5 Options for Best Portable Gaming Setup for Travels

best portable gaming setup
Copyright: gorodenkoff

Going on a trip can be something of a drag when you don’t know what to do during travel time. For gamers, you need the best portable gaming setup, but which one?

Whether you are in for a long ride in a car, a train, an airplane, or even if you are chilling at the hotel at the end of a long day full of activities. You got to be prepared entertainment-wise.

For some, watching a favorite movie or show might just do the trick.

For others, reading a good book or magazine. But gamers need to get their “game on” and to do that, they need to be packing the right gear for some good old quality gaming experience.

There are a variety of options, but obviously, it all depends if you are limited to weight, size, and/or power source. Do you need to pack lightly or you can opt for a bulkier setup?

Here are a few ideas of what you could bring as the best portable gaming setup to make your vacation and little more enjoyable while you get your R&R.

Mobile phone

This is the most obvious go-to device in terms of mobility and diversity. It is small, and light, plus it is something that we usually carry most of the time.

It is a crucial piece of equipment when going on trips, as they have access to emails, calendar, camera, social media, notes, payment cards info for NFC (or Near Field Communication), and in our case, the most “important” part, it can contain games for our leisure time.

Person Holding Black Smartphone Taking Picture of Car on Road

Depending on whether your phone is an iPhone or an Android, their respective app store carries a great variety of games to suit everybody’s taste and preference.

If you are like me and not too keen on controlling your game with the touch screen, providing that your mobile phone has one, which you most likely do, then you may want to purchase an adapter that will hold your phone onto your gaming controller that you connect through Bluetooth.

Choosing a phone as a portable device for gaming is a great choice if you need to pack lightly as you would only need a charger and a proper plug adapter if you happen to travel in a different country. If you opt for the controller and support option, it does not take that much more room in your bag.


Another idea for portable gaming devices is your personal laptop. More specifically a gaming laptop, but any laptop should do. It is all relative to the types of games you want to play.

I know, it is a little bulkier than a mobile phone, as you will probably need a carrying bag containing all of your accessories such as a mouse, maybe a wireless keyboard, headphones, and power supply.

If you usually game on your laptop at home, then you should not compromise if you don’t mind the extra luggage.

Semi-opened Laptop Computer Turned-on on Table

If you plan on gaming online, then you simply have to make sure to have access to the local wifi and if you are traveling by train, it can be possible.

I cannot say the same for airplanes as your electronics will probably need to be in “airplane mode” which would prevent accessing any network.

Rest assured, some airlines do provide their own type of wifi, so be sure to check on that beforehand.

If you are traveling by car, then providing you have a good data plan, you can use your phone as a hotspot and connect your laptop to it.

If you mostly want to play offline, then there is no issue there, just make sure you have a plug adapter if you plan on visiting a different country with a different type of plug.

Before leaving your home, just load up a few games onto your hard drive if need be and you are all set.

Popular Gaming handheld

An easy go-to as the best portable gaming setup is the handheld version of your favorite console, we are talking about :

  • Sony Playstation Portable (PSP)
  • Sony Playstation Vita (PS Vita)
  • Nintendo GameBoy family, original or color
  • Nintendo DS family, 2DS or 3DS
  • Nintendo Switch or Switch Lite

This option is a lot better than bringing a laptop in terms of extra baggage, as like bringing your phone, you would only need a charger, earphones, but also your library of games.

Black Nintendo Game Boy on Black Textile

Although some devices allow you to download a digital version of a game, others like the GameBoy family require you to carry physical game cartridges.

Thankfully, these games are pretty compact as they can easily fit inside of a carry-on bag, but I would suggest buying a game card case for your games, especially for the Nintendo Switch or DS, as opposed to carrying them loosely in your bag or having to bring them inside of their respective game case.

If you happen to have a PSP and want to install classic retro games to it, you can follow this link to find out how to install emulators onto your device.

Portable gaming monitor

Now, this option is for extreme gamers, that do not want to compromise and want to play with their home console. It is by far the bulkiest and more expensive option from this gaming devices list, but a gamer has to do what a gamer has to do.

We are talking here about a portable gaming monitor, these can be found online and in gaming stores. These will usually look like a suitcase where when opened, the monitor which is usually between 15 and 17 inches is attached to one side and your gaming console to the other, which is usually at the base.

In order to play, you would need a power source as they are NOT battery operated. That is not much of an issue once you are at your vacation spot, providing that it is not camping that we are talking about, but during travel time, if your means of transport does not have a plug available, then this would not be such a good idea unless you only plan to play at your destination, then that would be fine.

Size-wise it would be a bit bigger than carrying a laptop bag, so it is not like carrying your whole living room. Price-wise, we are talking at a minimum of 250 USD and it can go roughly up to 600 USD, depending on where or which brand you buy.

Another option for portable gaming monitors, although not as practical as it does not come with a carrying case, but you can buy a portable flat monitor which resembles a normal tablet, some have a touchscreen while others don’t, as some are HD or 4K, all depending on the consumers need. These monitors have an HDMI or micro-HDMI input so that you can plug in your console and Bob’s your uncle.

Sure, the screen is very compact and portable, although we cannot say the same about your console. Lots of wires, controllers, hardware, and software to carry, but if you have the room and means to pack it and you don’t want to “downsize” your gaming, then by all means.

Emulation device

In my opinion, this is actually the best portable game device of them all, as it can contain multiple consoles into one so that you can replay those old-school classic games that you know and love, and do so in a nice little package.

You can find them mostly online, there is a variety of them out there and come in different compact sizes, so that they can fit easily into a bag or coat pocket.

So basically, it is an electronic handheld device that contains and runs various emulators from different systems from Atari to the original Playstation One.

Some are also sold with a memory card, usually a Micro SD card format, that contains a great number of games to play.

Anbernic RG351M handheld device

The price point is relatively cheap, all depending on the hardware, memory card size, or material used for the device’s casing (plastic versus aluminum casing).

The price can vary from 100 USD to as high as 300 USD, but again it depends on what is “under the hood”.

Since it is all digital, there is no need to carry any game cartridges like the popular gaming handhelds mentioned above. Like a mobile phone, you would simply need a charger, and the optional headphones and you are good to go.

If you are interested in getting this product, I recommend going for the Anbernic brand, as I own one of these and I absolutely love it. Also, if you know what you are doing, you can easily add more games to the memory card, but I strongly recommend owning a copy of the game you want to add because it is frowned upon and would be considered illegal.

Yes, in emulation, it is illegal to share game Roms, but the emulators themselves aren’t. You may wonder how do these companies are able to sell these units? They must have had some permission of sorts, or otherwise, they would have been subject to lawsuits or be simply shut down.

Seeing as those companies and emulation devices have been around for a while, I would say that it is safe to buy. As I said, I bought mine this year and I love it and would definitely bring it as my best portable gaming setup of choice.

Honorable mention: Tablet

Much like the mobile phone, let us not forget the Tablet, which is often a popular choice for entertainment as it has a bigger and better viewing surface, a great way to enjoy a movie, take pictures and play a game.

It is very easy to carry around and you would only need to bring a charger and earphones.

Group of People Standing Beside Body of Water

If your tablet and phone have the same connection, USB-C, or Lightning port, then you only need to bring one wire for double the purpose.

Again, you can bring a game controller and connect it to your Tablet, you will only need a protective case that also acts as a holder so that you set it up on a table or an airplane fold-out table and simply play.

There are some, not a lot, of Tablet holding gamepad apparatus that you can find online and this is if you like to feel the controls as opposed to touching or tapping them on a screen.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, before leaving for your next trip or a family vacation, make sure that you bring the best portable gaming setup of your choice among these options, as it will help pass the time for those long waits and it can be enjoyed the whole family.

When gaming is life, make no compromise. So, enjoy and game on.

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5 Options for Best Portable Gaming Setup for Travels

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