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. Dolce makes really adorable Activity Animals. While interactive plush animals like this are nothing new, these score points me because they’re fun to look at, genuinely cuddly and easy for babies to play with.
A new one of these before hopping on a plane will go a long way. Choose a musical giraffe, which plays “Frere Jacques” when you pull a dragon fly on its hip. Or go with the farm friend cow if you prefer your travel toys on the music-free side.
2. 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.
3. Tobbles Neo is a stacking toy that’s vertical enough for a high chair or airplane tray table. Babies are sitting up can play with one or two, toddlers might stack all seven balls.
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.
4. 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.
5. 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, Pirate and Farm settings or Fairy, Mermaid and Dress-up themes, among several other options.
6. Sassafras offers an alternative to the reusable stickers with self-sticking felt play scenes. Choose from pirate, school or building scenes.
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.
7. For a while we never left home without an 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). There’s also a series of books that feature fashions from different points in history that are pretty neat.
10. Magnetic dolls like these from Mudpuppy update the paper doll. They’re portable and have some creative themes like robots and superheros as well as trendy themes like unicorn magic. Magnets and a metal box keep the pieces from getting to scattered.
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 a fire or police station, horse stable, fairy garden, school or restaurant, 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. They seemed to be everywhere for a while.
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 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 has scaled down its Creativity Cans to make them portable. These craft kits have themes like Build, Music, Art and Motion. And everything you need is right inside.
These 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.
They’re also handy for that hour or two after you return from your day and before dinner is ready. You know, that hour you need to yourself to have a glass of wine and unwind without the kids pestering you? These kits will give it to you!
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.
16. I remember making paper fortune-telling toys from scratch when I was a kid. Their prognostic abilities would keep us engaged for hours.
The ready-to-fold forms and stickers in the Klutz Cootie Catcher Book will give kids something to put together and then entertain themselves with in a cramped backseat or airplane.
17. Parents often learn about Wikki Stix 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 love the idea of having these small packs to stash in a diaper bag, purse, glove compartment, carry-on bag and so on, 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.
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.
Sand Toys That Fit In Your Suitcase
1. This compact Kid O water tower has four pieces: a cup, sieve, funnel and water wheel. It’s ideal to pop in a suitcase for a toddler to use in the pool or at the beach.
2. Also from Kid O, 5 colorful nesting cups that preschoolers and kids can use for sand castle building,. Toddlers will be content taking them out of one another and putting them back.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Eduplay’s Cuppi is incredibly compact and great for both sand and snow play. The two funnels scoop sand and drizzle water and mud. Plus, you can use the cups and ball for a catch game for one or two people.