The Best Travel Toys and Games of 2013
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.
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 offering a decent play area.
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!)
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 geocaching.com.
[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.]