Traveling with toddlers does not need to be daunting – it should be exciting! We LOVE traveling with our toddler and seeing the world through his eyes. However, we know that getting to the destination is not easy. So to ease the plane ride, road trip, or downtime at a hotel room, we have found the best travel toys for toddlers.
From busy boards to fidget toys, no mess play, and yes, some screen time on a tablet – my guide to the best travel toys for toddlers has it all. Moreover, we have many of these travel toys. And they have been life savers to keep our toddler entertained on long road trips, plane rides, and hotel rooms.
My guide to the best travel toys for toddlers is intended for ages 18 months through 3 years old. It is divided by the type of toy, not by age because every child develops at their own pace.
Ideally, the goal is to bring as few as possible that engage your child for long hours, but let’s be realistic… A toddler’s attention span is shot. So you will want to bring a few toys.
The travel toys for toddlers should be new or reintroduced (something they haven’t played with in a while). You do not want to overstimulate the child by giving them all the toys at once. Give one toy at a time, so the child stays engaged and not bored.
During your trip, you should also rotate the toys. So when they receive a toy, it’s continuously exciting!
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Read Next: Tips for Road Tripping with a Baby
Table of Contents
Best Travel Toys for Toddlers: No Mess Creative Play
There are two great things about No Mess Creative Play. One, it is no mess! Two, all of these creative play travel toys for toddlers are reusable!
Of all the travel toys for toddlers, Melissa & Doug On the Go Water Wow! coloring books have been one of our favorite items throughout the toddler stage. The themed watercolor books have reusable pages and a refillable water pen. When the water pen touches the page, colors are revealed on the pages for a WOW effect!
Toddlers will have so much fun writing on this LCD writing tablet that is mess-free and waterproof. It only takes a little pressure which is perfect for small hands. Once they create their masterpiece, they can click the button and watch it disappear like magic! Our toddler enjoys making everything disappear more than drawing – that’s a toddler for you.
The Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pad is a great learning activity that helps older toddlers develop strong fine motor skills and promote creative play. There are different themed sticker pads, but each has five colorful scenes and over 150 reusable stickers.
The best part, the reusable stickers are safe on airplane and car windows. If the stickers lose adhesiveness, you can wipe the backs of the stickers with a damp cloth, and they will be back as new.
Best Travel Toys for Toddlers: Busy Sensory Boards
Busy boards or sensory boards are one of the best toys for your toddler. Every busy board is different, but it should always have different textures and practical life skills, such as turning on lights, door handles, zipping, buttoning, etc.
There are lots of benefits of busy boards. It helps your child practice and develops their fine and gross motor skills by touching and playing with its elements. Sensory and independent play also supports a child’s mental and physical abilities, such as self-esteem and concentration.
Lastly, busy boards keep them… busy! So they are perfect for home and on the go! Here are a few different busy boards that are great travel toys for toddlers.
This is one of our favorites of all the busy board options because it’s a busy board and a backpack. We use this busy board backpack as our designated travel backpack. Our toddler will put his favorite travel toys in his busy board backpack, which also makes the anticipation of traveling exciting for him.
Moroever, the busy board backpack has excellent practical life skills and problem-solving, such as tieing shoelaces and learning to buckle. It is also more usable and easier to travel with than a typical busy board.
The My Quite Book is another perfect travel busy board because it is lightweight and small with handles so your toddler can carry it themselves.
It features nine learning activities for toddlers to develop their fine motor skills. A few activities include learning shapes, feeling different textures, telling time, and zipping. Each activity has all the pieces tethered to the book to avoid losing anything. A big plus for traveling!
Another fun, busy board for traveling is the soft and compact Essay Toddler Busy Board. The busy board is designed with varying difficulty levels to keep toddlers engaged and challenged for several hours of quiet play.
It features 14 varieties of practical life skills: buckles, zip pockets, laces, and buttons. It also has velcro alphabet letters and numbers to learn spelling and counting.
The Buster Square Buckle Toy is a multi-use travel toy for toddlers. It teaches fine motor skills and helps identify and learn color coordination with six colorful buckles. It also has a zipper pocket, numbers, and shapes. Lastly, I bet your toddler will love the Buster Square Buckle Toy so much that they use it as a lovey too.
Best Travel Toys for Toddlers: Sensory and Fidget Toys
Traveling with a toddler may be challenging because the child is in a new environment, which places them in an uncomfortable situation. Think about this – an airport and airplane can be overwhelming as an adult, so imagine how a toddler must feel. This is why sensory and fidget toys are great travel toys for toddlers.
Fidget toys provide a toddler with small movements as an outlet for their anxiety. Thus, the fidget toys can help calm nerves, relieve stress, and serve as a distraction in an overstimulating environment.
Sensory toys are very similar. When a child engages in sensory play, like feeling different textures or hearing sounds, it can distract and calm a child who is over-stimulated or anxious. Sensory toys also promote self-discovery and support emotional development.
Spike, the Fine Motor Hedgehog, is cute, colorful, and so much fun for toddlers! It features six ways to fidget: spinning the wheel, turning the crank, pushing a button, and more. Moreover, this travel toy helps build fine motor skills, develop precision, and learn color recognition.
This multi-sensory silicone activity toy is colorful and fun while creating developmental learning skills. Through sensory play, your child will learn cause and effect when they pull the cords from side to side. They will also be able to hear and feel the various sounds and vibrations the cords make.
Suction cup spinner toys are one of the best travel toys for toddlers on a plane or car ride. They easily suction to an airplane or car window to help pass the time. Babies and toddlers will have fun watching the toys spin, hearing the soft rattle sounds, and playing with the pop-up function.
The Pop Tubes Sensory Toys provide toddlers with endless fun opportunities while developing fine motor skills and STEM learning. Moreover, the vibrant colors, smooth ridges, and satisfying crinkly noise will stimulate a child’s senses for a calm plane or car ride.
Pop Tubes Sensory Toys are designed for toddlers, but they are so wildly fun and addictive the entire family will play with them. You can pop, crinkle, pull, stretch, and connect the tubes to create shapes, letters, and games for hours of entertainment.
The Rainbow Pop It Fidget Toys are among the most satisfying toys for ALL ages! These fidget toys help relax your body and mind with every pop. And they are very addicting. Once you start popping, you can’t stop! Luckily, these pop-it toys come in a package of four because everyone in the family will want one.
Toddlers LOVE magnets, which is why we love MagMen on the go! MagMen are colorful, stretchy, and flexible, with magnets in their little hands and feet. The MagMen are designed to be twisted and bent into acrobatic positions, so kids can be imaginative to create fun poses.
The Tegu Magnetic Wooden Blocks are great travel toys for toddlers to encourage open-ended and unscripted play. The set has eight magnetic wooden shapes – four cubes and four planks. Our toddler loves his magnetic blocks at home and on the go. We especially love them at restaurants!
Best Travel Toys for Toddlers: Independent Play
One of the most beautiful things to watch is a child playing independently. When a child can play independently, it promotes imagination, builds their problem-solving skills, and teaches patience and resilience.
The best part, independent play is fantastic for traveling. If your toddler can play independently at home, they will also play independently on the go.
Trust me. Independent play will be helpful when you enter a hotel room and need to get situated. Give your toddlers some of the toys below, and they can play while you unpack and unwind.
Melissa & Doug K’s Kids Take-Along Shape Sorter is one of the best travel toys for young toddlers. It is a padded case with a take-along handle and includes two activity sides.
One side has a shape sorter with nine textured shape blocks. The other side has crinkly flaps with pictures of everyday items above and matching shapes beneath.
The shape sorter is the highlight of this toy. Toddlers will learn to identify shapes by dropping the textured blocks of shapes through the appropriately shaped slot.
One of the best travel toys for older toddlers is the Melissa & Doug Wooden Take-Along Tabletop. There are four tabletop themes: town, railroad, kingdom, and farm.
Each one comes with a sturdy wooden case that unfolds into a themed play surface. It also includes at least 17 wooden pieces for a child to play with and create fun storytelling.
For example, the Town Tabletop has built-in roads and wooden pieces such as a police car, ambulance, fire engine, helicopter, bridges, buildings, traffic signs, and more. It has everything a toddler needs to bring their favorite playtime toy on the go.
Now, this is the best travel toy for younger toddlers. The soft storage bag holds six various push-and-go friction vehicles. Young toddlers will enjoy watching the cars cover long distances with one wind up. The storage bag also unfolds into a playmat with roads and buildings, so the child can use it to play with their cars.
If your toddler seeks a challenge, this is the perfect travel toy. The magnetic maze activity board will challenge toddlers to perfect their fine motor and problem-solving skills. They must use a magnetic pen to navigate colored balls into their appropriate slot. There are also magnetic roadblocks and roundabouts to move for an additional challenge.
Best Travel Toys for Toddlers: Educational
I used to swear by no screen time play or electronic toys, but I have learned that limited screen time through educational play is excellent when traveling with toddlers.
The Amazon Fire Kid Tablet is one of our favorite travel items for toddlers. It includes a kid-proof case and 1 year of Amazon Kids+, with several kid-friendly apps, shows, and games. More importantly, the tablet has parental controls.
Parents can control screen time, set educational goals, and manage content for up to 4 child profiles. It also has added security that requires parent approval for in-app purchases.
Once our toddler finishes playing with other travel toys, we allow limited screen time for educational games, tv shows, and movies. The Amazon Fire Kids Tablet has been a lifesaver for long plane and car rides.
Help your toddler learn 100 words with LeapFrog! LeapFrog Learning Friends 100 Words Book has 100 age-appropriate words chosen by learning experts. Toddlers can touch words on the pages and listen as the book plays the word, sound effects, and fun facts. The book plays in both English and Spanish for a full bilingual experience.
LeapFrog LeapStart 3D Interactive Learning System is a fun way to learn at home and on the go. The interactive learning system has over 700 activities to teach toddlers different skills for every learning level. Toddlers will explore reading, counting, problem-solving, and more with a simple tap on pictures and words.
I hope your cart is full of new, engaging travel toys for your toddler. Some of these travel toys for toddlers have been game-changing for our family. I hope you find the same success!