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.
18 Cool Travel Toys For Babies, Tots, Kids & Tweens
Travel Toys For Babies & Toddlers
1. I’m a fan of Fat Brain and these two 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.
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. Skip Hop’s bandana buddies are sweet (there 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.
4. Fat Brain’s Smarty Cube is the idea travel toy because it’s compact and only has four pieces. Babies can feel the textured sides and play with the pieces. As they grow into toddlers they’ll start taking it apart and putting it together.
For Preschoolers and Young Children
Reusable stickers are sort of an update on your classic Colorforms. They’re portable and come in a wide range of styles and themes.
5. Peaceable Kingdom has fold-out scenes that come in a small cardboard tote that fits easily into a carry-on or diaper bag. And themes like Funny Faces, Airport and At The Zoo are gender neutral.
6. 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 themes or fairy, mermaid and princess themes, among several other options.
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.
11. 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 (though 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.
12. Most “travel” dollhouses aren’t actually all that portable. But Playmobil has a line of Take-Along play sets that really are small enough to travel with you 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.
13. 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 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 younger school-age kids.
They’re cheap enough to get a few so your child has a few colors and figures to play with.
They can discover which animal they have and then use the foam to create environments for it.
For Bigger Kids To Tweens
14. 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.
15. Klutz’s Cat’s Cradle will keep one kid busy but two kids even busier. This book comes with instructions for all kinds of string tricks and a string to try them out with.
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 inexpensive. You can get 2 dozen on Amazon for about $9. But you can also get 50 party packs 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 need quick distraction. Just remember that like crayons, it’s best not to leave them on the seat in a hot car.
17. 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.
2. Melissa & Doug have their own set of 4 compact nesting pails, each with a different sand mold at the bottom. The largest one has a handle for easy carrying.
3. What good are buckets without a shovel? If you can only pack one make it this Hape rain shovel. It scoops water and sand and crenelates the walls on your castle.