Searching for some great ideas for travel toys with toddlers? We have plenty of practical suggestions that work! With many long haul flights with two active little ones, we’ve often been asked “What toddler airplane activities do you recommend, which actually keep boredom at bay?”
Practical suggestions in this jam-packed guide to kids travel toys (particularly airplanes and cars) includes travel toys which are compact, quiet, lightweight, and mess free!
Entertaining toddlers on long flights or car rides can be expensive with items that don’t occupy them for long.
You don’t 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 whole host of ideas which are budget friendly. 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.
The same applies for toddler toys for the car – unless you can handle the tunes or noise!
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Discover our suggestions for the best toys for when you are traveling with toddlers
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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.
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!)
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.
Here are some of the top travel toys for toddlers in 2023 with plenty of specific airplane activities for toddlers too:
The Best Travel Toys For Toddlers Ideas | Compact • Lightweight • Mess Free • Quiet
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.
The role play tin boxes also make great airplane travel toys for toddlers as they fit perfectly onto the plane tray table.
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.
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 or similar store.. Lots of stickers to design your own paper chain.
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! It’s no wonder they are some of the best toys for travel with toddlers!
CHEAP TRAVEL TOYS IDEAS
Sweetie necklace with strawberry laces and 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.
Kids love peeling them off and sticking them. Same for band aids/plasters!
Paper cup/ bag animals
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! Literally anything on a flight can become some great travel toys for preschoolers and toddlers. All that is needed is some imagination!
One of our favorite travel toy ideas for toddlers – the humble balloon! We always put a few in our luggage to inflate in the hotel room for a game of catch after a flight or road trip.
A rattle shaker
Coloured rice in a tic-tac or similar plastic container for a small rattle
Fine Motor Skill Travel Toys For Toddlers
I’ve frequently been asked, ‘How do you keep a 1 year old busy on a plane?’ and this is one of them! An old spice jar and pipe cleaners can make a great fine motor skill activity or preschool travel toy, which is quiet too!
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.
Lift the flap/ sensory toy.
Use some old baby wipes lids to make a sensory toy or lift the flap toy like above.
Role play street scenes with this amazing tape!
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
- Fuzzy Felt or similar
- Interactive Apps – See my separate post on Apps.
- 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!
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.
- Have you remembered any items you need to help your baby or toddler sleep on the plane?
- 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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