When school ends and summer hits, many families are spending a good chunk of time en route, whether it’s day trips in the car, much longer road trips, train rides or an airplane flight. And once the cold winter starts over here in the Northern Hemisphere, I know many of us like to catch some warm sun and take a trip down south. I absolutely love to travel and my husband and I packed in some pretty good travel miles before we decided to start a family. While we still love to travel whenever we get a chance, our travelling style has completely changed now that we have little ones too. Along with the usual gear, we now have to think about the best toys for travelling to keep our little ones busy.
I know before our first big trip on a plane with K, I brought a whole extra backpack on the airplane full of activities and little toys for him to play with for both our travelling time as well as once we reached our destination. Since most people don’t normally have a whole extra suitcase for toys when travelling, it’s important to bring items that not only take up as little space as possible, but that will also occupy the kids for a good amount of time if necessary – moms and dads like some quiet time on vacation too!
Simple items and toys that really require the use of their imagination are normally the best ones to bring. Also, who wants to be running out to find batteries on a vacation, especially if you’re vacationing in a place where the price of everything is inflated. I’ve rounded up a list of the best toys for travelling – from babies to preschoolers – to help keep the little ones occupied and make travelling much easier for everyone, especially parents!
- Reusable Sticker Books – Melissa and Doug make some great reusable sticker books and these will bring hours of creative and imaginative play, even for the busiest of kids. I can vouch for this! We have the Vehicles book but I also love the Animal Habitats sticker book.
- Crayons and Colouring Books and Plain Paper – Crayons, pencil crayons or markers. Whatever medium you desire, this is definitely one of the best items to bring travelling, and they take up minimal space. Get a fun new colouring book (travel-themed work well) and as some plain paper for open-ended art time. We love Stockmar beeswax block crayons for little hands. Crayola also has some inexpensive sets that are perfect for travelling with.
- Play dough – Oh, the wonder and joy of play dough. This is one of the best and simplest toys and can easily be made at home. Check out this super simple, no-cook play dough recipe that you can make beforehand. Place it into sealable plastic bags to keep it fresh. If you’re heading to the beach, you can pick up some seashells and rocks for loose parts play.
- B.Toys One Two Squeeze Blocks – We really like this eco-friendly toy company and the squeeze blocks are perfect and light-weight for travelling, plus they come in their own bag made out of recycled plastic. These are the perfect travelling toy for babies.
- Story Rocks – I am in love with story rocks or stones for imaginative play and the endless possibilities for creating wonderful stories. My Small Potatoes shows how to create some beautiful painted stones, while Happy Hooligans has a neat idea using cut-outs. You can easily bring a small stash of these in a cloth bag and take them out at any time during the trip or once you reach your destination.
- Books – We can’t forget books. We always bring a small stash of books on our travels, including a few of our favourite smaller and lighter ones. Quiet Books are also great for quiet time and can really help occupy those minutes or hours waiting. Powerful Mothering shows how to make your own quiet book, or you can check out Etsy for some gorgeous handmade ones.
- Stringing Beads and Bracelet Rope – Making bracelets can bring hours of fun on any trip and doesn’t require much space at all. You can easily pick up a set online or find wooden or pony beads at your local craft store to make some fun jewelry.
- Cars – The perfect, small toy to bring for any car lover. We rarely go anywhere without a couple of Hot Wheels and I’m constantly finding forgotten ones in my bag.
- Lamaze Toys – Any Lamaze toys are a sure bet for infants, although I’m partial to Captain Calarmari and Mortimor the Moose. We have a few of the infant Lamaze toys and K just loved them as a baby. They’re very light and don’t take up much space at all.
- Plan Toys Alphabet A-Z – Contained in a nice little cloth bag, this learning game is perfect for some stimulating play time. Whether its being used for learning the alphabet or even for some other fun purpose (our set has become perfect “muffins” on many occasions)
- Stacking Cups – Not only are these Green Toys stacking cups great for the bath and learning, they can also be used for any sort of imaginative play. We’ve been using our set for years and they easily go from the bath, to outside in the water table, to gathering treasures in, to even being used for snacks. I also really like the Green Sprouts cups and both sets are small enough to be a great portable toy to bring for babies and also older children.
- A Deck of Cards – Card games never get old and a simple deck of cards can bring so much fun playing together as a family
- Hape Family Pets – Hape is one of our absolute favourite toy companies. We have a lot of their simple, wooden toys, and this little critters set is tiny, perfect for travelling, and wonderful for creating little stories with. Check out Little Worlds Big Adventures for some fun small world play ideas to help incorporate this cute set.
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Michelle @ ResearchParent says
What a great list! I’ve been wanting to make some story rocks. If you’re interested, I have a similar, though not as thorough, list here: http://researchparent.com/kids/traveling-with-kids/best-travel-toys/ (We have some of the same ideas!)