Planning a flight with a child between ages 3-6?
Here are 10 unique travel toys for your busy bag for your next flight.
A friend of mine just sent a message asking if I had any ideas for birthday presents for her friend’s 4 and 5 year old boys. They will be flying soon from New York to the West Coast and then on to Australia, so she was trying to come up with gifts that would be great for the upcoming flights. In my list below I try to suggest unique travel toys unlike the standard suggestions for travel activity bags. Some of these are educational, some help develop fine motor skills, and some incorporate proprioceptive input, which helps calm your nervous system. Some include all of the above and some are just plain fun. (Click here for ideas for other ways to incorporate proprioceptive input aka “heavy work” in order to help your child be calm when flying.) I tried to also keep the suggestions lightweight so that the carry on bags are not too heavy.
With two kids close in age, I recommend packing just one busy bag with activities that will interest both children. The unique travel toys below would work for that purpose. I’ve got to say, even though these are all appropriate for ages 3-6, my 8 year old would like them all too. And even I would enjoy at least half of them. What’s your favorite? Comment below; I love to hear what readers think of my suggestions.
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1. Peg Board Set-Kids Corner Lacing Colors & Shapes ($22.95)
For travel I love toys that have multiple uses. This peg board set is great for sorting, stacking, lacing; matching, following patterns; adding & subtracting. I love that it has a foam board, which is very light and durable. The kit includes a small carrying bag and weighs only 12 ounces.
2. Balancing Bird Toy ($6.71 for 12)
This fun toy sneaks in a lesson about the center of gravity. Watch your kids be mesmerized as they balance this bird on their fingertip, nose, forehead, elbow(?). This toy is really fun and like some others here, it’s great for kids of all ages.
3. TOOB Toy Figurines ($11.99)
My 3 year old son loves playing with his Marvel Superheroes, and can entertain himself for hours with them, but on the plane I had to stop him from being too loud playing with them because they were fighting. Instead of Superheroes, try animal figures. These baby animal figures are great for creative play and small enough to travel with yet big enough to keep track of. You might have to separate the predators and prey, though. LOL!
4. Wikki Stix Travel Fun ($5.25 plus free shipping on orders over $25)
I used to always recommend a small Play-Doh Activity set (like this Disney Frozen Olaf play set) for flights, but having to keep the Play-Doh in a separate bag with your liquids and gels (for TSA Security Checkpoints) can be a hassle. Wikki Stix are wax sticks that can be twisted and molded into shapes. Great for all ages, this kit comes with an 8-page booklet of travel related activities. You can color on this booklet with dry erase markers) as well.
5. Poly-Gonzo Geo Twister Fidget Toy ($6.12)
This is one of my favorite things for a busy bag. It is really light (only 0.8 ounces) so it doesn’t weigh down your bag. The kids love twisting and turning it to create new shapes and it provides a soothing effect.
6. Mini Buddha Board ($13.90)
On this board you draw only with water! When the water dries, the drawing disappears and you have a clean slate for more art. Tip #1: I like to use a contact case for a water dish. It’s much less likely to spill than a plastic cup and since it doesn’t hole much water it’s not such a big deal if it does spill. Tip #2: if your child gets frustrated at the disappearing image, offer to take a picture of their masterpiece before it dries so their artwork can live on forever.
7. Peaceable Kingdom Wipe and Write Games to Go ($9.99)
I always travel with a few dry-erase markers, which can be used to draw on car or airplane windows or compact mirrors in a pinch. I love this activity book by Peaceable Kingdom that includes a dry-erase marker. This one is geared for ages 3-6.
8. Oobi Finger Puppets ($6.09 for 12)
When I pack a busy bag, I like to pack a lot of variety in a small space. These Oobi finger puppets are fun for everyone, allowing kids to use their imaginations. As a flight attendant, I give these out to my child passengers sometimes. I like how easy they are to carry around, you can even through a few into your purse for “emergency” entertainment for the kids. These would make good party favors too!
9. B. Beauty Pops Jr. ($11.99)
I saw these at Target recently and snapped a picture to remember them because I think they make a really great travel toy. These pop beads have lots of different shapes to capture your child’s attention and they help build your child’s fine motor skills. Self contained in a small tube, these are easy to pack and clean up.
10. Travel Spirograph ($7.99, on sale from $9.99)
Here’s a unique travel toy! This travel Spirograph includes 6 precision wheels, 2 pens, and 24 pieces of paper. There is a drawer that contains all the pieces for easy transport. 3×3 Post-It Notes will work for a paper refill too!
Bonus Tip: Places to look for good travel gifts:
Anytime I’m shopping, I keep a look out for good travel toys. I usually find my favorites at Michael’s and Target. At Michael’s I find the best travel items in their summer camp activities and their Christmas stocking stuffer activities. I always am sure to check toward the end of the season for good sales (50% to 80% off) on this seasonal merchandise. At Target there is almost always something to be found in the Target Dollar Spot that is good for travel. One of my all time favorites I found there was a small booklet of Dr. Seuss Dry-Erase coloring sheets. The booklet fell apart which was actually nice, because now I just carry two or three of the sheets and a couple of dry erase markers with me and it’s light and easy.
Do you travel with unique busy bag items? Maybe something you don’t often hear suggested? I love hearing reader’s ideas! Tell me about it in the comments below!
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