Are you planning on traveling with toddlers this year or next year? Keep scrolling for the best travel toys for toddlers on airplanes or road trips!
This post about the best travel toys for toddlers was originally published May 28, 2018 and was updated November 29, 2022 and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
As we head into holiday travel season, I’ve been doing a lot of research on the newest travel toys for toddlers.
Some of the items we have from our preschooler are still in good condition.
However, we’re always looking for unique toddler travel toys to bring on our family vacations.
Here are some of the top travel toys for toddlers in 2023:
Road Trip Toys for Toddlers
Road trip travel toys are one of my favorites to shop for because it’s a personal preference. If loud toys don’t bother you, go for it! If you don’t mind a bit of mess, knock yourself out.
These toys for long car rides can be as simple or elaborate as you’d like. Your only constraint is room in your car. Oh, and something your child can do while sitting in a car seat.
One of the coolest toys we’ve discovered this year is the Lunii storyteller. It’s a screen-free device that will read stories to your kids.
It’s super easy for kids to use all on their own. You can do it with or without headphones, too.
My preschooler has so much fun with it. His favorite stories are the guided meditations, which are quite calming.
It’s geared for kids ages 3-10. It’s pre-loaded with a bunch of stories and you can download more.
When I was at MommyCon Vancouver a few years ago, I picked up this Fat Brain Toys MiniSpinny in their MommyCon shop. We already had the full-sized version and I wasn’t sure we needed both. Until I tried it.
Both my kids LOVE playing with this simple toy. Heck, my husband and I find ourselves playing with it, too.
It’s almost like an oversized fidget spinner. It’s perfect for road trips because little hands can grasp it and it’s pretty durable. It’s also a great teething toy.
It’s one of the top toys we own.
This is another one I picked up at MommyCon. There’s something a bit addictive about playing with the Fat Brain Toys Pop and Slide Shelly.
It’s great for car rides because it doesn’t make noise and it’s perfect for little hands.
Plus, you can easily tether it to the car seat. It’s another one of those toys I find myself playing with absentmindedly.
If you’re looking for portable travel toys for a 1-year-old, this one is my top pick!
The Aquadoodle is a great car toy for toddlers because it’s lightweight and mess-free. It’s perfect for road trips because kids can keep the Aquadoodle on their lap while they color.
And it’s durable enough that kids can bend it or toss it around the car and it will still work. Plus, it encourages imaginative play!
This is an awesome travel toy for kids that will last even into elementary school!
Magnetic toys are always popular toys for toddlers. This one is great fun!
Toddlers can create silly faces and stories to go with them.
I like that the magnets usually stay on the metal container, so it’s not messy. And, you can use the magnets on metal surfaces at your hotel.
Plus, these toddler road trip toys are pretty quiet!
If your toddler is into LEGOs, this is a great way to let them play with it on the road. This Travel LEGO Kit is an easy way to store LEGOs, plus it comes with a building surface.
You can also make something similar using a plastic diaper wipes container and this LEGO tape.
Airplane Travel Toys for Toddlers
The most important thing about finding the right airplane toys for toddlers is that they don’t make a lot of noise.
If they play music, rattle, or squeak, don’t bring them on the airplane. That’s for everyone’s sake. These are the toys that will drive you crazy after a few hours and they will annoy your fellow passengers.
My advice is usually to leave anything with a battery out of your carry on bag. Unless it’s something that your child can play with wearing headphones.
When I brought my youngest to Hawaii when he was 1 year old, he spent most of the flight trying to unbuckle and then buckle his seat belt.
He was going through that stage of wanting to learn how to buckle. Four months later, he’s still going through that stage.
That’s why this BUCKLE TOY “Boomer” would be so helpful on an airplane with toddlers. They can sit and work on 6 different child-friendly buckles during the flight.
And it’s small enough to stash in your diaper bag or carry-on luggage.
This is definitely one of the best travel toys for a 1 year old that works on fine motor skills.
If you want a ready-made activity, this Lacing Beads Busy Bag comes with beads and string. Now, some of the beads will probably get lost on the plane, but if you are okay with that, this is an amazing activity!
It’s perfect for toddlers and preschoolers because it works on their fine motor skills,
Plus, you can get cups from the flight attendant and toddlers can sort the beads by color. Or simply put them in a cup and take them out again.
Suction cup toys are so much fun on airplanes! This Fat Brain Toys Squigz Starter Set has mini toys that can be stacked into a tower or stuck on a window. Kids love sticking them together and popping them apart.
And the small size makes them super portable.
I’d suggest just bringing a few on the airplane and sticking the rest in your checked luggage to play with at the hotel.
These are super fun travel toys for kids of all ages!
If you’re looking for an activity that has been a hit for years, try the Melissa & Doug Water Wow! You fill the brush up with water and then your kid can “paint” the pages to reveal a colorful picture.
It’s also one of the best travel toys for toddlers in the car because it’s not messy!
We always have a water bottle when we fly, so it’s easy to refill the brush. The pages dry fairly quickly, so kids can repaint the same picture over and over again.
One of our favorite things to give friends who are taking their toddlers on long flights are these Wikki Stix. They are bendable, colorful wax sticks and kids can make endless creations.
We give them as gifts a lot because they are made of knitting yarn and food-grade wax. So, if one ends up in a kid’s mouth, it’s not the end of the world.
And when you are looking for the best travel toys for a 2-year-old, being non-toxic is always a bonus!
As kids get older, they can use them to learn their letters and numbers. Parents can be as hands-on (or hands-off) as they’d like.
Hotel Room Travel Toys for Toddlers
So, something a lot of families don’t think about are travel toys for toddlers to use in the hotel room. These can be great distractions while parents get ready for the day.
It’s also a great way to get kids to have some quiet time in between adventures or to quiet down before bedtime.
My good friend made us a Children’s Play Rug like this and it’s been a lifesaver hotel rooms. Our kids know where the play area is and I like that they can play on the rug as opposed to the hotel carpet.
This one is nice because it folds up pretty compactly. It would also be good in an airport if you have a long layover.
We first discovered this Fat Brain Toys Kids Spinagain Toy at Kidsquest Museum in Bellevue, WA. It was the most sought-after toy there and my kids couldn’t get enough of it. So, we bought one and it’s a HUGE hit!
It’s a simple enough toy, but kids of all ages love to see the gears spin down the pole. It’s great for packing in a suitcase because it’s lightweight and durable.
Plus, the pieces are large enough that you probably won’t lose any in a hotel room.
If you are driving to a hotel from your home, this Wooden Ramp Parking Garage Play Set is an awesome travel toy for toddlers to bring in your car.
My kids can spend hours sending the little cars down the ramp and they think it’s hilarious!
It’s bulky enough that you wouldn’t want to pack it in a suitcase. But, it’s also small enough to bring to a hotel room. It’s a great distraction for them while you unpack and get organized.
I recommend bringing a bag to put the cars in so they don’t get lost. This ramp works with most small cars, so you can change it up.
If you have two kids, this Remote Control Cars set is for you! They run on different frequencies, so your kids can race them.
Someone gave my son a remote control car for his birthday when we were in Vancouver, BC and I was hesitant to open it in the hotel room. But, it ended up being such a fun activity!
These are meant for little kids, so the remotes are simple and the cars are made of plastic.
Really, any LEGO DUPLO set would be good for a hotel room. We like this LEGO DUPLO My First Number Train because my kids can’t get enough of trains.
I like that we can talk about the numbers and colors of the DUPLO bricks.
Plus, kids can push the individual train cars around or connect them to form one long train. And they can take them apart and put them back together.
This set is pretty lightweight and packs easily in a suitcase.
The Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pad is great for hotel rooms because it’s quite large. It’s helpful if your child can sit at a desk or do them on the floor.
I like to separate the pages and just take them out one at a time with some of the reusable stickers. You may need to help your child peel the stickers off the first time.
If you want to take it on an airplane, I suggest just bringing one of the pages rolled up and a bunch of stickers. Your child can put the stickers on the airplane window or screen for hours of entertainment!
Does your toddler like to play catch, but usually drops the ball? We first discovered the Original Gertie Ball at a Kindermusik class in Issaquah, WA.
It’s touted as the must catch-able ball for kids! It has a sticky surface that makes it easy for toddlers to catch and throw successfully. And it’s pliable so toddlers can pick it up with one hand.
Plus, it’s inflatable, which makes it easy to pack up. It’s a fun way to play a game in the hotel room to burn off energy.
As the Mom of two boys, we always have little cars with us where ever we go. Oftentimes, I fill up a gallon Ziploc bag with them.
But, this Transport Car Carrier Truck is a fun way to store those metal cars when you take them to a hotel. Plus, the car carrier truck is fun to play with on it’s own!
If you are staying at a hotel or Airbnb that has hard floor, bring along a roll of Car Tape. You can lay down some roads and kids can race cars up and down.
Plus, when it’s time to head home, just pull up the tape for easy cleanup. It also works well on tables or walls. It’s an easy way to create a play area for your kids while traveling.
This is actually one of my favorite travel toys for a 2-year-old because it can keep them occupied for hours!