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The Best Travel Toys For Toddlers

Updated on December 21, 2014

How To Choose the Best Travel Toys for Toddlers

The top tip I would give to anybody taking a toddler on a long journey is bring lots of travel toys for toddlers to keep them occupied.

The best travel toys for toddlers will engage your toddler for a long time without the need to move around a lot. Take small but familiar toys that they currently love and you know they play with for a long time. The attention span of toddlers isn't long (depending on their developmental age it's 1 to 8 minutes). So take lots of different small travel toys so you can swap them over often. Also, take something completely new which they will enjoy playing with and will grab their attention.

This article suggests the best toys and equipment to take with you on a long journey and gives tips on keeping your little one occupied. There are also ideas of what I've done to occupy my own children with toys and other distractions on long trips.

So what are the best travel toys for toddlers?

Travel Toys For Toddlers - Travel Tote

Lauri Toddler Tote
Lauri Toddler Tote
This is a great travel toy for airplanes although it can be used in other modes of transport as well. It's quiet so won't disturb other passengers and is educational too. The toddler Tote promotes color and shape recognition, concentration, fine motor and eye-hand coordination. Toddlers can find the right shapes to go in the holes or sort the shapes by color and size. This is one that keeps toddlers occupied while engaging them completely.

Portable DVD Players for Toddlers

Portable DVD players can be an absolute lifesaver when taking young children on a road trip or on an airplane. We used one when we took our son (who was then 18 months old) on a 3 hour flight. My 18 month old son had to sit on my lap for 3 hours as he didn't get his own seat so it was a lifesaver. It kept him still and occupied until he fell asleep. Here is my top choice portable DVD player.

If you're interested in getting a portable dvd player check out this article on the best portable dvd players for kids

Philips PD9030/37 9-Inch Portable DVD Player (White/Black)
Philips PD9030/37 9-Inch Portable DVD Player (White/Black)
I think this is a good choice of DVD player for the following reasons: - a long battery life - up to 5 hours! - A good sized screen at 9 inches. - built in stereo speakers or use with headphones - has a USB port and supports lots of different file formats so you should be able to save movies from your computer to a USB and play them on your DVD player. - Also comes with a car adapter so you can charge it in the car and comes with an AC adapter too.

Toddler Laptop

Toddler laptops make great travel toys. They will keep toddlers occupied for ages and most have educational activities such as games to help learn letters and numbers. Pick one which offers lots of different activities and stimulation so your toddler doesn't get bored. If you are able to sit next to your toddler on your trip you can play the activities and games together too.

LeapFrog My Own Leaptop, Green
LeapFrog My Own Leaptop, Green
Features of this laptop include 6 learning activity stations to explore the alphabet, pretend play, music, animals and computer literacy. You can also personalize e-mails for your toddler and choose and download songs from a custom playlist.

Magna Doodle

Toddlers love magna doodle (when my son and niece were about 2 years old they absolutely loved it). There are some which come in travel size so they are compact and easy to carry. They provide the opportunity to draw without having to find crayons and paper which have been dropped underneath car or plane seats.

Travel Aquadoodle Bears

Travel aquadoodle bears are great for road trips and plane journeys for toddlers. You fill the doodle pen with water and start drawing on the white part of the bear. The bear changes color with the moisture and changes back as it dries so you can draw over and over again. Mess free travel fun for toddlers who love to scribble and a cuddly toy too!

Aquadoodle Pet Bear
Aquadoodle Pet Bear
Fill up the pen with water and draw on the white part of the animal. When the water dries up the drawing goes away and toddlers can start their drawing all over again. A great little bear to put in your travel bag.

Wow Activity Books

Fill up the water pen and then color in the pictures. The pictures come up in bright colors.

They include 4 reusable water reveal pages, 4 play and learn pages and 1 water brush or water pen depending on which one you buy.

This is mess free coloring and you don't have to worry about crayons being everywhere and loosing them.

Buckle Toys

Many toddlers can be obsessed with buckles and therefore these buckle toys make perfect travel toys for toddlers as there are no loose parts. You may need to unsnap the buckles for your toddler but they will love doing them up again and again.

Some buckle toys have extra things to do, like matching colors and zippers.

Buckle Toys - Bucky Turtle - Learning Activity Toy - Develop Motor Skills and Problem Solving - Counting and Color Recognition - Easy Travel Toy
Buckle Toys - Bucky Turtle - Learning Activity Toy - Develop Motor Skills and Problem Solving - Counting and Color Recognition - Easy Travel Toy
Bucky the turtle has child friendly buckles down the front, numbers 1-10 on his tummy, 6 shapes on his shell, and a zipper down the middle of his shell that opens to carry other toys. This toy is great for kids who love to try and buckle their own high chair, stroller, and car seat. Bucky helps to satisfy a toddlers curiosity about buckles, while still having the educational value that kids need.

Alex Car Valet

ALEX Toys Artist Studio Car Valet
ALEX Toys Artist Studio Car Valet
This is a great little bag to take with you and your toddler when traveling. The fold out desk is a great surface to color and draw on. It features two removable zippered pouches to store crayons, snacks and other travel necessities. Put in crayons and different small toys between different trips to keep kids occupied on long journeys. Attaches to the rear of the front seat and folds down for easy access to supplies. Fold and zip up when finished.

Books for Toddlers

Taking a couple of favorite or new books can be quite handy. It's especially good if you want to keep them entertained and occupied but quiet at the same time (for example when you're on a plane or other public transport).

Check out the I Spy book below.

I Spy Little Animals: A Book of Picture Riddles
I Spy Little Animals: A Book of Picture Riddles
These are great little books when you are traveling with older toddlers. Toddlers can join in with the book and say what they spy in the pictures.

Magnetic Toys

Magnetic toys seem to be popular with toddlers to take to occupy them while traveling.

I think this is because they are very quiet toys and toddlers seem to be quiet when they are playing with them. Therefore they may be a good choice for airplanes or other public transport. Some of the bigger magnetic toys would be better to just keep in the car as you won't want to transport anything too bulky.

The pieces are magnetic, therefore stick to the board and are less likely to be lost but I think you still have to be careful not to loose the pieces when travelling.

Melissa & Doug Magnetic Wooden Fishing Game and Puzzle With Wooden Ocean Animal Magnets
Melissa & Doug Magnetic Wooden Fishing Game and Puzzle With Wooden Ocean Animal Magnets
"Catch" the magnetic fish with the special magnetic wand. Then put them back where they belong.
Melissa & Doug Joey Magnetic Wooden Dress-Up Pretend Play Set (25+ pcs)
Melissa & Doug Joey Magnetic Wooden Dress-Up Pretend Play Set (25+ pcs)
Dress "Joey" as a policeman, fireman, superhero, knight, construction worker or pirate. Or you could mix and match.
Melissa & Doug Hide and Seek Farm Wooden Activity Board With Barnyard Animal Magnets
Melissa & Doug Hide and Seek Farm Wooden Activity Board With Barnyard Animal Magnets
Behind each of the 9 hinged doors on this charming barnyard scene is a delightful, magnetic animal. Learning about animals while improving memory and fine motor skills

Magnetic Mazes for Travel

There are lots of magnetic mazes which are great for travel because you don't have to worry about losing the pieces.

They include the bead mazes below which I think are good for older toddlers. You have to use the magnetic wand to guide colorful beads through the maze. Some of them involve using the wand to sort beads according to color or number so are educational too.

They're should fit in a backpack and are quiet so won't disturb other people.

Sticker Books

Sticker books can be a good choice for older toddlers. My son used to love stickers and there are some nice sticker books you can work through with a toddler on a plane or train trip.

Giant Sticker Activity First Words
Giant Sticker Activity First Words
Contains over 600 stickers The giant sticker book has hundreds of essential first words and pictures for children to learn and recognise. Arranged in everyday subjects, it helps children develop a wide vocabulary and understanding of the world around them.

Finger Puppets and Puppet Books

Finger puppets are great for plane travel. They're small and can easily fit in your pocket. They're inexpensive too. You can get them out and use them to make characters for your toddler. Do a show, play peek-a-boo, use them with a funny voice - let your imagination entertain your toddler! Older toddlers can also have a go at using the finger puppets.

You can also get finger puppet and puppet books. My own son who's currently 19 months loves these. Read the story while using the finger puppet to illustrate.

Touch and Feel Cards

My First Touch & Feel Picture Cards: First Words (MY 1ST T&F PICTURE CARDS)
My First Touch & Feel Picture Cards: First Words (MY 1ST T&F PICTURE CARDS)
Another good quiet activity for travel. These have excellent reviews. They are a set of cards which toddlers can explore with their hands as there are different textures to touch. They are great for encouraging communication with example questions to ask about the card, it's picture and what it feels like -so you'll never be stuck for something to do. I think these would be particularly good for airplane travel when you're sat next to your toddler or they are on your lap - it's a nice quiet activity to do together. Really small and compact to fit in a travel bag too.

Tips for Traveling with Toddlers

Traveling with a toddler can be challenging but prepare well and follow these tips for an easier journey.

  • Don't run out of snacks and drinks. Have plenty of small snacks for emergencies. Raisins, dried fruit and small packets of sweets are all great snacks which can fit in your hand luggage.
  • Bring lots of travel toys and things to keep them amused and entertained. Consider wrapping up a couple of new toys and giving them as gifts during the trip - this can give them something to focus on when they get a bit restless.
  • A portable DVD player is a life saver for long road trips and air travel.
  • Bring wipes to keep them clean.
  • Blankets and travel pillows are good to keep toddlers cosy when they need to get comfortable and sleep. Blankets are also good to play peek a boo!
  • Get organised. Have a bag for snacks and one for toys and know where everything is so you have it to hand when needed. Also, have a bag for rubbish to minimize mess.
  • On roadtrips take plenty of breaks and get your little one moving around before they have to sit in the car again.
  • On airplanes - get a window seat if you can so they can look out of the window.
  • Think about the timing of your travel. Can you travel during early morning, naptime or evening/nighttime so that they will sleep most of the journey
  • If you are travelling in the afternoon/evening take them to the park in the morning and really tire them out so that they will be less restless during the trip.

Another Tip for Keeping Toddlers Entertained

When we took our first son away on a plane when he was about 2 1/2 we also took our iPhone which ended up being a great way to entertain and occupy our son.

He loved playing games on our iPhone and this used to keep him occupied for ages. Obviously you have to supervise them closely when using it but there are lots of educational and fun games for the iPhone that are suitable for toddlers.

Do you have any suggestions of great travel toys for toddlers. Please add any comments and feedback below.


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