The Top Airplane and Car Toys for Toddlers on the Go

Don’t leave home without one (or several) of these top-rated travel toys for toddlers.
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By Emma O'Regan-Reidy, E-Commerce Editor
Updated November 7, 2023
Best Toddler Travel Toys-hero
Image: Melissa & Doug
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Whether you’re journeying across the state or across the country, traveling with little ones can be stressful—which is where airplane and car toys for toddlers come in handy. The right mix of gizmos and gadgets will do wonders for keeping kids entertained and well-behaved along the way. The best travel toys for toddlers are lightweight and mess-free, and can be easily packed into a carry-on bag or the backseat.

Need some suggestions? We’ve curated a list of our favorite toddler travel toys and trinkets that are almost guaranteed to get your next vacation started on the right note. Shop our top picks below.

Best Airplane Toys for Toddlers

There isn’t much wiggle room on airplanes, no matter which airline you fly. So, you’ll want to keep your kiddo’s entertainment a bit streamlined so you aren’t spending half the flight reaching under the seat in front of you for missing pieces. Below, we’ve included some fantastic airplane toy options for self-contained play.

Textured cube toy

Image: Fat Brain Toys

On the hunt for an airplane toy for toddlers? This dynamic cube will have you covered. The textured toy is full of sorting fun. Better yet, all six textured, rubbery shapes are tethered to the cube, so they won’t get lost along the way.

Age rating: 10+ months | Dimensions: 4.3" (L) x 4.3" (W) x 4.3" (H) | Weight: 12.2 oz.

What We Love
  • Shapes are attached so they can’t get lost
  • Fosters fine motor skills
Things To Consider
  • Some reviewers say it’s a bit tricky to fit some shapes in

Montessori travel toy for toddlers

Food Grade Silicone Pull String Activity Toy
Image: Amazon
Buying Options

Keep your child engaged while you’re out and about with this fun travel toy for toddlers. The UFO-shaped design is full of textures, colors and shapes for your kiddo to explore. What’s more, as they grasp, hold and pull at this toy, they’ll develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Age rating: 18+ months | Dimensions: 8.3" (L) x 4.7" (W) x 4.7" (H) | Weight: 7 oz.

What We Love
  • Made from BPA-free, food-grade silicone
  • Can be hung from a stroller
  • Lots of sensory options
Things To Consider
  • Best for younger toddlers

Foil scratch pictures for kids

Bright Stripes Scratch-Tastic Pictures Bundle
Image: Maisonette

Searching for an airplane toy for toddlers who love arts and crafts? This two-pack of scratch-away foil pictures would be a great fit. Simply use the wooden stylus provided to reveal colorful scenes of doggies, dinos and more! And if your little one prefers sugar and spice, don’t worry: A sweet fairy bundle is available as well.

Age rating: 4+ years | Dimensions: 7.5" (L) x 0.3" (W) x 10" (H) | Weight: 4 oz.

What We Love
  • Mess-free way to draw and color
  • Each pack comes with five printed art boards
Things To Consider
  • One-time use
  • Wooden stylus isn’t attached
  • Best suited for older tots and little kids

Screen-free audio player

Looking for travel-friendly entertainment that doesn’t involve screens? Turn to the Yoto Mini—a compact audio player designed with tots and kiddos in mind. While on the go, your little one can insert a content card, turn the large dials and listen to an array of best-selling audiobooks, music, children’s podcasts, radio and more. And—thanks to the audio jack—they can plug in their own headphones. Better yet, no WiFi is needed for it to operate and you can count on its all-day battery to withstand small and large outings alike.

Age rating: 4 to 12 years | Dimensions: 2.8" (L) x 1.6" (W) x 2.8" (H) | Weight: 4.5 oz.

Portable doodle board

Next up on our list of the best travel toys for toddlers is this portable doodle board. Your kiddo can draw to their heart’s content (without any of the mess!) while you’re out and about. When they’re ready to create a new masterpiece, simply press the character’s nose to erase the canvas. This excellent airplane toy comes in a cute ladybug shape, but there are several others to choose from as well (like a puppy or dinosaur) and the rubber clip allows it to easily attach to backpacks or suitcases.

Age rating: 4+ years | Dimensions: 8.3" (L) x 5" (W) x 0.5" (H) | Weight: 6.4 oz.

What We Love
  • Mess-free way to draw
  • Rubber clip for easy portability
  • Pen is attached so it can’t get lost
Things To Consider
  • Requires a button-cell battery

Travel-friendly stuffed animal

Searching for a stuffed animal that will keep your kiddo entertained and comforted whether you’re on a roadtrip or a longhaul flight? Look no further than this friendly moose. The super-soft toy is made up of several textures and interactive elements for your little one to explore—like its satin, knotted legs, crinkly hooves and squeaker belly. Ensure it’s always within arm’s reach by clipping it to your tot’s car seat, travel stroller or even their airplane seatbelt.

Age rating: 0+ months | Dimensions: 11.5" (L) x 5.3" (W) x 2.8" (H) | Weight: 1 oz.

What We Love
  • Various textures to inspire sensory play
  • Clips on to car seats, strollers and more
  • Lightweight design
Things To Consider
  • Intended for younger infants

Water-based drawing pads

Melissa & Doug Water Wow! Drawing Pad Bundle
Image: Target

You can count on these reusable water activity pads to keep your tot entertained through long wait times at the airport gate. Your little artist can color in fun scenes and practice writing, counting and shape recognition without the stress of a potential mess. Just fill up the included water pen and let your child learn and explore!

Age rating: 3 to 5 years | Dimensions: 3.9" (L) x 7.3" (W) x 11" (H) | Weight: 0.8 oz.

What We Love
  • Easy for even the youngest of tots to use
  • Mess-free way to draw and color
  • Super lightweight
Things To Consider
  • Pen has a small fill opening
  • Pages may take longer to dry if your child uses a lot of water

Sensory travel toy for toddlers

Fat Brain Toys Dimpl
Image: Fat Brain Toys

The best airplane toys for toddlers are those that are simple, portable and provide endless fun. This sensory toy from Fat Brain Toys is no exception. Your little one will love popping the colorful, silicone bubbles, and you’ll love how easy it is to tote in your diaper bag or carry-on luggage.

Age rating: 10+ months | Dimensions: 5.5" (L) x 1" (W) x 5" (H) | Weight: 4.8 oz.

What We Love
  • Inspires open-ended, sensory play
  • Made of BPA-free, food-grade silicone
  • Compact design
Things To Consider
  • Rubber may pick up hair and fuzz

Magnetic drawing kit

Chuckle & Roar Magnetic Dot Art Designer Travel Art Kit
Image: Target
Buying Options

One of the best entertainment options for travel are magnetic toys]( Take this art kit, for instance. The dot art board comes with 25 double-sided activity boards that easily slide in behind the plastic panel. Then, your kiddo can use the magnetic pen to drag and drop colorful circles into place, allowing them to create an array of vibrant patterns and illustrations.

Age rating: 3+ years | Dimensions: 9" (L) x 1.2" (W) x 9" (H) | Weight: N/A

What We Love
  • Mess-free way to draw
  • Comes with 25 double-sided activity cards
  • Pen storage slot and carrying handle
  • Suitable for toddlers and kids alike
Things To Consider
  • The plastic panel scratches easily, according to reviewers

Puffy sticker pack set

Your little explorer will love creating animal-filled adventure scenes with this travel toy for toddlers. The play set consists of 42 reusable puffy stickers and a fold-out, double-sided background of jungle and savannah landscapes. What’s more, the activity set has a handle so it can be transported by you or your toddler.

Age rating: 4+ years | Dimensions: 8.2" (L) x 0.2" (W) x 11" (H) | Weight: 3.2 oz.

What We Love
  • Reusable stickers for endless fun
  • Colorful, detailed backgrounds
  • Carrying handle
Things To Consider
  • Stickers may pick up hair and fuzz

Best Car Toys for Toddlers

Car rides just aren’t a whole lot of fun for anyone, no matter the age. But while older kids can bring a book or a portable video game to stay entertained, little ones can struggle to keep busy, which often spells trouble. These car toys will stave off the boredom, even for the youngest set.

Imaginative magnetic play set

I Can Be... A Veterinarian! Magnetic Play Set
Image: Mudpuppy

Engage your tot with imaginative play on the go, thanks to this portable play set. It includes two illustrated backgrounds and three sheets of magnets that your little one can mix and match to create fun, veterinarian-inspired scenes. Chef-, scientist- and space-themed magnet sets are also available.

Age rating: 4+ years | Dimensions: 6.3" (L) x 1" (W) x 8.8" (H) | Weight: 13.5 oz.

What We Love
  • Pieces can be stored in the tin for easy portability
  • Inspires creative thinking
  • Several themed sets available
Things To Consider
  • Best suited for older tots and kids
  • Magnets have to be punched out before use

Educational travel toy for toddlers

Guolely Busy Board Montessori Toy
Image: Amazon
Buying Options

Have a long travel day ahead? This 25-in-1 montessori toy is sure to keep your little one busy. The board features a variety of activities that will teach your child about everyday skills, like tying shoes and telling time as they play. The lightweight, compact design also easily folds closed and has a carrying handle—score!

Age rating: 1 to 6 years | Dimensions: 3.9" (L) x 0.8" (W) x 1" (H) | Weight: 9.9 oz.

What We Love
  • Suitable for a wide range of ages
  • Offers an array of activities in one set
  • Teaches kids everyday skills
Things To Consider
  • According to some reviewers, the zippers break easily

Shape-sorting carrying case

Melissa & Doug K's Kids Take-Along Shape Sorter Toy
Image: Melissa & Doug

Is your tot fascinated by colors and shapes? Then this toddler travel toy is sure to check all of the boxes on your list. It comes with a convenient carrying case that doubles as a two-sided activity bag. Your child will love exploring the nine different shapes included and discovering the crinkly, illustrated flaps on the back.

Age rating: 9+ months | Dimensions: 13.5" (L) x 3.8" (W) x 9.8" (H) | Weight: 1.5 lbs.

What We Love
  • Bright colors stimulate younger tots
  • Two-sided for added fun and learning
Things To Consider
  • Heavier than other options on our list
  • Some say the shapes fall out of the holes at times

Pretend play steering wheel

VTech Turn and Learn Driver
Image: Amazon

Beep beep! Have a mini backseat driver? Then your little one is bound to love this steering wheel toy for the car. Your toddler will have a ball imitating you while you’re driving—plus, they’ll learn about animals, vehicles, colors, numbers, opposites and more as they play.

Age rating: 6 months to 3 years | Dimensions: 10.8" (L) x 4.3" (W) x 4.7" (H) | Weight: 1.4 lbs.

What We Love
  • Encourages imaginative play
  • Includes a variety of interactive elements
Things To Consider
  • Bulky design
  • Requires batteries

Buckle toddler learning toy

Buckle Toys
Image: Amazon

Some of the best car toys for toddler are those that seamlessly combine learning and entertainment—just like this plush turtle. Its shell features several colorful buckles for your little one to clip and unclip, strengthening their fine motor and color-matching skills on the go. This plush plaything even has a zipper on its back for your kiddo to store mini treasures and trinkets they find on their travels.

Age rating: 1 to 4 years | Dimensions: 7" (L) x 5" (W) x 10" (H) | Weight: 6 oz.

What We Love
  • Nurtures fine motor skills
  • Decorated with colors, numbers and shapes
  • Suitable for toddlers of all ages
Things To Consider
  • Some reviewers say they wish the straps were longer

Kid-friendly camera

Seckton Upgrade Kids Selfie Camera
Image: Amazon
Buying Options

This adorable camera is a must-have for any tots who love to take pictures on their parents’ phones! Made with durable plastic, this colorful device takes real pictures, and comes with an SD card that can store thousands of photos. And when you arrive at your destination, your little photographer can continue exploring all the new sights through their very own lens.

Age rating: 3 to 10 years | Dimensions: N/A | Weight: 6.7 oz.

What We Love
  • Durable design
  • Features a selfie function and games
  • Comes with SD card
Things To Consider
  • Battery only lasts one to two hours

Lace-and-trace boards

Lace & Trace Farm
Image: Melissa & Doug

Arts and crafts don’t have to be off limits just because you’re on the move. Case in point: These lace-and-trace boards. This set of car toys for toddlers includes five double-sided animals, color-coordinated laces and a storage box. While your kiddo practices their hand-eye coordination, they’ll be able to thread vibrant strings through several wooden pets, like a puppy and a goldfish. A farmyard-themed bundle is also available for extra fun!

Age rating: 3+ years | Dimensions: 8.4" (L) x 1.2" (W) x 6.6" (H) | Weight: 9.6 oz.

What We Love
  • Parents say these keep their kids entertained for a long time
  • Strengthens fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination
  • Encourages lacing practice
Things To Consider
  • Edges of the holes aren’t smooth, according to reviewers

Portable nursery play set

Fisher-Price Little People Cuddle & Play Nursery Toddler Playset
Image: Walmart
Buying Options

This sweet car toy for toddlers is perfect for kiddos who love imitating their parents. The set comes with mini twin dolls that your tot can feed, bounce and put down for naps. Then, when playtime (or the ride!) is over, simply zip up the pieces inside the convenient carrying case.

Age rating: 1 to 5 years | Dimensions: 12.3" (L) x 4.5" (W) x 9.9" (H) | Weight: 1.4 lbs.

What We Love
  • Convenient carrying case doubles as a playset
  • Great for young travelers who can’t read or draw
Things To Consider
  • Carrying case features a hole in the back

How We Chose the Best Travel Toys for Toddlers

We get it—choosing the best toys for your little one isn’t always the easiest, especially with so many options out there. To simplify your search, we browsed dozens of toddler travel toys from leading brands and trusted online retailers, so you don’t have to spend hours scrolling. We considered several factors when sourcing playthings, including size, weight, age rating, quality and durability, ease of use and value. We also read user reviews to get the lowdown on how these products have worked for families, and didn’t consider anything with less than an average four-star rating.

Interested in learning more about our editorial process? Read about how our team develops and reviews all articles here.

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