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7 Best Travel Toys for Toddlers – Fun On the Go! (2022 Reviews)

Toddlers, Kingsley and Aurora playing
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Everyone agrees that traveling with young children is a challenge. There’s so much more to think about when you’re planning and packing for the trip…even down to which toys to bring. Space is an issue, as well as practicality. Your little munchkin most likely will want to bring the whole toy box, but as the parent you have to overrule and pick just the best toys to travel with. In our home, there are certain toys we set aside (okay, hide) and take out only when it’s time for the trip. Not only does it make those toys novelties for better attention holding, but they check off all the boxes for toys that we approve of for travel.

Over the years we have narrowed down the best ones for our children when they were toddlers. Their smiles and obvious enjoyment let us know we’ve chosen correctly! Below we are sharing the top 7 picks you will want to have on hand for trips with little ones. You might even catch yourself getting entertained by them, yourself!

The Best Travel Toys for Toddlers

  • 1.

    (Best organizer — $$$)

    Why it’s great: If you’re taking a trip with a preschooler or young child, you’ll arrive at your destination sane because this travel tray helped keep the little ones sane, too. This travel tray is ultra sturdy and is multipurpose. Children can eat on it, draw with dry erase markers, & wipe clean, watch a program on their tablet with the attached holder, store paper and crayons in the side pockets, etc. It helps protect against spills and items your child wants to play with during the trip can stay organized in the zipper pockets. There’s also a detachable cup holder, which is super handy. Possibly the best feature is the tablet holder because the screen stays protected and in place. This Lusso travel tray provides variety while your kiddo supplies the imagination, together with keeping those little hands busy without the mess.

    Keep in mind: If you’re going to be in and out of the car or taking a series of short flights, it can become tiresome to maneuver your child in and out of the seat with the tray table in place.

    Good for: Parents who want their kiddos to stay busy on long trips.

  • 2.

    (Best for young ones — $)

    Why it’s great: My son loves reading certain stories over and over. After we’ve read one of his favorites, he will peruse the book often on his own between storytimes. That’s one of the reasons this book is great. The story is simple yet engaging, and the crinkling sound of the feet and light squeak of the alligator keep the kids interested. It’s a soft book made of cloth and lightweight for packing/carry-on bags. If young kiddos end up putting the book in their mouths, don’t sweat it…Melissa & Doug toys are made of non-toxic materials. For children learning to read, the font is very legible and the colors on the pages are enticing. For the super young ones, such as 2 to 18 months of age, this story will hold their gaze and attention as you read it to them on the plane or in the backseat of the car. And of course, if you’re not satisfied, Melissa & Doug always make it right with a replacement or refund, so it’s risk-free to try this toy out. Take it on your next vacay!

    Keep in mind: This toy alone may not keep your little one entertained for longer trips. You may want to have another toy up your sleeve!

    Good for: 1-4-year-olds who are fond of frequenting an interactive book.

  • 3.

    (Most artsy — $$)

    Why it’s great: If you’ve never seen Color Wonder work before, it’s actually quite interesting. The markers have ink that is clear in color, but when used on the special Color Wonder paper, turns to red, green, blue, etc. This has saved many outfits over the past year! In general, kids are creative and enjoy coloring, especially with their favorite Paw Patrol, Blues Clues, and Baby Shark characters. This set includes three 16-page coloring pads and a total of 9 markers. The markers are kid-friendly and parent-friendly, because for the kiddos they create colorful pictures, and for the parents, they are mess-free and non-toxic. You may start taking Color Wonder products with you wherever you go, not just during your travels. Going to Grandma’s house or on a flight to the Caribbean, either way, your child can keep busy (and stain-free) with Color Wonder coloring book sets.

    Keep in mind: This is a mini version of the larger Color Wonder Books. That’s what makes them great for travel!

    Good for: Kids who like to color, but you don’t want to bring messy markers/crayons with you on the trip.

  • 4.

    (Most techy — $$)

    Why it’s great: LeapFrog makes a lot of quality toys for children. I like this one for my son and daughter when we go on trips because it can withstand the mild abuse my children put it through, as well as entertain them off and on for hours. Think of it as an electronic book that has animal characters that introduce the participant to over 100 age-appropriate words in both Spanish and English. Your kiddo can choose a topic, such as food, colors, animals, etc. From there they will hear fun facts, listen to words being read, as well as entertaining sound effects. It does require AA batteries, so I usually bring a couple along as spares. Toddlers can carry LeapFrog Learning Friends with the attached handle no matter where they are. It’s very easy to bring along, and even more handy for how much children enjoy being engaged with the activities. Let the animal characters do the work of entertaining your little one so that you can contently fly/ride/drive to your destination.

    Keep in mind: This toy makes noise, so in certain settings, it may not be the best travel toy. You can cover the little speaker with painter’s tape to muffle the noise if you prefer.

    Good for: Families who are trying to promote two languages in their home.

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  • 5.

    (Most variety — $$)

    Why it’s great: Sensory boards that encourage independent play while helping develop basic skills are some of the best products out there. This one is specifically designed to be taken on the go, so it’s great for travel. It’s lightweight and can be easily tucked into a backpack or large purse. There’s a wide range of levels for your child to explore. Perhaps they are ready for buttoning, and after they master that, the snaps can be the next goal. Children find satisfaction in accomplishing the things they see the adults around them do. You’ll be teaching them skills while entertaining them at the same time!

    Keep in mind: This alone won’t hold a small child’s attention for hours. It is best used in tandem with another activity.

    Good for: 3-5-year-olds who are interested in practical applications (zippers, buttons, tying, etc).

  • 6.

    (Most long term entertainment — $)

    Why it’s great: When you’re on the go, toting along with paper and crayons/markers for your artistic kiddos can become a messy adventure. This magnetic drawing board solves some of the issues. Your little one can repeatedly draw, play tic-tac-toe, practice spelling, and more. Then, with a swipe of the lever, it’s erased and they can start over. What sets this board apart is that it has four colors (most drawing boards are only gray/white). There are also stamps included that present shapes onto the board when used. This fun toy lets your child be creative and express themselves…even when you’re en-route to vacation, grandma’s, or in a waiting room. This is a great toy to grab on your way out the door.

    Keep in mind: If your kiddo is extremely hard on toys, this may not last as long as intended. The screen should not be hit or repeatedly stabbed with the attached pen.

    Good for: Children who love drawing or are learning to write letters and enjoy practicing.

  • 7.

    (Most whimsical — $$$)

    Why it’s great: The bright colors entice little ones to play, and unbeknownst to them, they are learning, too! The engaging snaps, zippers, clasps, and buckles will develop their hand-eye coordination and problem-solving skills. And when your kiddo is done practicing those things, he/she can open up the backpack itself to get out little snacks/toys you’ve put inside. It comes in handy when you’re traveling, because it does get used as a real backpack (although small in size), and is something your child can be responsible for on their own. No matter where you are or what your destination is, this backpack can accompany your child and do the entertaining so that you don’t have to!

    Keep in mind: The buckles are a bit tighter than other children’s toys tend to be. That specific part of the toy is better for children who have already been practicing those motor skills.

    Good for: Children who enjoy taking a few toys with them when they go places (this can store small items in the zipper pocket). This backpack is practical and a toy itself, all in one!

Best Overall

The Lusso Gear Kids Travel Tray is our overall top recommendation. It's the highest quality product we have found with the most affordable price making it the best value on our list..

FAQs about Best Travel Toys for Toddlers

  • 1. Besides oversized toys, are there any other ones that we should avoid?

    Generally, toys that make noises or have loose pieces should be avoided when traveling. You (and others around you) will be grateful for a quieter time, and you won’t have a mess to clean up, either.

  • 2. My child is super active. What is the best toy for him?

    Having more than one toy along will help when boredom sets in. The Lusso tray table would be a good idea for keeping items organized, and has a tablet holder when all the activities have been exhausted. Depending on age, something that allows him to use his hands would be helpful, as well. Try the Backpack Buckle Toy or something similar.

  • 3. Are certain toys not allowed on airplanes?

    All the toys recommended in this article are safe to take along, as are most other average toys. Things that would not make the cut are nerf guns, water guns, and play weapons of any kind. Also, please be considerate of others if the toy makes noise. You could always take out the batteries until you land!

  • 4. How will I know if my child is outgrowing a toy?

    If your little guy/gal starts to show less interest in a current toy and also perks up at the sight of other kids’ toys, there may be a new phase coming. Often kids go through phases as they grow older, where they no longer have as much attention for toys that used to keep them entertained for hours. Read the recommended ages before purchasing a travel toy, and consider your child’s current interests, too.

  • 5. My child gets bored easily. What kind of toy is best for her for a long trip?

    A Magnetic Drawing Board might be a good option, because not only can it be used for drawing, but can be used for games, too. I often play a game with my son where I ask him to draw something, and then he asks me to draw something. Of course, we love tic-tac-toe, too. Possibilities can be endless with this one.

  • 6. We are in and out of airports and bus stations when we travel. How can we keep the toys clean?

    Bring along some wipes that are child-friendly and non-toxic. Avoid harsh odors or chemicals. Ones we love to have along are the wipes made by Dreft. If the canister is too bulky for travel, just put some in a Ziploc bag and you’re on your way.

  • 7. My son notoriously loses his toys when we travel. Any suggestions for making that happen less?

    First of all, try to take travel toys that do not have several loose pieces. That can become a nightmare quickly! Also, if you bring a small backpack along to store the toys in, it will help keep them all together. Another thing to consider would be the Lusso Travel Tray because there are pouches and places for everything to stay organized.

Conclusion

Family trips can be a blast. Entertaining children on the way TO the destination can make parents a little loco. Even short jaunts can turn into long days if there are delays or setbacks. Plan accordingly and have engaging, colorful, and fun toys in your ‘back pocket’ for just such times. On-time or delayed, short flights or long ones, keeping your toddler busy is a must. Avoid meltdowns by planning a little ahead. The 7 toys we’ve suggested have great qualities to keep your little one happy and content. The only meltdowns you’ll encounter are the other peoples’ children who didn’t have the best travel toys on hand!