When my son was a toddler, we traveled from Spain to the Philippines. It was more than 30 hours of travel with a 14-hour stopover in Doha Qatar.
Needless to say, it was one very long journey.
To be honest, though, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I learned from that trip that the thought of doing a long haul flight with a toddler is scarier than actually going through it.
- Best Toddler Travel Toys For Airplane And Long Distance Car Journeys
- Finger Puppets
- Aqua Doodle
- Magnetic Story Tins
- Quiet Books
- Munchkin Travel Flash Cards
- Alex Toys Artist Studio Desk To Go
- Buckle Whale Toy
- Stickers/Sticker Books/Painters Tape
- Gel Clings For windows
- Busy Bags
- Pipe Cleaners
- Yarn Balls
- Playdough Activity Mats
Preparation Is Key
When it comes to traveling with toddlers, there are two things to keep in mind.
- Prepare some activities and travel toys for toddlers to get him busy during the journey.
- Be ready for things not to happen as you planned. Embrace the unpredictability of things and you’ll do great. Your toddler may scream at some point. He might spend the whole night going up and down the aisle waking everybody up. Some people might get angry. You might get some mad looks.
Everyone in the plane will definitely judge you.
But then again, it might all be a walk in the park. And to increase the chance of that happening, do no. 1.
And that is what this page on the best toddler travel toys is for.
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Best Toddler Travel Toys For Airplane And Long Distance Car Journeys
I don’t like to carry too many toys on a plane.
As much as possible, I choose toys and activities that tend to last for a long time. If it’s an activity that requires very little input from me, so much the better.
I have found that the key is to not give all the toys at once.
Put each activity in different Ziploc bags [if it doesn’t fit in one, then it must be too big!]. And don’t give all activities at the same time. Stretch each activity for as long as you can.
With that out of the way, let’s have a look at the list.
|Velvet Animal Finger Puppets||Light and easy to carry. Great for pretend play.|
|Aqua Doodle Travel Version||Mess free drawing for the little ones. Great for when you want to go to a restaurant too.|
|Travel Puzzle With A Drawing Easel||Small enough to take with you. + it develops spatial skills too!|
|Magnetic Story Tins||For pretend play or teaching colors, vocabulary or numbers.|
|Quiet Books||Fancy some quiet time? Take a quiet book with you|
|Travel Flash cards||This one comes in Spanish and English.|
|Artist Studio Desk To Go||For kids who like drawing and writing. This is great|
|Buckle Whale Toys||Many toddlers love this. They could spend a long time just buckling and unbuckling this little whale.|
|Stickers and Painters Tape||This might seem so easy but toddlers at this age love sticking on this book.|
|Gel Clings For Windows||Not sure what flight attendants think of this one, but it sure is a great idea.|
|Books||Always great to have books when traveling.|
|Busy Bags||6 Different activities in one. You can also make one yourself if you have the inclination to do it!|
|Playdough Activity Mats|
These Velvet Animal Finger Puppets are light and easy to carry. In my book, that’s always a good thing for traveling. When they have the potential to be fun, too, it’s even better.
These come in many different styles. My favorites are the animal & family collections as well as the Little Red Riding Hood Finger Puppets. If your toddler is into pretend play, these finger puppets are great boredom busters.
Have some songs and nursery rhymes ready in your repertoire. If you have the Little Red Riding Hood puppets, you and your child can do that story together. Or you can make up your own story.
There is a travel version of aqua doodle which is lighter and smaller.
For those of you not familiar with the aqua doodle, it’s a mess-free way for kids to draw. It’s made of a mat and a pen. You put water in the pen and draw on the mat. And that’s how it works! No ink, no crayons, nada! When the mat dries, you can draw on it again.
If your child likes to draw, get this. It is a godsend. It’s useful not only when traveling. You can take it with you to restaurants and other places where there might not be many things to interest your toddler.
BeadsThe thing I love most about beads? They’re a good quiet time activity.
If you can get your child into playing with beads, it’s great. You might even get lucky and have a few minutes to yourself.
Get the beads for making bracelets. They’re small, so if you still have a child who puts everything in his mouth, you will need to closely supervise him.
There are many ways to play with beads. One of the things I like is to use pipe cleaners instead of a thread. It’s easier for toddlers to thread the beads in rather than thread. After that, you can even make the pipe cleaners with beads into different shapes.
If you want, you can also use only one color of beads for each pipe cleaner to learn about colors. If that’s the kind of thing you like doing at 36,000 feet!
This is another time activity that your toddler can do by himself. You’ll also be happy to know that your child is developing his spatial skills while doing it.
For younger toddlers, these 2-6 piece puzzles are great. For older toddlers, check out the puzzles in a pouch by Mudpuppy. Choose the design that you think your preschooler would love best. My favorite include
Magnetic Story Tins
The idea is simple. There’s a tin. Inside it are magnetic figures. And from these magnetic figures so many magical things can happen.
Your child can play pretend with the figures. You can also use it to teach things like colors, vocabulary and even numbers (how many cars have red in them?)
Buy one that includes scenes your toddler is interested in. Some of the themes I’ve seen are vehicles, Disney princesses, farm animals, zoo, Mickey Mouse, Noah’s Ark and Curious George.
You’re probably beginning to see a theme in this article. I prefer toys that give kids time to themselves and I want them light and small. And these quiet books are amazing!
There’s a lot of handmade ones on Etsy if you’re looking for a special personalized one. If you don’t have a quiet book like this yet, you should get them – not just for traveling but for the home too!
Each page in the book is meant to practice your child’s fine motor skills. There is a page for zippers, another for shoelaces, another for hanging the washing(!), putting clothes on a doll and so much more. Each book is different so find one that has tasks you think your child would be interested in doing.
Munchkin Travel Flash Cards
Why not travel and teach your toddler some basic concepts at the same time. The flashcards teach the alphabet, numbers, shapes and colors. It also includes words for both English and Spanish.
Alex Toys Artist Studio Desk To Go
This is a good-size “travel” desk for doing things on. One that’s going to come in very handy when traveling by plane or car. It’s just the perfect size for kids laps. It also has 2 handy pockets that they can use to keep pens and crayons in.
Buckle Whale Toy
As a parent, you might dismiss this toy as being too simple. But that’s where the genius is. If your toddler is into buckles or putting things on and off, she could spend a long time figuring this thing out. Many parents who’ve got this love it. And so do their little ones.
Stickers/Sticker Books/Painters Tape
Sometimes, some of the most simple things are the ones that kids like to play with especially at this age. This is when stickers or painters tape come in handy.
Buy some colorful painters tape at the dollar store. Have a toddler-and-airport-security-friendly pair of scissors, too. Then print some pieces of paper with zigzag lines, numbers, alphabets or figures. Your child can then tape onto the lines on the paper.
The fish picture above is from Melissa & Doug’s tape Activity book which has colorful and captivating scenes that your child can tape on.
Gel Clings For windows
I’m not sure what flight attendants think about decorating the windows, but I think this is a great idea. Pick gel clings for this activity, so you can easily take them off when you leave the plane.
If you’re not too sure about decorating the windows, you can always do the same activity on a sticker book.
BooksYou can’t go wrong with books. Have a favorite book in hand as well as a new one. Books about planes or traveling or about the place you’re going to are always good to have.
In case you don’t have the following books yet, this is a good time to get them. These are top-rated bestselling books that many toddlers love. They will keep asking you to read them. They’re great.
If you’re crafty, you can make your own busy bag (or busy folder).
Otherwise, get this one by Curious Minds. It has 6 different activities all together. The activities include Wiki Stix, a water doodle pad, a carnival game, a water painting set (much like the aqua doodle but smaller), and some art papers and pens. Put each activity in one Ziploc bag and not give them all to your child at the same time.
Pipe CleanersOh, the many things you can do with the humble pipe cleaners. First of all, you can use them for the beads mentioned above. And then you can make shapes and other figures with it. You can also make holes on a Pringles cover and use it as a toy for fine motor skills practice. This activity toddlers can do for a long time.
Yarn BallsTogether with pipe cleaners, yarn balls are always handy to have, too. Take a clothespin to substitute for a tong and again use it for fine motor skill practice. You can get your toddler to sort them by colors or just simply move them from one container to another. Afterward, you can use it for a gluing activity.
Playdough Activity MatsTake playdough in mini packs and use them for educational activities on the plane. You can make playdough a little bit more novel and exciting by using activity mats.