LAST UPDATED: March 27, 2019

Best Travel Toys For Toddlers to Keep You Sane (Review) in 2021

Best Choice skoolzy peg board set travel toy for toddlers Skoolzy Peg Board Set Travel Toy For Toddlers
Premium Pick playskool classic dressy kids Playskool Classic Dressy Kids
Best Value Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pad Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pad

Travelling is enough of a pain, even when you don’t have the little ones along for the ride. Between tiredness, stiff muscles, other passengers and a general lack of movement, there’s a unique frustration to travel that simply doesn’t come with other parts of life. So, if you add the stress and drama of bringing along young children, you can imagine the increased level of concern- even before you hit the road.

Enter travel toys for toddlers. These are designed to keep little fingers busy and little minds stimulated, so you can spend more time focusing on your future itineraries and working on the logistics of your vacation. Below, we’ve put together a collection of the best travel toys for toddlers that will help keep you sane on your journey, along with some extra hints and tips for your break.

The Best Travel Toys For Toddlers

Our top pick in toddler toys that are perfect for travel, is this peg board set from Skoolzy. This is ideal for a wide range of ages, as it can help with everything from color recognition to counting. The thick pegs are easy to grab and manipulate, helping with fine and gross motor skills, and there’s a surprising amount of options as to what to do with these pegs.

For younger children, it can simply be a case of encouraging spatial awareness, as your son or daughter learns to place the pegs into the holes. For toddlers, they can do everything from making patterns on the board to helping learn numbers as they stack the pegs together. 

Key Features
  • Color recognition toy
  • Works on gross and fine motor skills
  • Easy storage
Specification
  • Brand Skoolzy
  • Model FBA_11
  • Weight 8 ounces

Running along similar lines to the Skoolzy peg board is ALEX Toys button art. While there’s less freedom in terms of stacking and sorting, this item makes up for it with ten different boards- all with a focus on color matching. Discover Button Art is a great middle-ground for those who are slightly past the point of shape-sorting and just below the ability to complete puzzles. All they need to do is match up the color of the button with the color of the board behind it.

Great for hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and creativity, the wide storage tray will hold the 40 buttons that come with this set and the entire toy can be easily cleaned up and placed aside when not in use.

Key Features
  • 10 projects
  • Color recognition toy
  • Works on fine motor skills
Specification
  • Brand ALEX Toys
  • Model 1408
  • Weight 15.2 ounces

Babies and toddlers love to mimic us and one of the biggest things that seems universal across children is the adoration of pushing buttons. Scout’s Learning Lights Remote combines these two facts to create a fun toy that infants and older toddlers love to play with. This remote works brilliantly as your mini-me works on their numbers and shapes, as well as colors and first words.

The catchy songs and shapes that light up are sure to catch their imagination as they have a great time trying out all the different combinations available with this pretend remote. Even better, for those who are looking for a toy to use at home, as well as on the road, the Learning Lights Remote will be sure to keep sneaky hands away from your own remote!

Key Features
  • Works on shapes and numbers
  • 65+ songs and audio responses
  • Brilliant for curious infants
Specification
  • Brand LeapFrog
  • Model 80-19262E
  • Weight 8.2 ounces

Perfect for infants and younger toddlers, this travel toy works by encouraging the fine motor skills of nifty hands, who like to fiddle. The different clasp types help to work with their improving concentration to encourage fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and problem-solving skills. If you have an older child who is great at problem solving, simply ask them to try and weave the buckles, so they create a new pattern!

Buster comes small enough that you can easily take him along on short or long trips- and his many buckles make it extra-easy to attach him to any bag or stroller, making it super-easy to pop him to one side without loosing their new toy!

Key Features
  • Colorful
  • Works on fine motor skills
  • Lightweight and easily transportable
Specification
  • Brand Buckle Toys
  • Model Buster the Square
  • Weight 3.52 ounces

Sesame Street has become synonymous with fun, for many generations of children now- and there’s no denying that their toys have become increasingly popular thanks to their creative, yet simplistic styles. On the Go Letters works similarly to our top pick, in that you can snap and place the letters across the board, with an added space, so that children can show off their language skills by creating their own words.

However, this is a toy that is better suited to older toddlers and preschoolers. This is simply because the focus of this toy is spelling and letter recognition, which many, younger children many not be able to get the full use of.

Key Features
  • Great for older toddlers
  • Works on spelling and letter recognition
  • Carry-on luggage style
Specification
  • Brand Sesame Street
  • Model C3643
  • Weight 2.5 pounds

Perfect for creative minds and those who simply love to squiggle, the AquaDoodle is a great option for flexing those hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. All you need to do is add water to the AquaDoodle pen and feel free to let their imaginations run wild. The only major downfall here is that the included pen only draws in red and blue, so you might wish to invest in a few more pens if your little one likes to use lots of different colors- or simply has a favorite.

Made from plastic, paper and fabric, this is a lightweight option that easily folds up to be put away or carried with you, thanks to extra handle. Despite this, it’s surprisingly durable and strong, easily handling the trials and tribulations that comes with being a toddler toy for travel.

Key Features
  • Great for their imagination
  • Works on fine motor skills
  • Refillable AquaDoodle pens
Specification
  • Brand AquaDoodle
  • Model 20064546
  • Weight 3.84 ounces

There’s something about stickers that really seems to draw in toddlers and infants, and this set from Melissa & Doug is no different. Based with a huge variety of different backgrounds and complete with repositionable stickers, this is a great option for those who don’t quite have the dexterity for puzzles but are a little above the standard wooden shape-sorter style games.

Key Features
  • Promotes creative play
  • Works on fine motor skills
  • “100% Happiness Guarantee”
Specification
  • Brand Melissa & Doug
  • Model 9114
  • Weight 12.8 ounces

With 12 chunky “beads”, this is a great choice for kids who love their animals. While they’re threading the chunky, wooden needle through the assorted farm animals, they’ll be working on their fine motor skills. Of course, you can also play counting and imaginative games with them, as the cute characters are easily placed into a “farm” setting.

This is a multi-award-winning children’s toy that is ideal for travel, thanks to thick cotton, chunky beads and stopper, that ensures there’s no mess left when your little one is done having fun. Made from wood and with each character being painted in bright, eye-catching colors, your kids can have great fun with these little animals.

Key Features
  • Award-winning toy
  • Promote sequencing and counting skills
  • Works on fine motor skills
Specification
  • Brand ALEX Toys
  • Model 1486F
  • Weight 1.25 pounds

All parents are aware of the latest fidget-spinner craze that has been going around- but this is a great alternative for smaller hands who can’t quite get the right grasp or attention for those older toys. Designed with bright colors and made with BPA-free plastic, Dimpl is a fantastic sensory toy for young infants to pop and poke to their heart’s content.

With such a simple design, you would never guess just how much babies and toddlers love this little plaything. The silicone bubbles seem to keep their attention for ages and the lightweight design of the Dimpl means you can take it with you, anywhere.

Key Features
  • Great for babies and young toddlers
  • BPA-free
  • Encourages sensory exploration
Specification
  • Brand Fat Brain Toys
  • Model FA192-1
  • Weight 4.8 ounces

Going on a really long journey, but don’t want your kids to get sore necks? Try the Critter Piller Travel Buddy Pillow. Created for long flights and road trips, these cute little designs work brilliantly as both a cuddly toy and a way to keep your kids comfortable during travel. Designed to cradle their head, these are sturdy pillows that are built to last- perfect if you have kids who get very attached to their cuddly toys.

Key Features
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Sturdy and durable
  • Provides added support
Specification
  • Brand Critter Piller
  • Model 2236
  • Weight 8.8 ounces

Shape sorters are one of the oldest and most-loved kid’s games of all time and Melissa & Doug have created a great new version of this humble toy, which you can now bring on journeys with you. This padded shape-sorter comes in a bag shape, complete with handle, so you can easily pack away and store all of the items, when their new toy isn’t in use.

With crinkly flaps on one side to capture the attention of younger infants and textured shapes for the other side, this is a great toy to keep little minds busy. Even better, if you still aren’t completely happy, you can even take advantage of the “Happiness Guarantee” and get your money back.

Key Features
  • Works on sensory, fine motor and communication skills
  • Padded shape-sorter on one side, crinkly flaps on the other
  • “100% Happiness Guarantee”
Specification
  • Brand Melissa & Doug
  • Model 9185
  • Weight 0.8 ounces

For kids who love a big, healthy chunk of imaginative play, a magnetic drawing board is one of the best items you could possibly invest in. Being lightweight and easy to carry along on journeys, this particular board comes with 4 different colors- which will capture their attention as they play with the included stamps.

The best thing about magnetic boards, of course, is that you don’t need to carry around tons of paper- simply erase the board by moving the slider, at the bottom of the toy, across to the other side and start again. Meaning less mess and endless fun!

Key Features
  • 4 color areas
  • High-quality material
  • Works on fine motor skills
Specification
  • Brand EEDAN
  • Model JIA-09-HBF
  • Weight 8 ounces

If you like giving your kids a little bit of a challenge- or you know your kid loves to use their fine motor skills, the Curious Columbus Quiet Book is an amazing investment that you won’t regret purchasing. With 10 bright and fun pages, all with their own unique designs and sets of puzzles, this is a book that will easily keep the attention of your little ones, while you concentrate on the trip ahead.

This is a soft, yet surprisingly durable book that can handle the constant tugs and playing from little hands. Even better, the book zips up completely- keeping all loose items inside- and even comes with a little handle, making it easy to take with you as you continue your journey.

Key Features
  • Detachable items
  • Works on fine motor skills
  • 10 pages of activities
Specification
  • Brand Curious Columbus
  • Weight 4.5 ounces

If you’re still not sure if your kid can keep all of their new toys in one place, then this is a great addition to any games and toys you decide on. Simply add this onto their high chair or car seat, once you child is safely fitted, and let the fun begin!

The high sides will keep all of the smaller items together and the multiple pockets and storage areas means you can safely keep any snacks, drinks or other toys to one side without worrying about losing them around your car or chosen transport method.

Key Features
  • Additional storage
  • Patent-pending design
  • Multifunctional
Specification
  • Brand Travel in Sanity
  • Model TIS#325
  • Weight 1 pounds

A quirky little addition to our top picks is the Dressy Kids Classic version from Playskool. This little cuddly toy comes with 5 different activities for your little one to take part in, but this also works brilliantly as a friendly face on long journeys. Using laces, zips, buttons and ties, this is great travel for 2-year-olds as they tend to become very attached to their toys at this age!

Even better, the handle add-on clip means you can easily attach your new toy to your stroller, bag or luggage so they’ll never get lost!

Key Features
  • 5 different dressing activities
  • Works on fine motor skills
  • Carry clip included for easy transport
Specification
  • Brand Playskool
  • Model B1728000
  • Weight 12.6 ounces

Best Travel Toys For Toddlers Buying Guide

What To Consider When Buying Travel Toys For Toddlers

There’s no guarantee that every toddler will like every toy, but you can lower the risk of toy-refusal when taking a few factors into account and getting a toy that is more likely to closely meet their needs. The main factors of which, are:

  • Age

Travel toys for 2-year-olds will be very different from travel toys for 5-year-olds as the development leaps between the ages is colossal. For example, a toddler who has just turned two will likely be starting to mimic communication patterns and begin speaking, so a toy that helps develop their communication would fit brilliantly. Every 6 months, it’s likely that the area of focus will have shifted for your infant, so check to see whereabouts your kid stands, currently.

  • Distance

Travel toys for kids are only going to be entertaining for so long, so it’s best to pick up a selection that will entertain them in different ways, if you’re heading on a long journey. Of course, shorter journeys will likely require something that needs to pique their interest for a shorter amount of time- this will also help cut down on tantrums when you take their toy away, at your destination, since they’ll be bored of it by then, anyway.

  • Level of stimulation

Baby travel toys need to be a lot less stimulating, as their attention is mostly held on tracking items and then snoozing for a while, interspersed with the need for diaper changes and feeding. Of course, the older your son or daughter is, the longer their attention can be held and the more stimulation they’ll require.

  • Car sickness

If your toddler suffers from travel sickness, you’ll likely find that travel toys can either make it much worse or much better. The best thing to do here is to take some baby travel toys for a shorter trip, to see how your little one reacts.

  • Storage

Since the car is a relatively small space, you’ll likely want to find travel toys for toddlers that are easily packed away and stored, when not in use. This also means you should try to opt for toddler toys that are lightweight, since you’ll likely be carrying them from place-to-place as you travel.

  • Individual differences

Interest in specific items – It’s likely that, by the time you start to take your children on trips with you that you’ll notice their particular love of certain items, whether that’s toy cars for toddlers or airplane toys for toddlers, right through to animal toys and an interest in dressing-up. If you’re able to find a travel toy that meets these needs, then all the better- especially if you can chat to them as they play.

Difficulties – Every little person is going to be wildly different, both in their personalities and their physical abilities, and it’s entirely up to you as their guardian to decide whether you want them to work on these skills, or play to their strengths. We’ve given you the guided age-range of each item on our top picks, but your child might be more advanced in some areas over others.

As an example, my daughter was very much into her fine motor skills and not too fussed about her gross motor skills. So, I bought her a magnetic drawing board so that she could have a great time, making shapes and chatting away about what she likes to see. If we were driving, I would ask her to draw what she saw- as you can imagine, her ability to create flowers is now pretty amazing!

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Cute toddler girl in a car seat

Benefits Of Using Toys While In The Car

  • Mental stimulation

Let’s face it, it’s pretty boring for kids in the car all the time. Having a toy around can keep those brains working, staving off boredom and giving you time to focus on the journey- however you choose to travel.

  • Peace and quiet

This is especially true if you have more than one kid! Children who are bored will make their own fun- and that can sometimes mean that your little darlings may decide to cause a little chaos in the car. Giving everyone an appropriate toy- one that is preferably of no interest to the other- means you don’t have to handle the constant shouts about being bored, or having your kids argue with each other.

  • Increased ability to travel

It’s no secret that journeys with your little ones can be a little stressful, so having something that keeps them happy and entertained will not only keep them happy in the short-term, but also allow you the option to travel farther and make different memories, regularly. After all, when you know you can take a longer trip without the aggravation of boredom, you’re more likely to take those trips in the first place.

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Other Ways To Entertain Your Baby When Traveling

  • Songs

Kids love songs, so whether it’s tunes from their favorite show or classics that we all know the words to, but aren’t sure why, stick on a good selection and be prepared to sing your heart out.

  • Imagination games

Talk to your children about what you’re going to do when you get to your destination, pretend that you’re riding on a very impressive dragon or make up a story to tell your kids as you travel. This requires a lot more energy than other options, and should preferably be done by the passenger, so the driver can concentrate on the road.

  • Audiobooks

If you like the idea of storytime but don’t necessarily want to do all the chatting, all the way there, having an audiobook is a great alternative. These are especially good for tired children, since they can happily stare out the window and listen, without too much effort on their part.

  • Word games

It’s a bit of a cliché but old favorites such as “I Spy” and “20 Questions” are always going to be popular- providing your kids are old enough to play along, of course! You can even try basic association games, where one player starts with anything in the world and then everyone else has to come up with something associated to that word. You’ll be amazed to see how quickly this game can change though, so be sure to keep a good batch of words to hand, ready for a new round!

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Sources:

  1. Traveling with Kids? Use Our Checklist! – Parents