The Best Travel Toys and Games of 2013

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By Eileen P. Gunn

One of the most fun parts of editing FamiliesGo! is getting to go to the annual Toy Fair in NYC. It’s huge! And i always find something that makes me say, “That is so cool!” and wish I were a kid again. Some are already available; others will hit the shelves later this spring. Here are some of the most innovative, handy or just plain fun things I spotted this year for everyone from babies to teens (and maybe parents, too).

1. For the Tiniest Travelers

We get asked over and over again how to entertain babies and small toddlers on airplanes. Here are 2 answers: These wooden blocks from Manhattan Toy Company and Oops are colorful and a good size for small hands. But the best part is they’re magnetic  and have a tall profile—ideal for tray-table play.


2. Things That Stick

Sticker books are the most reliable entertainment yet for my tiny traveler, and these new reusable sticker books from Peaceable Kingdom, in themes to please boys and girls equally are gems. For younger kids, try these felt scenes from Sassafras, which also come in farm, zoo, pirate, ballerina and school scenes.

3. Drawing On the Go

Paper and crayons are handy, just sometimes hard to keep track of. I love these pad-and-crayon packs from Melissa & Doug. And it’s hard to resist this adorable, slim, cloth pad and crayon caddy from The Piggy Story, both fit nicely in your purse or a kid-size backpack.

4. Getting Crafty

We give and get Alex craft projects as birthday presents all the time. These Pop crafts, which have everything you need inside a compact box, are perfect for plane rides. With a lap desk like this one, you can take them on car trips, too.


5. Cars That Go With You

Boys love their cars.  These carrying case from Neat-Oh! Holds 10-15 Matchbox-size cars and opens up to a small road and ramp.

[Find more practical ideas in the FG! Travel Store.]


6. Portable Playmates

Most “travel” dollhouses aren’t actually all that portable. But this new farm from Playmobil is compact enough to slip into a roomy backpack or beach tote while still offers a decent play area.


7. For the Beach

This bright starfish tote Melissa & Doug  doubles as a bucket that holds plenty of sand water.  Carry your other toys inside or empty it out and fold it flat for easy packing (wish we had it for our upcoming winter getaway!)


8. Big-Kid Building Tools

These geometric PowerClix shapes from Guidecraft are lighter than other magnetic tiles and great inspiration for the aspiring architect, builder or scientist traveling with you.



9. Games for Every Age

The purple Cow’s collection of magnetic games has something for everyone in slim, light cases.  Blue Orange, the company that makes Spot It!, has come out with Nada, a dice-based picture-matching game that fits in the palm of your hand. If you like Uno but want to take things up a notch with a little arithmetic, try 7 Ate 9 from Out of the Box.

10. For Families That Like To Explore

Brand 44 has its pocketsize Geomate. Turn it on when you’re out in nature and it will direct you to geocached “treasure” nearby. A separate USB connector uploads the latest caches from

[Read more about Geocaching in our Advice blog]

11. Just For Tweens

The tween or almost-tween in your life will love these Alex flip-flops with mix-and-match cloth straps in a riot of patterns. And less face it, if she shares your size, you’ll be borrowing them.

 [Need more ideas? Try this list of Must-Have Travel Toys.]

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6 Responses

  1. These all look like great fun. I particularly like the look and practicality of the felt scenes.

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  2. My kids are too old for these toys nowadays, but we always take a card game or two along when we travel!

    Was this review helpful to you? Yes   No

  3. I like the cars that go with you. My nephew’s always stuffing all his cars in his little hands – and losing or forgetting one or two.

    Was this review helpful to you? Yes   No

  4. These all sound great! My kids grew up on Alex and Melissa & Doug toys so I know they’ve got good quality. I’m going to look into those PowerClix. Thanks for the ideas.

    Was this review helpful to you? Yes   No

  5. That Brand 44 Geomate looks like something my kids would really enjoy.

    Was this review helpful to you? Yes   No


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