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Screen Free Toys For Travel With Kids From Toddlers And Beyond

Travelling with kids can be a stressful time—trust me, I’ve been there—so having portable, screen-free travel toys, which are interactive and crafted in vibrant colors, for travel that are entertaining and engaging can make all the difference. 

Throwing in a few distraction toys for those long road trips can also make the journey more bearable. With technology as advanced as it now is, it is easy to get sucked into screen time while travelling. But, with some good ideas and some quiet travel toys, that doesn’t have to be the case.

There are so many great screen-free toys out there that not only entertain your child but also help them learn and get creative in the process.

From puzzles and card games to colouring sets and activity books, here are some of the best screen-free toys to purchase before your next flight, road trip, or vacation/holiday in general. These also make great gifts for children before hitting the road or taking a flight.

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Sensory Toys for Travel

Sensory toys are beneficial for all children as they help develop senses and relieve stress—something we all need during a travel day. Below are three great travel-friendly sensory toys that are suitable for babies, toddlers, and young children.

Play-Doh

Play-Doh has been around for over 70 years. And this sensory toy that both you and I grew up with still ranks as one of the best toys for young children. Play-Doh encourages your child to be creative. And these miniature party pots that are just one ounce per pot are the perfect size for travel.

Pots of Play-Doh can result in some mess, so you will need to supervise your child at all times. But for the most part, they’re a great sensory toy that will keep your kid entertained for hours on end.

Suction Cup Spinners

Suction Cup Spinners

I know the dreaded feeling of travelling with a baby for the first time—especially by plane. But if you come prepared, you can entertain your baby fairly easily with interactive toys like suction cup spinners.

Stick the spinners to a window, the plane tray table, or just hold them and let your baby spin them around. The colours and the spinning motion will leave your baby mesmerised. And as these travel toys are so small, they can easily fit in a baby bag, backpack, or carry-on suitcase.   

These ones rattle too – but they are still quiet and when we tried the you could barely hear them over the white noise of the aircraft engines humming away.


Pop It

Pop Its are quite possibly one of the simplest toys out there. But for some reason, kids of all ages absolutely love these distraction toys. Whether you’re travelling with a baby, a toddler, a young child, or even a preteen, Pop Its will help relieve stress and anxiety on the plane, in the car, and even in the airport. 

There are so many different Pop It variations, sizes, and shapes. However, they all work in the exact same way! 

Quiet Toys for Travel

Nobody wants to be that parent whose child is playing with loud, annoying toys. Sure, it may be okay when travelling in the car. But if you’re setting off on a plane journey, then quiet toys will be your best friend. Here are eight quiet, screen-free toys for travel that will save both your and other passengers’ sanity. 

travel toys for kids

Puzzles

Puzzles are one of the quietest toys out there. And kids can reap huge benefits from this simple yet effective games and crafts. Putting together puzzles improves hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Plus, they also help kids practice remembering, matching, sorting, problem-solving, and recognising. 

These wooden puzzles that come in a handy tin are ideal for travel and are suitable for children between the ages of three and five.


Sticker Books

I don’t know what it is about stickers, but kids of all ages absolutely love them. For this reason, when my kids were younger, we always used to pack a sticker book when travelling. Sticker books are compact, easy to travel with, and mess-free, meaning your kid can get creative by producing stories and scenarios on the colourful sticker book pages. 

You can even purchase durable reusable sticker books that your kids can play with over and over again. 


Matching Games

A great educational screen-free travel toy that is suitable for toddlers is matching games. Matching games simply require your tot to pair two different parts of a picture to create a whole—it really is as easy as that!

Once your little one is confident matching the pictures, you can then turn the game into a memory game by turning all the cards face down and matching the pairs.  This experience further enhances the development of their cognitive skills.


Magnetic Books

Magnetic games, like these magnetic books, are a great screen-free toy for travel as you don’t have to worry about any pieces going missing. With various different themed books to choose from, your toddler or child can dress up dolls, match together animals, and create story scenes with a mixture of magnetic pieces. 

Lift the Flap Books

We’ve had plenty of lift-the-flap books through the years, as they just make story time all that more fun and exciting. Lift-the-flap books, and books, in general, are an excellent activity for travel as they’re lightweight, they barely take up much room, and kids just love reading stories. 

There are so many lift-the-flap books to choose from (one of our family favourites was Spot Goes to the Farm), so find one that interests your little one and read it together while you travel. 


Card Games

My girls love playing card games, and this durable, versatile  pack of 4 card games  that includes Go Fish, Slap Jack, Old Maid, and Crazy8 are ideal screen-free toy choices when travelling with slightly older children. Now I will warn you, things can get competitive. But a little competition makes the game even more fun. 

Additionally, to get the most out of the card games, take them along to dinner. So, while you’re waiting for your food, everyone will be entertained, and you can keep whining to a minimum. 


Snakes and Ladders

Snakes and Ladders is a classic board game that has been around for over a century. And even now, it is still one of the best board games to play with children.

This miniature snakes and ladders doubles up as a puzzle as you have to first put the board pieces together. But once together, the whole family can get involved to see who can be crowned champion of the board.


Lego Storybook Sets

Lego may not seem like the best screen-free toy for travel, as, after all, there are so many little pieces. But these Lego Storybook Sets (which I’ve linked below) are actually doll sets that encourage imaginative play.

What makes the books so perfect for travel is the fact they lock together, keeping all the pieces and figurines inside. Once your child unlocks the book, they can then play out scenes from some of their favourite movies.


Learning Toys and Activities for Travel

Travel can also double up as a time for learning. But in order to keep kids happy, let’s keep the learning as fun as possible. These five screen-free toys and activities will teach your child a thing or two while also relieving their boredom on long flights or car journeys. 

Activity Books

No matter what type of travel we’re doing, I always pack an activity book for my kids. To be honest, I even pack an adult version for myself, as there is nothing better than crosswords, sudoku, and word searches to keep you entertained when screens aren’t an option. Obviously, I do get interrupted every few minutes but hey that’s part of the challenge, right?

Kids’ activity books contain everything from dots to dots and mazes to spot the differences and colouring pages. So, although your kids will think they’re just having fun, they’re actually using their brains to solve problems and puzzles. It’s a win-win!


Busy Board

Busy boards are one of the best toddler screen-free toys for travel as they keep your tot, well, busy. With so many different components to play with, from buckles and zips to problem-solving activities and jigsaw puzzles, the amount of fun they can have is endless. 

Plus, if you didn’t already know, busy boards help improve fine motor skills, basic life skills, and finger dexterity. So be sure to pack one for ultimate toddler travel entertainment

melissa and doug shape sorter travel toy

Shape Sorter

Shape sorters are a slightly bulkier screen-free travel toy option, but for babies and toddlers, you really can’t go wrong. A shape sorter has a whole heap of benefits aside from entertainment, including enhancing a baby’s sorting, stacking, and motor skills, as well as their problem-solving skills, hand-eye coordination, and dexterity. 

We like this one from Melissa and Doug as it’s perfect for travel with its soft edges on 3 sides and handle. Whereas the 9 shape blocks provide sensory touch points for little ones.


Lift the Flap Question and Answer Books

Question-and-answer books are an excellent form of entertainment for slightly older children. And the Lift the Flap books by Katie Daynes that I’ve listed below are beautifully illustrated and contain facts about various different topics. 

I’ve even learnt things from kids’ question-and-answer books, so that just goes to show how educational they can be. 


Memory Games

A great screen-free travel toy/game to play with your little one is a memory game. Of course, they can play completely independently. But matching the cards can also help entertain you. 

There are so many different themed memory games to choose from (see below.) And their small, lightweight size makes them an ideal travel-friendly option. 


Creative Toys and Activities for Travel

And the last screen-free travel toy and activity category I wanted to touch on was creative toys, as if your kids are anything like mine, then they’ll love all things coloring, painting, and drawing. 

Colouring Books

Coloring books are one of the easiest forms of entertainment, and kids from toddler age all the way up to teens can preoccupy themselves by colouring in the already drawn out pages.

Just be sure to pack sharpened coloured pencils and a pencil sharpener that contains all the sharpenings to avoid mess.


Drawing Activities

Another great creative book option is a learn-how-to-draw book. Learn how to draw books do exactly what their name suggests as they teach children how to draw different pictures and objects through step-by-step instructions. 

You will need to pack extra paper or a notebook so they can practice their drawing. But it is still a very compact activity that won’t take up much room in a backpack. 


Painting Books

For toddlers who haven’t yet learnt how to paint, colour, or draw, a great introduction to art is a painting book that only requires water. These painting books from Melissa and Doug come with a special paintbrush that, once filled with water, brings to life the colours on the book’s pages. 

Once the pages dry out, the picture returns to white so your little one can paint over and over again!


Drawing Tablet

If you don’t want to carry paper, pens and other colouring accessories, then a lightweight drawing tablet is an excellent alternative. Drawing tablets have an LED screen that allows your little one to draw pictures with a stylus before erasing them and starting over again. 

Whether you draw pictures, practice math, or even develop your child’s writing skills, a drawing tablet is a mess-free travel toy that encourages creativity and imagination. 

triangular crayons travel toy

Triangular Crayons

And the final of the creative screen-free toys for travel is crayons, as you don’t have to worry about sharpening pencils and the mess that comes along with that. Crayons are great for young children who are just learning to colour, while jumbo crayons are suitable for toddlers thanks to their chunky size that makes them easy to grip.

You can then take along a colouring book or plain pieces of paper and let your child’s creativity run wild.

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