Traveling with Kids: The Best Travel Toys

The weather is warming, and that means LOTS of travel. Road trips and RVing have been increasingly popular over the past year for obvious reasons, and many families are back in the air, too. Whether you’re traveling by plane, train, or automobile, keeping the kids content is a top priority.

Earlier this week, we compiled our favorite Travel Toys for Toddlers, and here we’re sharing our picks for kids. We’ve rounded up our favorite things in a few key categories: from family car games to electronics and activity books, there’s something for every kid (big or little) who may or may not be actively considering kicking the back of your chair. Let us help you avoid that.

And if you’re traveling by car, start with our Road Trip Packing List for a round-up of all the essentials for a successful trip!

See more of our favorite travel toys and products in our Traveling With Kids Hub.

roundup of travel toys on a light blue background

Coloring Toys for Travel

The coloring options on this list are mostly mess-free, and for the few that have slight mess potential, they’re 100% machine washable. All travel exceptionally well and offer vibrant colors, plus hours of entertainment.

Task your creative kiddos with drawing what they see around them to make taking in the sights extra immersive, or stick to filling in existing characters. No choice is the wrong choice here!

Melissa & Doug On the Go Water Wow! Reusable Water-Reveal Activity Pads, 3-pk, Animals, Alphabet, Numbers

Water Wow Activity Pads

Reusable white pages feature simple line drawings when dry and become colorful images when littles use the included refillable, easy-to-grasp water pen.

Crayola Color Wonder Mess Free Coloring Kit, 80pc, Toddler Toys, Gift for Boys and Girls

Color Wonder Coloring Kit

The markers show up only on the Color Wonder Pads, so you won’t have to worry about unloading your toddler and wondering how the car seat turned into a rainbow mural.

Kids Erasable Doodle Book Set - Toddlers Activity Toys Reusable Drawing Pads, Preschool Travel Art Toy Scribbler Board for Road Trip Car Game Writing Painting Set, Gift for Boys Girls Age 3,4,5,6

Erasable Doodle Book

This doodle book provides a fun way to sketch! It comes with 10 colored pens and a cloth to wipe it clean, but the size makes it perfect for your little one to carry in their travel bag.

Boogie Board Scribble n’ Play Reusable Kids’ Drawing Board Includes LCD Doodle Board with Color Burst, Easy Erase Button, 4 Texture Drawing Styluses for Kids Ages 4+

Boogie Board Scribble ‘n Play

Write, draw, doodle, and scribble on this drawing board using the four included texture drawing tools. Then, clear the board with a push of a button and start all over!

PicassoTiles 2-in-1 Double-Sided Magnetic Drawing Board Lower Case Alphabet Letter and Free Style Writing Reading Playboard 12x10 inch Large Magnet Tablet Pad Open-Ended STEAM Learning Playset PTB04

Magnetic Drawing Board

One side of this magnetic drawing board provides lower case alphabet practice, and the other offers open-ended creative play. Plus, it has a carry handle and attached stylus pen, making it easy to carry around.

Crayola Pip Squeaks Washable Markers Set, Gift for Kids, Ages 4, 5, 6, 7

Crayola Pip Squeaks Set

The only choice on our list that’s not mess-free, but the mini markers in this color set are machine washable. Plus, everything fits inside the art case.

Building Toys for Travel

From the perfect on-the-go LEGO storage container to a selection of magnet toys and suction construction, there is a building toy for every kid in your car—or your aisle. Our recommendation? Pick at least two and surprise them with one for the journey. Save the other for your destination and/or the trip home. Build on, babes!

Plus-Plus BIG - BIG Picture Puzzles, Basic Color Mix - Construction Building Stem Toy, Interlocking Large Puzzle Blocks for Toddlers and Preschool

Plus-Plus BIG Puzzles

The simple design of the Plus-Plus bricks provides endless possibilities—build flat mosaics or work in 3D. This set includes flashcards to get started, and then your littles can move on to their own creations.

Magna-Qubix 29-Piece Clear Colors Set - The Original, Award-Winning Magnetic 3D Building Shapes - Creativity and Educational - STEM Approved


Magna-Qubix are the perfect traveling magnetic building blocks. The pieces easily “click” together, and your little one will enjoy all the building possibilities.

Tip: bring along a small magnetic baking sheet for building on-the-go!

Fat Brain Toys 30 pc Mini Squigz - Mini Squigz 30 Piece Set Building & Construction for Ages 5 to 9

Mini Squigz

Squigz are “fun little suckers” that stick to any smooth surface and each other. Pull them apart to hear them POP. This mini set is perfect for travel—your little one will love sticking them to the car or airplane window!

PicassoTiles 30 Piece Magnetic Building Blocks Mini Diamond Series Travel Size On-the-Go Magnet Construction Toy Set STEM Learning Kit Education Playset PTM30

PicassoTiles Mini Magnetic Blocks

Another magnetic toy option. These are the well loved PicassoTiles Magnetic Blocks, but in mini size! Perfect for building smaller creations on-the-go.

Family Car Games

This section is your “Are we there yet?” antidote. Review it carefully and purchase from it liberally. It includes Melissa & Doug strongholds (we believe they can do no wrong) and Mad Libs that will keep everyone entertained, even on long hauls. 

Briarpatch Travel Scavenger Hunt Card Game for Kids, Activities for Family Vacations, Road Trips and Car Rides, Ages 7 and Up

Scavenger Hunt

Can you spot a yellow car, hear a siren, and smell something stinky? The first player to discard ten cards wins! Special cards like Swap Me Cards make the game extra fun.

Brain Quest for the Car: 1100 Questions and Answers to Challenge the Mind. Teacher-approved! (Brain Quest Decks)

Brain Quest for the Car

The classic question-and-answer game, but this one is for the car with over 1,000 questions all about America!

Mad Libs on the Road: World's Greatest Word Game

Mad Libs on the Road

Get ready to laugh out loud when you complete the story with a mix of adjectives, adverbs, nouns, and verbs. You’ll spot historical sights, draft a letter from camp, and help create car songs with this set designed just for the road!

eeBoo Volcano Island Create A Story Pre-Literacy Cards

eeBoo Create a Story Cards

Use these beautifully illustrated visual card sets to create your own stories! Each set has recurring characters and props, and the cards can be linked in endless combinations for a new story every time!

Melissa & Doug Flip to Win Travel License Plate Game - Wooden U.S. Map Game Board

Melissa & Doug License Plate Game

Learn the location of all the states while traveling cross country? Count us in! Plus, there are various other official games from Melissa & Doug, including Memory Game.

Activity & Sticker Books for Travel

When you need a little more quiet and don’t want to turn on any screens just yet, pull from your activity and sticker book bag of tricks. From characters of yore we loved from our childhoods (read: Where’s Waldo?), to a fun paint by sticker option, and, of course, an option from Melissa & Doug, they’ll stay busy, and you’ll probably get to sneak in a podcast or two.

Skillmatics Educational Game: Boredom Buster | Reusable Activity Mats with Dry Erase Marker | Gifts, Travel Toy & Learning Tool for Ages 3-6

Skillmatics Educational Games

Skillmatics Boredom Buster is the perfect companion to keep littles occupied. The activities are carefully designed to ensure children practice key concepts while having loads of fun!

Jumbo Book of Hidden Pictures® (Highlights Jumbo Books & Pads)

Jumbo Book of Hidden Pictures

With more than 1,500 items hidden in 175 pictures, this activity book will keep your littles busy for hours. An oldie, but goodie!

Paint by Sticker Kids: Zoo Animals: Create 10 Pictures One Sticker at a Time!

Paint by Sticker Kids

Watch your painting come to life with Paint by Sticker books. Find the numbered sticker and place it in the correct spot. Recommended for ages five and up.

Where's Waldo? The Totally Essential Travel Collection

Where’s Waldo Travel

If you’re a kid from the 90s, you likely remember this classic. The Where’s Waldo? Travel Collection is perfectly sized for on the go and contains multiple books in one.

Melissa & Doug Puffy Sticker Activity Books Set: Cool Careers and Pet Place

Melissa & Doug Puffy Sticker Activity Books

Tell a puffy-sticker story on reusable background scenes! Each set comes with ten reusable setups, spiral-bound into a gorgeous take-along play set. Stick, unstick, and rearrange for hours!

Other Busy Toys

Fidgety kids need things that keep their brains and their hands busy. Most of the toys in this section include so many options (Wikki Stix alone has 144 included!), you may gift yourself hours of silence while they build a rocket ship with magnets, work through brain teaser puzzles, or try to get water rings to land on a dolphin’s nose.

Like all of the sections above, these games include at least one fun moment of nostalgia you may feel compelled to add to cart just so you can play with it, too. Any reason is a good reason! Plus, your kids will love hearing your stories of playing with these same games when you were small.

Brain Teaser Puzzles for Kids, Teens, and Adults, Spin, Twist, and Rotate This Mind Puzzle to Test Logic and IQ, Fidget, Relax, and Pastime, Fun Game and Perfect as Birthday

Brain Teaser Puzzle for Kids

Kiddos will have hours of fun twisting and turning this colorful disc! Squeeze and rotate the disc and push the beads into the slots. Arrange the beads according to their color and slots, and you WIN!

Arts and Crafts for Kids, Scrapbooking Kit, Non-Toxic, Waxed Yarn, Fidget Toy, Reusable Molding and Sculpting Playset, American Made by Wikki Stix, 24 pack

Wikki Stix Traveler

The Wiki Stix Traveler makes it easy to keep kids quietly and happily entertained without that irritating “are we there yet?” refrain. The bright, colorful carry case contains 144 Wikki Stix, a twelve-page activity book, and a QR code with even more instructions and Wikki fun.

Mudpuppy Rocket Ships Magnetic Build-It Game – Magnetic Toys for Ages 4+, Fun & Compact Travel Activity for Kids, Includes 60+ Magnets and Durable Storage Tin

Magnetic Tin

Have you got an aspiring astronaut in your family? The Rocket Ships Magnetic Build-It set comes with two illustrated magnetic build surfaces and three sheets of mix and match magnetic shapes, all stored in a sturdy hinged tin.

box of Chuckle & Roar Pop It in rainbow of warm colors

Chuckle & Roar Pop It!

Available in bright colors and in various shapes, pop its are great toys for stress release and a brain break. They also provide sensory interaction and are easy to take on the go.

Classic TOMY Water Games, Dolphin (T7221)

TOMY Classic Water Toys

Warning: Parents may spend an excessive amount of time “testing” this classic game before handing it over to their kiddos. Just fill it up and get ready for a fun challenge! The compact size of this game makes it a great distraction during long car trips and easy to pack when your family is on the go.

Educational Insights Kanoodle Jr. Brain Boosting Puzzle Game for Kids, 60 Challenges, Ages 4+

Educational Insights Kanoodle Jr. 

Based on the award-winning Kanoodle brain game series, Kanoodle Jr. includes sixty head-scratching puzzle challenges that easily slide into the included board for solo play and travel—perfect for kids 4–7.

box of magnetic shape makers

Chuckle & Roar Shape Makers

Learn shapes and logic on the go! Simply place all the magnetic shapes inside the card to complete the challenge. Kiddos can also tap into their creative side with free play and make whatever they want!

Electronic Travel Toys

Okay, you’ve exhausted your other resources, or your kid is a little more tech-centric. This is the list for you. LeapFrog has been a leader in early education for decades, so you can’t go wrong with its LeapStart Preschool Success, which offers endless entertainment for just $30.

The Amazon Kids Fire Tablet is fully customizable and often discounted, so watch for sale alerts on that one (we’ll be sure to share when we spot it!), and we’ve heard rumblings of Nintendo Switch + headphones saving parental sanity since it was launched.

LeapFrog LeapStart Preschool Success, Green

LeapFrog LeapStart Preschool Success

The LeapStart system grows with your child and gets them excited about learning, with interactive touch-and-talk pages like games, puzzles and creative challenges. Many replayable activities have two levels with 50+ key skills per grade level, so kids can play and learn at the right level and move up when they’re ready. Best for ages 2-7.

Fire HD 8 Kids tablet, 8" HD display, ages 3-7, 32 GB, Blue Kid-Proof Case

Amazon Kids Fire Tablet

The latest Fire Tablet has a vibrant 8″ HD display, 20% longer battery life, 30% faster processor, 32 GB storage, enhanced wifi, and USB-C for easier charging. It also has a Kid-Proof Case with a built-in stand, one year of Amazon Kids+ (FreeTime Unlimited), and a two-year worry-free guarantee.

Nintendo Switch Lite - Gray

Nintendo Switch Lite

Nintendo Switch Lite is a small and light Nintendo Switch system at a great price! It’s road-ready and compatible with popular games like Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and more.

LilGadgets Untangled Pro Wireless Bluetooth Headphones for Toddlers & Children Ages 4+, SharePort, Microphone, Volume Limiting, Noise Cancelling, Lightweight Head Phones Made to Fit Kids Ears – Blue

LilGadgets Headphones

The original Bluetooth headphones for kids, these LilGadgets Untangled Pro headphones are beautifully designed and high-quality, fitting kids four and up. They also have an integrated SharePort to make sharing a little easier between kiddos.

Hitting the road with anything from this list? Tag it so we can come along for the fun – we’re @thriftylittles on Instagram. And don’t forget to join the Deals by Thrifty Littles Facebook group for deals you’re not going to want to miss. 

Happy travels! 

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Traveling with Kids: The Best Travel Toys

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