Do you need some gift ideas for a traveling child? Are you looking for the best travel toys for toddlers and preschoolers? The toys on this list are especially well-suited to travel. They are all small, light, and also pack easily.
The Best Travel Toys for kids, Preschoolers, and Toddlers
If you’re buying a gift for child to take on an airplane or road trip, there are a few things to consider. Is it loud? Is it small? Will it fit easily in a suitcase or backpack? Is it messy? Loud toys are annoying. Toys without an “off” switch are the worst and that is not hyperbole! For traveling, whether on a plane or in a car, the following rules are applicable:
- Easy clean-up
- Easy to pack
- Creative and engaging
If they also help with fine motor skill building, it’s a bonus!
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Best Toys for Traveling
Green Toys toy airplane
Is your child nervous about flying? Toy airplanes for toddlers are a great tool for helping learn through play. In addition, I’m a fan of Green Toys. We have two of their pieces (a submarine and a boat) that have held up well, considering they’ve been both indoor and outdoor toys (that means that they got left outside for weeks on end, of course). They are made in the USA from recycled materials, too.
My mother found this set last year and gave it to my son for Christmas. He still loves it! The blocks have provided him with hours of imaginative play that I wouldn’t have expected, given the simplicity. The small set travels well. It has proven to be durable, after living through rough toddler play. It’s an awesome gift even for 5 and 6 year olds and my kids are begging me to buy more Light Stax this year.
Boogie Board Jot
The Jot is an LCD drawing pad for kids. You draw on the screen with the stylus and press the erase button when you’re done. It’s a neat product and my four year old loves hers (now 5 years). You may find the adults in your home enjoy this toy, too! This is one of those great little products that artists of all ages will enjoy. It’s small enough to take with you during your travels or even just to visit a restaurant. Or the boring house of a relative (who has no toys).
I adore magnetic toys for traveling. They are no mess and fairly easy to keep contained. There are many options to keep kids of all ages engaged and learning while doing the boring parts of travel. You can use these on airplanes or in cars or hotel rooms. They can be used when not traveling as well. The newer 3D versions add STEM learning while playing. Play is the best way to learn!
Aquadoodle has a travel version! This is one of those simple toys that keeps on giving. It’s great for car rides, airplane rides, and keeping your sanity at restaurants. The travel version can go with you anywhere!
No mess coloring
We loved having these books with us while traveling. My kids have enjoyed the reusable Water Wow paint with water books on our various trips (and also at home). Though we primarily used them in the hotel room, it is possible to use them on an airplane or in a car. No mess anything is a good idea while traveling! These are good for kids up to around age 5.
Even more mess free coloring! Better yet, the markers don’t work on other surfaces, so you don’t have to worry about marker all over a hotel room or airplane seat. Or your house (or is that only me that has marker and crayon all over my walls?)
Amazon Fire Tablet
Even if screen time is limited in your house, it can be a life saver to bring out a tablet that has some educational games or cartoons to help out a cranky travel situation. The Amazon Fire tablet is a solid and affordable option for kids. We always travel with electronics. When I traveled solo with both kids, having their tablets with us during a long airport delay was incredibly helpful.
Be sure to grab a case, too! I’ve learned my lesson the hard way – our tablets last much longer when used with a case. It didn’t help the time I left it on top of the car and drove off, but they are still a great investment with children around.
We bought one for each child before our last flight. After we were delayed for a couple of hours in the airport and then another 45 minutes on the airplane, our tablets were out of battery. Scratch books to the rescue! Both kids were enthralled with creating art in their books for over half an hour. For 5 and 6 year olds stuck on an airplane, that’s pretty good! These gorgeous books were also fun for me to doodle.
This backpack is a great idea. Not only does it capture a child’s interest because of the buckles, it can hold additional toys inside, too. The bag alone will keep a toddler busy and working on fine motor skills. Here are more options for luggage for kids.
A great travel gift for preschoolers are games. A great travel game includes Go Fish! This set is a 3-in-1 card game set for kids and suitable for travel. It also contains Old Maid and Animal Safari Match. Directions are included. Games are a great way to connect with kids after a long travel day.
Felt boards are really for great imaginative play. You can buy a set, like the Pizza Set from Melissa and Doug toys or make your own! Spur those imaginations, all while riding in the car or on an airplane.
Best Books for Travel
Yes, I actually do travel with a couple of books. The kids and I read a story every night before bed. This part of the routine doesn’t change just because we are traveling (unless everyone falls asleep!) Luckily, kids like and crave repetition, so I usually bring only 1 to 3 books while traveling. Here are some of our current favorites!
Zoey and Sassafras by Asia Citro
The Zoey and Sassafras book series is still our favorite series. It combines magic and science AND captures the imaginations of both of my children. I highly recommend this series for kids (both boys and girls) ages 5-9. These books are always in rotation at our house! The paperback versions also travel well.
Happy Hippo, Angry Duck: A Book of Moods by Sandra Boynton
This is one of my all time favorite board books. If my kids let me pick the book, this is the one we read. Learning about emotions and not being fearful of them is an important lesson. Sandra Boynton has managed to take a complex subject and explain it with simple and rhyming language. It’s a joy to read out loud. It’s a wonderful message for kids – that moods are not here to stay and it’s okay to ask for help if a mood is difficult! I love, love, love this book. It’s a perfect gift for a baby through 4 year old. I will read this to my kids for as long as they let me (they ages 5 and 6 right now).
You Can Be by Elise Gravel
You Can Be is a charming board book that toddlers will definitely enjoy. It has bright, colorful artwork and a powerful message of self acceptance. You can be who you are (except mean). My kids like this book, too! The cover photo gets their giggles going.
It’s okay to Make Mistakes by Todd Parr
This book is another powerfully positive books for kids. It talks about how it’s okay to make mistakes, to not know an answer, to ask questions, to be different from others. It’s okay to fall down and try again. Mistakes are a part of living. My kids love the vibrant art. They especially love that even adults make mistakes! It is one of my favorites.
Go Forth and Travel
As always, go forth, travel, and keep the kids entertained on your journey! Parents and kids alike will appreciate these thoughtful and fun travel gifts.
What are your favorite travel gifts for toddlers and preschoolers? What would you add to this list?