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 5-6:
Colorful, nontoxic pieces of wax-treated yarn that can be endlessly shaped, molded, and sculpted. The only limit is your kid’s imagination. And when they’re done? You just stash it all in a plastic bag. That’s it for clean up.
This set comes with feathers, pom-poms, cards, small wooden pieces, and 96 pieces of wax-treated yarn in various colors for hours of mess-free fun. All in a convenient carrying case.
If you’ve got a kid that eats, sleeps, and breathes baseball, don’t bother packing lots of toys when you travel. Reach for this low-tech box of baseball fun instead. The set comes with a blue team, a red team, an umpire, a 28″x28″ washable felt field, and a realistic scoreboard. Add in a carrying case with a lid and handle and you’ve got one heck of a sports-themed travel toy.
File this one under “head-slappingly obvious”, I know I did. Kids can have an absolute blast with student-sized 9×12 dry erase boards. They can play hangman. They can play tic tac toe. They can draw. They can pass notes. It’s amazing how long these things can occupy them. When they’re older, they can play tricks on you on road trips, writing, “Honk if you like my mom’s hair!” and showing it to passing cars. Good times.
Don’t forget to pick up a set of Dry Erase Markers in fun colors either.
4. Chenille Stems (also known as pipe cleaners)
Pipe cleaners are another craft item that’s mess-free, noiseless, and open-ended. Kids don’t always know what to do with them though, so come armed with a list of projects too. Challenge them to make a funny pair of glasses, a hat, a headband with ears, or a crown.
Not feeling the muse? We hear you. Pick up a copy of a book called Pipe Cleaners Gone Crazy: A Complete Guide to Bending Funny Sticks then lean back, relax, and enjoy the ride.
This is a travel toy that will take you back to the dentist and doctor’s office waiting rooms of your youth. Highlights Hidden Pictures hasn’t changed one iota in the past thirty years, and thank goodness for that.
What has changed is that now you can get an entire book full of them instead of a single puzzle in each issue. These are good for hours and hours of quiet fun, so stock up.
It was only a matter of time before the makers of the wildly popular Mad Libs books extended their brand of funny into other products. Instead of filling in the blanks verbally, kids do it with drawing. And since it’s a whiteboard, they can replay.
These aren’t expensive, so start with the Funny Faces book. If you like it, get Wacky Animals, Dinosaurs, and Under the Sea too.
A bingo set designed especially for road trips. Not only are there no parts to be lost (each space on each card has a transparent red plastic window that slides shut), this game requires no reading either. Kids of all ages will play for miles and miles and miles.
The 12-pack (with special cards for city and interstate driving) means that you’ll have enough cards and variety for everyone even when you’re carpooling, but smaller sets work well too.
Once kids are old enough to be trusted not to draw on their own faces most of the time, there is no more space efficient way to pack lots of colors than to give them a 10-color pen. Plus, they’re just plain cool.
The fact that these suckers only come in pink and purple tells you who they’re designed for, but personally I think purple is okay for a boy. You can find cheaper versions of these in dollar stores, but we like this slightly sturdier version from Toysmith.
Yes, we’re recommending yet another game from Melissa and Doug. Here’s why: they figured out that we don’t always need new games for our kids, just high quality travel versions of the classics.
Memory is a wonderful game, but until now not a very travel friendly one (what with all those slippery cards). In this version, you choose from among 14 themes, then slide the cards into the game board where they are anchored but still flippable. It’s ingenious and endlessly re-playable. Even younger kids will enjoy flipping the cards over to see what’s hiding.
It was very hard to choose an age category for this book, because anyone from 2-99 would love it. Think punch-out paper dolls, but a zillion times better. There are finger puppets, ring toss games, animals, mobiles and more. If you’re looking for some quiet, independent play, this is the book for you. The only real downside is that once it’s punched out, it’s pretty much done.
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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