Disclosure: I am a blog ambassador for Lakeshore and am compensated for my work. I received product free of charge, but all thoughts and opinions on the best toys for traveling with kids are 100% mine. The sweepstakes prize is provided for the winner free of charge from Lakeshore. Don’t miss the Lakeshore Gift Card giveaway at the end of this post.
What are the best toys for traveling with kids?
Total fear, suffocating in concern, and that overwhelming knot in your stomach can only mean one thing: you’re about to travel with small children.
How will traveling with kids go?
How will they be in a hotel room?
What can I do to make this vacation actually run smoothly?
Should I take toys with me? What are the best toys for traveling with kids?
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Here’s why you should take toys on vacation
In our lives BC (before children), taking toys on vacation wouldn’t make much sense.
We plan to sleep in on vacation.
Read books and magazines.
Listen to music as we take every single chance to rest and relax.
That’s not exactly how vacations with kids go down.
Kids need a little piece of home on their vacation
I’m not saying, “Bring the whole toy box and turn vacation into a regular day.”
What I am saying is this: sitting in an airport is dull, car rides are long, being stuck in a hotel room can get a little “trapped” feeling.
Let’s be proactive.
Let’s see vacation from the kid perspective.
Let’s take a chance to invite some play into our trip instead of just relying on screen time.
How do you take toys on vacation?
I take ours in a back pack: one single back pack full of the best toys for traveling with kids.
I’m looking for toys that:
- Are open-ended (they hold little attention spans)
- Have a wide age range (I need toys that work for all three of my kids)
- Are kid-powered – these toys don’t need adults or batteries to work
You don’t need to pack every toy you own.
But you do need to pack the right toys.
Here’s when my kids play with toys on vacation
We use our toy backpack:
- In the airport to pass time between security and actually boarding
- In the car (I keep things in the front seat and pass them back)
- On the airplane when they need screen time breaks
- When they wake up in the morning – they can play toys to start the day just like at home
- During down time at the hotel (I don’t want the TV on allllll vacation)
What do we pack on our vacations?
Whether it’s a plane ride vacation or one that starts with a road trip, these are the perfect toys to take with – all from my favorite store, Lakeshore Learning.
For three years, our Lakeshore Magic Boards have been a playtime favorite for my kids.
Taking them on long road trips is a perfect car seat toy. It’s a way to draw, write, and create without worrying about dropped pencils (the stylus is attached) or loose paper.
I love that my kids can all easily draw and erase on their boards without any adult help. The Lakeshore Magic Board fits so perfectly on their laps – it’s made for a road trip!
In the car, at the hotel, or staying in Grandma’s house – this is a great piece of home to take with on vacation.
Bring a little art and math onto vacation with the Magnetic Mosaic Design Board – it is so much fun for littles and bigs.
The shape pieces are foam and magnetic so they easily stick to the black board.
For traveling with so many small pieces, I made sure to put all the shapes into a travel toiletry bag – giving a specific home to all the parts makes pick up an activity easy. Kids can immediately see how to clean up the toy and where the parts go.
The black magnetic board fits right into our backpack, with the pieces secure in the toiletry bag.
My kids played with this mostly in the airport before our flight and at the hotel: it was a great quiet activity for them to play while others were still sleeping in the morning.
There’s just nothing else like the Number-Bots – these are the perfect vacation toy, restaurant toy, drop it in your purse just-in-case toy.
Number-Bots are numbers that change into robots.
They are exactly as cool as they sound – really, really something special.
Since Number-Bots are small, they’re easy to travel with and transport around. With all the meals out on vacation, Number-Bots can be great at restaurants to help keep kids busy before the food arrives.
Number-Bots are awesome in the car, on an airplane and back in the hotel room. They’re a great little toy to fidget with and help little hands moving., plus they invite loads of imaginary play.
These have been taken on more trips with my family than I can count now. We don’t take all of them – they come as a set of 80… we just take what we need.
The Wild Animal Counters are a “top tier” toy in our house – meaning they are played with every day, multiple times a day, and always involved in various play set ups.
We use them a lot.
When I’m thinking about toys to bring with on vacation, having a tried and true toy is key. It’s basically a comfort item.
I pack these animals in a bag and always label it with how many are inside (we usually have 25 go with us on vacation).
The animals can be used on their own OR with the other toys we brought. They live in mosaic tile creations and fight robots really well.
They’re also great, quiet toy that invites the child to interject play INTO the hotel room and use that environment for play.
Taking along some Wild Animal Counters means finding little line ups and play scenes throughout our vacation – and that is some quality evidence of play.
The Best Toys for Traveling with Kids – are also the best toys at home
Don’t for a minute think these toys are JUST meant for travel or only great in an “away from home” adventure.
The mark of a truly amazing toy is one that can be used in multiple situations, for years to come, and invite countless hours of play.
Good toys are toys that can be used at home AND on vacation – it means they’re versatile.
RELATED: See all my favorite Lakeshore toys in one spot.
It’s no surprise to me that all four toys I picked are from Lakeshore.
Lakeshore is my go-to store for toys – I know they’re going to be full of learning, full of kid-powered-play, and be used for years to come.
At Lakeshore, toys are teacher-designed, kid-tested and it shows.
When you start packing for vacation…don’t forget the toys
Adding in a few key toys is a game changer, a life saver, and a total boredom buster. Just make sure you pick the right ones…