I loved it when Tiny Traveler’s favorite toy of the moment was something small that we could take with us wherever we went.
Here are 18 toys, plus 4 sand toys that are fun play items in general but particularly ideal for travel. There are items for babies and toddlers up through early tweens.
They’re all brands I know well and have liked over and over again. Most of them will last for as long as your kids want them.
I hope you find something your kid loves and that it makes your next flight or road trip a breeze.
21 Travel Toys To Keep Babies, Tots & Kids Happy In Cars, Trains & Planes
Travel Toys For Babies & Toddlers
1. Fat Brain’s Suction Kupz are the ideal toy because they can be played with in so many different ways as babies turn into toddler and then preschoolers.
Nest them, squash them, stack them, just for starters. My toddler would have spent a good amount of time putting tiny items like Goldfish crackers into the various cups, pouring them out and switching them around.
They can be impromptu bath or beach toys. And they’re slim profile fits easily into a travel bag. So you can take them anywhere and you’ll want to taek them everywhere.
2. Tobbles Neo is a stacking toy that’s vertical enough for a high chair or airplane tray table. Babies that are sitting up can play with one or two, toddlers might stack all seven balls.
3. I’m a fan of Fat Brain and these three baby toys are unique and designed well. Dimpl is small enough to pop into a diaper bag or purse and it gives little fingers brightly colored half-spheres to poke and push around.
4. Skip Hop’s bandana buddies are sweet. Tthere are about 5 to choose from including this fox.
They’re just the right size for tiny hands. And small enough to easily pop one into a carry on bag for an on-plane or in-car surprise. And they have a loop to attach to anything you want to.
5. You might think Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog is too simple to be entertaining. But think again.
Toddlers can spend a lot of time putting things into containers and taking them out again.
The quills are excellent for learning colors and improve motor skills. And the they fit inside Spike, making him a very compact travel toy.
For Preschoolers and Young Children
6. Remember Etch-a-Sketch? Kid O’s Magnatab is newer and better.
A magnetic pencil pulls metal balls to the surface of the pad to make whatever lettes and shapes you want.
And you can lift the pen up, so no where lines across your drawing.
7.Reusable stickers are an update on your classic Colorforms. They’re portable and come in a wide range of styles and themes.
Peaceable Kingdom’s kits have fold-out scenes that come in a small cardboard tote that fits easily into a carry-on or diaper bag.
Thety come in several gender-neutral themes like Space, Funny Faces and At The Zoo are gender neutral.
8. The first time Tiny Traveler opened up one of Melissa & Doug’s reusable Puffy Stickers Play Sets she played with it for nearly four hours. If only we’d been on a plane at the time!
Three packs include safari, dinosaur and ocean or farm, mermaid and princess themes, among other options.
9. When kids are old enough to not put stickers on themselves, a new sticker book before a drive or plane ride can be the best money every spent.
For a while we never left home without a new Usborne Sticker Dolly Dressing book. Luckily they make a lot of them.
Some of the themes are very girly (unicorns, fashion designer, ballerinas) and others less so (action!, travel, dream jobs).
10. Hopscotch Girls has similar sticker books with more ambitious and parent-pleasing STEM and outdoor themes.
11. Magnetic dolls like these from Mudpuppy update the paper doll.
They’re portable and have quirky themes like monster mash-up or space cats and two kits based on popular childrens books.
Magnets and a metal box keep the pieces from getting to scattered.
12. Play Doh was another reliable travel toy for Tiny Traveler for a very long time.
Play Doh minis always made it through airport security gates without a problem. (I was stopped the only time I packed full-size tubs.)
A few small tubs in a ziplock with items like the ones in this Rollers & Cutters pack can make a flight go by easily.
13. Most “travel” dollhouses aren’t actually all that portable. But Playmobil has a line of Take-Along play sets that really are small enough for kids to take with them to a relative’s or a vacation house.
Choose from this school house, a fire station, grocery store, diner, animal clinic or pirate island, among others. Each one comes with two or three play figures and accessories.
14. Playfoam Pals are a twist on those tiny, sticky balls of foam that kids can mold and shape.
I was skeptical about them at first, but they do stay sticky, don’t scatter, and kids can make a lot of shapes with them.
With this iteration, an animal play figure hides inside a small dome of pellets. It’s a fun stocking stuffer, or the kind of inexpensive toy you can carry on board a plane or in a car as a surprise toy for pre-K to 2nd graders
And they’re cheap enough to get a few so your child has a few colors and figures to play with.
For Bigger Kids To Tweens
15. You might think that with all the graphics-heavy computer games kids play today that Simon would be quaint and not very interesting to them.
But this memory game never gets old. And it can be played solo or among two-to-three people.
This edition is smaller and flatter than the original table-top game, so kids can pop it into their backpacks. And you can mute the sound on an airplane.
16. Parents often learn about WikkiStix when a waiter in a kid-friendly restaurant hands your kids a 5-pack with the children’s menu.
They’re bendable but hold their shape, can be reused for a little while before they permanently stick together, and are very inexpensive. You can get 2 dozen on Amazon for about $9. But you can also get 50 packs of ten for about $20.
I used to keep a few small packs stashed in my diaper bag, purse, glove compartment or carry-on bag, to fall back on whenever I needed quick distraction. Just remember that they’re wax. Like crayons, it’s best not to leave them on a window sill or in a hot car.
17. Creativity for Kids takes friendship bracelet making to the next level with glow-in-the-dark paracord and buckles for taking them on and off easily.
This struck me as an excellent Plan B to pull out of your suitcase if you have a rainy day at the beach or lake house.
Or, You know that hour at the end of a vacation day—the lull between activities and dinner—when you want to treat yourself to a glass of wine and unwind without the kids pestering you? This will give you that hour.
See more Friendship bracelet kits and other on-the-go craft ideas
18. Slyde Hand Boards are body boards that are light and small enough to fit in a carry-on or even a backpack.
They’re Perfect for any beach vacation where your kids might want to bodysurf. Don’t forget the leash, so you don’t lose the board in the surf.
Here’s More: Sand Toys That Fit In Your Suitcase
Spring break is just around the corner and summer will be here before you know it, so don’t feel shy about putting some beach toys under the tree. They’ll probably play with them in the bathtub all winter.
19. Hape has it going on when it comes to well-designed toys.
This durable cloth bucket, shovel and fish mold collapse inot a fish-shaped carrying case that you can pack anywhere.
If you can only pack one shovel make it Hape’s rain shovel. It scoops water and sand and crenelates the walls on your castle.
20. Melissa & Doug have a set of 4 compact nesting pails, each with a different sand mold at the bottom. The largest one has a handle for easy carrying.