17 Travel Toys & Games For Tots To Tweens

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One of the most fun parts of editing FamiliesGo! is getting to go to the annual Toy Fair in NYC to search for clever travel toys, games and crafts. I always find something that makes me say, “That is so cool!” and wish I were a kid again.  Here are some of the most innovative, handy or just plain fun travel toys and game I’ve spotted. Most will work for car rides or on an airplane. And we have options for every age from baby and preschooler to tweens and maybe even teens.

17 Toys, Games & Crafts for Travel

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 reliable entertainment for preschoolers, and these reusable sticker books from Peaceable Kingdom, in themes to please boys and girls are gems. Or 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, but also easy to spill, drop and lose.  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’s  backpack. These will take you from preschool into the early school years.

4. Getting Crafty

We give and get Alex craft projects as birthday presents all the time; they have the best arts & crafts kits for every almost age. These Pop crafts, which have everything you need inside a compact box, are perfect for plane rides for  school-age kids who are beginning to craft on their own. With a lap desk like this one, you can do all kinds of crafts on car trips.

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 small enough to travel with you in a roomy backpack or tote bag while still offering a decent play area. Playmobil can include small pieces and is best for preschool through early school years.

7. For the Beach

This bright starfish tote Melissa & Doug doubles as a bucket that actually holds water. Carry your other beach toys inside or empty it out and fold it flat for easy packing. Use it for as long as your kids play with sand toys.

8. Big-Kid Building Tools

Magnetic toys and games are made for travel. These geometric PowerClix shapes from Guidecraft are lighter than other magnetic tiles and great for the keeping aspiring architect, builder or scientist busy while traveling. The box says 4+ but think sometimes 7-10YOs get the most out of building toys like this.

9. Travel Games for Every Age

The purple Cow’s collection of travel-size magnetic games inludes bingo and tic-tac-toe for little kids and chess, backgammon and code-breaking for older kids and tweens, all in slim, light travel cases.  Blue Orange, the company that makes Spot It!, also makes  Nada, a dice-based picture-matching game that fits in the palm of your hand and can be adapted for older or younger kids. If you like Uno but want to take things up a notch with a little arithmetic, try 7 Ate 9 for your 6-10YOs.

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 Parents can lead the way with younger kids or let tweens or teens navigate for the family.

(Read about Geocaching with kids)

11. Just For Tweens

Tween or almost-tween still like travel crafts. Your s will love these Alex flip-flops with mix-and-match cloth straps in a riot of patterns. Perfect for arriving at the beach or hotel pool in style.

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17 toys games and crafts that will keep toddlers, preschoolers, kids and teens busy on vacation and while traveling by car or airplane. We have picks for girls and boys, too.

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