Gap Year Down Time Entertainment
After years of dreaming, planning, and saving for your dream gap year, playing video games is probably the last thing you’re thinking about. You’re going to be too busy hiking mountains and jumping out of planes, partying all night and dodging STIs; basically living the traveller’s dream, right?
Although you’ll definitely do all those things (and a whole lot more), the reality of a gap year is that it includes a lot of down time, be it waiting for flights, crammed into the back of an overnight bus, or in prison for doing that thing to that chicken. But now that most travellers take their phone or tablet with them, there’s no excuse for being bored.
We’ve put together a list of the best games for your mobile device that will amply fill those empty gap year hours. Some are travel related, most of them aren’t, but all are guaranteed to last the duration of your trip.
80 Days (£3)
There are few better games to play on your around the world adventure than one that sees you plotting the fastest (and cheapest) route across the globe for legendary (fictional) traveller Phileas Fogg. It might even help you improve your own itinerary.
Crossy Road (free)
Crossing the road in foreign lands can be a tricky business, so consider Crossy Road a chance to practice as you guide your character as far as possible across increasingly dangerous roads. What sounds boring in theory is actually hugely enjoyable pick-up-and-play fun.
Desert Golfing (£1.19)
A gap year budget doesn’t often stretch to a round of golf, so consider this the next best thing. Physics is your best friend and worst enemy as you shoot to conquer a never ending parade of holes in as few shots as possible.
Jetpack Joyride (free)
Our biggest travel disappointment is that jetpacks aren’t yet commonplace, affordable, and completely safe. Make up for it by donning a pixellated equivalent in this endless runner and getting so obsessed with smashing your high score you never leave your dorm.
Tetris Blitz (free)
You can’t go too wrong with Tetris, even if you suck, and Blitz mixes the formula up to make it a frenzy of high score play in short games, perfect for filling even the tiniest gap in your itinerary.
Ridiculous Fishing (£1.99)
You probably consider yourself too young and beautiful to enjoy a spot of real-life fishing, but this video game equivalent puts firearms, explosives, and more at your disposal to make it all a bit sexy, without the risk of being thrown into terrifying foreign prison!
You Must Build a Boat (£1.99)
Your gap year will involve boat travel at one point or another, so consider this game of building your own and recruiting a crew of monsters while matching colourful tiles and battling through an epic journey into the unknown as practice. Or something.
FTL: Faster Than Light (£7.99)
Speaking of epic journeys, why not take one into space, the only untapped gap year frontier? Keep your crew alive on a journey through the cosmos, being killed by aliens, eaten by spiders, trampled by space horses. Hopefully your own journey goes a bit better than this.
Threes! (free or £2.30)
This deceptively simple number game tests both your intelligence and your patience as you aim to accumulate the highest score possible. While the game is elegant, the moment you inevitably hurl your phone into the ocean in frustration is not.
New Star Soccer (free)
Keeping up with how terrible your plucky local football team is performing can be tricky when you’re on the road. Create a digital alternative and lead them to glory in this brilliant small-screen sim. We all know football is secretly more important than seeing the world.
Super Hexagon (£2.29)
Your job is to guide a pixel through rapidly shifting mazes. It sounds simple, but is actually more difficult than obtaining a North Korean visa. If you’ve just made new travel friends, maybe don’t play this in front of them.
Plague Inc. (79p)
If you worry about getting ill on your travels, this might not be the game for you. The aim is to use diseases and viruses to kill off the entire world as efficiently as possible. Enjoy that recycled air on your next flight.
Card games are a staple of killing time, and this slick one-on-one strategy battler might threaten to end your entire social life. Unless, that is, you get some fellow travellers on board and wipe the floor with them.
Surgeon Simulator (£1.99)
The last place you want to wind up on your gap year is the hospital. If you need motivation to look after your health, taking the role of the world’s most cack-handed surgeon and having a crack at heart transplants and teeth removal is bound to do the trick.
Robot Unicorn Attack 2 (free)
There’s no tenuous travel link for this one. It’s just a brilliantly fun, loopy endless runner with an amazing name. Play it if you’re ever feeling down for guaranteed smiles.
Travel is all about connecting with the world and your fellow man. This game is all about connecting dots. You see, it’s relevant and deep. It’s also just a bloody good game that can be a lot more challenging than you’d expect.
Build your own bonkers fighter planes and take to the skies against swarms of enemy forces, racking up ridiculous high scores by blowing them out of the skies. And then hope that your flight home goes a lot more smoothly than this.
*prices correct at time of writing. Most games listed as 'free' contain in-app purchases.