from the subject’s face
That 80′s Show — a guy wearing a golf shirt with a popped collar
So Last Century — anyone taking photos with a disposable camera

Too Soon — anyone wearing a tshirt championing the town they’re currently in
Where’d I Put That? — a guy in a camera vest (bet he has a beard, too)
Commit Already! — anyone sporting a henna tattoo
Isn’t That Cute? — a couple with matching shirts/outfits
Hippy Pants — anyone wearing baggy, multi-colored or droopy pants (MC Hammer excluded)

Get Off My Lawn — an old expat complaining that the place has gone to Hell
Road Block — anyone holding up foot traffic to get that perfect photo
Stop Thief! — any person wearing their daypack backwards
Thai Tattoo — a backpacker sporting road rash from a scooter spill
The Artiste — anyone laying on the ground to get a photo

Wild cards (+1 for you AND -1 for your opponent)
Kitchen Sink — anyone with a backpack and a guitar, didjidaroo or hula hoop
Missed the Memo — anyone wearing a money belt on the outside
Dread Fest — 3 or more people with dreads in a group OR someone with a massive ‘mono-dread’
Revolution, Mon — anyone with clothing featuring either Bob Marley or Che Guevara
Double Ansel — a tourist wearing two cameras

Change the rules or add new categories as you like, so long as all players agree. If you’re playing with more than 2 people, it’s best to only close a category after two uses, rather than one. To make things easy, I’ve included a cheat sheet.

Please note that this is all in good fun. I read through the list and found 9 that would have applied to me in the last year.

What do y’all think? Any suggestions for new categories?

61 comments on “Let’s Play Backpacker Bingo!

  1. Ah, this will prove to be quite a good bonding activity on the road. Much better than stealing your new friend’s wallet and disappearing into the night. I like it. The Bingo version that is, not stealing. Though I’m sure the latter has its perks.

  2. Fun! I’m totally printing this out. It’s like a scavenger hunt!

    I’d also add:
    Trend Victim — Any hipster wearing big neon sunglasses

    Whoever get’s BINGO first doesn’t have to pay for beer that night! :D

  3. Rev Littlejohn on said:

    Ha! This is brilliant! Kitchen Sink/Dread Fest/Revolution, Mon would be the game-changing play, and I’ll wager it’s a common combo.

  4. So true! Hilarious, Wes. Here are my suggestions:

    Hawaii 5-0: Anyone wearing a flowered Hawaiian shirt when they’re NOT IN HAWAII
    Lonely Hearts Club: Single traveler reading Lonely Planet while walking
    Just Cruisin’: Anyone wearing lanyard containing cruise card while on land
    Monopoly Player: Anyone trying to sort out local currency (by color) while in a totally public place… and the closely related…
    Lewis and Clark: Anyone with a huge paper map standing directly under a street sign
    The Negotiator: Anyone haggling in the market and still paying twice what the locals do

  5. Haha, a fantastic idea. I just saw nearly all these on my trip to Malaysia…

  6. Glad to see that there are still people with a sense of humor in this world!

  7. Brilliant. Though… “REI Rebel — anyone wearing a North Face jacket”: I dare say that could be anyone – local or foreigner alike, in Dalat or Sapa, Vietnam.

  8. Wes, you have outdone yourself. Thai Tattoo is my fav. I’ll print the sheet out and have it laminate at Fedex/Kinko. You’ll have to autograph it when I see you on the road, pretty please.

  9. Oh I so like this – beats ‘spot the Eddie Stobart lorry’ any day!

  10. what a fun game !!! :D

  11. This is so epic it hurts. Nice Wes :)

  12. I love this game! Although I do wonder what long, miserable bus ride you were on that made you come up with this :-)

  13. Dude you forgot one (don’t you love all this input into YOUR own private wonderful invention?)

    “Mom”–that middle-aged woman all pinch-faced and scowly at the drunken barely clothed gap year kids “touring” temples in SE Asia.

    Guess who I am. Just guess.

    Signed, almost Grandpa when I had a blister issue and only had black socks

  14. Awesome! I love stereotypes!

  15. Have seen every single one of those over the past few months in SE Asia (and mayyyyybe have been one or two–the North Face is just too useful!)–so spot on, love it.

  16. YES this is awesome! I did something similar with my couch surfing host when I was in NYC… we went to Williamsburg and played “hipster bingo” Good fun!

  17. I love this so much! And I wanna add:
    The chatterbox: anyone ranting in their own language about stupid stuff and not thinking about that someone could understand them (+1 if this is a German tourist complaining about the fact that they can’t find a place where they serve Schnitzel)

  18. Love this.

    And it got me thinking: the Couple Meltdown, hefting their own weight in backpacks and finally just losing it and going off on each other about whose fault everything is.

  19. Now that I’ve wiped the coffee I spat across the laptop when reading the first paragraph of this post I can say, FANTASTIC game! You can play this in so many places, alone or with a gaggle of folks.

  20. I think you have something there. Dare I say epic. Laughed, laughed. Great idea! It is healthy to be able to laugh at ourselves, I think.
    I have to say that I think I will also print this out, glue it to cardboard and make adhesive double sided tape bingo markers so this can be played while exploring. Or I guess you could just set up camp on a busy street at an outdoor cafe.

  21. Aw man, why do I have to be the kitchen sink?! At least my hula hoop is in six pieces and hides my backpack. =) SUCH a fab idea, great game!

  22. You have, of course, missed the “Digital Nomad”. The one who spends all day in the internet cafe with an intense frown and a bad attitude.

    Apart from that one, the only category I fall into is Get Off My Lawn, often in places i’ve only just arrived in and never lived in.

  23. This post cracks me up…I’m sure everyone can see themselves in one or more of these titles as well ;)

  24. Love it! This will keep me and the Mrs entertained while travelling through SE Asia. Now, to turn it into a drinking game…

  25. So much fun! I’m guilty of a few of these so I could already move ahead. Couples wearing matching clothes: Dave and I are guilty of that without noticing until someone points it out. On a train in India a complete stranger asked “Why are you dressed the same” yikes! I’m a north face rebel too. :)

  26. This is too funny! Your Bingo categories ring true :)

  27. Hilarious. My boyfriend wears black socks & shorts – does that count for?

  28. Dude, if we ever have the good fortune of meeting up somewhere warm, tropical, and populated, allow me to treat you to a beer or two as we sit on a veranda and play Travel Bingo. I have a great idea to turn this into a drinking game as well… see you in Costa Rica sometime?? ;)

  29. This is beyond awesome. You sir, are a true visionary. :)

  30. Koh Tao Jay on said:

    Oh man this is too funny. here are my additions:

    Sir Packsalot – Any one seen wearing a MASSIVE backpack (usually 100 liter or more). I really love this since my pack is usually pretty small (35 liters or less)

    The “Fuck it, I’m out of here and I hate you!” -When either the man or the woman in a couple gets so angry they scream at their partner and storm off in the opposite direction.

    Group o Knobs – A group of overly aggressive and rowdy guys (usually British) being rude to the staff in the bar or restaurant.

    and last but not least…

    Negative Nancy – The guy or gal who thinks its necessary to tell you all the bad or negative aspects of their trip and or life up to that point, including things that are just ignorant such as trash talking the locals.

    Thanks for the funny post!

  31. I think ‘Digital Hobo’ works better than Digital Nomad, for the type that hang out in Internet Cafe’s all day long.

  32. Hilarious, love it!!

  33. I never comment on sites, but this is one funny creation worthy of a shout out. Thanks Johnny Vagabond for the laughs yet again.

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