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These Take-Along Toys Make Travel Fun for Kids — & Easier on Parents

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In theory, family vacations should be nothing but fun. And while they (hopefully) have a lot of highlights, there are so many rough points. There’s the packing and the way it can throw off a little kid’s sleep schedule and the really high highs that can quickly turn into really low lows. But perhaps the worst part is actually getting from Point A to Point B. The constant “Are we there yet?” and the inevitable boredom tantrums.

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And so it’s important for parents to have toys and distractions at their disposal ahead of every road trip and train ride and flight. It’s a good idea to have a toy they already know and love as a source of familiar comfort, but it’s also great to have something new to get them excited, pique their interest, and hopefully keep the whining at bay.

Ideally, it’s something that’s lightweight, compact, and quiet. It also shouldn’t have too many (if any) extra parts that your kiddo could drop on the floor (and that you’ll have to pick up).Bonus points for something they can set up and play with on their own! And — a perhaps controversial opinion — if you have the space to keep the toy in its packaging, do it! Maybe even wrap it. An unboxing makes it all feel even more fun and special.

Without further ado, here are our top screen-free picks. Here’s to hoping for smooth sailings! (Oh yeah, these are great for cruises too).

  • Lite-Brite Touch

    Image Credit: Lite-Brite

    We are absolutely obsessed with the latest iteration of Lite-Brite. Instead of the itty bitty pegs that are bound to get lost under car seats and in between cushions, the Lite-Brite Touch has buttons that light up when you press them. To change the color, just press again.

    Creative kiddos can make their own design or follow one of the 12 included templates. Plus, this updated classic has three games built-in including Lite Snake!

    Lite Brite Touch$29.99on
    Buy now

  • Spirograph Doodle Pad

    Image Credit: Spirograph

    Keeping with the throwback toy trend, the Spirograph Doodle Pad is an updated version of a classic. Kids can make the same fun, geometrical designs you did as a kid, but they won’t need an endless supply of paper and [possibly mess-making] markers. The pad can be used for regular drawing too, and with a click of a button, the creations disappear so kids can draw again and again. Best of all, the templates and pen fit inside a secret compartment on the side. Yay for built-in storage!

    Spirograph Doodle Pad$24.99on
    Buy now

  • Crazy Aaron’s Hide Inside! Mixed Emotions Thinking Putty

    Image Credit: Crazy Aaron’s

    Crazy Aaron’s is known for its wide array of putties that will entertain any slime-obsessed kiddo without being quite so goopy and messy. Any version will keep them happy, but our favorite of the bunch is the Hide Inside Thinking Putty since it doubles as a “game.” It comes in a variety of themes, and in this feelings-based one, kids have to stretch out and search through the sea of smiley faces to find the six ones with different emotions. Once they’re done with the game, they can mix it up and play again or just squish to their heart’s content.

    Crazy Aaron’s Hide Inside! Mixed Emotions Thinking Putty$14.95on
    Buy now

  • Bizyboo Hide ‘N’ Seek Busy Bags

    Image Credit: Bizyboo

    Looking for a hide-and-seek-style game for kids who aren’t slime obsessed? Or for a rental car that you really don’t want to risk getting sticky? The Bizyboo Hide ‘N’ Seek Busy Bags are like stuffies — there are 12 to choose from! — with hidden objects inside. Kids squish around and try to find each of the objects that are mixed among the many beads. Then shake it all up and play again!

    Bizyboo Hide ‘N’ Seek Busy Bags$8.97
    Buy now

  • Buckle Toys Blue Whale

    Image Credit: Buckle Toys

    Toddlers love buckle toys. While they unbuckle and buckle, they are not only playing but honing gross and fine motor skills (yay!). We love that this super adorable whale has shapes on its tail, numbers underneath the colorful buckles, and a zipper mouth that can hold little toys. And if you don’t have space for it in your bag, just buckle it to the handle. It’s seriously perfect for traveling!

    Buckle Toys Blue Whale$19.99on
    Buy now

  • Dinosaur Window Gel Clings (20 PCS)

    Image Credit: Tevxj

    Window gel clings are not only perfect holiday decorations, but they make for a fun travel toy, especially if you’re going on a road trip. Your little traveler can enjoy placing these dinos around their window, on their activity tray (we included our favorite below!), and on different surfaces at your final destination.

    Dinosaur Window Gel Clings (20 PCS)$10.99on
    Buy now

  • PlayTape Road Tape

    Image Credit: PlayTape

    Similarly, we love this easily-removable tape that looks like a road and brings playing with toy cars to the next level. Just slap it on an activity tray or airplane tray table and boom! A super simple supply just made you Parent of the Year.

    PlayTape Road Tape$9.25on
    Buy now

  • Crayola Anti-Roll Non-Toxic Triangular Crayon

    Image Credit: Crayola

    What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is a genius feat of engineering! Because triangular crayons can’t roll off flat surfaces! Gone are the days of blindly reaching around on the floor after your toddler dropped the all-important red crayon again. 

    Crayola Anti-Roll Non-Toxic Triangular Crayon$8.99
    Buy now

  • Lusso Gear Kids Travel Activity Tray

    Image Credit: Lusso Gear

    If you don’t have one already, a travel activity tray is a top-notch investment for traveling with kids. It’s a personal table that keeps their play area close to them and contained. This one from Lusso Gear straps around car seats and booster seats and can be used on planes. There are multiple storage compartments on the side and on the top (including a special water bottle compartment!), and it comes with a detachable tablet holder to keep any devices safe and in place. PLUS! The table is a dry-erase board so kids can color when they’re not snacking or playing with other toys. *mic drop*

    Lusso Gear Kids Travel Activity Gear$33.95
    Buy now

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