When you spend as much time travelling as we do you learn what works and what doesn’t when it comes to keeping your kids happy on the move. Whether it’s for flying with your toddler or a road trip we are always looking for the magic travel toys for toddlers that will keep them entertained and tantrum free. It is also important to find lightweight options and to figure out what works for your child so that you aren’t loaded down with gear.
We have found that one of the most important components of keeping your toddler happy is that they have new, stimulating toys to play with. Very often we hit the dollar store to fill their carry on with cheap toy’s they have never seen before. If you don’t have time (or just prefer not) to put effort into searching out new toys you can try out our favorite pre-made packs designed with your child’s age in mind. That said, here are our favorite travel toys for toddlers!
THE BEST TRAVEL TOYS FOR TODDLERS
Keep ’em Quiet Bags
We love these pre-made bags. When life gets busy there isn’t always time to spend on putting together the perfect pack of toys for your child. When that happens our go to option is the Keep ’em Quiet bags. They are specifically designed to keep little ones of all different ages entertained on a flight. They come in different age groups, gender (also gender neutral available), as well as length of trip. If you are going away for a weekend they can be smaller and obviously a little cheaper in price. They are stuffed full of activities such as mess free painting, 3d puzzles, snacks, special colouring in and so on. The Keep ’em Quiet bags are only available in the UK but the USA and Australia have a similar product called Busy Bags.
No Mess Colouring
Colouring just got more fun (for parents). Having to worry about your child colouring on walls, chairs, seat back tables and themselves is no longer an issue. There are a few options on the market that all follow the same principle of markers that only work on the paper it comes with. Here are some of our favorite options:
Color Wonder Products
The Color Wonder products are markers whose colours only appear when used on the range of colouring books and blank pages that Crayola has on offer. Color Wonder gives your kids the most options and creativity as far as no mess colouring goes.
The Water Wow colouring books include four reusable pages and a refillable water pen. You get one pen which you use to activate the colour in the pages! When you are done you can let the page dry to erase the pictures and fill it in again and again. The chunky-sized water pen is easy for kids to hold and it stores neatly right in the front cover. Water Wow comes in animal, alphabet and vehicle-themed books, which makes for an ideal travel activity toy for kids. The only down side is that your little one can’t choose which colour to use as it has one marker that activates all the pre-existing colours in the page.
Aqua Doodle – Travel Doodle
Aqua doodle mats come in varying sizes and options but the best one for travelling is obviously the travel doodle! The mats follow the same principle as the Water Wow – fill the pen and it activates the colours in the pages. The main advantages of the travel doodle is that it is soft like a mat and folds up small with an easy carry handle. Just like the Water Wow, when it dries the color fades and you can start colouring all over again!
Magnetic Doodle Board
Magnetic doodle boards are always a great option. We especially like this brand because the magnetic stamps are strong enough to stay connected to the board so they wont get lost on the plane or in the car. It also comes in mini for travelling although whether or not you feel the need to get the travel size will depend on your carry on space.
Buckle toys are all the rage lately. They help toddlers develop fine motor skills, cognitive skills, hand eye coordination, problem solving. Of course they are also fun and snuggly. You can get them in stuffed animal form but we like the backpack version the best. You can put some small things in it and your toddler can wear it through the airport to feel like a ‘big girl/boy’.
Magnetic Play Set
Children will exercise their imaginations for hours with this magnetic play set that encourages storytelling, promote problem-solving skills, and build skills in sequencing. The play board folds in half and because the pieces are magnetic they are hard to lose, making it great for travel. With so many theme options, such as farm, dollhouse, construction site and more, you can choose the option best suited to your family. Your toddler will love spending time setting up the scenes and it makes for some great, quiet fun!
Play-Doh is a classic. I’m sure I don’t have to talk it up to anyone but I will anyways. Play-Doh is great for kids of many ages. When they are little they will enjoy just squishing it and when they get older it’s great for letting their imaginations run wild. There are an infinite amount of things you can do with it when you get creative! We like to bring a bunch of small containers and take a new one out throughout the trip whenever we need a little distraction. You can also buy a fancier set that will give you all sorts of molds and fun tools like this baking set!
Another easy one is pipe cleaners. Pipe cleaners also have an infinite number of uses if you get creative. As creative as we get though nothing ever seems as fun to a toddler as just waving them around or wearing it as a bracelet. We’ve been surprised time and time again that no matter what amazing toys and surprises we bring the most effective and time consuming toy is the pipe cleaners.
What kid doesn’t love stickers? Stickers are a fabulous way to pass the time. Our favorite kind for planes are gel stickers which cling to the windows and can be easily taken down and put back up. You can also get classic stickers accompanied by a sticker book or just some paper. The paper/sticker book will probably end up ignored, though, and you will just end up covered in stickers instead.
Wristband Stuffed Animal
When travelling with little ones it’s always great to have some sort of familiar comfort object but this stuffed animal is great because it’s very difficult to lose! It goes around your arm like a wristband so there will be no dropping it between the seats and never finding it again.
Lonely Planet Pop Up Books
Whilst normally we are a fan of smaller books for the sake of space, the Lonely Planet pop up books are great if you want to prepare your child for the destination you are headed to. Just like the adult Lonely Planet books they feature the highlights of the city but in these they do it with colourful pop up pieces! Right now they only have London, Paris, and New York books.
These stringy balls are fun and exciting for toddlers and really any aged child. Originally created to be an easy ball for small hands to grab and hang on to, Koosh balls are more exciting than any regular ball and are way more fun!
Busy books are a great three-in-one option. They are story books that come with a play mat and toys. The play mat may not be so practical for the car/plane but the toys, activities and story should keep your toddler happy for quite a while. They come in many themes so you can choose whatever theme your child is obsessed with today!
While we prefer to let our kids experience some good creative fun, very often the time comes, especially when flying long haul, that you need to bring out the big guns! When that happens we always have a tablet on hand, loaded with educational apps and TV shows. You can download all these with the Amazon Prime Free Time Unlimited which you can test out by signing up for the Amazon FreeTime Unlimited Free Trial. We also bring along toddler headphones so that they don’t bother anyone.
Travel Toys for Toddlers – Older Toddlers
As your kids get a little older their tastes and abilities change. While the above travel toys for toddlers will still be fun and stimulating for them, some options for older toddlers are also available to them. Here are some of the best!
Playing card games can be great with older toddlers. Odds are that if your child is too young they will think the game is to throw the cards everywhere so only take this one out when they are old enough. Some of our favorites are classic card games like go fish and war that can be played with a normal deck of cards. You can also buy other specialty games like UNO, conversation starter cards, or matching games!
Little Globe Packs
The Our Little Globe Packs are a subscription box for kids wanting to learn about the culture of different countries. Esmé tried out the Kenya box just before our trip and it was an amazing introduction to her trip whilst we were still at home. We took it along on our trip and used it both on the outbound and return journey. Inside it has a passport with flag stickers, recipes for the countries traditional dishes, an activity related to the culture a crib sheet with a few words in the language and a map.
The map was an amazing way to prep our kids for the trip. It showed lots of the animals they could expect to see and what a Masai village looks like, as well as traditional clothing. Our daughter found it a fun way of ‘ticking off’ things she’d seen. We also found it a very useful way of preparing her for a significant cultural difference.
Wikki Stix are endlessly reusable sticks that are amazing for bringing science to life! Simply made of knitting yarn and food-grade wax, they will not break or tear apart but cut easily with scissors. They are excellent for learning letters and numbers and illustrating biology, making habitats, constellations, molecular structures and so much more. This particular pack comes with step by step instructions for make a DNA double helix.
These are our best suggestions for travel toys for toddlers! Do you have a favorite that wasn’t mentioned? Comment below or Share this post with your friends who are still on the hunt for travel toys!
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