The best travel toys for babies and toddlers to keep them entertained on the go

travel toys

by Samantha Ball |
Updated on

When you're going on a trip with small children, you might already have all the holiday essentials you need to pack, but knowing what travel toys to take for your little ones isn't always easy, but they're so important for keeping them entertained.

Whether you're planning on having a toddler friendly day trip, or jetting off to enjoy some sunshine for a week, travel toys are a great way to help keep your little ones entertained and cure any boredom, or complaints about long journeys. It's easy enough to take a few old toys, but new ones that are easy to travel with will be a lot more exciting to your little one!

Our favourite travel toys shortlist 2024:

Best busy board travel toys: Clompne Busy Board, Buy now on Amazon UK
Best spinner travel toys: Suction Cup Spinner, Buy now on Amazon UK
Best game travel toy: Learning Resources Kanoodle Jr, Buy now on Amazon UK
Best colouring travel toy: Maped Creativ Travel Board, Buy now on Amazon UK
Best sticker travel toy: Melissa & Doug Sticker WOW Dinosaur Bundle, Buy now on Amazon UK

The best thing is they won't take up much room in your toddler's suitcase or your backpack, meaning you can take more to rotate play and getting to your family holiday destination might not be so stressful.

Best busy board travel toys

Available in two different colours, the Clompne Busy Board has 34 activities in one pocket that all help to encourage children to learn and play. Customers commented that they love the various functions enabling children to practise buttoning and zipping as well as matching colours, letters and numbers. One reviewer commented that it has lots of features for her toddler as she grows. She especially liked how everything is in one place. However, some reviewers did note that the buttons are quite tricky to fasten which is not great for younger children. We liked the fact there are two removable boards so more than one child can use it, which will stop arguments on long journeys.

Pros

  • Portable with carry handle
  • Encourages cognitive skills, hand-eye coordination and problem solving

Cons

  • Some mentioned the buttons were trickier to fasten

Best spinner travel toys

Taking fidget spinners to a different level, the Suction Cup Spinner is perfect for keeping babies and children entertained, as they can stick to windows, trays and other surfaces and have long lasting rotation. They're vibrant with cute character designs in the middle, and even have poppers. Parents love that they don't take up much room in a bag, which is very handy considering how much you normally need to pack when holidaying with children. However, some customers did think the suction could be better, because it doesn't stick well to all surfaces. One reviewer still thought it was amazing at entertaining her 11 month old son though when she stuck it to the plane window. She added that it even proved fun for her five-year old too.

Pros

  • Sticks to most surfaces
  • Long lasting rotation

Cons

  • Some found it didn't stick as well to some surfaces and could be pulled off easily

Best travel toys fishing game

travel toys fishing game

Rrp: $32.99

Price: $30.39

The Melissa & Doug Catch and Count Fishing Game provides so much fun for children and is a great screen-free alternative to take on the go. It's a game that children can play with fish in the centre of the car and indoors, and helps encourage hand eye coordination development. There's 10 fish in total with numbers from 1 to 5, so it makes a great number learning game too! However, while it is great for entertainment on long journeys, some reviewers found it a bit big to fit in their bag, which is not ideal for a travel toy. One of the benefits of the toy is its versatility which allowed more than one child to play with it. One customer said she was able to pack bags while her two children played this game, adding they could play together, or separately.

Pros

  • Can be played together or separately
  • Helps hand eye coordination

Cons

  • Won't fit in a small bag

Best magic pens travel toys

With six reusable pictures to colour in, the Galt Water Magic Pets comes with a water-fillable pen that when used, will reveal the bright colours of the pictures. Parents loved how compact it is and that they can easily keep it in their handbag, and use it on the go without much mess. Just ensure then pen has water in it! Once the page dries the colours will eventually fade away, so that it can be reused again and again! However, some customers thought the pen could be better and said it caused some scratching to the surface of the pictures after repeated use. Overall, parents thought it was a great travel toy because it can be reused so many times and it light and convenient to carry anywhere you go.

Pros

  • Can be reused many times
  • Doesn't take up much space

Cons

  • Pen could be better quality - some reviewers said it damaged the surface of the picture

Best game travel toys

travel toys kanoodle

Rrp: $16.99

Price: $14.39

Helping to encourage spatial awareness skills, as well as problem solving, the Kanoodle Jr Game encourages children to figure out how to get the different shapes to fit into a square design. It also comes with a puzzle book with 60 challenges! Reviewers thought this was ideal for all ages and one mum commented that both her six year old and one year old both enjoy this game, although her one year doesn't understand the concept but loves lining up the colourful blocks. Parents thought it was great for encouraging independence and problem solving and they loved that it stores away compactly too. It is important to note that it might not be the best travel toy for car journeys because of the blocks which can be dropped and you might spend all journey picking them up, or rummaging under the seats trying to find them.

Pros

  • Enhances critical thinking, problem solving and logical thinking
  • Small and compact design

Cons

  • Not suitable for car journeys

Best magnetic animals travel toys

Little ones will love making different beasts with the Magnetic Animals toy. With 44 pieces to create different animals and faces, they'll have fun swapping out different eyes and accessories. The pieces can be stored in the magnetic tin too for easy transportation, and it can be wiped clean, which parents loved, commenting that it is neat and clever and fun. However, if on your travels you lose any pieces, sadly they cannot be replaced which might dampen the fun a little bit. This is a great toy though for sparking your little one's imagination and they can create endless animals.

Pros

  • All magnetic pieces can be easily stored in the tin
  • Create endless animals

Cons

  • Can't replace lost pieces

Best swim doll travel toys

This sweet little Lilliputiens Duck Bath Doll is safe to use in baths and pools. It's a great little doll to take on your family adventures, plus parents love that it is small enough to fit in your bag too. Also a big plus, is that it's quick drying which is ideal after a dip in the pool. It is not recommended that this doll is used in the sea, which might be confusing for young children to understand why they can use it in the bath and pool but not the sea. We like that it is suitable from six months old which makes it perfect for babies travelling who are too young for toys which require better hand eye coordination, or colouring skills.

Pros

  • Perfect adventure buddy that's water safe
  • Quick drying

Cons

  • Not suitable for in the sea

Best scribbler travel toys

This Princess Scribbler Multipack comes with a large and small scribbler. The large scribbler is great for using at home or to leave in the car for car journeys, but parents like that the smaller scribbler fits perfectly into any bag so it can be taken out on any journey, plus a great detail is the attached pen which ensures it won't go missing. One mum commented that both her children enjoyed this toy with her younger daughter enjoying scribbling on it and then erasing it to do it again, while her son enjoyed playing games such as noughts and crosses, Pictionary and guess the word. Although some customers did say the screen can be damaged if younger children press too hard. Overall, parents thought it was more convenient than a pen and notebook, and it provided hours of fun.

Pros

  • One fits perfectly in any bag to take on the go
  • Endless ways to play

Cons

  • Young children might press to hard on the screen which can damage it

Best colouring travel toys

Maped Creative Travel BoardAmazon
Price: $19.99

If your little one loves colouring on the move then this compact travel case kit has everything you need for them to be creative. The board is a magnetic dry erase whiteboard which is both durable and shockproof. Parents loved how this toy encouraged creativity with 14 fantasy themed magnets, plus four dry erase markers. However, some customers said that while the pens were good quality, the colour, especially the pink, was not that vibrant. Parents did love how the markers allowed children to add details and personalised touches to their artwork. A favourite feature is the ease at which the board can be wiped clean to allow for more artwork and keeping your little one entertained. Customers were disappointed with how small the board was and expected it to be bigger, although for travelling this can prove convenient, if somewhat frustrating for your little artist. We love how it encourages storytelling and creativity on the go without the use of screens.

Pros

  • Encourages storytelling and creativity
  • Easy to wipe clean
  • Comes in a travel case

Cons

  • Parents thought it was smaller than expected

Best travel stickers

Sticker WowAmazon

Rrp: $16.99

Price: $16.01

Little ones love stickers but we know they get everywhere and can be a nightmare to remove. This fun and convenient Melissa & Doug Sticker WOW will solve that problem for you. Parents love the sticker stamper which provides a new way to play with stickers, and they especially liked that the stickers are easy to remove. Plus, we like that the set includes a 24-page dinosaur activity pad and the stamper is preloaded with 300 stickers. One customer did find that some of the stickers were facing the wrong way in the preloaded stamper which did cause frustration. However, there is a 300 refill pack included too. Parents were impressed that this is not only fun but educational with fun and stamp activities including counting, matching, search and find, as well as crafting and encouraging creativity. It is disappointing, as customers pointed out, that the stickers are not reusable but you do get 600 in this bundle which should keep your little one busy for a while, or during a very long journey.

Pros

  • Bright and colourful
  • Includes book for stickers
  • Educational

Cons

  • Stickers can be fiddly to use at first
  • Stickers are single use

Why do I need to pack travel toys?

While your little one might have some toys that they love to play with, new toys will spark their interest a lot more, and will work in a similar way to toy rotation. They will be able to learn and explore the new toy, keeping them entertained for longer.

What toys are suitable for my child?

Your child will need different toys at different ages that meet their sensory and developmental needs and there are educational toys for one year olds right up to school age and beyond.

When buying toys, it's important to look at the recommended age, as some toys might have small parts that are not safe for little children. Others might have complex parts, or instructions which could frustrate younger children. Also bear in mind that if you are buying toys for travel ensure that they can be easily packed away and stored and that there are not lots of small parts which have the potential to get lost.

Samantha Ball is a Product & Lifestyle Writer for Mother&Baby and freelanced for the website for two years before joining the team full time. She's a mum of two and loves browsing for the best products and cute outfits.

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