Ultimate list of the best travel toys for toddlers (18 months to 4 year olds).
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Keeping a busy toddler entertained during a long car ride or a flight can be a daunting task. Having a few great travel toys to keep your little ones entertained and engaged while on the go can be incredibly helpful.
Keep in mind that this list of the best travel toys for toddlers is very versatile. Many of these toys can be used in the car, on an airplane, in the stroller, at a restaurant, or wherever else you may end up with your toddler.
When it comes to travel toys for toddlers, there are several things to consider.
- Make sure the toys are age-appropriate & safe
- Choose toys that are compact & easy to pack
- Select toys that are durable and can withstand the wear and tear of being on the go
- Of course, we want to choose toys that are FUN and can sustain your toddler’s attention for a good amount of time
- Consider how noisy the toy may be (depending on the environment you will be using it in)
We have tried out dozens and dozens of travel toys with our two toddlers. Don’t worry, I will only share the toys and activities that actually keep my toddlers entertained for a toddler-appropriate amount of time.
We will go ahead and skip over the toys that got thrown to the side after 30 seconds 😉
37 Best Travel Toys for Toddlers
Please don’t feel like you need to go out and buy 37 toys for your upcoming trip with your toddler. Choose a handful of toys that can be your travel staples.
Consider buying secondhand or doing toy swaps with friends or neighbors to save money and space.
The Toniebox is definitely our #1 travel toy for my two toddlers. We bring our Toniebox in the car and on walks in the stroller daily. You could also use the headphone jack and bring it on an airplane.
If you aren’t familiar with a Toniebox, it is an audio box that plays music and stories when Tonies figurines are placed on top.
My toddlers love listening to the Tonie and also love playing with the Tonies figures and switching them out.
You can also get “Tonies Creatives“, which is a little figure that allows you to record your own audio. You can record yourself singing or reading a story or add any other songs/stories your child likes.
My mom recently passed away, and I have videos of her reading and singing to the kids, so recorded those so our kids can still hear their TT’s voice, which is so important to me.
The Yoto Player is basically the same concept as the Toniebox, except that it uses cards instead of figurines.
A few pros of the Yoto Player vs. the Toniebox
- Yoto cards are cheaper than Tonies figures
- The Yoto Mini is smaller than the Toniebox and easier to carry around
- Yoto cards are more compact than Tonies figures
- There are 1,000+ Yoto Cards available vs. less than 200 Tonies figures
We do not personally have a Yoto Player, but my toddlers have used one before and definitely didn’t like it as much as the Toniebox.
I personally think that the Toniebox is much more engaging and entertaining for younger toddlers. In my opinion, the Yoto Player may be a better option for preschool or elementary-age kids.
Both are great for keeping kids entertained on the go and cutting down screen time.
My son got a set of these for his 1st birthday. I had no idea what they were, but WOW my kids have so much fun with these.
Honestly, even our older nephews and adult friends/family like to play with them too. 😂
It is basically just a set of plastic tubes that can be stretched out and scrunched together. The tubes can be attached to each other as well.
My kids play with these tubes in the car, on walks, and at home.
They are kind of loud, so not the best option for an airplane or other public places.
Most toddlers love playing with keys (mine included). With its lock-shaped vehicles and numbered keys, this set should keep your toddler entertained for quite some time. And it helps build those fine motor skills!
This key set may be difficult for younger children to maneuver, so it could cause frustration if you are not available to help your young toddler with it (i.e. if you were driving).
While we are on the topic of keys, we might as well include the basic key set.
We keep a set of toy keys in the car and my two toddlers fight over it every. single. time.
This set that we have makes noise (including a honking sound that sounds quite real) so keep that in mind if you bring them in the car.
This little busy book is a great option for toddlers 1-3 years old. The elements are securely attached, so you don’t have to worry about pieces being dropped (or thrown) everywhere.
The book is safe for use in the car because it is soft and lightweight.
There are 9 different activities in this little book. It can usually keep my toddlers entertained for 10-15 minutes or so.
This pull-string toy is a great travel toy option for babies and young toddlers.
The bright colors, textured cords, and chewy silicone help keep your little one entertained.
My one-year-old loves chewing on this toy and popping the little buttons, and my almost 3-year-old still loves pulling the strings back and forth and listening to the sounds they make.
This busy board will be a big hit if your toddler loves dinosaurs.
I don’t know about you, but my toddlers LOVE turning on/off lights, trying to plug things in, and pushing buttons.
This little board allows them to do all of that in a safe and compact fashion.
Books are a great way to keep your toddler entertained in the car, on an airplane, at a restaurant, or in the stroller – we use books often for all of these situations!
Regular books are wonderful, but we will cover books that provide a little bit of extra entertainment by incorporating sound or other features, starting with the Melissa and Doug Poke-a-Dot books.
There are many different Poke-a-Dot book options, but my kids love this animal one.
Touch-and-feel books are another type of book that adds extra entertainment.
Little ones love feeling the different textures and petting the animals!
Books that play music or animal sounds entertain my toddlers the longest.
Because of the noise, they aren’t always the best option for airplanes or public places, but are perfect for the car or stroller as long as you can stand the repetitive diddys and sounds!
Here are a few of our favorites:
Lift-a-flap books are another engaging type of book that can entertain your toddler on the go.
Younger toddlers may be a bit rough on these books (i.e. tear the flaps off), but they are a great option for older toddlers.
Here are a few of my toddlers’ favorites:
The LeapFrog 100 Books are a fun and interactive way for your toddler to learn new words and sounds. The book says words along with exciting facts and sound effects when your toddler touches each picture.
A carrying handle on top makes it easy for your toddler to carry around.
There are multiple versions of the book, including 100 animals, 100 things that go, and a few other variations.
Me Reader book sets come with an electronic reader and 8 corresponding books. The Me Reader reads each of the 8 books aloud.
Your child will choose a book and press the corresponding book and page buttons on the reader to listen and follow along with the story.
My toddlers have a Paw Patrow Me Reader set, and they love it. I have to help them find the correct book and turn the pages, but older toddlers should be able to do it on their own if you teach them how.
This busy board features multiple activities to develop fine motor skills and keep your kiddo entertained.
A flexible zipper allows the book to divide into 2 busy books and it comes with 4 detachable pages, making it very versatile and easy to switch up.
Activities include zippers, shoelaces, buttons, belt buckles, puzzles, and more.
The busy board is made of fabric and felt, making it safe for the car and lightweight to carry around.
I think this would also be a good idea for a plane ride.
What could be more fun than toddler fidget spinners?
The suction cup keeps the spinner secured. Put it on a table at a restaurant, a window in the car, an airplane tray table, or wherever else your toddler needs a little entertainment.
These little spinners usually keep my toddlers entertained for 5-10 minutes, so I wouldn’t plan on them playing with it for a whole road trip or flight.
This busy book includes many different activities and topics including numbers, the alphabet, colors, shapes, animals, foods, transportation, emotions, opposites, weather, days of the week, months of the year, and the human body.
My almost 3-year-old loves playing with his busy book. We use it as a guided learning tool and play with it with him, but he could definitely play with it independently as well.
The only downside of busy books like these is that they have so many little pieces that can easily be dropped/lost in the car/airplane/etc.
These cars are perfect to take on the go and to keep your toddler entertained!
Cars and trucks are a bit hit with my toddlers. The carrying bag makes it convenient to take this set on the go. It’s light enough for your toddler to carry it around.
This car set is pretty durable, but definitely isn’t the most quality toy we have. The wheels can be a choking hazard if they come off, so be aware of that.
My toddlers love sitting and playing with shape sorters. We have one at home, but this one is perfect for travel.
The padded carrying case makes it easy to take on the go, and the crinkly flaps and textured blocks provide plenty of opportunities for children to learn and play.
This magnetic puzzle is self-contained, so it’s easy to pack and take on the go. You don’t have to worry about dropped or missing pieces.
My older toddler loves using the magnetic wand to navigate the city and help the colored balls find their way home to their matching color garage.
My younger toddler doesn’t really get the concept but still likes pounding it like a drum. 😅
WikkiStix are one of the most open-ended toys out there! Get your toddler’s imagination and creativity flowing by making different shapes, numbers, letters, people, animals, etc.
Personally, I think these are the perfect travel toy for a long flight. They are small, quiet, and provide lots of entertainment.
I like to play with them with my toddler, and I am not sure which one of us gets more entertainment out of them. 😂
I recently found this alphabet card set that encourages your toddler to use the Wikki Stix to practice forming letters.
These magnetic blocks are perfect for building on the go! Whether in the car, plane, diaper bag, purse or at a restaurant, your toddler can build wherever you go.
The best thing about these blocks is that don’t have to worry about your toddler’s wonderful tower falling down (i.e. blocks flying everywhere and toddler meltdown ensuing).
The blocks are high-quality, non-toxic, and aesthetically pleasing (you’re welcome, mom). There are different colors to choose from.
Another open-ended toy that can be used in many different ways. Tegu has many other block sets available as well, and all of the sets are compatible with each other.
There are many different types and varieties of reusable sticker books. The concept is genius – most kids love stickers, and these sets can be used over and over again.
We have used sticker books with “puffy stickers”, which are great for little fingers, but once these stickers get dirt, crumbs, or anything else on them (which happens often with toddlers, let’s be honest), they won’t stick anymore.
I prefer the “vinyl-like stickers”. They are more durable, last longer, and can stick to other things like windows or water bottles.
I always bring them with us on vacations because they are so small, and my kids love sticking them on the windows of the hotel room or vacation rental that we stay at.
Some friends of ours use this as a “quiet toy” at church.
I think it would be great for long car rides or on an airplane as well (as long as your toddler isn’t the type to throw/drop pieces everywhere like my youngest is).
Your toddler can choose different outfits and facial expressions/emotions for the bears. All of the pieces are conveniently stored in the box, making the set easy to transport.
We have a set of magnetic tiles that were given to my kids by their older cousins. My toddlers love playing with them at home and on the go.
We have brought the smaller tiles on multiple flights.
We used this magnetic tin from a license plate game that we have to transport the pieces and use as a base for building.
A classic drawing toy for young kids.
This one has an attached pen, handle, and carrying bag, which makes it convenient to take on the go.
Does it get any more classic than an Etch a Sketch? Bring your kids back to simpler times with this fun “magic” screen!
If you don’t remember how it works, you turn the knob in the direction that you want to draw. Simply shake to erase and start all over again!
I haven’t tried this with my toddlers yet, but plan to soon. They better love it as much as I did as a kid! 😉
This travel game board is a perfect road trip game.
The wooden frame has 25 flaps and sliding scorekeepers. There are 7 double-sided, laminated memory cards.
The little flaps are best for little hands, but you could still play the games with your child if you want to!
I would say this travel memory game is better for older toddlers if you want them to actually understand how to play, but younger toddlers could still have fun maneuvering the flaps and looking at the pictures.
Busy cubes are great travel toys because they pack a lot of activities into one compact cube.
Those little hands will stay busy with all of the different fidgets these cubes offer.
Lacing toys are great for hand-eye coordination and are a great toy for travel.
Young children may get frustrated with these and need assistance. Older kids can likely use them independently.
There are many different designs to choose from.
Another Melissa & Doug travel staple. Water Wow is basically a mini, mess-free coloring book that can be used over and over again.
You fill the pen with water and the colors appear when the water hits the page.
These are a great option for young toddlers who like to put writing utensils in their mouth and color all over surfaces.
Another great option for your little artist! This LCD doodle board is great for many different ages, from toddlers to elementary-age kids.
It is lightweight easy to use, and has a cute look to it. It does require batteries so keep that in mind.
My toddler loves looking at flashcards in his car seat or during a long-haul flight. Definitely one of our favorite travel toys.
My toddlers will look at the cards independently, quiz us about what is on the cards, or we can talk and tell stories about the cards. They provide lots of entertainment for long trips.
There are many different themes and topics to choose from.
I definitely recommend getting a flash card set with a ring that will hold them together if you are going to be traveling with them.
This is a great tool to give small children the independence to “read” what is on the flashcards if you are not next to them to help (i.e. you are driving or busy with something)
This is a similar concept to the water wow coloring pads, except that it doesn’t use water.
Colors from the markers appear only on special Crayola Color Wonder Paper, not on skin, clothing, or carpets.
If your child is a bit older and can be trusted to stick to the paper, a classic coloring book or art set would be a fun option for travel.
These magnetic jigsaw puzzles feature farm animals, but there are other designs to choose from as well.
The puzzles are designed with a compact, fold-out design, making them easy to pack and take on the go.
The magnetic puzzle pieces cling to the inside surfaces to help keep the pieces secure. However, it can be easy for the pieces to get dropped or lost when you are in the process of putting the puzzle together.
It might be helpful to have a separate magnetic surface to keep the pieces on while your toddler is in the process of putting the puzzle together.
I saved this one for last because we use it as a last resort! After we have exhausted all other entertainment options, we hand over the iPad.
We only let our toddlers use the iPad when we are on a long road trip or flight. So whenever they do use it, they are totally locked in, which leads to much more peaceful travel for everyone!