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Best Toys for Babies and Toddlers When Traveling

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Wondering how you’re going to fit your child’s toy chest into your backpack? Looking for a present for your traveling little one? Here are some of my suggestions for traveling toys.

I have to admit, Wade laughed a little when I told him I was going to write this blog post. While I have plenty of experience traveling with a baby and toddler, I am not exactly an expert at traveling light when it comes to travel toys. Petra has her own duffle bag just full of toys. So while the list below are toys I think are successful travel toys, we also travel with less than ideal travel toys, like two big stuffed turtles and more board books than I’d like to admit.

What I look for when choosing a travel toy

[adsense]We continuously travel, and have been since Petra was two months old, so my criteria for travel toys are a little different from a family going on a two week vacation. We don’t have a large collection of toys stashed in a playroom in a house. We need toys that will continue to help Petra develop and grow. The number one tip for choosing toys to travel with I’d suggest are the toys your kid loves and can keep going back to without getting bored. If buying a new toy I think about its shape, siza and weight in terms of packability. I am also on a budget so I think about value. This doesn’t just mean the price tag but also how long my child is going to play with the toy. Kids develop fast, so I look for toys that they can use right now and still be challenged by in six months. Toys on the road can get damaged easily, so think about whether you want to bring expensive toys with you. It’s easy to lose pieces, so think about that too.

Remember, you don’t need to pack as many toys as you think you do. It is incredible to me how many toys many children in the US own. This is not normal for most of the world. You don’t have to travel with too many toys. Kids love playing with things they find outside: sticks, rocks and seashells are great play things while traveling. They also love playing with Mommy and Daddy’s things, a compact mirror, notebook and shampoo bottle can be great toys. It’s always fun to buy a special new toy in a different country, too.

Indestructible books have the benefits of a board book: they can’t be ripped and are non-toxic and washable, but they don’t take up the space and weight of a board book. Petra loves Flutter Fly, beautiful pictures, no words, so the story changes everytime we read it together.
Petra actually has a $1 version of this we picked up in Mexico. I always have this with us in the diaper bag. It is light, cheap and takes up very little space. It lets Petra be creative, stimulating her mind and helping her develop fine motor skills. Everytime we take it out of the bag we can do something new with it.
Inflatable toys are a convenient way to travel with toys. Petra loves her beach ball, no matter if where we are. She also has an inflatable Dora the Explorer doll and airplane. Since they are plastic, they can be cleaned easily and of course are light and take up relatively little space.
A child who travels a lot can do with a security item or two. While we may exchange other toys that are a little young for her in exchange for something new, these things stay consistent.
We travel with three puppets that take up almost no space and can turn into different characters. This is a great example of a toy that continues to hold a kid’s interest through different ages. Babies are attracted to bright colors and a where did my hand go? game. Toddlers love putting them on their own hand and making them move. Preschoolers can use puppets in imaginative play.
Toys that attach on to your bag with links or key chains are great for traveling. Young children can play with them without you having to worry that they will fall on to a dirty bus floor and roll away.
The appeal of nesting cups is pretty obvious, a lot of toys in a compact relatively little space. These are especially great at the beach for filling and dumping sand and water and making sand castle. Another basic toy that can be adapted for many different things as your child grows older, from building towers to tea parties.
Photos of the family back home are a great way to feel connected while you’re far away.

I’d love to hear any other suggestions for travel toys below!

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Filed under: Air Travel, Culture and Society, Travel Gear, Travel With Family

About the Author:

After traveling on her own for three or four years, Chaya met up with Wade Shepard, the editor of VagabondJourney.com. They were married in 2009, and continue to travel the world together with their young daughter. From time to time Chaya blogs about family travel and life on the road. has written 102 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Chaya Shepard is currently in: Xiamen, China