For a lot of parents travelling with a toddler or baby can fill them with fear. The thought of their toddler throwing a tantrum or crying as soon as the plane takes off can put parents off travelling altogether.
It doesn’t need to be this way as long as you are well prepared for everything you can have a successful journey and reap the rewards of enjoying the destination at the end.
I have come up with a really simple and easy to remember acronym that is the key to successful trip with a toddler (or at least make it a lot easier). Just remember S.A.S or Snacks, Activities and Sleeping aids.
Every time I’ve been really organised with these three things, the flight or road trip has gone well.
Another commonly referred to parenting acronym is HALT; hungry, angry, lonely and tired. It’s like being ‘armed’ with something to tackle each of those issues.
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 we are flying or taking a road trip we are always looking for the magic travel toys for toddlers which will keep them entertained on the journey.
If you are looking to organise some travel toys yourself, it is 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 one of the most important components of keeping your toddler happy is having something new and stimulating to play with!
When I say new, I mean new to them! Even if it’s a toy they haven’t see for a while and have forgotten about!
If you will be travelling by plane, most of the larger airlines usually have child play packs that are handed out to children before take-off.
Some are better than others but most include colouring pencils, paper, a soft toy and some sensory play items that will only keep your toddler distracted for a while.
The key is to introduce each play item one by one to your little one. This way you are maximising the amount of precious playtime for each item before they loose interest and move onto the next.
We all know how babies and toddlers can look at something quickly and thrown it to one side.
Below we have compiled a list of some of the tried and tested items used while travelling with our toddlers. If you find the below list too advanced for your child, check out our baby travel toys list here.
If you don’t have time (or just prefer not) to put effort into searching out new toys you can try out our favourite pre-made packs designed with your child’s age in mind.
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up some of the best Toddler travel toys on the market.
A few of them are better road trip toys whilst others are good choice for an upcoming flight with a toddler. For the most part the toys are great no matter how you plan to travel.
The Best Travel Toys For Toddlers
Keep ’em Quiet Bags
We love the Keep Em Quiet pre-made entertainment bags specifically designed for travelling.
When life gets busy, there is not always time to spend putting together the perfect pack of toys for your child. When that happens, our go to option is the Keep ’em Quiet bags.
These ultimate entertainment packs 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 fidget spinners, sensory toys, mess free painting, 3d puzzles, snacks, special colouring in and so on. The Keep ’em Quiet bags are available worldwide.
We have managed to stretch our Keep Em Quiet bags out for a fight and an entire trip!
This sensory board for toddlers is the perfect toy to bring on any trip. Thanks to the lightweight and compact design, it can easily be put it in the backpack to be taken anywhere keeping your kids busy and quiet during a long journey.
With lots of bits and pieces including zippers, shoelaces, buttons, belt buckles, jigsaw puzzles, alphabet, clocks and calendar learning games. Theres lots here to keep little fingers engaged on any trip. Is available in blue or pink and can be purchased here.
UFO Sensory Toy
This Montessori UFO flying saucer design makes it easy for babies to grasp and hold, the cords can be pulled from one side to other side to hear and feel the various sounds and vibrations.
It has textured cords and makes it easy to hold while promoting motor skills, sensory exploration, fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
You can purchase the Montessori sensory toy here.
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:
Colour Wonder Products
The Colour Wonder products are markers whose colours only appear when used on the range of colouring books and blank pages that Crayola has on offer. Colour 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 colour fades and you can start colouring all over again!
Suction Cup Spinner Toys
These spinning suction cupped sensory toys can stick to the window in the car, plane, or any flat surface. They have coloured poppers which help develop hand and eye development while keeping toddlers calm. Click here to buy a Suction cup spinner toy.
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.
Busy Board Activity Cube
This 7 in 1 Montessori fidget cube its sure to keep little minds engaged while taking an airplane or car ride. It has lots of pushing, pulling, switching and flicking features on it which help develop their fine motor skills as well as keeping them entertained.
The Lightweight and compact design makes it easy to pack for any trip in your bag or backpack. Click here to purchase the Busy Board Activity Cube.
Travel Lap Tray
These travel lap trays are a popular item for any upcoming flight or road trip and perfect for organising travel toys for toddlers. Perfect for those OCD parents who can’t stand to much mess.
These activity trays are perfect for organising everything in one place from the water bottle to the pens, pencils and even an iPad or tablet.
With zippered and mesh pockets to store additional items on the move plus its handy waterproof surface for easy cleaning of any spills and mess.
This particular tray also comes with a lifetime warranty. Click here to purchase the Kenley Kids travel tray.
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’ or strap it on for a crazy road trip adventure.
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.
Fat Brain Toys
This award winning tactile toy is great to make toddlers grab, explore, sort, and discover. It is one of our favourite travel toys for toddlers.
Their little hands are immediately drawn to the six brightly coloured, textured, rubbery, tethered shapes and offers a unique way for shape-sorting fun. They are fun for little fingers to feel and also great for teething! To buy the Oombee Cube Sorter click here.
BrainUpToys Busy Activity Cube
A similar but more advanced version of the Fat Brain Toy is this activity cube from BrainUpToys. With wheels, beads, strings, bells, and all kinds of fingering shapes to keep a toddler busy until you have reached your destination. This activity cube is perfect for developing little ones fine motor skills.
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.
Its also a good idea if your little ones will be using a tablet or iPad to also bring along a pair of toddler headphones so that they don’t bother anyone.
These Kidrox Kids Headphones have a sharing port on every set, so kids can easily connect these headphones in a daisy chain and listen together – just plug the first set into your audio/media device and then connect the others so siblings can enjoy a movie together.
They also have a volume limiter to protect children’s hearing and come in 3 different designs. Click here to buy the Kidrox Kids Headphones.
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. Our little one 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 to make a DNA double helix.
Other Helpful Travel Gear & Tips
A great option to keep all of travel toys for toddlers safe in one place is the Jetkids Bedbox. This is a ride on scooter, come suitcase with storage, come bed. I mean, this is literally the most genius invention to come onto the family travel market ever!
This one product can deal with every stage of the journey and has been such a game changer for us.
I really love it when something has multiple functions. It’s an absolute ‘must’ when it comes to children’s products.
Let’s face it, they can get board so easily, it needs to keep them entertained and happy for as long as possible.
The Jetkids Bedbox comes complete with a little strap, our daughter can straddle the box and I have a long handle to pull her along. The wheels at the front rotate so it can go around corners and everything.
All you have to do is unclip the lid, and turn it upside down to create a platform. There is a little extendable tray that closes the gap and overlaps with the chair.
It is adjustable to suit different seat heights so would be perfect for a car or plane.
This genius little product also acts as a suitcase that comes in a variety of colours, with storage compartments inside the main body as well as the lid! It has a hard exterior meaning lots of different things can be stored inside safely.
We popped the provided mattress over the top of the inflight seat and BedBox platform to make her own little cozy space. It meant she could just chill or lie down for a sleep.
I was so impressed that the JetKids BedBox is not only a bed for our little one when onboard a flight, but it is also storage, and a scooter!
For more information and to buy a JetKids Bedbox the perfect suitcase for carrying travel toys for toddlers.
Bring A Baby Carrier
As a mum who has literally traveled all over the world, mostly baby wearing, my carrier is one of the most important pieces of paraphernalia I bring with me! Having a child carrier allows you to be relatively hands-free when navigating airports, tourist hot spots and anything else you can think of!
It has always been my go to means of getting my little ones of to sleep on the move, and always seems to settle them down in those stressful situations where they just need a cuddle but also allows me to be handsfree.
There are tonnes of carrier brands on the market and sometimes it can be hard to choose which are the best baby carriers for travel and everyday use.
There is no need to have a separate baby carrier for travelling. When you invest your money into a baby carrier you want it to work all of the time, no matter if you are travelling or not.
Most carriers are adaptable as your child grows from a baby into a toddler.
ErgoBaby has long been making fantastic carrier’s that mums dads and kids love. Their Ergobaby Omni 360 might just be the best ErgoBaby carrier yet, combining the best features from some of their popular carriers. For more information and to buy the Ergobaby Omni 360 click here.
Top Tips For Travelling With A Toddler
Aside from taking lots of cool travel toys for toddlers you will definitely want to bring an array of snacks your toddler likes. Airplane food can be pretty hit or miss with tots so it is best to bring your own.
Likewise, meals might not be served precisely when your little one is hungry. I tend to bring pre-made pouches and plenty of dry snacks for the trip.
Just make sure to have the liquid foods ready for security to check if you are going through the airport. Similarly at your final destination you may need to declare any foods you have so it is a good idea to them all up on route.
Boarding The Plane
You will fine airlines always encourage families to board first! However I can’t thinks of anything worse than spending more time than needed on board. Let your toddler run around and burn off all their energy before boarding.
I tend to board later so when we get on its close so there is less issues with confining our little one. If you have a lot of hand luggage and are concerned about over head space and you have two parents flying, one could go ahead and get set up!
As previously mentioned, the Jet Kids Bed Box is a great option to keep all of your toys in one place. Not to mentioned the ride on feature for getting through the airport and the bed it turns into on board.
If you are looking for something a little more compact for your hand luggage, there are airplane bed pillows on the market.
Plane Pal and Fly Tots are two options. They inflate with a simple foot pump to fill the leg room space and create a flat area for your toddler to lie down. This is particularly good for long haul flights.
Not only do the pillows serve as a bed, they also stop all the toys and other objects from falling onto the ground. and getting lost.
Not all airlines allow the use of the pillows so it is worth checking ahead of the flight. It does appear to come down to the discretion of the crew quite often. That being said, I have never been asked to put it away.
Again on long haul flights, they tend to provide children’s blankets however if you have something familiar it can always help with getting your little one off to sleep.
There is a premium pillow option called Flyaway Kids Bed and this is next level comfort. It is amazing but more expensive than the others. It covers the entire seat and leg space and will last longer as your child gets older due to its size.
We had a dreamy long haul flight with our two year old and the Flyaway kids bed, it is literally like business class seat in economy for kids.
If you decide to use any pillow, remember to choose the right seats! You can’t block the walkway for others so a window seat is ideal. Check out the picture below for some guidance.
If you are travelling far out of your time zone, most likely everyone will need to adjust. We’ve had our fair share of jet lag with our kids over the years.
It sounds terrifying especially if you have a routine with your toddler but rest assured its doable. We have a tonne of tips on how to deal with jet lag in toddlers.
if you are arriving local morning or early afternoon, try your best to sleep on the flight so you arrive rested. This will help you get through the day with a couple of power naps.
The main thing is to push to the new zone little by little. The hardest part about jet lag is when your little ones is up in the middle of night.
You can try a herbal remedy melatonin which is great. Keep exposing you little one to day light at appropriate times, getting out and getting fresh air.
I can remember so many times waking up in the middle of the night and having a craving for dinner.
When this happens, we tend to keep all the light dim, only eat something light and head back to bed.
Always allow some down time on your first couple of days if you are travelling a long way.
Changing time zones and being on such a long flight can make you quite dehydrated so remember to keep pushing the fluids with your little one and yourself of course.
Traveling With A Car Seat
We all know it is hard enough to survive with kids and luggage without a car seat as well on travel days. We found an amazing light-weight car seat that turns into a backpack and can easily be checked in.
It really helps to keep your hands free when you are flying with a toddler. The RyRy Compact is really easy to install and ins made with Merino Wool, the whole products is really good quality.
It is perfect if you are renting a car on arrival or needing to take a taxi from the airport.
These are our best suggestions for travel toys for toddlers with a few extra tips along the way!
Do you have a favourite travel toys for toddlers 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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