The Best Travel Toys and Games of 2013

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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 travel toys and game I spotted this year for everyone from babies to teens (and maybe parents, too).

1. For the Tiniest
We get asked over and over again how to entertain babies and small toddlers on airplanes. Here are 2 answers: These magnetic 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


melissa and doug drawing pads are handy for travel.Paper and crayons are handy, just sometimes hard to keep track of. I love the Color & Carry 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.  This carrying case from Neat-Oh! Holds 10-15 Matchbox-size cars and opens up to a small road and ramp.

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.

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 with kids]

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.

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  1. […] our eyes. Family travel isn’t as scary as it’s made out to be. She even shares the best travel toys of the year. Thanks FamiliesGo! and you’re welcome worn out family vacation planners, here’s […]

  2. Michele {Malaysian Meanders}
    February 17, 2013 at 8:31 pm — Reply

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

  3. February 17, 2013 at 3:41 pm — Reply

    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.

  4. InsideJourneys
    February 15, 2013 at 7:58 pm — Reply

    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.

  5. Sonja
    February 15, 2013 at 1:54 pm — Reply

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

  6. budget jan
    February 14, 2013 at 9:52 pm — Reply

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

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