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 9-10:
A lot of parents are forgoing the handheld video game option in the era of smartphones, but does your phone offer 19 hours of continuous play on a single charge? I didn’t think so. Not that you’d ever let your kid play that much, but what if you’re flying to Tokyo?
This little baby has a nice, bright screen and it’s lightweight for travel. The DS games will set you back upwards of $20 a pop, so choose carefully. You can pick them up used too.
If you’re looking to get your kids started on crossword puzzles, look no further than this book. We bought a stack of crossword books before we found this one and fell in love.
Kids as young as five can do them with help and they’re fun all the way up to 11 or 12 too. If you’ve got more than one kid in that age range, pick up a copy of More Outrageous Crossword Puzzles and Word Games for Kids too. Both volumes offer a lot of mind-building entertainment for the money.
Words are completely inadequate to describe my delight at discovering that the Choose Your Own Adventure books from my childhood are now being republished. I’d been picking them up at garage sales and on eBay for years.
Watch the age ranges on these. I’ve found that those designed for younger readers (4-8) actually work pretty well through age 10. Those written for older kids have a lot of bad endings. Comical bad endings, but still.
These books haven’t changed much. You can still spend hours and hours trying to find the pirate gold, track down the sea monster, or hook up with a friendly Yeti. Good times.
For the average person who comes equipped with a standard non-Mensa brain, Rubik’s Cubes are intriguing but just way too freaking hard. I was able to solve mine in 7th grade, but only by cheating and buying the book.
Far more fun for the short set are the junior version of that iconic toy. There’s still a book to help you solve it, but you have a much better chance of doing it yourself. Not a good chance, mind you, just a better chance.
If you’re anything like me, it’s really only safe to let your kids play Mad Libs when you are wearing a pair of noise-canceling headphones. Otherwise there’s a darn good chance you’ll lose your mind long before you reach your destination. Still, nothing is more fun for kids.
Don’t bother with the small tablets though, since they don’t offer much value for the money. Get this book for miles and miles of toilet humor. If you’ve got younger kids who want to play but don’t know their elbow from an adjective, try Super Silly Mad Libs Junior (a redundant title if ever there was one).
Few games that I’ve played have the staying power and the age flexibility of the classic card game Uno. As long as your kid can manage a big handful of cards, chances are she can play and enjoy Uno. Plus it’s cheap, lightweight, and portable. And if you lose a few cards, it’s no big deal.
If you won’t be using the game for air travel, you really owe it to yourself to get UNO Attack!. It’s sort of a cross between Uno and Russian Roulette. At any point, the motorized dealer could just shoot a whole bunch of cards at you. I’m not explaining it well, but it’s awesome.
This book (and its sequel,The Encyclopedia of Immaturity: Volume 2) are never going to win any awards for best children’s literature. Then again, high quality children’s literature is never going to keep your kids completely rapt for hours the way these do. It’s a trade off.
Your kids will love browsing through 412 pages of such timeless wisdom as how to make duct tape underpants, how to fake a sneeze, and how to say “poop” in fifteen foreign languages.
Most kids can smell an educational toy from a mile away, but this one just might get under their radar (sorry about the mixed metaphor). Puzzibits are a building, problem-solving, pattern recognition, fine motor skills toy, but they are also just plain fun.
Choose from a big set like the one pictured, or one of the smaller themed sets if you don’t want to make quite that big of a commitment.
Using the included rolls of colored tape, kids wrap a mummy, frame a picture, give a cat whiskers, and so on. I was astonished at how much my kids liked this book.
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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