Traveling with toddlers (or kids in general) has many challenges. Keeping them occupied and happy (or at least content) in the car/plane is one of the biggest ones.
Handing your young child an electronic device is the easiest way to to keep them entertained, calm and peaceful for most of your journey.
But children need to learn to entertain themselves, be patient and be bored!
If you are in the car encourage your child to look out the window. There are many wonderful sites to see!
In our house the rule has always been “no devices/screens unless we will be in the car/plane for more than 1.5 hours”.
After the 90 minute mark devices are allowed for short periods at a time.
It’s definitely not easy traveling with toddlers and preschoolers, especially when trying to go screen free.
That’s why I have carefully chosen 10 of the Best Travel Toys For Toddlers (and preschoolers) that are fun and packed with natural opportunities to learn!
TOP 10 BEST TRAVEL TOYS FOR TODDLERS (they are all tech free)
Coolplay Kid Activities Water Drawing Mat
This water drawing travel mat is great because it allows for mess free coloring.
Just be sure to fill the “pen” with water before you head out!
Drawing is great because it allows your child to practice fine motor skills and imagination.
Once the drawing has “dried” it becomes invisible so another one can be started.
BUCKLE TOY “Blu” Whale – Toddler Early Learning Basic Life Skills Children’s Plush Travel Activity
Buckle toys like “Blu Whale” are perfect for little hands.
This adorable toy is packed with fun ways for toddlers to learn.
There are 6 child-friendly buckles of varying styles and colors as well as a zipper that opens and closes.
There is a small pouch in the whales’ mouth perfect for little treasures.
Your child will develop problem solving, hand eye coordination, fine motor skills, cognitive skills, vocabulary and so much more with this toy!
My Quiet Book for Toddlers by Pockets of Learning
Quiet books are a must have for all toddlers! Not just for traveling.
A quiet book is similar to a buckle toy in that that it’s a great way to practice fine motor skills, problem solving, hand eye coordination and perseverance!
“My Quiet Book” features a zipper (tab is cloth, not metal), a clock with moving arms, buttons, clasps, buckles, laces, snaps, etc.
The book is made of cloth and comes pre-washed.
If you are crafty you can probably make your own “quite book”.
Here are some free patterns to get you started!
Toddler Busy Board For Travel
A busy board is similar to a puzzle but all the pieces are attached.
It can also be compared to a quiet book.
A toddler busy board allows children to open various latches, zippers and clasps to open doors on the board.
This may not seem all that engaging to an adult, but a young child can be occupied by one of these for quite some time.
And it’s a great way to strengthen fine motor skills and problem solving skills.
If you would like to support a small business, be sure to check out all of the busy boards on Etsy!
Indestructibles: Things That Go!
I love the Indestructible book series!
My kids had quite a few of these when they were under the age of 3.
These books are great because they are literally indestructible.
They’re chew proof, rip proof and drool proof. And they are printed on a unique non-toxic paperlike material!
Some of the books are completely wordless while others have a few words/sentences here and there.
The Indestructible books make wonderful first books to develop early literacy skills! (books for babies)
Melissa & Doug Kids Take-Along Shape Sorter
The Melissa & Doug Take Along Shape Sorter is perfect for traveling.
It is two sided!
One side features a traditional shape sorter while the other side has cloth flaps that your little one can lift up and explore!
The set comes with 9 textured shape blocks!
BMTOYS Wooden Animals Fruits Vegetables String Threading Beads
This lacing set comes with 42 pieces!
If you are sitting next to your child be sure to label all of the items, especially those which your child is not saying yet.
Your toddler can practice new vocabulary words, fine motor skills, sequencing and counting!
HABA Town Maze Magnetic Puzzle Game
This Montessori inspired STEM toy is perfect for traveling! There are no pieces to lose.
The magnetic puzzle is a great way to work on fine motor skills, concentration and problem solving.
Magnetic Drawing Board for Kids and Toddlers with Stamps and Pen
This is such a classic toy. I love that it is still around. It brings back memories of my own childhood and the trips my family took.
But I didn’t have one with colors like this this one.
If your child is under 3 and is prone to putting small toys in their mouth then you may want to take away the small magnet stampers as they could pose a choking hazard.
A magnetic drawing board is another great way for children to practice their fine motor skills, creativity and imagination in a mess free way!
If you have older children be sure to check out Boogie Boards. My kids have these and love them for car rides.
Tegu Pocket Pouch Magnetic Wooden Block Set
Blocks may not seem like the ideal travel toy, especially not wooden blocks.
But these wooden blocks from Tegu are different.
They are magnetic!
And you can feel safe knowing that the Tegu magnetic wooden blocks are lead and plastic free, non-toxic and are finished with a water based lacquer finish.
As an added bonus, your child can stack them and they won’t topple over instantly (thanks to the magnets inside)!
Wooden blocks are wonderful for fine motor skill development, hand eye coordination, problem solving and so much more!
Traveling With A Toddler Doesn’t Have To Be Scary!
Embarking on screen free (or mostly screen free) travel with a toddler may seem daunting, but it can be done.
There will be crying and whining at times, but you can make it through and I promise it won’t last if you stick with it.
It will be much more difficult to tell your 10 year old all of a sudden that you don’t want screens in the car all the time when that is all they are used to.
These travel toys for toddlers I have discussed are fun and just think of all the skills your little one is learning.
I guarantee you it’s a lot more than if you handed him a tablet packed with “educational apps” (electronic toys for toddlers)!