23 Travel Gifts for Toddlers
If you’re looking for travel gifts for toddlers, I’ve got you covered! Here I list 23 of our favorite toys, equipment, and food ideas for your traveling toddler. I go beyond the standard suggestions with lots of unique ideas. Which ones are your favorites? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
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Stickers, Color Wonder Markers, Play-Doh…You already know these busy bag ideas for your toddler. Here are some less commonly suggested, compact and lightweight ideas for keeping your child entertained in flight:
This is a great little package with lightweight foam and plastic toys to keep your toddler busy! For your flight busy bag, remove the items from the box to save on space then pack them in a Ziploc bag.
Have you ever noticed that the simplest toys (and non-toys) are often a toddler’s favorite to play with? This simple activity of nuts and bolts might occupy your toddler longer than anything else! Even if it occupies a busy toddler for ten minutes it will be worth it!
How cute is this!? It has 5 different style clasp buckles on the underside and a zipper across the front. Note the size is 9″x 6″. If your carry on bag is already full you could just clip it to the outside using a Carabineer “D” Clip.
This was one of my son, John’s very favorite things to play with in flight! As I wrote in this post: 5 Ways to Entertain Your Toddler in Flight, between making faces at himself in the mirror and coloring on the mirror with dry-erase markers, this little item kept him occupied for long periods of time.
You can use these to color on the mirror or on a window. I’ve even used them to write on glossy board books (remember to erase right away because if it’s left on for a long time it won’t erase). Crayola makes dry-erase crayons too, but I actually found them to be messier than markers.
I love this little fidget! It’s super-lightweight and is really fun for all ages to twist around to create new shapes.
I bought this on impulse when my son, John was two years old. He’s almost four now and still loves to play with it. It’s fun to have something airplane themed when you’re flying with your toddler, and small figures can offer endless opportunity for imaginative play.
My son John hardly sits still for anything! But one thing he has loved since he was an infant is reading books. Board books are heavy, so you probably don’t want to add those to your travel bag, but it’s easy to carry one or two cloth books to read in flight. Here’s a popular one:
Available in Frog, Cat, Bear, or Pig. It’s a great all-in-one gift!
10) DIY Toys– FREE (Using Household Supplies)
There are several DIY toys you can do too! Among our favorites are a drop-toy, made of an empty spice jar and straws or toothpicks, or of an empty mini Pringles can and pipe cleaners, straws, buttons, or paper clips. Instructions can be found here and here. I also make this drop-toy, using airplane galley supplies, for restless toddler/preschool age passengers when I’m working as a flight attendant.
Pack a just a few of these sticker scenes in your busy bag along with a few sheets of stickers.
If you’re not bringing the car seat on the plane, this C.A.R.E.S. Harness is the safest way to fly! This is the only FAA approved airplane harness, designed for children ages 1 and up, weighing 22-44 lbs. and up to 44 inches tall. You can check your car seat at the ticket counter (free of charge as an assistive device), or use the Go-Go Babyz Travelmate (my favorite travel tool) and check your car seat at the gate, then just walk on the plane and easily install this C.A.R.E.S. Harness. Easy to use, it keeps your child more safe and secure. For my kids it gave them more of a signal that they needed to stay seated. I was so grateful that I had my daughter, Ella, safely buckled in this when she was about 3 years old and after takeoff we encountered wake turbulence. Everyone rose an inch or two out of their seats as our plane dropped. The C.A.R.E.S. Harness keep her securely in her seat. Some passengers screamed, but Ella lightened the mood when she cheered, “Let’s do that again!” For her it was like a fun roller coaster ride.
This is my all-time favorite piece of travel equipment. It quickly transforms your car seat into a stroller as you attach the plate to your car seat with a quick-release ratchet strap. The telescoping handle is adjustable for your comfort. Read my complete review of the GoGo Babyz Travelmate. They have updated this with a fold-down plate to accommodate the larger car seats that are common now.
Toddlers often won’t tolerate regular headphones but on the airplane they need to use headphones or turn off the volume when playing video games or watching shows. These headphones are a cozy headband and reviews show that kids are far more likely to wear these than regular headphones. I like that they don’t take up as much room in your carry on bag as regular headphones would. Several styles available, including frog and penguin.
I love these not only for the purpose of keeping germs away from your child, but also because they have activities on them! Another thing to help occupy your toddler!
I like this folding travel potty because of the handles feature, which keeps your toddler from grabbing the toilet.
TRAVEL TIP: When using public toilets, cover the automatic flush sensor with a sticky note or sticker before your child sits down. This will prevent it from flushing and terrifying your child. Read my tips on Managing Public Restrooms with Your Young Child.
Toddlers love the independence of having their own bag to carry their things, but we all know that after about 15 minutes you will be the one carrying the bag. This cute little rolling backpack is small enough for a toddler to comfortably wear it on their back when they get tired of rolling it. And it’s easy to toss over the handle of your roller board when your toddler isn’t up for carrying it.
TRAVEL TIP: I pack all the busy bag toys in a gallon size Ziploc bag and then put it in this rolling backpack. This small backpack easily fits under the airplane seat and can often share the space with my tote bag.
Your toddler wants freedom! The new challenge arises of keeping your child safe in crowds. Read my post, How to Prevent Losing Your Kids in Crowds, for some ideas on keeping your child near you. One way is by using a safety harness, like this one. Worried that people will judge you? Don’t be! Read my post, Backpack Harnesses, Useful or Mean? to get more information on what most people really think.
I’ve tried a lot of different novelty travel snack cups but I always went back to this simple design. It was the most spill-proof and easy to use one for my kids.
Is there a more perfect toddler food than a banana? To keep the banana fresh and bruise-free, use this banana saver. I have even packed bananas in my checked luggage using this and they have not had one bruise!
For a little bit of nutrition when your toddler won’t eat anything else. These bars travel well. I often pack an unopened box in my checked bag too. (By keeping it in the box the bars don’t get mashed up.)
These little freeze-dried snacks are pure fruits and veggies–no added sugar! It can be tough to get your toddler to eat well on-the-go. These fun snacks can help add a few nutrients to your child’s diet.
I always bring a spill-proof cup for my kids when flying. These cups are inexpensive enough to toss if you can’t wash them and durable enough to wash and reuse when you’re able. Even if your toddler is still nursing, they will probably like to have a drink of water when the beverage cart comes by and everyone else is getting drinks.
What do you think of this list of travel gifts for toddlers? Do you have favorites that I missed? I love it when readers comment! Let me know what other things you would suggest.