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With many long haul flights with two little ones, I’ve frequently been asked, ‘How do you 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 yet they still have a short attention span, but when you are on the go space is limited.

Practical suggestions for travel toys for toddlers (particularly airplanes) including toys which are quiet, lightweight, and mess free! Entertaining toddlers on long flights, doesn’t mean you need to spend lots of money as often everyday items can provide a lot of fun and a pound or dollar store can provide a host of ideas.

The same applies for toddler toys for the car – unless you can handle the tunes or noise!

Discover our suggestions for the best toys for when you are traveling with toddlers

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, it is 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 2020 with plenty of specific plane activities for toddlers too:

1. Wikki Stix

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 packs with planets and volcanoes etc for older kids too. Perfect to keep kids entertained when flying, in the car for a road trip, hotel room and all kinds of family travel. For more information see here.

2. Loobani Wooden Cheese Activity Toy

A friend recently recommended this wooden threading block which is great for developing fine motor skills – plus it’s a very quiet travel toy. For more information see here.

3. Gel window stickers or gel clings

gel window stickers - travel toys

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. For more information see here.

 4. My Busy Books

My Busy Books – 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.

This is all very compact and easy to pack in your hand luggage. We have a Paw Patrol, Frozen, Trolls and My Little Pony one!

5. Duplo Number Train

Not an obvious one, but bear with me. 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 and split the pieces up). 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.

Duple number train - best travel toys

6. Crayola Color Wonder

Mess free colouring books and pens. ‘Magic’ pens which only show the colour on the special colouring book and not on clothes, seats etc. For more information see here.

These similar ones by Melissa & Doug Water WOW also look fun too and educational! Just make sure you empty the pen from water before security or add it to your clear plastic bag. For more information about the Water Wow set, see here.

Water Wow

7. Tomy aquadoodle water mini mats.

Great 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 one a fair few times! For more information see here.

Travel toys, best toddler toys Tomy mini water aqua doodle mats
Tomy Water mats

8. Sweetie necklace with strawberry laces and Cheerios.

Travel toys, toddler toys
Sweetie necklace with cheerios.

I also liked this activity my friend suggested: 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.

9. 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.

toddler toys

10. Paper dolls with stickers from Tiger. Lots of stickers to design your own paper chain.

toddler toys

11. Farm in a Tin,

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.  For more information and alternative ‘toys in a tin’ see here.

12. Triangular crayons

triangular crayons travel toy

Triangular crayons like these from Melissa & Doug,  don’t roll away on an airplane or train tray table! Genius!

13. Imaginetics Magnet Board

The Imaginetics magnetic board opens up and creates a scene with characters and accessories that stick to the board! The photo above construction sites, but there are also dinosaurs, pirates, ballet, mermaids and lots of other choices for boys and girls. Travel toys for toddlers #familytravel

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!

14. Other favourite toddler travel toys

Mini figurines;  such as the Happy Land characters from the Early Learning Centre (UK) or the  Fisher Price Little People.(Worldwide) or small toy animals and dinosaurs.

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!


15. Post it notes – kids love peeling them off and sticking them. Same for band aids/plasters.

16. 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!

17. The humble balloon! We always put a few in our luggage to inflate in the hotel room for a game of catch.

18. Coloured rice in a tic-tac or similar plastic container for a small rattle

toddler travel toy made out of a spice jar and pipe cleaner

19. An old spice jar and pipe cleaners can make a great fine motor skill activity, which is quiet too!

toddler travel toy wuth pom poms and a plastic bottle

20. 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.

baby travel toy which is sensory. Use a baby wipes lid

21. Use some old baby wipes lids to make a sensory toy or lift the flap toy like above.

play tape is a great travel toy as it can be added anywhere, and is easy to remove

22. You can buy role play or road play tape here from Amazon. It is ideal as it doesn’t ruin furniture and can be used anywhere! Just add a car or two!

Have you any more cheap travel toy or DIY travel toy suggestions? Do let me know below!

MORE Travel Toys Ideas & Travel Games for Toddlers

23. Stickers

24. Fuzzy Felt or similar

25. Melissa and Doug reusuable stickers.

26. Interactive Apps – See my separate post on Apps.

27. Magnetic boards games

28. Finger Puppets

29. 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!


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.

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