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Best Travel Toys for Toddlers of 2023

Updated
Traveling soon? Don't fly without one of these travel toys.

It can seem daunting to travel with a toddler, and for a good reason. We know the struggle of dealing with an impatient traveler full of energy and new experiences but confined to a small space.

We’ve learned how helpful it is to arm ourselves with a good travel toy (or two). So we created this list of the very best travel toys for toddlers. These toys are easy to transport, highly entertaining, and not so loud as to distract the driver or other passengers. They’ve saved our sanity on more occasions than we can count!

Read on to find the perfect travel toys for your little explorer so you can both enjoy the journey.

Our Top Picks

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Image
Model
Product Comparison Table
Features

Product Image of the Lusso Gear Kids Travel Tray for Toddler Car Seat, Travel Tray for Kids Car Seat,...
Best for Multi-Purpose Entertainment
Lusso Gear Kids Travel Tray
  • Multi-trip functions
  • Adjustable safety strap
  • Space-saver
Product Image of the Zoom, Zoom, Baby!: A Karen Katz Lift-the-Flap Book (Karen Katz Lift-The-Flap...
Best Book for Travel
Zoom, Zoom, Baby! Book
  • Interactive
  • Lift-the-flap board book
  • Affordable
Product Image of the HABA Town Maze Magnetic Puzzle Game - Learning & Education Toys for Preschoolers
Best Magnetic Puzzle
HABA Town Maze
  • Magnetic puzzle
  • Eye-catching graphics
  • Develops color recognition
Product Image of the Apple 2022 iPad Air (10.9-inch, Wi-Fi, 64GB) - Purple (5th Generation)
The Obvious Essential
Apple iPad Air
  • Up to 10 hours battery life
  • 9.7-inch retina display
  • Powerful and efficient
Product Image of the Folkmanis Mini Turtle Finger Puppet, Green, 1 EA
Cute Storytelling Companion
Folkmanis Turtle Puppet
  • Award-winning design
  • Exceptionally realistic details
  • Highest quality materials
Product Image of the Sesame Street Elmo's On The Go Letters, 24 x 36 Inch
Best for Literary Skills
Sesame Street Elmo's On The Go
  • Easy storage
  • Take-along carry case
  • Budget-friendly
Product Image of the SGILE Magnetic Drawing Board Toy for Kids, Large Doodle Board Writing Painting...
Best Old-School Toy
Magnetic Drawing Board
  • Geometric stamps included
  • BPA-free
  • Teo color options available
Product Image of the Sensory Fidget Toy, Arts and Crafts for Kids, Non-Toxic, Waxed Yarn, 8 inch,...
For Crafty Older Toddlers
Wikki Stix
  • No frills package
  • 48 Wikki Stix
  • 8 inches long
Product Image of the Alex Discover Learn to Dress Monkey Kids Art and Craft Activity
Learn To Get Dressed
Alex Discover Monkey
  • 21-inch-tall monkey
  • 11 dressing activities
  • iParenting media award winner
Product Image of the HABA Number Maze Magnetic Game STEM Toy Encourages Color Recognition, Fine Motor...
Great for Logical Thinking
HABA Magnetic Toy
  • Safe magnetic fun
  • Self contained
  • Encourages counting and color-learning


The Best Travel Toys for Toddlers of 2023

Here are 17 great travel toys to consider.

1. Lusso Gear Kids Travel Tray

Best for Multi-Purpose Entertainment

This travel tray is a must-have for traveling! It’s an all-purpose, kitted-out, durable tray that’s perfect for road trips or airplane journeys. It has an iPad viewing stand, a cup holder, storage pockets for toys, books, pens, and a safety strap to latch onto a car seat.

No more “Are we there yet?” with this travel tray. Your child will be occupied for hours, whether they’re watching a movie, coloring a picture, playing with toys, or doing all three at once!


2. Zoom, Zoom, Baby! Book

Great First Book for Travel

When you want to entertain a toddler on a plane, you can’t go wrong with an interactive book. Featuring different animal characters on buses, trains, and more, you’ll probably have your child practicing and mimicking the sound of each.

Also, the author’s signature style of bright colors and illustrations is guaranteed to keep your child wide-eyed and intrigued. If your child is anything like mine, they’ll love lifting the flaps repeatedly to see the images behind them.


3. HABA Town Maze Magnetic Puzzle

Magnetic Puzzle Fun

Fun for keeping the younger ones entertained, this magnetic maze is a great travel pick because there are no pieces to lose. It’s also lightweight and compact, so it won’t take up that much space in your travel bag.

I remember how happy my little ones were as they used the magnetic pen to move the balls from their parking spaces through the maze to various stops. This unique toy inspires imagination and can keep little ones busy for long periods during travel.


4. Apple iPad Air (Wi-Fi, 64GB)

The Obvious Essential

As we all know, children can be quickly distracted by a cartoon or interactive game when a screen is involved. While we don’t recommend all-day play on one of these, they’re a total lifesaver when it comes to traveling.

This model features 64GB of storage, is Wi-Fi capable, and provides hours of battery life without charging. Load it up with some easy-to-use games and get a durable case while you’re at it.


5. Folkmanis Mini Turtle Finger Puppet

Cute Storytelling Companion

Made of durable materials, this soft turtle is great for role play and is a storytelling companion that will help stretch your child’s imagination. There’s space to slide in your fingers and animate the plush puppet turtle while your child plays along.

Your child will most likely want to switch roles and be the storyteller for you. This is an excellent option for open-ended play.


6. Sesame Street's Elmo's On the Go Letters

Best for Literary Skills

With a carry-on case for easy storage and 26 letters in an array of colors, this toy makes learning the alphabet so much fun. Kids will enjoy learning new words and letters with the familiar Sesame Street theme.

Underneath each letter is an image of a word starting with that letter. Even if your child can’t say all the letters, they’ll easily begin to identify each.


7. Magnetic Doodle Board

Best Old-School Toy

This magnetic drawing pen and board offer a reusable surface for kids to learn to draw and write step-by-step. It’s a durable tool that’s small and convenient for traveling.

It is a great way to keep your child entertained without the mess of crayons or pens. Scribbling also helps develop your child’s motor skills.


8. Wikki Stix Neon Colors Wax Sticks

For Crafty Older Toddlers

These non-toxic, malleable 8-inch sticks can be reused time and time again and are made from food-grade wax and yarn. Bright and colorful, they provide ample opportunity for creativity, whether your child uses them to form letters and numbers, animals, or 3D shapes from their imagination.

When you’re on your next flight or road trip, your child will have the opportunity to enhance their artistic skills with this pack of 48 sticks. Our children enjoyed making all kinds of creations on our vehicle windows with these unique strings.

However, we recommend placing them in a Ziplock bag once the pack is opened to keep them clean.


9. Alex Discover Monkey

Learn to Get Dressed

This 21-inch-tall monkey helps kids learn how to use buttons, zippers, laces, and more. A winner of the Creative Child magazine’s Preferred Choice award and the iParenting Media award, the plush fabric monkey teaches kids to dress with its 11 activities.

It’s recommended for toddlers aged 18 months and older. The monkey features socks, a T-shirt, lace-up shoes, and overalls — all of which are totally removable.


10. HABA Magnetic Game Toy

Great Choice for Logical Thinking

This magnetic flower game is a cute little option for your child to practice their fine motor skills and creative play possibilities.

It operates with a simple action step. All your child needs to do is guide the colored balls using the attached magnetic rod, sorting them to match with corresponding colors. Since it’s a one-piece toy with the wand attached, there are no pieces to lose, and it’s easy to throw into the bag and go.


11. Aitey Wooden Lacing Toy

Best for Cognitive Development

These small wooden lacing toys are great for helping kids develop their coordination skills. They’re lightweight, so you won’t have to worry about the hassle of moving around with them. Made from sustainable wood, they’re also eco-friendly.

This set comes with three pieces, each with a different fruit, including holes for your child to thread the strings in and out of. Simple but fun.

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12. Fat Brain Toys Dimpl Baby Toy

Friendly Design, Easy to Pack

A cute, colorful option for kids as young as 10 months old, this sleek BPA-free toy is great for tossing in a handbag or backpack.

It contains different-sized silicone “dimples” for your child to push and pop up and down — a fantastic opportunity for them to work their little fingers.


13. Melissa & Doug Pull-Back Vehicles

Beep Beep! Hop on Board

Another transportation-focused toy, these soft vehicles are great for kids to skid across any surface while you’re traveling. However, you might have to chase them down the aisle if the kids get the hang of it on a plane!

The size makes it easy for young toddlers to hold and handle. Best of all, you can wash off the dirt that accumulates easily — simply wipe and go.


14. Crayola Color Wonder Art Desk

Cater to the Budding Artist

This travel art kit is an affordable one, suitable for older toddlers and into the preschool age. This kit is packed with a variety of art supplies and comes with a slim case for easy travel. It includes five stamps and five markers, plus a 15-page coloring pad.

Forget about the hassle of spending a long time cleaning up after drawing time. These markers only show up on special coloring books and refill pages.


15. Buckle Toy Buddy Backpack

Best Backpack Activity

This backpack comes with 12 versatile clasps to play with, supporting the development of toddlers’ motor skills. The material is soft and colorful, and the adjustable straps allow the backpack to grow with your child up to approximately 4 years old.

Most toddlers like to mimic their older siblings, and with this backpack, they’ll feel mature and ready for adventure.


16. Yummy Yucky Board Book

Exploring Taste While Traveling

Traveling presents a great opportunity for our children to taste new things. This book may encourage your child to open up to things they may not try otherwise.

With an expressive toddler as the protagonist, this is an all-time favorite for a good reason. In bright illustrations, the book comically tells the story of a young boy who’s deciding if foods are “yummy” or “yucky.” You’ll have a good giggle with this one.


17. Melissa & Doug Flip Fish

Best for the Babies

This cuddly fish friend is colorful and made from washable fabrics. We love that it helps promote grasping and finger strength. Your child will love exploring the multiple textures of the crinkly scales, shatterproof mirror, and more.

Hidden pictures beneath the scales are waiting to be discovered. Suitable for children starting at the baby age range, the flip fish measures 13 inches long but weighs less than a pound. This one might stay around for a while.

How to Choose the Best Travel Toys

  • Magnetic pieces: Traveling with a magnetic toy means it’s easier to keep all the pieces in one place.
  • Portability: Some toys are far easier to pack than others, and those are the ones you want. Look for smaller, more compact toys that you can easily tuck away in a handbag or a carrying case. Convenience is key.
  • Erasability: For coloring and drawing games, look for markers that will easily wipe off surfaces. This avoids any mess your child might make.
  • Electronic devices: An iPad or other electronic device is a no-brainer. As we all know, kids get glued to a screen quite easily, and while it’s not great all day long, it might save your sanity on a long trip.

Tips for Keeping Toddlers Entertained While Traveling

  • Make sure to bring along enough toys, not just one or two. Remember, children prefer variety and novelty.
  • Try to surprise your child with a new toy just for your trip. Toddlers are likely to be most entertained by a toy they haven’t seen before.
  • Coloring books and storybooks are great. You can use both to tell stories about the characters.
  • Look for toys with some action required, things they can put together, etc. You want to keep your kid as entertained as possible without going wild.
  • Choose toys that don’t create too much noise, especially if you’re flying, so fellow travelers can rest.
  • Look for easy-to-clean materials, so you can quickly wipe off the gunk that may accumulate if food or liquid spills on them or if they’re dropped on the floor.
  • Keep different toys well-organized in your hand luggage so you can easily pop them out when needed.

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Headshot of Mary Sweeney, BSN, RN, CEN

Reviewed by

Mary Sweeney, BSN, RN, CEN

Mary Sweeney, BSN, RN, CEN is an oncology nurse navigator and freelance medical writer. Mary has 4 years of experience as an officer in the Navy Nurse Corps. including emergency/trauma, post-anesthesia, and deployment medicine.