A guide to help you buy toys that keep kids quiet and happy
Kids toys can help make travel bearable for everyone. But who has the time to browse through all the travel toys on Amazon.com to find the best ones? We do. Got older or younger kids? We’ve got you covered there too (just see below for links to the best children’s toys for travel for other age ranges).
Best Toys for Travel for Kids Ages 3-4:
There are lots of devices that can play movies these days. While you could easily set your kids up on your laptop or smartphone in a pinch, having a dedicated DVD player means you don’t have to share your gadgets with your kids.
This nice little model from Sony has a 9″ screen, a six-hour rechargeable battery, a car adapter, and two headphone jacks. Your kids can happily and quietly watch three feature length films before running out of juice (not that you’d ever let them).
Controlling volume to protect kids from hearing lost is important, as is protecting expensive headphones from kids. These sturdy, affordable headphones solve both problems.
Another, slightly less expensive option are the Kidz Gear Wired Headphones For Kids. If your kid has a really big head, you might find neither fits well, but it’s worth a try for the safety features.
Just add water for hours of good, clean, creative fun. If you’ve never experienced Aquadoodle, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. It’s just a soft canvas mat that darkens when wet. Drawings disappear when they dry.
This version is lightweight and at about 12″x13″, sized perfectly for travel. By far the least messy art project around.
As maddening as it can be to search for Polly’s other shoe on your hands and knees in coach class, there’s no denying that she keep girls quiet and happy for hours.
For every interest, there’s a playset. Trust me, I’ve owned them all. Whether your daughter likes clothes, camping, animals, or sports, there’s a Polly Pocket set to fit her.
Playmobil is another maker of wonderful travel toys that children of all ages enjoy. My kids are 8 and 11 now, and they still enjoy sitting down with Playmobil toys. For travel, look for sets that don’t come with their own house, boat, or island. Two to three small sets usually keep kids occupied longer than one big one anyway.
If you want to stick with a travel theme, there are camping sets, airplane sets, and RV sets, as well as an airport security set (but that’s nobody’s idea of fun).
Magnetic playsets are another powerful arrow in the quiver of traveling parents. Flat, compact, and lightweight, they’re great on planes, in restaurants, and in backseats. We like this farm-themed set, but you can find other themes including funny faces, construction, dolls, cars, fish, and firefighters too (just to name a few).
Don’t bother with the high quality wooden sets either. This is one instance where cardboard is superior.
Scratch Magic is an amazing on-the-go art project that gives satisfying, colorful results with virtually no mess. Kids scratch off a layer of black wax (think lottery tickets) to reveal a swirl of colors underneath. Again, there are many themes, including fairies, sea creatures, the solar system, and butterflies.
The official age range for Scratch Magic is five and up, but we’ve noticed that they work well for younger kids too. Especially arty ones.
If there has ever been a better airplane travel toy than paint with water, then I don’t know what it is. These fun books come with their own brushes. The paper is covered with dried dots of paint (that look colorless originally). You just ask the flight attendant for a cup of water, and you’re off to the races.
We’ve listed a Star Wars version, but a search on Amazon for “Paint with water” returned dozens of other options too.
As far as we’re concerned, Crayola Color Wonder pens and paper are magic. The pens won’t mark on anything but the special paper. Sort of like the invisible ink pens of our youth, but in a rainbow of colors.
It’s smart to pick up a pack Crayola Color Wonder Refill Paper too, because your kids are going to go through this stuff like crazy.
Got kids of other ages? We’ve got plenty more toy buying guides where this one came from:
Best Toys for Travel for Kids Ages 0-2
Best Toys for Travel for Kids Ages 3-4
Best Toys for Travel for Kids Ages 5-6
Best Toys for Travel for Kids Ages 7-8
Best Toys for Travel for Kids Ages 9-10
Best Toys for Travel for Kids Ages 11-12
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