Looking for some ideas for the best travel toys for babies and toddlers and how to entertain a toddler on a plane? We have plenty of brilliant suggestions ranging from easy compact toys you can put together from household items, to tried and tested baby and toddler travel toys which keep boredom at bay whilst on the go!
BEST BABY AND TODDLER TRAVEL TOYS 2023
With some epic journeys from the UK to Australia and plenty of short and other long haul flights flying with toddlers and babies under our belt, we have needed to keep our little ones occupied with a variety of toys and travel activities.
We have covered below how to entertain a baby from a few months old, to how to entertain a 1 year old on a plane, older toddlers who are more energetic and every age in between. These toys work great for road trips too!
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The baby travel toys are listed first, followed by toddler travel toys. I have included some cheap and/or easy to make options too all which will help you entertain a toddler on a plane or in a car.
The majority of the following portable travel toys for toddlers have worked well for myself and other parents on many many flights and car journeys. Our review experts are fellow parents, who like myself, have traveled extensively, with different aged toddlers on various long and short haul trips. Many of them are found on the Travel with Babies and Toddler Facebook group offering helpful advice too! This guide is regularly updated with the latest toys and activities and ideas which impress us and keep even the most fidgety toddler busy and your flight less stressful.
What to look out for when choosing a travel toy.
Depending on your budget and mode of transport, look out for these features:
- Can be used independently: If you constantly need to be interacting or operating the toy, you are going to end up frazzled and exhausted. A toy which allows you a few minutes to enjoy your inflight meal or gives you time to fill out paperwork is best for everyone.
- Quiet: A quiet toy will make you popular with any neighbors. This includes headsets for any tablets. The rest of the plane maybe trying to sleep and do not hear Peppa Pig on repeat!
- Compact: Toys which can be easily stowed or folded away are better when you re tight on space, especially with cabin bags allowances always reducing! Make sure the toys doesn’t have really tiny pieces though, or these can get easily lost.
- Lightweight: Inevitably, it’s the parents who end up carrying not only their child but their toys too! For your back’s sack, pack lightweight. Multi-use toys are brilliant like stacking cups as they can be used as toy on the plane and on arrival for bath-time fun too.
- Mess free: Please leave the Playdoh at home! Crew or cleaners need to spend longer getting it out of small crevices or removing ingrained bits from the carpet – which means delays to boarding for next flights. It’s no fun removing from the car either.
- Does not rely on batteries or charging. There is nothing worse than running out of power or finding the charging portal is broken. Have toys packed which don’t rely on batteries or cables.
- Multi use toys: Toys which have multi uses can save space and luggage weight. eg Snacks like the Cheerio hops and laces idea below, can be a fine motor skill activity as well as a snack. Or road play tape that can be used anywhere, from a plane tray table to a hotel room carpet.
TIPS FOR TRAVELING WITH BABIES
When babies start to become curious about their surrounding; grabbing things and interacting, then having a couple of favorite toys to help relieve any boredom or to use as a distraction really help – especially if you are flying long haul.
Some airlines do provide a soft toy for younger babies and other inflight entertainment, but it’s best not to expect it, as it is never guaranteed.
I do go into a lot of practical and detailed information and provide flying with a baby tips which cover everything you need to know from booking to arrival; including sleeping on a plane tips, requesting baby meals, breast feeding, baby bassinets, the best seats, complimentary airport strollers and so much more. I would definitely recommend a read after you have looked through this post.
BEST TRAVEL TOYS FOR BABIES
How do I keep my baby entertained on a plane? This section is the one for you! The following travel toys have worked well for myself and other Mums.
These are so portable to take with you and stick on a plane window, train window, a hotel fridge and a variety of places. Recommended for 18 months and up.
features 5 vibrant silicone bubbles built into a plastic frame. Simple yet brilliant; push and pop them, Poke and grab them; a perfect, portable sensory delight. `Suitable for 10 months +
Stacking Cups. Little ones love putting things in them and taking them out again. I particularly liked this bath set from Munchkin. which is neatly stacked for hand luggage and ideal for in and out of water. We found these cups were great to play with in a bath or a pool at the destination too.
The cups are in bright colours so the have an educational element to them too as little one can learn the colours and develop their fine motor skills when stacking them. They also have the option of being stuck together to form a caterpillar and for pouring water with different perforations. These were definitely one of our go to’s for travelling. For more information see here.
The Zippee is a fairly quiet multi-sensory silicone activity toy for babies 18 months plus. Pull the cords from side to side to hear and feel the various sounds and vibrations the cords make. With the sound of an aircraft white noise this wont disturb other passengers. it’s BPA free, Phthalate Free, Food Grade Silicone. Easy to clean (warm water or top rack of dishwasher). Bonus is it makes a great fidget toy for older siblings too!
Melissa And Doug’s Take Along Shape Sorter. A popular game for little hands and one that is easy to transport whilst traveling. It does have pieces which could drop, but this is useful for little ones to play with in the more secure airplane bassinet or at your destination.
Includes a padded case with 2 activity sides and a take-along handle, plus 9 shaped, textured blocks in various colours. For more information see here
Sassy Ring-O-Links Teethers.A firm favourite since she was a tiny baby and she still loved them as a small toddler. The bright colours engage and provide visual stimulation, whereas the links have different textures on which appeals to babies sense of touch.
All linked together they can be used as a rattle, or separately as a teether. Another very versatile toy. They work brilliantly on airline bassinets and are ideal for travel car seats too. For more information see here.
My 1 year old LOVED this buckle toy whale and it kept her so busy. So many people have sung its praises to me after purchasing it. I firmly believe it’s one of the best travel toys for 1 year olds and often buy it as a travel gift for friends with little ones.
The Buckle Toy Whale has several buckles to do up and a zip mouth. The only issue is once they master the buckle, you may get asked a few times to unbuckle it, until they discover that skill.
Nonetheless, it has easily occupied her for over 30 minutes – a minor miracle! Now it’s a firm favourite on all our journeys, car included. It’s one of the best toddler toys for airplane use, because it is so quiet. For more information and for other buckle toys, see here:
The pictures are by Axl Schelffler and are so engaging. It’s easy to see why these books are so popular with young children. Both of mine loved them from an early age and now the older one reads it to my youngest. Win win! For more information on this and others in the series, see here.
BEST TRAVEL TOYS FOR TODDLERS
I’ve frequently been asked, ‘How to keep a 1 year old busy on a plane?’ and “What toddler airplane activities do you recommend?” Unlike babies, toddlers, need a little more entertaining! Good ideas for travel toys for toddlers on airplanes include toys which are quiet, practical, hands on and mess free!
The same applies for toddler toys for the car – unless you can handle the tunes or noise!
TIPS FOR TRAVELLING WITH TODDLERS
Travelling with a toddler on a plane or with an older baby who may need some entertaining on the go? Below, you will find my tried and tested travel toys for children on flights and car journeys.
When your toddler doesn’t want to sleep and needs to be occupied, toys help and having some activities up your sleeve help keep the peace! The following travel toys have worked well for myself and other Mums. I highly recommend wrapping some of the smaller items in paper and tape as this provides extra entertainment for your little one and their inquisitive fingers. (Obviously not practical to wrap loads if you have several tots – but a couple of small surprises for all really does help in moments of need!)
Here are some of the top travel toys for toddlers in 2021 with plenty of specific plane activities for toddlers too:
Wikki Stix are suitable for older toddlers from age 3, although it will likely be you making all the different shapes! Made out of wax and yarn, there is no glue needed, so no mess.
There are some great science ones with planets and volcanoes etc for older kids too. Wikki Stix sets are perfect travel toys for toddlers on plane, in the car for a road trip, hotel room and all kinds of family travel. For more information see here.
Nutty toys Pop Tubes Sensory Toys can connect together to form different shapes and words. They are textured and a great sensory fidget toy. The tubes stretch and help improve fine motor skills, motor planning & hand strength. Recommended for kids age 3+
Gel Window stickers or gel clings are reusable, mess free and very handy if you have a window seat on a plane, or even for road trips in a car or coach. These are better for older pre-schoolers. For more information see here. If you cannot find any window stickers or don’t have a window seat, then stickers, bandaids, post-it notes are another option for cheap toddler travel games.
The Quiet Book by deMoca is a set of reinforced fabric pages tied into 9 activities for your toddler,
with all pieces tethered to the busy book to avoid losing pieces. Perfect for plane journeys and road trips!
My Busy Books are great travel activities for kids. These are very good value activity boxes with a story, 12 figurines and also contain a folded up play mat for role play. Whilst the play mat is too big for a plane or public transport, the figurines are still fun to play with. Once at a destination or a flight delay, the play mat can come out.
My one-year-old and four-year love Duplo. The number train is easy to pack and fun too. (We just discarded the box for easier packing). We actually bought this on one of our trips away and then kept bringing it along as it was such a success. For more information and prices see here.
Pieces can obviously drop on the floor of a car or airplane, so we opted to just use a couple of pieces from this set on the plane and saved the rest for playing with at the destination. If you are staying in a hotel room, villa, or Air BNB which doesn’t have any toys, bringing a few toys for moments of boredom or quiet time can prove invaluable.
These aquadoodle sets are some of the best toddler toys for airplane entertainment. They have re-usable colouring in mats, which just use a water pen. Once they have dried out, you can reuse them again.
This is a great idea if you are packing travel toys for 18 months and older. We used this Peppa Pig ones a fair few times! For more information see here.
Sweetie necklace with strawberry laces and Cheerios.
I also liked this activity my friend suggested to add to my selection of toddler travel toys: some Cheerios or any cereal with a ring shape and a sweetie lace. Great for fine motor skills and the kids like making and eating them too. Plus it takes a bit of time.
Anything from a $ or £ store
£ or $ store. We also really liked these little cut out people which you can dress and the cardboard tube/paper cup characters. There are plenty of art and crafty bits in there, meaning you can raid the aircraft loo’s for more cups to use.
Paper dolls with stickers from Tiger. Lots of stickers to design your own paper chain which also make great travel toys for toddlers in the car as you have a little more space.
Farm in a Tin has been SO popular with my daughter from the age of two. It does have small parts (especially the 3 ducks) but it’s such a compact toy, which has been handy to have in my bag and whip out if there has been a flight delay.
It’s also been great for her to play with whilst away on holiday and stuck inside a hotel room or winding down with some jet lag. Even at home it’s played with frequently, making our list as one of the best toddler travel toys for 2 year olds. For more information and alternative ‘toys in a tin’ see here.
The Imaginetics magnetic board opens up and creates a scene with characters and accessories that stick to the board!
The photo above shows construction sites, but there are also dinosaurs, pirates, ballet, mermaids and lots of other choices for boys and girls.
Another idea for younger children, is a travel busy board – where everything is in one place but there are plenty of activities for little hands. This Montessori Busy Board is a great sensory toy with lots of zips, buttons and games to play which are all part of a bag. The bag had enough spaces for favorite books, coloring crayons, paper, snacks and even a water bottle too!
Other favourite toddler travel toys
These have been played with SO much on all modes of transport and are a firm staple for us. These are brilliant for imaginative play – arm rests become mountains, tray tables become roads and seat belts traps!
CHEAP TRAVEL TOYS IDEAS FOR TODDLERS AND BABIES
- Post it notes – kids love peeling them off and sticking them. Same for band aids/plasters.
- You can also make puppets out of the on-board sick bags or paper cups if you are feeling creative! It’s amazing what you will do on a 15 hour flight!
- The humble balloon! We always put a few in our luggage to inflate in the hotel room for a game of catch.
- Coloured rice in a tic-tac or similar plastic container for a small rattle
- As pictured above the sweetie necklace with strawberry laces and Cheerios.
- An old spice jar and pipe cleaners can make a great fine motor skill activity as some quiet airplane toys for toddlers.
- Small pom poms and a plastic tub with a lid with holes in – babies and toddler love ‘posting’ things so posting the pom poms can while away some time.
- Use some old baby wipes lids to make a sensory toy or lift the flap toy like above make great baby travel toys.
- You can buy role play/painter tape or road play tape here from Amazon. It is ideal as it doesn’t ruin furniture and can be used anywhere, making cars and road tape perfect toys for toddlers on airplanes.
Have you any more cheap travel toy or DIY travel toy suggestions? Do let me know below!
MORE Airplane Travel Toys Ideas & Travel Games for Toddlers
- Fuzzy Felt or similar
- Interactive Apps – See my separate post on Apps.
- Magnetic boards games
- Finger Puppets
- Toddler busy bags are also available ready-made online so here are a few options for you to choose from and some suggestions below of how to make your own!
- Travel Tegu magnetic wooden block set
BEST TRAVEL GIFT IDEAS FOR BABIES AND TODDLERS
I’m always on the look out for travel themed gifts for my kids and my husband -as he travels quite a bit for work too. I’ve recently complied a list of useful and fun travel presents for babies, toddlers, kids and mums and dad’s. Have a look here for ideas for birthday or Christmas presents!
Have I missed any top travel toys that have worked for you? What your favourite toys for travel? Please do comment below so I can add them.
- Would you like a free printable (no sign up) packing checklist? If so see here.
- Find out which airlines/airports provide courtesy airport strollers here.
- Have you read the tried and tested flying with a baby tips here?
- The above are available at the time of writing from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. Please let me know in the comments if a toy was invaluable for your flight, train or car journey and the age of your baby or toddler.
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